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Browsing by Author "Elolahti, Auli"

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  • Elolahti, Auli (2020)
    Previous studies have shown that involving citizens, especially young people, in environmental decision making, increases the ability to participate in environmental action (e.g. Riemer et al. 2014, Paloniemi and Koskinen 2005). There have been various school and after school projects to promote the engagement of young people in societal environmental action. Many youth engagement projects in the third sector have succeeded in achieving positive results in promoting environmental citizenship. This thesis evaluates the involvement of young people and young adults in environmental action at WWF Finland. The theoretical framework of this thesis is based on the model by Paloniemi and Koskinen (2005) of environmental policy action as a social learning process. According to the model, positive experiences of involvement can strengthen environmental action competence and encourage participants to take environmentally responsible action. In the spiral model, the context is taken into account in the results. The data for this thesis is from a survey of 30 young people at WWF, who took part in the project. The survey mapped the effects of the project on the participants' self-empowerment, social empowerment, and environmental citizenship. It also examined skills in environmental action, and the effects of the context on the results. These results were processed using a mix of qualitative content analysis and statistical analysis methods. In the content analysis, the open-question-answers were themed. The differences between numerical answers of those who suspended the project, and those who were involved until the end were compared, for example using a T-test. In addition, narrative inquiry was developed based on the answers to describe comprehensive profile of respondents. There were no statistically significant differences between those who discontinued the project and those who participated until the end. However, the content analysis of the study provided evidence that the activities succeeded to empower participants and strengthen their environmental citizenship and environmental action competence. According to the results, 26 out of 30 respondents received more information about environmental problems, and 24 received information about their own opportunities on environmentally responsible action. Almost everyone also learned other skills that support environmental citizenship. The project had a positive effect on self-empowerment and social empowerment for 21 respondents. More than half of the respondents also reported an increase in societal engagement, or encouragement to work in the field of environmental or sustainable development. The results of this thesis conclude that the context of WWF’s project was overall successful, as the desired results were achieved. Motivating and engaging factors that contributed to the goals of the operation were also identified. The results of the thesis are in line with previous research, which indicates that environmental participation in the third sector plays an important role in promoting environmental citizenship. However, more long-term research on the topic is needed, as well as research with different control groups.