Earth Needs Good Lawyers

Featured D&I Alumna

D&I Quarterly Q1-Q2/2018

Posted on

18 Jun

2018

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Dittmar & Indrenius > Insight > Earth Needs Good Lawyers

As of January 2018, our much respected ex-Partner Raija-Leena Ojanen has been working as the legal advisor for WWF. At D&I, Raija was a true role model for her uncompromising dedication to the highest level of professional service.

Q: What made you first want to work for WWF?

The idea of working for an environmental organization slowly grew upon me. Through the pro bono work done at D&I for WWF, I started to receive regular dosages of information about the deterioration of the biodiversity, the overexploitation of natural resources and the increasing urgency to tackle climate change. The flow of information increased when I was appointed board member for WWF Finland.  Also, during those years, I had many interesting discussions with my daughter, who recently completed her masters in biology, about human genetics, biochemistry and how exposure to toxic chemicals affects us. Thirdly, client projects involving sustainability and compliance became more and more important parts of my work as head of Corporate advisory, Compliance and CSR.

I remember starting to vaguely think about a future in globally oriented environmental work sometime around 2014/2015. The thoughts grew stronger last summer at Berkeley where I completed the first part of my two-summer LLM studies. At Berkeley I learned how big a role lawyers play, at least in America, in promoting environmentally conscious and sustainable public policies. I was greatly impressed by the organization Earthjustice that uses the slogan “Earth Needs a Good Lawyer”.

Q: What are the most rewarding things about working at WWF?

WWF works to build a future where there is good balance between nature and people. The work is done on a wide spectrum of activities ranging from building snowbanks to protect the newborn Saimaa ringed seal to hands-on building of fishways around dams in freshwater waterways to interaction with politicians and businesses about steps towards carbon-neutrality and further onto international talks at Arctic Council.

Although I thought that I had a pretty good understanding ahead, I have been amazed during the first months as a new Panda (that’s what new recruits are called at WWF) at how much the group of about 60 people at WWF Finland can accomplish. The talent is in cooperation and the engaging organizations and people to work with WWF to reach important goals. It is very rewarding to be able to contribute my part for the saving of the world.

Q: What legal issues or challenges have you got coming up on the horizon at WWF?

The great challenge at WWF is making governments and businesses understand the urgency around climate change. Although the common goal under the Paris Agreement is to keep the global warming under 2°C compared to pre-industrial time, the transformation to carbon-neutrality is lagging seriously behind. It is apparent that the present policy approach that promotes voluntary efforts and produces legislation that impose transparency and reporting requirements to generate market pressure on reducing carbon footprints have proven to be insufficient.

Making the changes happen soon enough seems to call for impact-oriented legislation. The parliaments in Finland, in EU and globally may need to move to passing binding obligation on government entities and businesses to assess whether their actions are in line with the two-degree target and if not, to make the necessary changes. The challenge is how to draft such legislation so that the rules are easy to understand, implement and monitor.

Q: What do you miss from Dittmar & Indrenius?

The best part of the work at D&I was working with long-term clients, some of which I had the pleasure of advising for over 20 years. Long cooperation built mutual trust and gave an in-depth understanding of the key elements of the client’s business. The legal challenges were solved in seamless cooperation between the representatives of the client and the dedicated team at D&I. I will surely be following the success of those companies also in the future.

From a personal perspective, I already miss our special D&I team spirit. It works like glue and has built a strong community. D&I truly is a great place to work and it was not easy to say goodbye. Luckily, I do not have to leave it completely behind. Before I left, I made sure that I am on the invitation lists for practically all D&I events! And there are a lot of opportunities to stay in contact through the pro bono cooperation that continues between WWF and D&I.

Q: Besides work-related text, what are you reading or planning to read next and why?

At the moment, it is difficult for me to separate between work-related and other reading. There is so much I have to learn about the status of the planet, the research on the future and the ways to turn things around. I am presently reading a global forecast by Jorgen Randers called 2052. The book seeks to understand what the world is likely to look like in year 2052. I have not read far enough to tell you here what his conclusion is. If I manage to stay healthy and live long, I will be around to witness if he was right or wrong. I hope the world comes together and is able to make the necessary changes.

Interviewed by

Katja Hollmén

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