Photo: Salla Merikukka
My name is Yuri Birjulin, and I’m the UN Youth Delegate of Finland, a 24 years old master’s student of World Politics, a feminist, an advocate for equality and a scout from Helsinki. I am currently a candidate to the Helsinki City Council from the Greens party in municipal elections of 2021.
My future Helsinki puts an emphasis on equality, ecology and well-being. As a Russian-speaking Finn, I want to act for minority rights and against discrimination. As a student and a scout, I want to improve the well-being of youth and address the issue of social marginalization. As I’m born and raised in Helsinki, I want that our city would take the lead in combatting climate change.
I have been working long with issues of peace, sustainable development, international relations and multiculturalism. Right now I represent the Finnish youth internationally as a UN Youth Delegate, and I have also worked as a journalist and a TV news presenter at Yle News in Russian. Previously I have also worked at the Embassy of Finland in South Africa, a think tank in Helsinki, a fundraiser for UNICEF, and as a deck hand on passenger vessels in Helsinki.
Helsinki is an international and a multicultural city, but discrimination, racism and unequal opportunities are nevertheless a serious problem. We need to ensure that diversity becomes the strength of our city. Helsinki needs to provide services in different languages, prevent social segregation between different districts, provide jobs for people with various backgrounds and eliminate discriminatory and racist social structures in education, for instance.
CLIMATE - Let's tackle the climate crisis with sustainable urban planning
Climate change is a global crisis, but Helsinki should be at the forefront of developing local solutions to it. The city needs to shift from coal power to more sustainable fuels, and Helsinki needs to build more tram lines, bicycle lanes and pedestrian streets. Building new apartments is important, but the city should also protect existing parks and natural habitats while developing new areas in accordance with the principles of sustainable development.
Social marginalization of youth is one of the hardest challenges for Finland, and young people have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Helsinki needs to prioritize education, improve mental health services and secure access for employment to young people. Every child and an adolescent needs to have the possibility to have a hobby. Helsinki should not be leaving any young person behind.
I have lived my whole life, with a few exceptions, in Helsinki, especially in the districts of Töölö and Pitäjänmäki. Since childhood, my life has been bilingual – at home, we spoke Russian, and outside home, Finnish. It is for this reason why I am passionate about minority rights and questions of equality today. In recent years I have worked as a journalist and a TV News Presenter, and represented the Finnish Youth as the UN Youth Delegate of Finland.