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Finland takes the Chair

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This article originally appeared in issue 01.17 of The Circle. See all issues of The Circle here.

The following text is from a speech by the Prime Minister of Finland, JUHA SIPILÄ to the Arctic Frontiers international conference on sustainable development in Tromso, Norway, January 2017.

Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipilä speaks at Arctic Frontiers 2017. Photo credit: Arctic Council Secretariat / Linnea NordströmFinnish Prime Minister Juha Sipilä
speaks at Arctic Frontiers 2017.
Arctic Council Secretariat / Linnea Nordström

WE ARE PREPARING to take over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council in May. We take this task very seriously as we Finns always tend to do. Over 20 years of its existence the Arctic Council has become a valuable international forum with distinctive qualities including the active involvement of Indigenous peoples’ organizations and strong connections with the scientific community. As the Chair, we will continue this path. During our chairmanship, we also aim to increase the cooperation between the Arctic Council and the Arctic Economic Council. We need to do this to support sustainable growth and business opportunities in the north.

We must keep the bigger global picture also in mind, the Paris Climate Agreement and the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are our guidelines for Arctic cooperation. The priorities for our upcoming chairmanship are now set. We will focus on environmental protection, connectivity, meteorology and education. We will build our 2-year chairmanship in the Arctic Council on strong Arctic tradition and expertise. Our motto is “if it works in Finland, it works anywhere”. Finland is successful because of the Arctic climate, not in spite of it … together with the present chair, the United States and other Arctic countries we are looking at how Arctic cooperation could respond even better to the changing situation in the far north. Our non-Arctic partners in Asia, Europe and America are invited to support this common goal as well.

There are opportunities that should be used; for example, improving connectivity in the northern regions is crucial. Finland is exploring the possibility of connecting Europe and Asia via telecommunications cable running through the Northeast Passage. We also want to enhance the role of the European Union in the development of Arctic Europe. But as in all EU cooperation the most important issue is implementation. We need to put our words into action. We hope to make progress on these issues in the EU’s first Arctic stakeholder forum to be held in Oulu in June.

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