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Prime Minister’s announcement on Finland’s Strategy for Arctic Policy, 15 September 2021

Government Communications Department
Publication date 15.9.2021 14.07
Prime Minister's Announcement

Prime Minister’s announcement on Finland’s Strategy for Arctic Policy, 15 September 2021

Speech to be checked against delivery

Madam Speaker,

Finland is an Arctic country. Finland’s Arctic interests and expertise are therefore relevant to the entire country. Finland’s Arctic expertise is also a key part of our country’s Arctic profile.

As an Arctic country, we are responsible for keeping the region viable for future generations. All activities must be tied in with the carrying capacity of the natural environment, the need to protect the climate, sustainable development principles and respect for the rights of indigenous populations. 

Drawing up an Arctic policy strategy is an integral part of Finland’s Arctic policy. The strategy has been created in accordance with the Government Programme and it covers approximately two parliamentary terms. Its objectives extend to 2030.

The strategy was adopted as a Government Resolution on 17 June. 

Madam Speaker,

The previous Strategy for Arctic Policy was adopted in 2013 and it was updated in 2016.

Since the previous strategy was published, climate change has advanced globally and in the Arctic much faster than previously expected. Significant changes have also taken place in the international operating environment. In addition, the direct and indirect impacts of the coronavirus pandemic are visible in Arctic cooperation and the region. 

There is an obvious need for a new strategy. The preparation of the strategy was guided by the steering group for Arctic Policy Strategy, in which all ministries are represented. The Prime Minister’s Office bears the main responsibility for formulating the strategy. The Arctic Advisory Board, whose members represent a wide range of Finland’s Arctic expertise, also contributed to the preparation of the new strategy.

We wanted to consult a wide range of stakeholders and experts throughout the preparation process. The draft strategy prepared on the basis of the feedback received was sent out for comments in February. During the consultation round, we received more than 60 statements, which we took into account in further preparation. 

The strategy has been published in six languages, including all three Saami languages.

Madam Speaker,

The strategy begins with a presentation of the international operating environment and security issues in the Arctic region. The strategy emphasises the importance of international cooperation. The Arctic Council and the Arctic states, including Finland, are at the heart of cooperation.

The strategy recognises the region’s growing importance for security policy. The international security situation in Finland’s and Europe’s neighbouring areas is unstable and difficult to predict. Changes in it will be reflected directly in the Arctic region. 

The Strategy for Arctic Policy is based on an analysis of the operating environment and situation overview of the Government Report on Foreign and Security Policy. The premise of the Arctic strategy is that security in Northern Europe is increasingly a single entity. Changes in the security situation in areas neighbouring Finland and the North Atlantic are closely linked. 

Finland’s objective is a peaceful Arctic region where all cooperate constructively. Finland can, for its part, contribute to a world where solutions are sought through international cooperation. 

Finland has raised the idea of a summit where security issues could also be discussed between the Arctic countries.

Madam Speaker,

The strategy has four priorities. The first priority is climate change – both mitigating it and adapting to it. The second concerns the inhabitants, promotion of their wellbeing and the rights of the indigenous Saami people. The third priority focuses on Arctic expertise in business and industry and leading-edge research. Finally, the fourth priority area of the strategy is infrastructure and logistics.

The strategy’s priority areas briefly present a picture of the overall situation, the desired development and key strategic measures in the priority area. 

Madam Speaker,

The new strategy puts combating and adapting to climate change at the heart of Finland’s Arctic policy. This is justified, because the latest information on climate change shows that the Arctic climate is warming much faster than previously estimated. 

The starting point of the strategy is engaging the inhabitants of Arctic areas and promoting their wellbeing. A diverse economic structure and permanent employment opportunities as well as equal opportunities for education in remote areas are a prerequisite for the wellbeing of Arctic inhabitants. 

The participation of the indigenous Saami people in Finland’s Arctic cooperation and policy is an important part of the strategy. I hope that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Concerning the Saami People, which is mentioned in the Government Programme, will be able to start its important work as soon as possible.

All economic activity in the Arctic region must consider biodiversity, the carrying capacity of the natural environment, climate protection, and principles of sustainable development. The circular economy and other new principles of economic activity as well as technological solutions can create entirely new business opportunities.

Finland has a lot of high-level expertise related to Arctic research across the country. Several higher education institutions, research organisations as well as the private and the third sector conduct research in this field. Research plays an important role in supporting high-quality and well-timed decision-making and policy. It also promotes innovations in different sectors of business and industry.

In infrastructure development, Finland wants to promote general objectives that focus on climate change mitigation. The policies outlined in the strategy’s priority area of infrastructure and logistics are consistent with the national transport system plan, which extends until 2032.

Madam Speaker,

Finland’s new Strategy for Arctic Policy defines the objectives of our Arctic policy until 2030. Now that our goals are clear, the actual work begins – it is time to implement the strategy. 

Because the strategy is a Government Resolution, the ministries play a key role in its implementation. The working group of officials responsible for Arctic policy will ensure that the perspectives of their administrative branches will be taken into account in the implementation of the Strategy’s objectives and measures. The Arctic Advisory Board supports this work.

Achieving the goals also requires the commitment of other parties, such as municipalities and companies. We all need to contribute to keeping the Arctic region Arctic in the future too.