From Dec. 2nd to 4th, the first of a series of Arctic conferences was held there, organized by the city of Rovaniemi and the Arctic Centre of the University of Lapland.
Rovaniemi, a Finnish town right on the edge of the Arctic circle, is known to “Arctic buffs” because of the “Rovaniemi Process”, a Finnish initiative for Arctic environmental co-operation, which ultimately led to the adoption of the “Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy”, signed in Rovaniemi in 1991. This in turn played an important role in the establishment of the Arctic Council
In the spirit of that “Rovaniemi Process”, the city and the University’s Arctic Centre decided to organize a series of conferences, this being the first one. Finland, like all the northern states, is trying to assert its position in the region against the background of climate change and growing international interest.
Earlier this year, I received a copy of a very useful booklet produced by the Arctic Centre of the University of Lapland. It’s entitled “The Arctic Calls. Finland, the European Union and the Arctic Region“. The authors are Markku Heikkilä and Marjo Laukkanen, both based at the Arctic Centre. Its aim is to “put a human face on the Arctic Region”, and it does that very well, looking across the whole region. President Sauli Niinistö wrote the foreword to the publication. He mentions Finland’s initiative to establish an EU Arctic Information Centre in Rovaniemi, which I am following with interest.
The European Union Arctic Information Centre (EUAIC) initiative is an international network of 19 leading Arctic research and outreach institutions from the various European Union Members States, and the EEA countries. It was started in 2009 as a professional network of European institutions aiming to provide information, outreach and insight into Arctic issues. The network’s objective is to provide the European Union, its citizens, institutions, companies and member states with a reliable source of information on what is happening in and concerning the Arctic. The EUAIC initiative network aims to “facilitate two-way communication between experts, decision makers, stakeholders and the public”, according to its website.
The initiative is organized as a network, making use of existing expertise and the infrastructures of its members. Its headquarters are located at the Arctic Centre in Rovaniemi. Currently there are nineteen partners. The European Commission selected the consortium to carry out a key one million euro project to produce a “Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment of development of the Arctic”. The project should be completed in 2014 and should make for interesting reading.
Bearing all this in mind, it’s worth keeping an eye on what comes out of the Rovaniemi conference. And I’d recommend the publication, “The Arctic Calls”, ISBN 978-952-281-065-6. It has interesting interview, maps, photos and insight. You can also get it from the Arctic Centre or download an online version.
Let me just finish by quoting from the final pages:
“The images of icebergs drifting out to sea have turned from symbols of freshness to symbols of disappearance. They have become images of a unique world that is undergoing drastic change and is about to lose many of its characteristics.” How right you are.