Climate change and youth loneliness top priorities for President Niinistö’s second term

President Sauli Niinistö was re-elected on January 28, 2018 for a second six-year term. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto/AFP/Getty Images)
President Sauli Niinistö officially assumed office on Thursday, taking the oath of office in a special plenary session of parliament. In his speech, Niinistö told MPs that climate change is the big challenge facing the country in the coming years.

“That’s just how it must be, so that humankind won’t have to endure the destruction of the planet,” said the president.

Niinistö won re-election on Sunday securing 62.7 percent of the vote, becoming the first president to win without a second round since the current system of election was introduced in 1994.

During his remarks, Niinistö spoke of the importance of respect for different perspectives and ways of thinking. He said that trust is the cornerstone of Finnish social order and democracy.

“Trust is not unanimity, but the awareness and understanding of what others genuinely think,” he declared.

He also called for action to combat the problem of loneliness among the nation’s young people, and invited them to help find solutions.

“My hope is: Speak, tell. We are listening and we have to act. We are all [change] agents.”

Speaker lauds Ninnistö’s first term
Guests follow the inauguration of re-elected President of Finland Sauli Niinistö (background R) during a plenary session of the Finnish Parliament in Helsinki on February 1, 2018. (Martti Kainulainen/AFP/Getty Images)

Speaker of Parliament Maria Lohela spoke of Niinistö’s first-term work on behalf of the country, in particular his stewardship of international cooperation and environmental issues. She pointed to his initiatives to combat the role of coal in accelerating the melting of polar ice caps.

“Your proposal for the Arctic Summit to adopt agreements on these and other matters are extremely important for our country and for the entire natural ecosystem,” Lohela declared.

After his official swearing-in at Parliament, Niinistö transferred to the Presidential Palace where he met members of the Diplomatic Corps and the government, along with senior civil servants.

Niinistö first ran for president in 2006, losing out that time to Tarja Halonen. In 2012 he won, beating Green candidate Pekka Haavisto after a second round run-off.

His re-election was achieved outside the auspices of the National Coalition Party, with Niinistö preferring to run as an independent nominated by a voters’ association.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: New Supreme Court justice brings deep experience of Arctic, Indigenous issues to Canada’s highest court, Radio Canada International

Denmark: Denmark’s new defence agreement renews focus on protecting the Baltic, Radio Canada International

Finland:  President Sauli Niinistö on 2nd term: “No need for major changes” in Finland politics, Yle News

Iceland: Norwegians and Icelanders let Alaskans in on the secrets to economic prosperity, Alaska Dispatch News

Norway:  Barents bishops ask Arctic Council to promote fossil-free future, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Arctic Council ministerial – View from Russia, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: Sweden’s Prime Minister reaffirms commitment to country’s defense, Radio Sweden

United States: Arctic Council presents united front as Finland takes over from U.S., Eye on the Arctic

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