University of the Arctic 10 years:
Green Growth and the Arctic
Ambassador for the Arctic Hannu Halinen
Distinguished President Grimsson,
Representatives of the UArctic Network,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to give the opening words for this seminar entitled “Green Growth and the Arctic” marking the 10th anniversary of the University of the Arctic. The topic of the day is as timely as it was at the time of the official launch of the UArctic exactly ten years ago here in Rovaniemi. The fact that we meet again here today is a clear testimony of the success of the UArctic during the past decade. I wish to commend all universities, institutions and their staff who are and have been involved in the UArctic network for the excellent job done and express the gratitude of the Finnish government in this regard.
In the Arctic the natural resources offer huge potential while at the same time the respect for the fragile nature is of utmost importance. The principles of sustainable development and rights of the indigenous peoples’ must be respected at all times while operating in the Arctic. Both Arctic research and policy planning should continue taking into account the needs and premises of the local inhabitants. The UArctic contributes to this also by creating contacts at the level of individual researchers and students from the Arctic region.
It is certainly common knowledge for the research community that the results of high quality scientific research are the best basis for good policy planning and making. The encouraging sign in this regard is that also the Arctic states are increasingly realizing this and starting to act accordingly. Without precise knowledge which at the same time is well communicated both to decision makers and the wider public, policies run the risk of being formed and decisions taken on precarious foundation.
This interdependency between Arctic research and decision making became abundantly clear also at the recent Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Nuuk Greenland on 12 May. The Ministerial Declaration approved by the Foreign Ministers of the Arctic States consists for a large portion of references to current or future research projects. Ambitious new initiatives such as the Arctic Human Development Report II and the Arctic Change Assessment with a resilience analysis are to be put into practice in the near future.
Alongside new initiatives the Arctic Council and its’ working groups are involved in numerous projects which discipline-wise range from climate change to human well being, from marine environment to economic development. The scope of these largely interconnected issues is almost breathtaking. This makes it obvious that the only way to turn sector-specific research data into feasible policy lies in increased cooperation between the scientific community and the decision makers.
As regards the importance of communicating the results of research to the relevant actors, we are encouraged by the adaption of a Communications and Outreach Guidelines of the Arctic Council in Nuuk, The Guidelines defines the roles and responsibilities of different actors. The existing UArctic network is of course in a class of its’ own as regards functional and smooth communication. The Arctic Council could be well advised to benefit from this network – while the UArctic could for its part have a better access to the Council proceedings.
Ladies and gentlemen,
For Finland Arctic knowledge, know-how and research are not only a strategic priority but also a source of national pride. Multidisciplinary Arctic research is carried out and education provided in several universities and other educational institutions of which the Universities of Lapland and Oulu are the central ones. Alongside the academic community, also Finnish companies invest intensively in Arctic research and development. The Academy of Finland and TEKES, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, play a key role for Finnish Arctic research and its’ financing.
One of the best recognitions of Finnish Arctic know-how is the fact that the Arctic Centre at the University of Lapland has successfully served as the hub for the UArctic during its’ entire existence. I wish to congratulate the University for this achievement. This success has proved that the Arctic Centre would be a first class host also for the EU Arctic Information Centre, which would serve as an information channel both between the EU and the Arctic regions as well as EU institutions and EU citizens and decision makers.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Arctic is going through a period of rapid change. To respond to this development good policy planning is needed. In order for any policy planning to succeed, proper and accurate information is required. In this regard the role of the scientific community is irreplaceable. I wish to thank the UArctic for excellent cooperation in this regard as well as to congratulate you on your 10th anniversary. We look forward to the next ten years of successful cooperation between the UArctic and the Arctic governments.