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How to ensure a sustainable Arctic bioeconomy in the changing climate?

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
Publication date 20.11.2017 15.23
News item
Photo: Arctic Centre, Marko Junttila

Among the key topics of the Arctic Spirit Conference in Rovaniemi on 14-16 November was Arctic bioeconomy. How can the bioeconomy be practised in the Arctic region in a way that is responsible and sustainable? How can we promote climate change adaptation in the region? Answers to these questions were sought in a panel discussion organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

During the Chairmanship in the Arctic Council 2017–2019 Finland is committed to finding concrete measures to improve the sustainability of the Arctic region and its capacity to adapt to climate change. Among the key issues brought up in the panel was the Arctic bioeconomy, where the sustainable use of natural resources, climate change adaptation and resilience are in a key position. 

“The Arctic regions have forest, waters, fish and game in abundance. The Arctic bioeconomy must be based on a responsible use of renewable natural resources that respects the valuable but vulnerable natural environment of the region. To reconcile the different land uses we must also work together with the indigenous communities and local residents”, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Jari Leppä said in his video greeting.

Ivonne Higuero, Director of the Forests, Land and Housing Division of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), talked about the Rovaniemi Action Plan, which stresses the role of the forests sector in the green economy and supports many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The forests have a key role to play in the changing climate because they offer a broad range of products and services from carbon sequestration to tourism, wood products, education, and other ecosystem services.

Joint action to prepare for risks

As summed up by the chair of the panel Jaana Husu-Kallio, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, a sustainable Arctic bioeconomy is constructed upon collaboration where the know-how of local stakeholders, scientific research and diverging needs come together. At the same time we must prepare for the various risks associated with climate change.

The panellists talked about the bioeconomy and its sustainability from the perspective of weather and climate risks, regional planning relating to natural resources, and climate resilience. The members of the panel were Ivonne Higuero, Director-General Pentti Hyttinen from Metsähallitus, Researcher Suvi Sojamo from the Aalto University, Researcher Virpi Alenius from the Natural Resources Institute Finland, Researcher Mia Landauer from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis  (IIASA) in Austria, and Managing Director Hannu Ylinenpää from Lappset.

Arctic Resilience Forum in 2018

Next year the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry will organise an international Arctic Resilience Forum, where the main focus is on climate change adaptation. The Forum to be held in Rovaniemi on 10–11 September 2018 is part of the programme of Finland’s Chairmanship in the Arctic Council.

Photo: Arctic Centre.The third Arctic Spirit Conference in Rovaniemi, which continued the so-called Rovaniemi process, was the most significant Arctic event of Finland’s 100th anniversary year. The Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy adopted in Rovaniemi 1991 started international cooperation on Arctic issues, and contributed to the establishment of the Arctic Council in 1996.

Watch the video greeting by Minister Jari Leppä:

Panel: Resilience and Sustainable Bioeconomy in the Arctic

Inquiries at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry:
Saara Lilja-Rothsten, Senior Officer, tel. +358 295 162 060
Heidi Alatalo, Planning Officer, tel. +358 295 162 046

Bioeconomy EU and international affairs Jari Leppä Nature and climate