Joint press release of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Finnish Environment Institute and Natural Resources Institute Finland
Awareness of the risks associated with climate change must be further reinforced

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry 3.4.2019 8.30 | Published in English on 4.4.2019 at 10.03
Press release
Awareness of the risks associated with climate change must be further reinforced
Rankkasateet ja tulvat ovat yksi esimerkki ilmastonmuutoksen vaikutuksista.

Work is still needed to strengthen awareness of the weather and climate-related risks associated with climate change in Finland, according to a new report. Awareness of the risks and ways to prepare for them varies greatly between administrative branches and even within individual organisations. Among private sector operators, the level of awareness is often quite low. In addition to better dissemination of information, development is needed when it comes to the division of responsibilities, coordination and steering methods. More focus should also be placed on developing tools to support the management of weather and climate-related risks.

This information comes from a report released today assessing the implementation of the National Climate Change Adaptation Plan 2022 drawn up in 2014. The report also identified areas where development is needed in order to advance the implementation of the plan. The interim review conducted by the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) and Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) is based on documentation, a self-evaluation by the relevant authorities and an external evaluation containing the results of five regional stakeholder workshops and a wide-ranging national survey.

Management of weather and climate-related risks still lacking

Management of the risks related to climate change is still somewhat lacking, despite the fact that more information is being produced and awareness of the risks has increased, particularly among operators in public administration. Focusing more on the planning and implementation of adaptation actions will make it possible to mitigate the negative consequences of climate change more effectively than what is currently being done.

“It is important to approach the results of the review from a multidisciplinary angle so that we can strengthen the climate sustainability of society as a whole,” says Ministerial Adviser Saara Lilja-Rothsten, who chairs the group monitoring the implementation of the National Climate Change Adaptation Plan. She stresses the importance of strengthening adaptability to changes, particularly when it comes to managing the financial risks associated with climate change.

“Cooperation between authorities, researchers and others in connection with the adaptation plan and its implementation has already led to increased awareness on the topic, and weather and climate-related risks have now been taken into account in Finland’s national risk assessment for the first time,” says Lilja-Rothsten. That said, we still have more work to do. Strengthened cooperation, partnerships and climate-sustainable solutions are important goals that can also play a role in promoting the export of Finnish expertise and in finding solutions to global challenges related to food security, the availability of clean water and the sustainable use of natural resources.

Need for clearer responsibilities and further development of coordination

Increased awareness of the risks associated with the effects of climate change is needed particularly in sectors where variations in the weather have not previously had a significant impact on operations. For this reason, public administration must further develop its expertise concerning climate sustainability and must communicate clearly and systematically on the subject in a way that takes into account the situations of different sectors and intended audiences. In addition to sector-specific guidance, local and regional operators in particular require tools and instructions they can use to strengthen their adaptive capacity independently.

Responsibilities and coordination must also be developed and set out more clearly. According to the review, there is uncertainty in several sectors about who is responsible for advancing risk management and adaptability. This is particularly prevalent among operators outside of administrative functions. The need for a clearer division of roles and responsibilities was particularly emphasised in questions transcending administrative or sectoral boundaries.

“Preparedness for climate-related risks must be taken into account when developing steering instruments in all sectors,” said researchers Kirsi Mäkinen from the Finnish Environment Institute and Jaana Sorvali from Natural Resources Institute Finland, who were in charge of preparing the review. Operators at different levels of society need practical information and tools to support their adaptation measures, such as forecasting and warning systems, risk and cost assessments and scenarios and situational pictures illustrating the effects of climate change.  A good example of concrete tools are the municipal flood maps that are already being used actively in the planning of land use and rescue operations.

The review also revealed that the difference and connection between mitigating climate change and adapting to climate change are not fully understood. Both of the issues are urgent, and preparing for changes can play a part in motivating operators to intensify their mitigation measures. The objective must be climate sustainability, which focuses on intensifying measures to mitigate climate change, but also on developing and adopting new practices and tools to advance our ability to manage weather and climate-related risks.

The interim review was released at an event organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. The event explored the effects of climate change and how to prepare for them from a wide variety of perspectives, including of risk management, financing, business life, the regional and municipal sectors, climate research and comprehensive security.

Programme for the publication event 3 April 2019 (in Finnish)
Link to the live stream/recording of the event presentations
Interim review of the implementation of the National Climate Change Adaptation Plan 2020
(Publications of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry 2019:11) (abstract in English)


Inquiries:

Saara Lilja-Rothsten, Chair of the Monitoring group on climate change adaptation, tel. +358 29 516 2060, firstname.lastname@mmm.fi
Researchers who took part in the review:

Mikael Hildén, Head of the Climate Change Research Programme, Finnish Environment Institute, tel. +358 29 525 1173, firstname.hilden@ymparisto.fi 
Kirsi Mäkinen, Researcher, Finnish Environment Institute, tel. +358 29 525 1445, firstname.lastname@ymparisto.fi
Jaana Sorvali, Researcher, Natural Resources Institute Finland, tel. +358 29 532 4910, firstname.lastname@luke.fi

General inquiries concerning climate change impact research: Hilppa Gregow, Head of Unit,
Finnish Meteorological Institute, tel. +358 29 539 3510, firstname.lastname@fmi.fi


Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s press releases on related topics:

27 March 2019 Forest fire preparedness to be intensified
21 March 2019 Timanttiteko award for 2018 granted to National Climate Change Adaptation Plan implementation group
20 December 2018 Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry identifies significant flood risk areas for 2018–2024 

Building regulations Climate change Extreme events Floods Invasive alien species Nature and climate Preparedness Research institutes