Arctic Technical Conference, Kööpenhamina

Muutokset puhuttaessa mahdollisia

Distinguished guests, dear Friends of the Arctic,

The Arctic region is currently going through a number of changes, such as the effects of global warming and climate change, emerging new transport routes, and vast energy resources and mineral potential. These changes will not only increase attractiveness of the arctic region and interest of different players towards the area but also our responsibilities and need for international cooperation. As it is inevitable that the economic opportunities of the Arctic region will be pursued in the coming years, we have to make sure the sustainability of these actions.

I believe I was asked to speak in this conference because of the experience of my country, Finland, in arctic related matters. Indeed, the northern and arctic location has played a major role in shaping Finland for what she is today. We are a small nation of only 5 million people but we represent almost one-third of all people living north of the 60th latitude. Even the northern parts of the country are inhabited and equipped with the necessary, modern infrastructure. This all means that in order to succeed we have had to adapt to the harsh climate and find innovative technical solutions that not only work in the arctic conditions but are also cost-efficient.

Our northern location means also that we have had to define our relation and strategy towards the arctic region. The Finnish Arctic Strategy envisages an Arctic region where sustainable development, safety and stability do not exclude economic opportunities. These two aspects are not mutually contradictory as long as the economic development in the vulnerable Arctic regions takes into account the limits imposed by our environment and is sustainable in terms of the local communities and the global environmental goals.
Ladies and Gentlemen,

As I mentioned in the beginning, the Arctic region is currently going through a number of changes. They mean both opportunities and challenges.

One concrete example is the role of Arctic seafaring, which might grow rapidly, now that the traffic through the North-East Passage is expanding. This brings us to another notable sector, namely maritime logistics, which makes the wheels roll in many industries and is already a key factor shaping the strategies and business decisions of many companies. One must envision, whether – or to what extent – the North-East Passage will turn the global logistics into a new setup, where the position in the high North could become a great benefit.

We do not yet know how drastic or fast these changes are. But one thing is certain: we need to be prepared in time. And here I believe the Finnish expertise, know-how and also best practices created in the Baltic Sea, can be benefit those acting in the arctic area.

Finland can be described as one of the leading countries in arctic seafaring and offshore-activities. Our traditions are long since Finland is the only country in the world whose sea around the ports gets frozen practically every winter – an important factor when 80 % of our foreign trade is transported by the sea. This has strengthened our know-how, or should I say snow-how, in Arctic marine technology and related business operations. Finland has actually built more than 60 % of all icebreakers in the world. Right now we have under construction a new kind of icebreaker that is equipped with LNG dual fuel engine and oil-spill response equipment.

Aside from navigation and technology, new types of services are needed to facilitate safe transportation. Forecasting models based on the environment, weather, ice movements and so on can create new services that reduce risks associated with the Arctic maritime. Our offshore-related know-how includes ports, terminals and offshore structures and technologies operating in ice-covered waters. Finnish companies can offer safe, environmentally friendly and energy efficient solutions for Arctic projects.

We also need to be prepared for risks related to increasing activities in order to preserve the vulnerable arctic nature from the effects of human errors. The most serious risk associated with arctic shipping and oil drilling are oil spills. When it comes to mechanical oil recovery in icy conditions, Finnish authorities and companies are at the leading edge of technology. This expertise relates both to research and technology.
Operating in the Arctic requires also broad-based research. Besides engineering sciences, also social and societal issues matter. Finland’s extensive and in-depth Arctic expertise is a result of its highly advanced education system, where its position as an Arctic country is taken into account at all levels. Finland invests in expertise and research related to northern areas. Diversified Arctic research is carried out both at higher education institutions and research institutes, without forgetting the role of the companies.
Even with our long history in arctic technologies, we need to update our know-how constantly. Research plays crucial role here. One of the latest examples in Finland is the Arctic chemical and oil spill response research centre which is to be launched in order to combine two fields of expertise. The techniques used are demanding and of vital importance when we want operate in the Arctic natural conditions

Ladies and gentlemen,

Lastly I would like to touch upon the international cooperation – the role of which is essential in the Arctic – with couple of examples.

The UN agreement on biodiversity actions on the Arctic is setting goals to minimize the risks of undesirable human interaction in the Arctic. This aim goes hand in hand for the demand of new reliable technology, an inherent feature of the Finnish Arctic technology.

In the marine safety Finland is supporting the preparations of the IMO codes for polar areas. In this work we feel important to achieve such descriptions which are sound both form the safety and economics point of view.

Finland will receive the chairmanship in the Arctic Council in April2017. Being the 100th anniversary of the state of Finland we hope to serve the foreseen enlargement of the Arctic cooperation with our best effort. Strengthening the role of the Arctic Council will be our mission. Through that we should see more effective results in agreements for preserving nature and preventing harmful effects from economical exploitation of the Arctic. The role of indigenous people will be widely acknowledged.

In the Arctic Council Finland will strongly support the preparations for forming the Arctic Economic Council (AEC), which will be a new tool to find fair and sustainable methods for enhancing the economics in the Arctic.

Dear participants,

By listing all these actions and cooperation opportunities I would like to ensure you our willingness and support to serve you as a modern and effective base or test camp for your Arctic initiatives. Northern Finland provides good working conditions for various testing and development activities related to Nordic conditions. Finnish universities and research organizations are actively supporting enterprises of all size and origin. Finland welcomes investments from those companies interested to arctic business and the government will support the initiation of new businesses. The business community in Finland has already joined forces by forming Arctic Team Finland. This community is open for international cooperation.

I hope that you all leave this room with a clear picture of the Finnish roadmap to Arctic and what kind of cooperation Finland can offer. We might be a small nation, but in Arctic know-how I dare say we are a superpower. Thank you!