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Home NATIONALArctic strategy to reconcile environmental limitations: PM
Wed, 04 Dec, 2013 04:41:30 AM
FTimes Report, December 4
Photo - Lehtikuva.
Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen on Tuesday spelled out a new Arctic strategy to reconcile the limitations imposed by the Arctic environment with the related business opportunities aiming to promote growth and enhance competitiveness in the region.
“The Finnish Government recently adopted a new Arctic strategy,” said the prime minister while addressing the Arctic conference held at Rovaniemi, according to an official press release.
“We aim to promote growth and enhance competitiveness in the region, while paying due regard to the environment. Environmental objectives and efforts to advance economic activity can and must be simultaneously addressed,” said the prime minister.
Jyrki Katainen said the strategy was based on the vision that Finland “is an active Arctic actor with the ability to reconcile the limitations imposed by the Arctic environment with the related business opportunities.”
“It can do so in a sustainable manner, based on international cooperation," the prime minister added.
Detailing the strategy, he said the strategy lists a number of actions which can clearly be performed in practice which include the systematic follow-up and implementation of the Environmental Impact Assessment mechanism originating in the Rovaniemi process, the development of a network of protection areas in the Arctic and the establishment of a centre of excellence for chemical and oil spill recovery.
“The region's growing significance and the increasing perception of Finland as a wholly Arctic country were guiding principles when drawing up the strategy,” he said.
He said sustainable development of the region is very much in the interests of Finland as a whole. “In addition, I believe that we also have the plentiful skills and expertise required for the important task of addressing our Arctic challenges and opportunities in a sustainable manner.”
Admitting that the new strategy is ambitious and far-reaching, the prime minister said, “Among the strategies of the Arctic countries, it is the most comprehensive, including over one hundred concrete actions required to achieve the fifty goals established.”
Jyrki Katainen said the strategy explores the possibilities of bolstering Finland's position within the Arctic region in a range of spheres. 
“Attention is given to issues like creation of new business opportunities, vulnerable Arctic environment, effects on northern parts of Finland and international cooperation.”
The prime minister said the new strategy rests on four pillars—Finland as an Arctic country, Finnish Arctic expertise, Sustainable development and environmental considerations, and international cooperation.
The prime minister said Finland is in a position to offer new types of services to facilitate safe transportation and contribute to the preservation of the marine environment.
“Finland has first-rate expertise in mechanical oil recovery in icy conditions - a technology that is vital to Arctic sea areas.”
The Arctic Council is the pre-eminent forum for addressing Arctic issues.
He said Finland strongly supports the Council by recognising its global role and supporting efforts to engage Arctic stakeholders outside the region in the work of the Council.
He also said Finland is actively considering further steps to strengthen the Council, with a view to approach chairmanship in 2017.
Finland is an international Arctic actor in a number of forums such as the Arctic Council, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, the EU, the United Nations and many of its sub-organisations. Finland is also proactive in research and expert networks and in bilateral relations.
The European Union is crucial to Finland's Arctic policy. Finland cooperates with Sweden and Denmark in developing and reinforcing the European Union's Arctic policy. This purpose is served by the European Union's observer status on the Arctic Council.
To effectively strengthen EU policy and communicate widely on the EU's role within the Arctic context, Finland has proposed the establishment of an EU Arctic Information Center here in Rovaniemi.
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