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Home NATIONALArctic Europe vows to reinforce cooperation
Fri, 09 Sep, 2016 12:03:06 AM
Norwegian royal couple graces AEF announcement ceremony
FTimes Report by Sami Nyyssölä, Sep 9

The Arctic Europe Forum on Thursday wrapped up with the commitment and an announcement to step up future cooperation between the Arctic European states in order to resolve a multitude of outstanding Arctic issues.

The visiting Norwegian royal couple, King Harald V and Queen Sonja, seconded the resolve by gracing the announcement ceremony with their presence.

Representatives from universities and industries from across the Arctic region converged at the forum held at the University of Oulu, where former Finnish prime minister Paavo Lipponen presented the keynote on ‘Arctic development opportunities.’

In his keynote paper, Lipponen underscored the necessity for strengthening and widening the Arctic Council’s roles in resolving Arctic issues, backing his arguments up with examples of successful interventions taken to preserve environment and prevent disasters.

Lipponen views reinforcing cooperation between the Arctic countries as well as the IMO, the UN, and the EU, among other entities, as an imperative for resolving Arctic issues smoothly and successfully.

The featured topics of the forum included future trade and politics in the region as well as the fast-changing environment, as scientists expect a nearly ice-free Arctic Sea by 2050.

“We need to think about what we can do together with Russia, in spite of geopolitical tension,” Lipponen said, adding, “Russia and the major Asian countries have shown interest in strategic importance of Arctic resources, and we need to develop tools for resolving common interests.”

The challenges facing the Arctic Europe include respecting the rights of the indigenous peoples, while developing Arctic industries and removing barriers to free trade. 

“Investments in environment and infrastructure in the Arctic region would benefit both the traditional and the new forms of industry,” opined Confederation of Finnish Industries Director Petri Vuorio.

The major Arctic industries include energy production, transport, and mining, while modern undertakings include development of energy and data networks, Vuorio said.

Bjorn Haugstad, the state secretary to the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research said knowledge-based solutions derived through research are crucial to achieving Arctic common interests.

Haugstad also stressed the importance of intercontinental polar research and the role of the Arctic Council in Arctic cooperation.

The universities in four Arctic cities – Oulu, Luleå, Tromsø, and Rovaniemi – are working together to develop an action plan for the Arctic Europe by 2020.

The plan titled the Arctic Agenda is a comprehensive one involving numerous dimensions including legal, cultural, technological, and sustainable development, with each of the universities focusing on issues that suit most their expertise and competence.

The forum ended by making the joint announcement of commitment for the future Arctic Europe cooperation. 

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