In addition to education, Finland's other priorities in its program are environmental protection, connectivity, and meteorological cooperation.
Finland builds the 2017–2019 Chairmanship of the Arctic Council on strong Arctic traditions and expertise. International Arctic cooperation at the governmental level started at the first-ever Arctic ministerial meeting in Rovaniemi, in 1991. This meeting adopted the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy, which in turn led to the creation of the Arctic Council in 1996.
Over its first twenty years the Arctic Council has evolved into a recognized international forum. The active involvement of indigenous peoples’ organizations and a deep-rooted connection with the scientific community makes it unique. As the Chair of the Arctic Council, Finland aims to further strengthen Arctic cooperation by looking into the possibility of setting commonly agreed long-term goals. In favorable international conditions, Finland is prepared to host an Arctic Summit to facilitate this process.
The Arctic Council Member States and the Permanent Participants representing indigenous peoples are committed to environmental protection and sustainable development of the Arctic. All Member States have pledged to maintain the Arctic as a region of peace, stability and constructive cooperation. This was confirmed in the joint statement issued on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the Arctic Council in 2016. Inclusive cooperation and exploring common solutions to common challenges is the point of departure for the Finnish Chairmanship.
Finland wants to highlight two recent milestones which have major relevance to the Arctic.
The international community adopted a universal, legally binding climate agreement in Paris in 2015. Global warming is still expected to continue for decades with considerable impact on the Arctic. It is necessary to continue working to mitigate climate change and strengthen resilience and adaptation, and to raise awareness of Arctic issues in global climate talks.
The goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the United Nations in 2015, are global in scope and apply also in the Arctic. Sustainable development is at the core of the Arctic Council mandate. Accordingly, Finland proposes to explore how the Agenda 2030 framework can be used in Arctic cooperation for the benefit of humans and nature.
The Arctic is developing into an important hub of the twenty-first century. The economic potential of the region should be harnessed in a way that brings prosperity to, and guarantees the livelihood and social progress of, Arctic inhabitants and communities. Sustainable economic development is the key to resilient communities.
Finland strives to increase the cooperation between the Arctic Council and the Arctic Economic Council to support the goal of facilitating business-to-business activities and responsible economic development. Common areas of interest include capacity building, risk management, connectivity, cold-climate technologies and services, maritime transport, energy, bioeconomy, tourism, housing and mining.
In 2017 Finland celebrates the 100th anniversary of its independence. Among the planned Arctic events are the international Rovaniemi Arctic Spirit conference and a scientific expedition in Arctic waters on board a Finnish icebreaker.
Environmental protection lies at the core of Arctic cooperation. The Arctic region is often equated with a clean environment and plentiful natural resources. Healthy ecosystems and human well-being in the Arctic require effective environmental protection measures. Finland invites the Arctic Council to further focus on biodiversity conservation and pollution prevention, as well as mitigation and adaptation to climate change.
The Arctic Council and its Working Groups have produced a wealth of top-quality assessments on the state of the Arctic environment, along with recommendations for action. Finland encourages Member States to put the recommendations into practice and to communicate the results also in global forums. Finland proposes intensified exchange of information on best practices and emerging technologies to promote sustainable and responsible development in the
Well-functioning communication networks and services are a lifeline for human activities and a prerequisite for economic development in the Arctic. Electronic communication services improve safety and quality of life for those who live in or visit the Arctic. Access to broadband facilitates e-learning, enables the development of digital health and social services, and allows connectivity to media. Finland proposes to continue the Arctic Council’s work on telecommunications and explore ways to enhance the connectivity and availability of broadband services in the Arctic. This work would take into account the needs of indigenous peoples, local communities and businesses, tourism, and researchers. It would build on the recommendations of the Task Force on Telecommunications Infrastructure in the Arctic (TFTIA) and the Arctic Economic Council. The potential communications technologies include satellite connections, mobile communications systems, low-bandwidth transmission and sea cables.
Circumpolar meteorological and oceanographic cooperation will improve public safety, benefit international shipping and air traffic, and enhance Arctic climate science. By further developing meteorological cooperation, it is possible to improve monitoring and observation networks and the management of climate and water-related risks.
Intensified monitoring on land, at sea, in the atmosphere and i n space will provide better data coverage and fill geographical gaps in data collection. This leads to better services and forecasting of meteorological phenomena in the Arctic and contributes to making much-needed climate change scenarios as accurate as possible. Finland proposes to deepen meteorological and oceanographic cooperation among the Arctic States in collaboration with the World Meteorological Organization.
The Arctic region is characterized by sparsely populated communities, cultural diversity, a wealth of minority languages, differing socio-economic conditions, and long distances. Fair educational opportunities in remote areas are key for creating sustainable development and building resilience in Arctic communities. Equal access to good basic education opens the doors to learning trades, to higher education, and to finding a place in working life. It also lessens the risk of marginalization and the associated unfortunate consequences.
Teachers who work in Arctic and northern communities and who are committed to and inspired by the Arctic are the key factor in providing good basic education. To develop teaching methods in early childhood and in primary and lower secondary education, Finland proposes to strengthen the network of education specialists in cooperation with the University of the Arctic. Developing modern methods such as digitalization of education will be at the core of this effort.