Thursday May 25, 2017

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Week Ahead

Finland’s first

Helsinki’s Arctic Council chairmanship programme gets down to business in Lapland
Now leaving the station: industrial development (Photo: Siemens)

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The eighth Arctic Business Forum, starting on Wednesday, May 17, is the first big Arctic event in Finland since Helsinki assumed responsibility for the Arctic Council last week.

As ever, the gathering will give organisers and the country’s businesses the chance to make the case for snow-how, the punchy term Finns have have come up with to market their Arctic expertise.

Rather than Rovaniemi, the city that hosted the first seven intallments of the forum, this year the gathering will take place in Kemi, an industrial city. Here, on the border with Sweden, the plan is to emphasise the heavier side of Arctic development potential, including not just mining, but also steel production and timbering. The Swedes have also been invited to share their lessons with the same industries.

Permeating the pitches from both sides of the border will be the perpetual question of infrastructure and the funding required to make development more than just a topic of discussion.

SEE RELATED: A moving experience

The meeting puts two tenets of Helsinki’s chairmanship programme to the test: applying the UN’s 2030 sustainable development goals to the region, and ensuring that the work of the Arctic Council and the Arctic Economic Council, which it also chairs, is closely in sync. 

Both are seen as a way for the Finns to live up to their goal of promoting economic development for the sake of the people who live in the region. Sticking to the programme would result in a windfall of proportions: the Arctic Business Forum’s organisers reckon Europe’s northern-most regions are good for €197 billion ($216 billion) in development potential.