Archive and Chronology of Finnish Foreign Policy

Prime Minister Marin’s speech at Arctic Frontiers conference

(Check Against Delivery)

I am pleased to address this audience of friends of the Arctic.

Dear Erna, dear Nordic colleagues, I would have liked to be able to participate fully in your panel discussion, but this week is the opening week of the Parliamentary session in Finland.

Finland is an Arctic country and a global polar actor.

Finland’s new Arctic policy will be ready in the spring. The policy paper is about to be sent for a public consultation process. With that in mind, this year’s Arctic Frontiers could not have come at a better moment.

Dear friends of the Arctic,

We will overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, but climate change will be with us for generations to come. The Arctic will be forever changed. The effects of melting ice are global.

Our activities in the Arctic region must depend on the capacity of nature to cope with them. This will be a core idea of our new Arctic Strategy, too.

However, we cannot sustain our effort against climate change if we do not also approach it as an opportunity.

Moving towards a circular economy, building sustainable businesses and finding low-carbon solutions are key as we build back our societies after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dear friends of the Arctic,

The future of the Arctic depends on our global efforts to combat climate change. Our eyes are now focused on the road to COP 26.

Today, we can feel the winds changing. It gave us all hope when, on his first day in office, US President Biden put climate and science back at the top of the agenda. It matters that the United States is returning to its role as a global climate leader.

Protecting the fragile Arctic environment is once again a priority for every member state of the Arctic Council.

We can seize this opportunity and bring the world’s attention to the Arctic and the effects of global warming on the communities that live there. We can do so much more now together – for example regarding black carbon emissions.

Dear friends,

Finland is one of the eight member states in the Arctic Council.

The Arctic Council is the most important forum for Arctic cooperation. The Council currently has 38 observers, so it does hear those outside the Arctic family, too. We who live and work in the Arctic must make sure that the Arctic Council is well equipped.

I wish to congratulate Iceland on the very successful conduct of its Chairmanship over the past two years in a most difficult context. I am convinced that the Ministerial meeting in May will be fruitful.

Russia is the incoming Chair of the Arctic Council. Russia has also recently published a Strategy on the Arctic. Its Chairmanship of the Arctic Council coincides with Finland’s Presidency of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council.

At the practical level, the Arctic region, its environment, citizens and civil society also benefit from the Northern Dimension of the European Union and its partnerships.

I was pleased to note that the High Representative of the European Union, Mr. Borrell, spoke here at Arctic Frontiers on Tuesday.

The European Union is already very much present in the Arctic, even if the EU may not always see itself as an Arctic actor. The EU could become more active in Arctic matters. It has resources and expertise to do so. I look forward to a very ambitious new Communication when the EU publishes it later this year.

Dear friends of the Arctic,

We need long-term thinking. The Arctic is the fastest-warming place on Earth. Finland’s national climate targets are ambitious: Finland will be climate neutral by 2035 and climate negative soon after that.

All Arctic countries have either already adopted, or will soon adopt, Arctic strategies that look beyond the immediate future.

Our new Arctic Strategy will outline the objectives of Finland’s Arctic policy and activities until 2030. More specifically, our Strategy identifies four priority areas:

1. Climate change – mitigation and adaptation

2. Inhabitants – promoting the welfare and rights of indigenous peoples

3. Expertise – livelihoods and leading-edge research

4. Infrastructure and logistics

The Strategy’s cross-cutting themes are the principles of sustainable development, gender equality and non-discrimination. The participation of the Sámi in Finland's Arctic cooperation and Arctic policy is an important part of the whole.

We are looking forward to the Sámi Truth and Reconciliation Commission to start its work later this year. I would also like to take this opportunity to wish the Sámi people a happy National Day on Saturday!

Dear Arctic friends,

Today, climate change is opening the Arctic to actors and interests not seen there before.

Today, the Arctic region risks becoming a crossing point where often-conflicting interests meet. We should not allow new threats enter the Arctic, where the real existential threat is climate change.

Thank you.