Speech by Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland Timo Soini at the Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region, Inari 17 September 2018.
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Chair of the Arctic Delegation of the Finnish Parliament Katri Kulmuni,
Chair of the Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region Eirik Sivertsen,
President of the Saami Parliament of Finland Tiina Sanila-Aikio,
Esteemed Members of Parliament,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Role of Parliaments and Members of Parliament interested in Arctic affairs is crucial for successful Arctic cooperation.
It is an honor for us that this Conference is held here in Finland.
Thank you Municipality of Inari and Mayor Mr. Laine for having us here.
I wish to thank all of you for supporting the ongoing Finnish Chairmanship and for raising important issues also in the declaration that this Conference will adopt.
Climate change is our common concern. The Arctic States and their inhabitants will have to adapt to great changes and build resilience.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have passed the half-way post of our chairmanship, and it is time to take a look of what has been achieved and what is still in the pipeline.
Finland defined four priorities for our Chairmanship: environmental protection, connectivity, meteorological cooperation and education.
I believe that we have already made a breakthrough in meteorological cooperation. The need for better observation and services in the Artic has been recognized and the national institutes - together with the World Meteorological Organization – have committed themselves to direct more resources toward the North.
In the area of connectivity, we are reaching another breakthrough, based on increased mobility. New space technology will complement existing networks and ensure functional connectivity everywhere. Here the Arctic Council cooperates closely with the Arctic Economic Council.
Improved connectivity together with reliable meteorological services will have an enormous impact for the use of sea routes and improve economic activities in the Arctic region.
Equal access to education is a key to ensure the participation of all people, including indigenous peoples, in the development of their communities and the region. Together with the University of the Arctic we are working to build the capacities of Arctic inhabitants, so that they can use the opportunities that are opening up.
Climate change can be countered only by concrete actions. Therefore, Finland has invited other Arctic States to join in curbing the emissions of black carbon, which accelerates climate change and is a serious health hazard. Tangible results can be reached relatively quickly if we modernize power and heat production facilities, end residual flaring in oil and gas production, and switch from heavy fuel oil to LNG in ship engines.
And what more could we do?
We all have been reading about the wildfires that have taken place during this summer. I hope that the dramatic fires this summer were a wake-up call. These wildfires are threat to Arctic communities. They are also a source of black carbon emissions. Predictions are that with the climate change fires could become more a regular. It is important that we make an urgent effort to improve our capacities to predict and prevent wildfires in the future. This is something I have asked my experts to look into.
As navigation in Arctic waters increases, we need to improve maritime safety and security. We should fully implement the existing agreements, use new and emerging technologies, and work with the International Maritime Organization to develop regulation.
Finally, Ladies and Gentlemen,
When we pursue goals which have practical importance for all of us, I trust that we can keep Arctic cooperation on course.