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The development of the Arctic region involves both threats and opportunities, whose sustainable management will be a huge challenge, stated President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö in a speech opening one of the plenary sessions of the Arctic Circle Assembly, in Reykjavik on Friday 31 October.
“We probably have made some mistakes already. But we still have the possibility of avoiding further, perhaps bigger mistakes”, president Niinistö said.
In his speech, the President emphasised the rights of indigenous peoples, the challenges related to environmental protection and climate change, and reminded his audience of the particularly fragile nature of the region. Climate change is affecting the Arctic region faster than anywhere else and its impacts are spreading outwards into the entire world. ” Nature, environment and climate should always be our starting points as we ourselves cannot exist without suitable conditions”, president Niinistö reminded.
On the other hand, new opportunities lie in issues such as the natural resources of the Arctic region and new sea traffic routes. Benefiting from such opportunities will require high-level research, clean technology and Arctic expertise.
” ‘Arctic know-how’ is a combination of scientific research, practical experience and right technology. Finland has all these three in top shape”, president Niinistö said in his opening speech.
Finland was one of the four theme countries of the event and on Friday afternoon President Niinistö opened a country session in which Finland’s Arctic expertise was showcased. Ambassador of Arctic Affairs Hannu Halinen acted as the moderator of the Finland session, which also was attended by Tero Vauraste, Vice-Chair of the Arctic Economic Council and CEO and President of Arctia Shipping; Petteri Taalas, Director General of the Finnish Meteorological Institute and Pertti Korhonen, CEO of Outotec.
Arctic Circle is a forum in which political decision-makers, representatives of business life, researchers, environmental experts and indigenous peoples can engage in discussion. The idea is to focus attention on the rapid changes occurring in the Arctic region. This is the second occasion on which the Arctic Circle Assembly has been arranged in Iceland. Representatives of over 30 countries participated.
Before the beginning of the assembly on Thursday 30 October, President Niinistö met with Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, the President of Iceland, in Reykjavik. The presidents discussed issues such as international relations, matters concerning the Arctic, as well as the international situation, particularly with respect to Russia and the Ukraine crisis.
- 31.10.2014 Speech by President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö at the Arctic Circle 2014 Opening Session on 31 October 2014 in Reykjavik, Iceland