Finland Explores New Direction for Its Arctic Policy

Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin and her State Secretary Henrik Haapajärvi (second to the right) have started updating the country's Arctic policy for a new era after massive upheavals caused by Russia's warfare. Next week, Haapajärvi comes to Tromsø to collect input during the major Arctic conference Arctic Frontiers. (Photo: Laura Kotila/the Finnish government)  

Finland wants to update its Arctic policy following the war in Ukraine and will kick off the debate during Arctic Frontiers in Tromsø, Northern Norway, next week.

Russia's war against Ukraine has created major ripple effects in the Arctic and Finland is now about to chisel out a new Arctic policy to navigate the altered terrain. 

As part of this work, the Finnish government has invited a number of voices to Tromsø for Arctic Frontiers to discuss the changes in the Arctic and how they affect Finland's approach to the region.

The discussion will take place next Tuesday as a side event of the conference and will be opened by Henrik Haapajärvi, State Secretary at the Prime Minister's Office and leader of the delegation for Arctic issues.

"Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine has extensive and long-term consequences for Finland's security policy environment, also in the Arctic region, which we have tried to keep as free from tension as possible," says Haapäjarvi in a press release.

Some central points in the Finnish Arctic policy will, however, be carried on, he says.

"Climate change and biological diversity, sustainable development and indigenous rights will also be prioritized areas of Finland's Arctic policy going forward."

Broadly based panel

Among those participating in the discussion are Liisa Rohweder at WWF Finland, Liisa Ansala of Lapland Chamber of Commerce, and Pirita Näkkäläjärvi of the Sàmi Parliament in Finland.

Perspectives from diplomacy and research will also be represented by Petteri Vuorimäki, Finland's Arctic Ambassador, Mike Sfraga from the US Arctic Research Commission, and Johanna Ikävalko, Director of the Arctic Center at the University of Lapland.

The event will be streamed and can also be watched as a recording on the Arctic Frontiers website.

Active Finnish participation

Arctic Frontiers starts on Monday and lasts until Thursday. On the opening day, the Finnish delegation for Arctic issues will meet Norwegian representatives to discuss Finnish-Norwegian cooperation in the new situation the Arctic finds itself in.

The delegation is a government advisory board that will support and strengthen Finland's Arctic policy. It is set up by the Prime Minister's Office, which is responsible for coordination in the Arctic policy field. The country's Arctic policy was last updated in 2021.

During the conference, Haapäjarvi and Johanna Sumuvuori, State Secretary at the Finnish MFA, will meet political representatives for the other Arctic countries. Sumuvuori will also participate in panel discussions on how the Arctic is affected by global driving forces such as climate change and geopolitics, as well as energy restructuring and Nordic solutions.

The Arctic ambassador will also participate in a session on the future of Arctic research cooperation and science diplomacy in light of the Ukraine War.

Also read

This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by Birgitte Annie Molid Martinussen.