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In Rovaniemi, Finland looks for its role the Arctic

Irene Quaile, Deutsche Welle

Rovaniemi is where I would like to have spent the last few days.

From Dec. 2 to 4, the first of a series of Arctic conferences was held there, organized by the city of Rovaniemi and the Arctic Centre of the University of Lapland.

Rovaniemi, a Finnish town right on the edge of the Arctic circle, is known to Arctic buffs because of the “Rovaniemi Process," a Finnish initiative for Arctic environmental cooperation, which ultimately led to the adoption of the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy, signed in Rovaniemi in 1991. This in turn played an important role in the establishment of the Arctic Council

In the spirit of that Rovaniemi Process, the city and the University’s Arctic Centre decided to organize a series of conferences, this being the first one. Finland, like all the northern states, is trying to assert its position in the region against the background of climate change and growing international interest.

The initiative is organized as a network, making use of existing expertise and the infrastructures of its members. Its headquarters are located at the Arctic Centre in Rovaniemi. Currently there are nineteen partners. The European Commission selected the consortium to carry out a key one million euro project to produce a “Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment of development of the Arctic”. The project should be completed in 2014 and should make for interesting reading.

Bearing this in mind, it’s worth keeping an eye on what comes out of the Rovaniemi conference. And I’d recommend the publication, “The Arctic Calls." It has interesting interview, maps, photos and insight. You can also get it from the Arctic Centre or download an online version.

Let me finish by quoting from the final pages:

“The images of icebergs drifting out to sea have turned from symbols of freshness to symbols of disappearance. They have become images of a unique world that is undergoing drastic change and is about to lose many of its characteristics.” How right you are.

Irene Quaile works as a journalist for Deutsche Welle, Germany's international broadcaster. This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.