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Arctic Yearbook 2012
somewhat short-sighted not to give greater emphasis to the promotion and export of
Finnish know-how and expertise in environmental technology.
Finland’s objectives in “Transport and Infrastructure” are understandable, since the
development of transport, communication and logistic networks both in Northern Finland
and the Barents Region is much needed. There is also an urgent need to ensure safe
navigation in northern seas, both in terms of the physical impact of climate change and
growth in seagoing transport. The fourth sector of the Strategy, “Indigenous Peoples”, will
be realized by facilitating the participation of indigenous peoples in matters to do with their
affairs and strengthening the status of the Barents Region’s indigenous peoples. Absent,
however, is a clear objective to ratify the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples 169 Convention
(ILO 169).
In declaring the AC as the main forum for Arctic affairs and policy, and striving to promote
international cooperation on Arctic issues at the global and regional level, as well as
bilaterally, Finland is taking an important and timely step. Here it is imperative that the
mandate of the Council be renegotiated and broadened, as Finland has proposed, so that it
can leave its current state of political ‘inability’ behind. Finally, the EU’s recognition of “the
importance of the Arctic Region” (Prime Minister’s Office, 2010: 45), and that the Union is
accepted as a (global) Arctic player, are emphasized. Here, Finland could be seen to be
promoting itself as an advocate of the EU in Arctic affairs. This sounds logical from
Finland’s point of view, but may involve risks for Finland as an AC member and more
generally in the context of multilateral Arctic cooperation due to a divided opinion regarding
the role of the EU as an Arctic actor among some Arctic states and Northern indigenous
peoples’ organizations.
All in all, Finland’s Arctic Strategy covers most of the features of a modern strategy
document in adopting a holistic approach. It does not have clear priority areas, though there
is an apparent preference for economic activities. Finally, the Strategy can be seen as
reflecting and responding to the recent significant and multi-functional environmental and
geopolitical change(s) in the Arctic region, not least by its worldwide approach to the region.