Rovaniemi Arctic Spirit has been organized in Rovaniemi every two years since 2013 and is the only regular international Arctic conference in Finland. The Conference will be arranged for the 4th time on 12-13 November 2019 under the theme 'Climate Change and the Future Generations'.
The conference will bring continuity to Finland's Arctic activities after the end of Finland’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council, and it is the official side event of Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union.
The conference is organized by the City of Rovaniemi and the Arctic Centre at the University of Lapland.
Esko Lotvonen, Mayor, the City of Rovaniemi
Markku Heikkilä, Head of Science Communications, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland
The Conference was organized for the first time in 2013. The name of the Conference was “In the Spirit of the Rovaniemi Process” with an idea to continue the tradition of Rovaniemi as a host to Arctic conferences and cooperation. The theme was “Arctic Cities, Global Processes and Local Realities” and the program was science-oriented. Main organizers of the conference from the beginning have been the Arctic Centre at the University of Lapland and the City of Rovaniemi.
The theme of the second Conference was “Local and Global Arctic”. With the theme, the Conference addressed the interaction of the global, regional and local levels in the Arctic, such as the impacts of global processes on local communities in the Arctic. The Conference gathered scientist from different disciplines and the topics varied from geopolitics to natural resources and design.
The Conference got a new name: Rovaniemi Arctic Spirit. The theme of the 2017 Conference was “The UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Arctic” by bringing to discussion how to implement the goals to the context of Arctic science, policy and economy. The Rovaniemi Arctic Spirit was the first large scale public Arctic event during the Finnish chairmanship of the Arctic Council (2017–2019) and the Conference was the official event of Finland 100 centenary program.
First sign of the Cooperation
The Rovaniemi Arctic Spirit conference honor the visions that in the early 90’s started the official Arctic cooperation between Arctic states. During the Cold war period the international Arctic cooperation was non-existent and unimaginable. The first real sign of the change was the speech that the Soviet leader Michail Gorbachev had in Murmansk in 1987. For the first time he opened perspectives for Arctic cooperation, especially in the field of environment.
First Ministerial Conference in Rovaniemi
In 1989, Finland made an initiative on international cooperation to protect the Arctic environment. This started a negotiation process that came to be known as the Rovaniemi Process, as it was named after the place where the first meeting was held in 1989. It all culminated in 1991 at the first ever ministerial level meeting of Arctic states, again in Rovaniemi. Also Arctic indigenous peoples had, for the first time, a seat in these tables.
The Arctic Council, an Outgrowth of the AEPS
The Rovaniemi Process in 1991 lead to the adoption of the first common strategy of the Arctic nations: the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy, AEPS. Moreover, the Rovaniemi Process played a central role when Arctic cooperation developed into the Arctic Council, established in 1996 in Canada.
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Environmental Working Groups
The process launched the environmental working groups that still exist, now under the Arctic Council: CAFF (Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna), PAME (Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment), EPPR (Emergency Prevention, Preparedness and Response), AMAP (Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme) and a Task Force on Sustainable Development and Utilization.
In the Spirit of Rovaniemi Process
The idea of Arctic conferences in Rovaniemi is to bring the spirit and the contemporary legacies of the Rovaniemi Process further. The Rovaniemi Process has increased peace and stability in this unique part of the world and the results of the process are still today seen in the priorities of Arctic co-operation, environmental protection and sustainable development. The contemporary legacies of the Rovaniemi Process include also the nature of the circumpolar cooperation that is marked by close scientific collaboration, people-to-people connections and networks of businesses and arts.
Arctic Conferences in Rovaniemi
Rovaniemi Arctic Spirit conference also remind that Rovaniemi has a strong tradition in hosting major Arctic initiatives and events. The Northern Dimension of the EU was first introduced in Rovaniemi in 1997 and the University of the Arctic was officially established in Rovaniemi. In the recent years, the University of Lapland and its Arctic Centre in Rovaniemi has been hosting the initiative to establish the EU Arctic Information Centre. All these build in the geographical location of the city at the Arctic Circle together with a well-functioning academic Arctic infrastructure.