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 6th time on 14-15 November 2023. The content of the event will be specified later.
The conference is organized by the City of Rovaniemi and the Arctic Centre at the University of Lapland.
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.
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 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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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.
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.
Rovaniemi Arctic Spirit conference reminds us 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.
"Perspectives on the opportunities and challenges of the Barents and Arctic cooperation" were discussed during the 2021 Conference. The international public launch of Finnish presidency of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council and discussion of the EU Arctic Policy brought a wide audience to Rovaniemi. The ambiance at the conference was remarkably warm. For many participants it was the first chance to meet their Arctic friends and colleagues since the outbreak of Covid 19 pandemia.
The theme of the 2019 Conference was "Climate Change and the Future Generations". In particular, the theme was examined from the perspective of young people and future generations living in the Arctic. The organizers were particularly pleased with the large number of young participants. The conference also celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Arctic Centre at the University of Lapland.