Testing improvement processes of Finnish environmental impact assessment and the modes for application in Arctic Regions of Finland and Russia

(2013-2014)


The Arctic Centre has been awarded Tekes (the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation) funding to start a two-year strategic research project in the Arctic region. The project strengthens Finland’s role as an international expert in the environmental impact assessment know-how in the Arctic and supports Finnish companies in their environmental impact assessment (EIA) work in Lapland and Arctic Russia.

The environmental impact assessment (EIA) is a legal assessment process, where the company planning a project must evaluate the project and the impacts of its alternatives on the environment. The EIA includes consultation with local people and organizations to comment on the project. The EIA report is the prerequisite for the project to receive the operating license.

The aim of the new project called Testing improvement processes of Finnish environmental impact assessment and the modes for application in Arctic Regions of Finland and Russia is to provide Finnish companies with good practices and free access to an online information service that includes information about environmental legislation, rules, contact persons/institutions in Finland and in Russia; and, therefore, enhance high environmental standards and business opportunities in the Arctic Russia and Finland.

In number of recent speeches the Finnish Minister for Foreign Affairs Erkki Tuomioja has brought up the significance of the EIA. In the seminar for Finnish-Russian Arctic Partnership in June this year, he said that “The Arctic region’s economic development in environmentally and socially sustainable manner requires that the EIA is effective and also takes into account the special arctic characteristics of the area”. He suggests that the Arctic Council would take the issue actively to agenda.

“The Arctic Centre has twenty years of experience in the EIA processes in the Arctic, as well as the research related. The level of the EIA processes and reports varies, and it is therefore important that the companies, which are in key position to the EIA work, will be supported in the implementation”, says the Director of the Arctic Centre Paula Kankaanpää.

The main output of the project is bridging the gaps in knowledge on business needs and opportunities for Finnish companies and their working surroundings in the environmental impact assessment activities in Lapland and in the Arctic Russia and beyond.

The proposed intervention will support Finnish companies by five main results:
  • Analysis of existing EIA processes, practices and trends in Finland, Arctic Russia and other Arctic regions;
  • Benchmarking visits to 6 different countries;
  • Participation in round table sessions and reflection spaces;
  • State of the art review – International Good Practices of EIA;
  • Free-access to online information service on EIA in Russia for Finnish companies

“By this approach, three final products – good practices, information service, and roadmap – will address the gaps in our knowledge on the significance of the environmental impact assessments as well as to contribute to a common understanding of the well-being of the region’s society and environment at large”, says the project leader research professor Timo Koivurova.

Project partners with the Arctic Centre are Lapin vesitutkimus Oy (Lapland Water Research Ltd), Arctia Shipping Ltd, Sito Ltd, Kemijoki Ltd, Ylläksen Matkailuyhdistys (Tourism Association in Ylläs), Levin matkailu Oy (Levi Tourist Office in Lapland Finland Ltd), Northland Mines Ltd, Agnico-Eagle Finland Ltd, Kittilä Mine, Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment in Lapland, and Tunturi-Lapin Kehitys ry (Regional Development Agency for Fell Lapland).

More information

Research Professor Timo Koivurova
The Northern Institute for Environmental and Minority Law/Arctic Centre
Tel. +358 40 551 9522
timo.koivurova (at) ulapland.fi