Speakers and audience in the Washington event.
Arctic themes attracted a large audience to the Finnish Embassy in Washington. Photo: Embassy of Finland in the U.S.

Finnish Arctic Spirit was well received in Canada and the USA

21.2.2024 13:06

Two Arctic Spirit themed conferences were held in Ottawa and Washington DC, the capitals of Canada and the United States, on the 13th and 15th of February. In both countries, it was the first time that Finland was presented as an Arctic country by specialists from the University of Lapland and its Arctic Centre.

Finnish ambassadors to the US and Canada, Jari Vilén and Mikko Hautala, invited key Arctic figures and other interested stakeholders from both countries to learn about Finland’s role as an Arctic country and discuss other current Arctic topics.

Arctic Centre senior researcher Sanna Kopra participated in Arctic security related discussions and emphasized the roles of China and the acute reality of climate change. The Arctic Centre director Johanna Ikävalko, moderated a panel discussion with the theme “sustainable and just future”, to which Arctic Centre senior researcher Tanja Joona and University of Lapland professor of tourism research Outi Rantala participated as speakers. In addition, the Arctic Centre head of science communications, Markku Heikkilä, gave opening keynotes about Finland as an Arctic country.

Alongside the Finnish specialists, key Arctic experts representing Canadian and US research institutes and ministries participated in the panels, including Department of Defence speakers from both countries.

Geopolitics has recently been predominant in the Arctic discussions. However, the events received positive feedback from attendees, as Finnish participants also addressed other topics. Especially questions related to tourism and the sustainability of green transition gave new perspectives for the audience, as the differences and similarities in the Arctic conditions in Northern America and Finland were emphasized.

A strong wish was heard in both Ottawa and Washington, that Finland’s Arctic Spirit goes North America -events would be organized in Canada and the US as well in the future. The name Arctic Spirit refers to Rovaniemi Arctic Spirit conference series, with the next event coming up in 2025.

Speakers in the Ottawa event.
The first event of the North American Arctic Spirit Week was organized in Ottawa, Canada. Photo: Markku Heikkilä.