The biennial Rovaniemi Arctic Spirit Conference, 13th to 15th November, brought together almost 200 international Arctic experts from many different fields to discuss the currents geopolitical, social, environmental and other developments in the Arctic.
With the main theme” Towards New Horizons” the Conference focused on the Arctic after recent geopolitical changes. Especially the opening sessions in Korundi House of Culture approached Arctic security questions from a number of perspectives. The second day in Arktikum House hosted parallel sessions discussing a wide variety of Arctic topics, from climate tipping points to the role of local governance.
Also, pre-events included a matinee of Arctic films by young documentarists with a panel discussion on Arctic narratives.
-It is a tradition in our conferences to give much room to young voices. This time we did that in many panels and in the artistic program at the opening reception, with high school students having a performance on what they think about climate change, says Markku Heikkilä, who as the Head of science communications at the Arctic Centre has led the Conference preparations.
-The scale and the concept of this Conference make it possible to have genuine and meaningful meetings and discussions among participants coming from a variety of backgrounds. This is not what necessarily happens in very big gatherings, Heikkilä says. The Conference also had a wide scale of content partners.
The Finnish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Elina Valtonen, gave her keynote speech via remote connection. During security related thematic panels, the discussions focused on the state of Barents EuroArctic co-operation, the perspectives of Arctic co-operation, hard security and hybrid security in the Arctic and the role of Arctic communities.
The Rovaniemi Arctic Spirit conferences will continue biennially but there are plans to change the timing so that the next event would take place in late spring 2025. The main organizers of the Conferences are the Arctic Centre at the University of Lapland and the City of Rovaniemi.
Arctic Centre Head of Science Communications