Chair, The Northern Forum
County Governor of Lapland, Finland
In 2021, the Northern Forum celebrated its 30th Anniversary. Lapland was elected to fulfill the responsibilities of the Chairmanship from April 2021 until April 2023 in the Northern Forum XIV General Assembly held in Naryan-Mar, Nenets Autonomous Okrug in April 2021. It is a great honor for me to follow in the footsteps of Hannele Pokka, latest Lappish chairman of the Northern Forum 2001-2005.
The Northern Forum has been a very important part of the Arctic and Northern regional cooperation all 30 years of its existence. The Northern Forum mission of improving the quality of life and supporting regional sustainable development and the principles of public diplomacy, independence and equality, among the others, are in high priority also for Lapland.
The year 2021 was a second year defined by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which – beyond its health threat – significantly limited the possibilities for cooperation, traveling or meeting each other. However, the Northern Forum had moved into “crisis mode” already in 2020 and managed to develop new solutions to organize events and continue working and interacting with each other online. During this hard period, the Northern Forum member regions have demonstrated a high level of engagement to the cooperation.
During the past 2021 year, the Northern Forum has successfully implemented and organized a large number of events and actions.
The biggest impact was the III Northern Sustainable Development Forum, which took place in Yakutsk September 27-30. The Forum was held in a hybrid format, altogether 76 events in four days. The events were plenary sessions, panel discussions, roundtables, webinars, scientific conferences, workshops, project presentations, exhibitions, tours, cultural events, and side-events. I express my deepest gratitude to the Secretariat of the Northern Forum for making this possible.
The Northern Forum Development Strategy 2030 provides for the creation of the Institute of Northern Forum Goodwill Ambassadors. The first seven Goodwill Ambassadors were nominated during the III Northern Sustainable Development Forum. Congratulations to all the Goodwill Ambassadors! We look forward to close cooperation.
Project activity is one of the most in-demand activities, which can bring a tangible effect for the participating regions and business partners. There are four projects, the work on which has been carried out during 2021.
Financing of the Northern Forum is based solely on membership dues, which constantly creates some instability. There is a need to create sustainable financial instruments for supporting the most important activities like projects. In the end of 2021 a foundation will be registered in Iceland in order to collect extra funds for northern cooperation.
The Northern Forum has a status of Observer in the Arctic Council and it is the only nongovernmental organization for interregional cooperation in that role. Under the Chairmanship of the Russian Federation in the Arctic Council, The Northern Forum has been invited as an organizer and partner of a number of MIKA RIIPI Chair, The Northern Forum County Governor of Lapland, Finland 5 major international events. These initiatives will increase the role of interregional cooperation and will give a possibility to increase also the role of regions in the Arctic Council.
It is impossible to predict the future – how the pandemic will develop and how it may affect next years’ work. Nevertheless, already this year has shown that the common background for collaboration is strong and we´ve achieved a lot despite the restrictions and difficulties on traveling.
I´M VERY CONFIDENT THAT WITH THIS SAME SPIRIT WE WILL BE SUCCESSFUL ALSO IN THE FUTURE!