Finland aims to be at the forefront of the Arctic bioeconomy



Gerry O'Sullivan

Posted: 28 August, 2018

Natural Resources Institute Finland has released recommendations to promote bioeconomy in the Arctic. The policy brief is compiled by researchers and it provides policy makers with information about the Arctic in Finland, summing up its opportunities and sustainable use. The goal is to ensure sustainable development in the changing climate and to get more Finnish products for the Asian market.

Finland has served as Chair of the Arctic Council since the summer of 2017. According to Research Professor Sirpa Kurppa of the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), technological issues, such as the Arctic seaway and oil reserves have been emphasised during the presidency. Therefore, the need to gather information on the specific issues of the Arctic bioeconomy is urgent.

The whole of Finland has Arctic know-how

Traditionally, only the regions north of the Polar circle are included in the Arctic. Recently, Norway has invested significantly in its northern regions. Moreover, in Jean-Claude Juncker era, the European Commission has emphasised that the outermost regions of the EU are no longer automatically supported, but unique features are needed for the financial support. Therefore, Finnish Lapland should strongly and smartly promote the Arctic.

– The work has already begun in Lapland. The Arctic conditions of Lapland and their use have been taken into account in the regional developmental strategy and Lapland has built the capacity to promote itself in the long run, Kurppa says.
The policy brief clarifies the importance of the Arctic and the whole Barents Sea region. Climate change has brought the Arctic in the focus in a new way in the whole of Europe. According to Kurppa, the importance of the Arctic is also growing in the Finnish economy.

Kurppa underlines that the Arctic concerns the whole Finland.
– For example, the systems operating in cold conditions can be developed and tested all over the country. In increasing the added value of Arctic food, we should take full advantage of all the knowledge and technology of Finnish experts from all over the country.

Tourism is part of bioeconomy

Extreme natural conditions are the starting point in the Arctic bioeconomy. Researchers have clarified how vulnerable nature can be used at different times of the year. The policy brief also addresses conflicts between different types of land use. The aim is to promote sustainable tourism and to maintain traditional land use, such as reindeer husbandry.

– Tourism grows fast and Finns should now consider how to manage it in their own hands. There is a great danger that tourism will move into the hands of the global players and our own influence will diminish. With mass tourism, the northern uniqueness can be ruined in an instant, Kurppa warns.

According to the researchers, the future of tourism is now closely watched in all the countries of the Arctic region.
– Tourists are attracted here by the well-functioning society, the services, nature and a secure environment, even the darkness. These we should cherish, Kurppa says.

Pure Food in the Asian market

The policy brief written by the researchers not only looks at the policy challenges, but includes the strengths of Finland in the Arctic bioeconomy. The cleanliness of the food production and the supporting images of the Arctic are absolute strengths that can be made use of.

– Specific opportunities can be found in berries, perhaps also potatoes and other food products, to which the long, bright summer time brings its own aroma, Kurppa says.

The Arctic food is aimed at the Chinese market and the rest of Asia, where high quality and pure food is in particular demand. In the joint project Arctic Food from Finland (Arvi) Luke and Finnish food promoting association Ruokatieto are clarifying the steps required to enter the Asian market, including the rules and regulations of the authorities. Moreover, the project is building product-specific cooperation to respond to the growing demand.

The Arctic policy brief is commissioned by the Ministry of agriculture and forestry.

Finland is holding the Presidency of the Arctic Council for the two-year period of 2017 to 2019. The member countries of the Council are Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Denmark, Sweden, Canada and the United States.