Arctic Biodiversity Congress 2018, plenary speakers

Several speakers will address the Arctic Biodiversity Congress plenary. Plenary sessions will be live-streamed from the Tievo plenary hall to neighbouring Kero and Valtuustostali in City Hall.

Livđe in the landscape

Anna Morottaja, performing artist

Anna Morottaja. Photo: Tarmo Lehtosalo, LehtikuvaAnna Morottaja. Photo: Tarmo Lehtosalo, LehtikuvaAnna Morottaja is an Inari Sámi musician, from Northern Finland where she lives in her childhood home near lake Muddusjärvi in which she fishes all year round. Traditional Inari Sámi music, livđe, is close to her heart and Anna is also a master of the northern Sámi joik. Livđe and joik are integral parts of her everyday life. Anna is known for the broad range of her voice and has taught livđe at kindergartens and schools.

In her performance Anna evokes the world through Inari Sámi livđe and illustrates it using the photography of Rauno Koivunen. The themes of livđe are connected to birds which provide their own tone to the seasons while the photos of Rauno describe the changing seasons in the North.

Rauno Koivunen has photographed nature in Lappi for several years especially lake Muddusjärvi during the changing seasons. Rauno comes from Ähtäri, Mid-Finland and became interested in nature when he moved to Inari in 2011. He is especially interested in capturing the tones of different seasons and in close-up photos of flora and fauna.

Inari Sámi is one of nine Sami languages and is spoken only in the Inari region, in northern Finland. Inari Sámi is spoken by 400 people and due to a successful revitalization work amongst kindergarten children and adults, is flourishing today. People are the main theme of livđe but birds, fish and other animals are also reflected. Livđe was almost lost to history due to the pressures of the modern world but was thankfully rescued through the work of artists such as Anna is becoming a part of everyday life in the Inari Sámi region.


Opening words

Sauli Niinistö, President of the Republic of Finland

Read the opening remarks of the President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö during the opening of the Arctic BIodiversity Congress, 2018ö during the opening of the Arctic BIodiversity Congress, 2018

President Niinisto. Photo: Office of the President of the Republic of FinlandPresident Niinisto. Photo: Office of the President of the Republic of Finland

President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Väinämö Niinistö, the 12th President of the Republic of Finland, was inaugurated on 1 March 2012 and re-elected in January 2018. President Niinistö was inaugurated for his second term on 1 February 2018.

Sauli Niinistö was born in Salo on 24 August 1948. He graduated from the University of Turku with a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1974 and was subsequently employed as a rural police chief and, for more than ten years, as an assistant judge at the Turku Court of Appeal. He also practiced law as an attorney and gained experience of corporate administration. He was elected to the Town Council of Salo in 1977 and continued to hold elected posts in local government until the 1990s.

Sauli Niinistö was first elected to Parliament in 1987. His elected posts while in Parliament included chairing the Constitutional Law Committee. In 1995, he was appointed Minister of Justice and Deputy Prime Minister in the Government of Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen. Reshuffled to the Ministry of Finance in 1996, he eventually became Finland’s longest-serving Minister of Finance to date. When he took up this post, the aftermath of the 1990s recession was at its worst, and unemployment was at record high levels. Those difficulties were overcome, however, and Finland entered the new millennium with a robust economy. 

Sauli Niinistö was Chairman of the National Coalition Party from 1994 to 2001. In addition to his political activities in Finland, he was the Chairman of the European Democrat Union (EDU), with a membership of right-wing parties from almost all European countries, from 1998 to 2002. He was instrumental in merging the EDU with the European People’s Party (EPP) and was appointed the second Honorary President of the latter. 

In 2003, Sauli Niinistö took up the post of Vice President of the European Investment Bank in Luxembourg. His purview included R&D funding and funding activities in the Nordic countries and Russia, and he was also chairman of the Northern Dimension Partnership Programme. He has also been a Member and Chairman of the Board of Governors of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and a Member of the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC).

Sauli Niinistö returned to the Finnish Parliament in the 2007 election with the highest number of votes ever gained by a candidate. He was Speaker of Parliament from 2007 to 2011. 

President Niinistö is married to Jenni Haukio and they had a son, Aaro, in February 2018. His family also includes Lennu, a Boston Terrier. In addition, president Niinistö has two adult sons from his previous marriage.

President Niinistö is active in sports and was also Chairman of the Finnish Football Association from 2009 to 2012 and Chairman of the organising committee for the 2009 European Figure Skating Championships. He has written two books.

Find out more about the President of the Republic of Finland.


Keynote speech

Tiina Sanila-Aikio, President of the Sámi Parliament of Finland

Read the full text of Tiina Sanila-Aikio's speech to the Arctic Biodiversity Congress here.

Tiina Sanila AikioTiina Sanila Aikio

Tiina Sanila-Aikio, or Paavvâl Taannâl Tiina in Sámi language, was born in Sevettijärvi, Inari 25.3.1983, far up north in Finland, to a reindeer hearding family. Sanila-Aikio grew up in Sevettijärvi, where she went to the elementary school. After high school, which she attended in Rovaniemi, she started studying law in Lapland University. Nowadays she lives in the village of Inari with her husband and daughter.

Sanila-Aikio has been member of the Sámi Parliament since year 2012. She was elected as 1. Vice President of the Parliament for the electoral term of 2012-2015, and as President of the Parliament in May 2015 for the end of the electoral term 2012-2015. Sanila-Aikio was re-elected as a President of the Sámi Parliament for the electoral term 2016-2019 in February 2016.

Before becoming the President of the Sámi Parliament, Sanila-Aikio was working as a teacher of Skolt Sámi language and culture in the Sámi Education Institute in Inari. During that time, she was also active in other aspects of Skolt Sámi language and culture, like translating and creating new educational material. Sanila-Aikio is also known for her performing art. Both traditional Skolt Sámi leudd songs and modern rock music are near her heart. Tiina Sanila-Aikio, when ever she has time, goes back to reindeer hearding, which is the second livelyhood of her family.

Find out more on the Sámi Parliament of Finland.


Keynote speech

Aleksi Härkönen, Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials of the Arctic Council

Read the keynote speech delivered by Aleksi Härkönen to the Arctic Biodiveristy Congress

Aleksi Harkonen. Photo: Arctic CouncilAleksi Harkonen. Photo: Arctic Council

Aleksi Härkönen has served as Finland’s Ambassador for Arctic Affairs since 2014. Operating under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ambassador for Arctic Affairs manages Finland's participation in international arctic cooperation, for example, as a member of the Arctic Council. Härkönen has previously served, for instance, as the Finnish Ambassador to Estonia (2010-2014), a Special Adviser to President Tarja Halonen (2009-2010), and the Head of Finland's OSCE Chairmanship Task Force (2007-2009). Härkönen holds a Master’s degree in Social Sciences from the University of Helsinki.

When the Arctic Council Chairmanship passed from the United States to Finland in May of 2017, Ambassador Aleksi Härkönen assumed the role of Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials (SAO Chair), charged with overseeing the Arctic Council's work during the Finnish Chairmanship.

Read more on Finland's Arctic Council Chairmanship.


Tundra pasture ecosystems: past and future

Sergei Zimov, North-East Scientific Station of Pacific Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences

Sergei A. Zimov, director of the Northeast Science Station in Cherskii in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), received his academic training in geophysics at the Far East State University in Vladivostok, Russia. He subsequently did fieldwork in northern Siberia for the Pacific Institute for Geography, part of the Far East Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. In 1980, he organized the science station that he now directs.

Research at the center includes studies of global carbon and methane budgets and animal extinctions that occurred in Siberia when the Pleistocene epoch gave way to the ongoing Holocene about 10,000 years ago.

In 1989, Zimov initiated a long-term project known as “Pleistocene Park,” which he now is pursuing with a number of partners. The goal of the project is to reconstitute the long-gone ecosystem of the Pleistocene epoch that supported vast populations of large animals including mammoths, horses, reindeer, bison, wolves, and other large predators. If the effort succeeds in the park, Zimov and his co-workers would like to see the ecosystem restored over much larger areas in an effort to stave off what otherwise could be a massive release of carbon that now is sequestered in the permafrost but that could be released into the atmosphere as global temperatures rise. His hunting of mammoth remains in the tundra and his bold vision of controlling and restoring ecosystems have earned him coverage in books, documentaries, and other media.

 Learn more about Sergei's work at Pleistocene Park.


Indigenous peoples, biodiversity, and their interrelated nature

Dalee Sambo Dorough, Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council

Read the full text of Dalee Sambo Dorough's keynote speech to the Arctic Biodiversity Congress.

Dr. Dalee Sambo Dorough was elected as Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council in June 2018.  

Founded in 1977 by the late Eben Hopson of Barrow, Alaska, the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) has flourished and grown into a major international non-government organization representing approximately 160,000 Inuit of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Chukotka (Russia). The organization holds Consultative Status II at the United Nations.

To thrive in their circumpolar homeland, Inuit had the vision to realize they must speak with a united voice on issues of common concern and combine their energies and talents towards protecting and promoting their way of life. The principal goals of ICC are, therefore, to strengthen unity among Inuit of the circumpolar region; promote Inuit rights and interests on an international level; develop and encourage long-term policies that safeguard the Arctic environment; and seek full and active partnership in the political, economic, and social development of circumpolar regions.

Dr. Sambo Dorough is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at University of Alaska Anchorage; Alaska Member of the Inuit Circumpolar Council Advisory Committee on UN Issues; Member of the Board of Trustees of UN Voluntary Fund for Indigenous Populations; and Member of the International Law Association Committee on Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Dr. Dorough has a long history of direct involvement in the discussion, debate, and negotiation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). She was an active participant in this work from 1985 up to adoption of the UNDRIP by the UN General Assembly on September 13, 2007.

She specializes in public international law, international human rights law, international relations, and Alaska Native self-determination. In addition, she has experience in the administration, management and coordination of statewide, national and international organizations as well as estimating and oversight of federal, state and private construction contracts.

For more information please visit Inuit Circumpolar Council Alaska, Canada, Greenland.


Parameters for responsible investments in the Arctic

Tero Kiviniemi, Chair of the Arctic Economic Council Investments and Infrastructure Working Group

The Arctic Economic Council (AEC) aims to facilitate business activities and responsible resource development throughout the circumpolar Arctic. The AEC will do this through the sharing of best practices, technological solutions, standards, and other information. The AEC’s Working Groups reflect the AEC selected business areas. Currently, the AEC has five Working Groups: Maritime Transportation, Responsible Resource Development, Connectivity, Investments & Infrastructure, and Energy.

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Arctic Global Agenda Council published an Arctic Investment Protocol (AIP) with an intention to start a discussion and build a coalition around responsible investment in the Arctic. While the World Economic Forum’s Arctic Global Agenda Council ceased to exist in 2016, the Forum wanted to see the work on the AIP taken forward. The AEC decided to endorse the intent of the AIP at its Annual Meeting in 2017, and the AIP was transferred to the AEC later the same year. The role of the AEC includes continuing to build a coalition of support around the principles laid out in the AIP.

The AEC Working Group on Investments & Infrastructure (IIWG) will focus its work on the principles related to responsible investments in the Arctic. This work will build upon the foundation of the AIP.

Kiviniemi is President and CEO of Destia Group Plc and chair and member of its management team. He is former executive vice president and head of the business premises and infrastructure segment of YIT Corporation, and  worked extensively across YITs Construction Services. He is a member of the Board for Ilmarinen and the Confederation of Finnish Industry and Employers Foundation, chair of the election committee for the Confederation of Finnish Construction Industries RT, member of the election committee of the Confederation of Finnish Industries EK. He has an M.Sc. (Eng.), and Executive MBA from the Harvard Business School, Advanced Management Program.

Arctic Youth Summit report back

TBC, Arctic Youth Summit participant


Final thoughts

Neville Ash, UN Environment

Neville is the Director of the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre, where he represents UNEP in the collaboration between UN Environment and WCMC at the Centre, and represents UN Environment in the United Kingdom. He provides overall leadership to the Centre and the Senior Management Team, including ensuring a clear strategy is in place towards the achievement of the Centre’s vision and mission.

Neville has been with UN Environment since 2010, most recently as Deputy Director of UN Environment’s Division of Environmental Policy Implementation. Neville led UN Environment’s work on biodiversity, including the process to establish the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), and UN Environment’s work to address illegal wildlife trade. Previously he was Head of IUCN’s Ecosystem Management Programme. Neville was also Head of Ecosystem Assessment at UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre, overseeing a range of international monitoring and assessment initiatives. He has spent time researching and managing conservation initiatives in Asia and Africa, and has considerable experience working with a range of international policy processes.


Closing statements

Aulikki Alanen, Congress co-chair, Ministry of the Environment, Finland

Photo by IISD/ENB | Mike MuzurakisPhoto by IISD/ENB | Mike MuzurakisDear colleagues,

Thank you very much for this wonderful week together!

You really lit the Rovaniemi Spirit again, and raised the hopes for the future of  Arctic nature and peoples.

I believe that with the passionate and knowledgeable people gathered here, we can really make a difference together. And I will be able to fulfill my dream to show the Arctic wonders also to my grandchildren one day.

During the week we experienced so much, not only impressive posters, presentations and dialogues, but also many memorable stories, films, photographs, poems, songs, dancing and laughter – not to forget the fantastic Northern lights – affecting our minds, souls and senses.

We hope that you will all take these important messages back home to your own families, offices and communities, to find the most suitable solutions and actions to save our precious Arctic.

So thanks, kiitos and safe journeys back home


Martin Breum

Martin Breum is a journalist/author and experienced moderator, including numerous events on Arctic issues. His book Cold Rush about Greenland’s and Denmark’s Arctic engagement was published in June 2018. His latest book in Danish Hvis Grønland river sig løs (If Greenland Secedes) was published in April 2018. His first book about Danish-Greenlandic relations The Greenland Dilemma, won the Danish Authors Association’s 2014 Best Nonfiction Award. He covers the Arctic for media in Denmark, Greenland, Bruxelles and the USA. He is a former tv-anchor with the Danish Broadcasting Corporation and former Deputy Director of International Media Support that runs media development projects in more than 30 countries.

Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Subscribe to our YouTube Channel
Join our LinkedIn Group
Check us out on Google+
Follow Us on Instagam
Follow Us on Flickr