Rovaniemi Arctic Spirit gave space to regional actors - Arctic city council members, mayors, and governors - to discuss how they see the future of the Arctic.
“Arctic cities are among the key players in achieving sustainable goals,” said Esko Lotvonen, Mayor of the City of Rovaniemi, launching the discussion about the city planning, education, energy solutions and logistics in the context of Arctic cities and reginal cooperation. “The world is changing and so should our priorities”, continued the Mayor of Rovaniemi and added “we are the ones that make practical decisions every day how the cities develop, how the energy is shaped and how the infrastructure is built”.
Tromsø's Mayor Kristin Roymo continued the topic of the lack of presence of the local level in the Arctic decision making. “There are over eighty Arctic conferences yearly and a lot of discussion on Arctic challenges and problems without concrete solutions”, said Mika Riipi, County Governor of the Regional Council of Lapland. “Regional level has solutions but it is not invited to the table when decisions are made”, he added.
The Mayor of Tromsø said that “we realize that each can get a piece of pie, but we have to know how big of a piece and which piece we want to eat”. However, she added that “our ability to understand that we have to share will dictate the future”.
Matthias Rögnvaldsson, Chair of the Town Council of Akureyri, commented that “when it comes to the sustainability in the Arctic, we should not talk about splitting of the pie, but rather think how to eat it together. We cannot achieve any of these goals alone”.
“Competition is good as it leads to great solutions, but we also have to realize that we can divide the specializations and share our know-how – for example, Rovaniemi can be the capital of Arctic design, Oulu can be the capital of innovation and so on”, explained Mika Riipi. Esko Lotvonen agreed with that and added that “combining all of our specializations is what will bring us prosperity”.
“If you know where you are going, every road will get you there”, said Päivi Laajala, Mayor of Oulu. "As we already know the goals we want to get to, now it is the time to pick one of the routes. And like the old saying goes, you need to act locally to impact globally. The cooperation between Arctic cities is the key to achieving that."
Photo: Marko Junttila/Arctic Centre