Timo Soini

Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland

" The Arctic has a great potential. Better access to natural resources and the opening of new sea routes in the Arctic will bring benefits, but also challenges. The new opportunities oblige us all to work for sustainable development in the Arctic region. This will emphasize the leading role of the Arctic Council in producing outstanding scientific assessments and addressing the impacts of globalization and climate change. "

Meet the Finnish Chairmanship Team

Aleksi Härkönen

SAO Chair

I have had a long carrier in the MFA, doing mainly security policy and multilateral diplomacy. I have lived in Spain, Venezuela, Germany, the United States, Austria and in Finland´s southern neighbor Estonia. Highlights? Yes, I have participated in Finland´s chairmanship of the OSCE and advised the President on foreign policy issues. Now I enjoy doing something totally different, namely Arctic affairs, and look forward to cooperating with colleagues from the other Arctic States, Permanent Participant Organizations and Observers. I must admit that I also enjoy fishing, including ice fishing, picking mushrooms, canoeing, using a chainsaw and chopping wood.

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René Söderman

Senior Arctic Official

René joined the MFA in 1998 and has since worked with media relations, trade and development policy and most recently Arctic cooperation. He has been posted in Oslo, Los Angeles and Mexico City. Previously he worked as journalist in both press and TV. He enjoys cooking, singing and playing the guitar. Motto: "Let it swing!"

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Pekka Shemeikka

SDWG Chair

Pekka has been working in the past with the EU Rio+20 preparations and with Global Sustainability issues. He has wide experience from liaison with the EU institutions including working with the European parliament and chairing the General Affairs Working group as well as working for parliamentary relations of the High Representative. Pekka lives in Helsinki, loves walking in the nature, is a keen sailor and enjoys navigation.

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Ritva Hautanen

Arctic Officer

Ritva has 18 years of experience in foreign and security policy. Her current portfolio includes general Arctic affairs, security policy aspects of the Arctic and the EU’s Arctic policy.

Earlier assignments have taken Ritva from Brussels to Georgia and Afghanistan.

Ritva enjoys building bridges at work and also literally!

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Tuuli Ojala

Adviser to the SAO Chair, Head of Delegation to SDWG

Prior to joining the chairmanship team in late 2015, Tuuli was involved in environmental and climate co-operation in the Barents region and in enhancing wastewater treatment in the Baltic Sea region. She has carried out a variety of long and short term projects in the academia, in NGOs and in the municipal sector. Tuuli is enthusiastic about clean air and water as well as beautiful landscapes – not to mention good cycling routes.

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Annariina Kukkonen

Conference Coordinator

Annariina has worked almost 20 years at the MFA. Her expertise includes organizational work, protocol issues and administrative affairs. She has been posted in New York, Washington DC, Kiev and St. Petersburg. She lives in Lahti and commutes 100 km daily by train to work and back. In her words “As the mother of two young children, the two hour commute is fabulous. That is the time for myself.”

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Martta Rissanen


Martta has been working at the MFA for two and half years at different departments, such as the economic relations and political department. An internship at the Embassy of Finland in Kuala Lumpur taught her bilateral relations and local culture.

Her career plans include working as a diplomat for the Foreign Ministry, perhaps regarding trade related issues. She already has international experience from Vietnam, China, Malaysia and the UK.

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Harri Mäki-Reinikka


Currently he is Secretary General of Finland's Advisory Board on Arctic Affairs, Ambassador and Special Adviser on northern policies at the MFA’s Arctic Team (since 1.9.2016). He worked as Ambassador of Finland to six countries – to Lithuania and Belarus in 1.1.2013 -31.8.2016 and to Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan in 1.9.2008 – 31.1.2012. He was Deputy to the Minister and Chief of the Secretariat for Nordic Cooperation at the MFA in 2005-2008. He has gained experience on arctic issues already through his involvement in the Northern Dimension process in 1996- 1998.

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Finnish Chairmanship News

  • Arctic Council Ministers meet, pass Chairmanship from Finland to Iceland, Arctic States conclude Arctic Council Ministerial meeting by signing a joint statement

    At the 11th Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in Rovaniemi, Finland, Ministers of the eight Arctic States, leaders from the six indigenous Permanent Participant organizations and the Chairs of the six Working Groups of the Arctic Council met to mark the passing of the Chairmanship from Finland to Iceland. In the Rovaniemi Joint Ministerial Statement, the Arctic States reaffirmed the Council’s commitment to maintain the Arctic as a region of peace, stability and constructive cooperation. Additionally, Finland’s Foreign Minister Timo Soini released a Chair’s statement, summarizing the Council’s achievements and giving guidance for the next two years. The International Maritime Organization was accredited as a new Observer.

  • The Rovaniemi Joint Ministerial Statement

    Read the Rovaniemi Joint Ministerial Statement signed by all eight Foreign Ministers at the 11th Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in Rovaniemi, Finland

  • The Chair's Statement from the Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in Rovaniemi

    Read the Chair's statement from 11th Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in Rovaniemi, Finland, presented by Finland’s Foreign Minister Timo Soini. 

  • Watch the Ministerial meeting live

    On May 7 2019 from 10:30 am - 12:30 pm (GMT+3) Finland will host the 11th Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in Rovaniemi, Finland.

    Ministers from the eight Arctic States will convene to review and approve work completed under the two-year Finnish Chairmanship to improve sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic. The Arctic States will be joined by delegations from the Council's indigenous Permanent Participant organizations, the Chairs of the six Working Groups, and Observers. The Ministerial is held in the Lappi Areena in Rovaniemi, Finland.

    To watch the event live, click here.

  • The Arctic Council signs Memorandum of Understanding with Arctic Economic Council

    The Arctic Council signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Arctic Economic Council in Rovaniemi, Finland, today. The aim of the MoU is to provide a framework for cooperation and to facilitate collaboration between the Arctic Council and the Arctic Economic Council. The MoU was signed by Nina Buvang Vaaja, Director of the Arctic Council Secretariat, and Anu Fredrikson, Director of the Arctic Economic Council Secretariat.

  • The common solutions explored

    A preview on the 11th Arctic Council Ministerial meeting and its deliverables

  • Arctic Council accepts IAIA Global Award

    The Arctic Council is the recipient of the 2019 Global Award of the International Association for Impact Assessment (IAIA). Today, representatives of the Finnish Ministry of Environment accepted the prize on behalf of the Finnish Chairmanship of the Arctic Council at IAIA’s  39th Annual Conference in Brisbane, Australia.

  • We got the recognition we called for – An interview with Gunn-Britt Retter

    Gunn-Britt Retter is the Head of the Arctic and Environment Unit of the Saami Council – and one of the delegates that has attended most Ministerial meetings. In this interview, Gunn-Britt speaks about the role of Permanent Participants at Ministerial meetings and beyond, reflects on changes she has seen over the years, and her hopes for an equal share of involvement for all Permanent Participants.

  • The final stretch

    Ambassador Aleksi Härkönen, Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials speaks about the preparations for the Ministerial meeting in Rovaniemi, which will conclude the Finnish Chairmanship in May. He also goes into some of the common solutions the Arctic Council has explored during Finland’s two-year term.

  • Connectivity – a lifeline for human activities

    There is more to connectivity than mobile phone coverage. Access to broadband for example facilitates e-learning for children and adults in remote communities and enables the development of digital health and social services. The Finnish Chairmanship program speaks of well-functioning communication networks and services as a lifeline for human activities and as a prerequisite for economic development in the Arctic.

  • Meteorological cooperation – A success story

    One of the Finnish priority areas that Ambassador Aleksi Härkönen, Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials, emphasizes as a success, is meteorological cooperation. “Already now we could say that we have achieved a breakthrough when the WMO and national meteorological institutes decided to actively contribute to meteorological cooperation in the Arctic.” In its Chairmanship program, Finland emphasized the need for enhancing both meteorological and oceanographic cooperation across the Arctic States. This would improve public safety, benefit international shipping and air traffic, and enhance Arctic climate science.

  • Environmental protection – An award-winning effort

    Environmental protection lies at the core of the Arctic Council – ever since its establishment. In the Council’s founding document, the Ottawa declaration, the eight Arctic States affirmed their commitment to protect the Arctic environment and healthy ecosystems, to maintain Arctic biodiversity, to conserve and enable a sustainable use of natural resources.

  • A Stamp of Approval

    Senior Arctic Officials approve deliverables for the upcoming Ministerial meeting.

  • Fast forward through the Chairmanship

    Fourth Senior Arctic Officials’ meeting during Finland’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council sums up achievements of the past two years.

  • Arctic Council meeting focuses on biodiversity in the Arctic

    At the meeting just concluded in Rovaniemi, Finland, the Arctic Council focused its discussions on Arctic biodiversity and received updates from all the Council’s subsidiary bodies on their ongoing work.

  • Senior Arctic Officials gather for third meeting during Finland’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council

    On 1-2 November 2018, the Arctic Council will gather in Rovaniemi, Finland for the third Senior Arctic Officials’ meeting held during the Chairmanship of Finland (2017-2019).

  • Photo of Minister Kimmo Tiilikainen

    Arctic Council meeting of Environment Ministers ends with talks about future cooperation

    The Arctic Environment Ministers’ meeting held in Rovaniemi 11-12 October ended with discussions about cooperation in addressing climate change, protecting biodiversity and preventing pollution in the Arctic region. The two-day meeting brought together ministers and high-level representatives from the eight Arctic Council States and from six Permanent Participants representing the indigenous peoples of the Arctic. The Observer countries and organizations of the Arctic Council had also been invited.

  • Arctic Environment Ministers' meeting: Exploring common solutions for the Arctic environment

    The Finnish Chairmanship is organizing an Arctic Environment Ministers’ meeting (AEMM) in Rovaniemi, Finland, 11-12 October 2018. The meeting will gather the Ministers of the Environment of the eight Arctic States, six indigenous Permanent Participant organizations, Arctic Council’s six Working Groups, as well as Arctic Council Observers. The meeting will be chaired by Mr. Kimmo Tiilikainen, Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing of Finland.

  • Arctic Resilience Forum: Sharing best-practices for improving Arctic resilience

    The Arctic Resilience Forum held in Rovaniemi, Finland, 10-11 September gathered around 100 Arctic experts, policymakers, and various key stakeholders. The purpose of the event was to strengthen cooperation on work related to resilience to the impacts of climate change and to present and discuss resilience best-practices from Arctic Council Working Groups’ and other stakeholder’s projects.

  • Event: Arctic Resilience Forum, 10-11 September 2018

    The Arctic Resilience Forum, an international conference organised by Finland’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in Rovaniemi on 10–11 September 2018, seeks to develop the resilience of the Arctic region to climate change.