On 3 October 2013, the Arctic Centre in Rovaniemi hosted over 100 Arctic stakeholders and experts, representing different interest groups and viewpoints. Participants from business, academia, state agencies or regulators from around the European Arctic gathered in order to take part in stakeholder consultations, which are part of the EU Arctic Impact Assessment (EUAIA) study.
The event opened with a statement from Jamie Reynolds from European Commission's Directorate-General for Environment, who underlined the importance of input from stakeholders, business and civil society for the EU policy-making. Timo Koivurova from Arctic Centre, Seija Tuulentie from Metla, and Ulla Aikio-Puoskari from Giellagas Institute gave presentations aimed at highlighting topical issues to be discussed during the consultations.
The speeches by experts constituted only an introduction to the main element of the meeting: the dialogue with and between stakeholders. Within thematic workshops, participants discussed mining, increasing land-use pressures, social and cultural changes and climate change in the European Arctic and the role of the European Union in influencing these multifaceted developments dramatically changing the region.
Stakeholders were asked to identify most important issues for the EU decision-making and the problems on which the experts are to focus in the further assessment work. The participants commented on the work of researchers and suggested the possible ways forward. Eventually, the workshop groups brainstormed ideas which will serve the experts to develop recommendations for the EU policy-making.
The discussions in the workshops turned out to be very lively and focused. It was clear that there is a need for Arctic stakeholders to be engaged and to have possibility to express their views on the developments occurring in the region and their various impacts. The first consultation meeting in Rovaniemi also proved that dialogue is the best way to allow those directly involved in Arctic developments to understand better the role of the European Union in the region.
The project team working on the assessment has received from stakeholders a great amount and diversity of input and there is now significant work ahead of researcher in order to process the new information, incorporate the views presented by stakeholders into the assessment and carefully develop recommendations basing on participants' ideas.
Stakeholder consultations in Rovaniemi focused primarily on terrestrial Arctic changes. Critical marine developments will be discussed during the next consultation meeting in Tromsø in January 2014. The EU Arctic Impact Assessment team is already looking forward to this next stage of engagement. Moreover, following the consultations in Rovaniemi, the online questionnaire and possibility to comment on EUAIA factsheets directly on the project website were made available for stakeholders interesting in providing input and influence the direction of the EUAIA study.