Minister Mikkonen to Barents Environmental Ministers’ Meeting in Luleå

Press release 2020-02-04 at 16:13

On Wednesday 5 February, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Krista Mikkonen will attend the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) Ministerial Meeting on Environment in Luleå, Sweden. At the meeting, Finland will take over the Chairmanship of the Working Group on Environment (WGE), tasked with promoting environmental cooperation between the Nordic countries and Russia.

The key themes for Finland’s Chairmanship are a carbon neutral circular economy, protecting biodiversity and climate change.

“Climate change impacts on the people and natural environments in the Barents region very strongly. The aim for us is to boost the transition into a carbon neutral circular economy and find means to reduce the use of black carbon. The measures will contribute to the efforts to mitigate climate change, and will benefit nature and the environment also in the Green Belt of Fennoscandia,” Minister Mikkonen says.

Finland will chair the Working Group on Environment in 2020–2023. The declaration to be adopted at the meeting will guide WGE’s work during Finland’s Chairmanship.

The agenda will also include the outcomes of the WGE’s work during the Swedish Chairmanship 2017–2020, and a discussion on recent cooperation in the region concerning nature conservation, water issues and climate change mitigation.

In addition, four sites are to be excluded from the list of Barents Environmental Hot Spots, which includes sites that cause a serious risk of environmental pollution in the region. Sites to be excluded are the pulp and paper mill in the Republic of Komi that causes waste water discharges, sewage treatment in Petrozavodsk, and enterprises of pulp and paper as sources of dioxin pollution and Koryazhma branch of Ilim Group JSC (Kotlas Pulp and Paper Mill) in Arkhangelsk Oblast. These sites have managed to considerably reduce their emissions, which is why they will now be excluded from the list.

Besides Minister Mikkonen, the meeting will be attended by the Minister for Environment and Climate, Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden Isabella Lövin, State Secretary of the Ministry of Climate and Environment of Norway Maren Hersleth Holsen and Director of the Department of International Cooperation of the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Nuritdin Inamov, as well as high-level representatives of the regional governments of the Murmansk and Arkhangelsk Oblast, the Republics of Komi and Karelia and the Nenets Autonomous Okrug.

During the Finnish Chairmanship, the meetings will be held in the different regions of Finland. The first meeting will be in Joensuu, North Karelia in June 2020.

BEAC Working Group on Environment

The objective of the Barents Euro-Arctic Council is to promote stability and sustainable development and enhance security in the Barents region. The members of the Council are the Nordic countries, Russia and European Commission. Besides these, certain states participate in the cooperation as observers.

The Barents region comprises the northern parts of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and in Russia the Murmansk Oblast and Republic of Karelia bordering on Norway and Finland, Arkhangelsk Oblast and Nenets Autonomous Okrug bordering on the Barents Sea, and the Republic of Komi.

Within the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, environmental cooperation is the task of the Working Group on Environment. The key focus in the work is on nature conservation and water protection, climate change, and improving the state of the Hot Spot sites that cause a serious risk of environmental pollution.

Besides the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, there is cooperation between regional administrations in the Barents Regional Council, which has 13 members. The Finnish members are the regions of Lapland, North Ostrobothnia, Kainuu and North Karelia.

Inquiries:

Antti Heikkinen, Special Adviser to the Minister antti.heikkinen@ym.fi, tel. +358 50 348 1406,

Saija Vuola, Ministerial Adviser, Ministry of the Environment (Chair of the BEAC Working Group on Environment from 5 February), saija.vuola@ym.fi , tel. +358 50 306 1288

Helena Dahlbo, Finnish Environment Institute SYKE (Chair of the WGE subgroup on Hot Spots Exclusion from 5 February), helena.dahlbo@ymparisto.fi, p. +358 40 014 8700