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This session was moderated by Jay Gillette, Fulbright-Nokia Distinguished Chair in Information and Communications Technologies, University of Oulu, Finland; Senior Research Fellow and Institute Secretary, Digital Policy Institute, USA, who stated that the importance of the Arctic cannot be underestimated.

This session covered the aspects of ICT, Innovations and Efficient Services related to: rural areas and remote regions in climatic and geographic extremes; sustainable use of Arctic resources and development of arctic infrastructure; advanced arctic weather forecasting and ice management; safe maritime traffic in cold climate conditions; cold climate environmental protection and solutions, in particular oil and chemical spill prevention and combatting

Arctic maritime industry and shipping (vessel design and construction, in particular icebreakers), and the Telecommunications Issue in Arctic Regions (role of satellites…)

Johanna Ikävalko, Ministerial Adviser of Ministry of Transport, Arctic Marine Testing and Training Centre, discussed the maritime issues of the Arctic. In the Arctic people have a concept of combining different spheres of expertise and as a result they can offer the fresh and unique solutions in business and other spheres. Services offered:

  • Design construction and operation of ice navigation vessels (testing, training, education),
  • Arctic marine rescue operations
  • Situation awareness, weather forecasts, ice management
  • Vessel and port design, construction and operation for/in cold climate

Kari Laine discussed the megatrends in the North/ in the Arctic:

  • Increased urbanization – a global trend
  • Demographic challenges (old people stay while the young people leave)
  • Continued dependency on transfers and the exploitation of natural resorces will continue to dominate the arctic economies
  • Continued pollution and ongoing climate changes will have a significant impact on the nature and environment of the Arctic
  • The Arctic needs to generate more Human Capital by investing more in its ppl
  • Changes in the nature of interaction between the public and private spheres will impact development
  • Renewable energy will contribute to a “greening” of the economy
  • Increased accessibility provide opportunities as well as new risks

“Smarctic” – a roadmap to a smart Arctic specialization; a report on combination phenomena of the Arctic and ICT.

Martti Hahl from the Barents Center: Electricity transmission lines are required to fully take the advantage of the natural resources and mineral deposits. Electricity is the key to the functional usage of ICT, which is needed at the Arctic to cope with the unique challenges of this part of the world (climate issues, monitoring of individuals, intelligent clothing, support of mine workers, remote operation of vessels, sub-sea installations, mines and much more).

Stig Nerdal, Transportutvikling, Narvik, Norway, discussed the Barents region (northern parts of Norway, Russia, Sweden and Finland) which despite the challenges mentioned in the previous presentations, has several significant advantages:

  • Global suppliers of maritime resources
  • Minerals and connected shipping services
  • Transit potential for global trade

Cooperation instead of competition is the only way to find the proper and cost-efficient solutions to the existing problems.

According to Henrik Vuorinen, CEO of the Port of Luleå, good infrastructure is a key to sustainable growth. Mining industry and steel industry are the main customers of the Port of Luleå; 90% of the EU’s iron ore production is located in the Arctic region connected to the Port of Luleå. Challenges: increased ore and mineral shipment, land level increase, ships are getting longer and wider and more.

Heikki Autto, Chairman of Rovaniemi City Council: Why does the Arctic matter? The Arctic might be the solution to overpopulation problem: the Arctic has the vast landmass with fairly low density of the population and all the resources needed for life. Is the Arctic interesting? According to Heikki, a lot of cooperation is happening between the Arctic and the other parts of the world.

Esko Aho, Former Prime Minister of Finland & Executive Chairman of the Board, East Office of Finnish Industries, opened the presentation by drawing a parallel between the challenges of going to the moon and the challenges going to the Arctic. Good cooperation and collaboration between business and government is needed based on shared efforts and common goals. Esko mentioned that both the challenges and opportunities were pretty well-covered by other speakers of the session. Digital is smart and smart and Arctic should be integrated.

It’s really important to talk about opportunities and challenges at the right time. Awareness about Arctic and its advantages in the EU is fairly low, and it is something which needs to be corrected. It’s high time to take the opportunities the Arctic has to offer.