07 June 2017
Aleksanteri Institute
Unioninkatu 33
FI-00014 University of Helsinki

The Arctic Futures Initiative Helsinki Roundtable co-organized by IIASA and Aleksanteri Institute

The Helsinki Roundtable took place in the beautiful Empire-style center of Helsinki, Finland hosted by the Aleksanteri Institute of the University of Helsinki. The participants spanned from governmental level representatives to scientists from a variety of fields. 

© shutterstock.com/ 377884705

© shutterstock.com/ 377884705

The Aleksanteri Institute, an independent institute in the faculty of arts and humanities, is a national center of research, study and expertise on Russia and Eastern Europe, particularly in the social sciences and humanities. The Institute promotes cooperation and interaction between the academic world, public administration, business life and civil society, both in Finland and abroad. The Institute serves as a multidisciplinary think-tank for Finnish researchers to add value by eliminating overlapping activities, finding additional financial resources and increasing networks between scholars and society. The six foci areas for research are Economic Diversification, The Welfare Society, Democracy, Foreign Policy, The Social Constitution of Culture, The Cold War and its Consequences. In addition to its involvement in academic research projects, the Institute participates in several non-academic projects, both Finnish and international. 


Welcome: Professor Markku Kivinen

Introduction and moderation: Ambassador Hannu Halinen

Introduction to the Arctic Futures Initiative: Dr. Anni Reissell

Arctic Council: Arctic Ambassador Aleksi Härkönen

Geopolitics: Professor Lassi Heininen

Arctic business: Director Pekka Pokela, Gaia Consulting


The participants of the Roundtable were welcomed by Prof. Markku Kivinen, Director of Aleksanteri Institute, who stressed the importance to know the interconnected risks in relation to the Arctic region that is remaining outside global tensions. Prof. Kivinen: “IIASA is the right forum and AFI the right tool for engaging experts globally, including liaisons between decision makers and science.” Key areas are environment, economy and Indigenous peoples, also collaboration on technology and emission reductions for black carbon.  

Ambassador Hannu Halinen gave an introduction to the event, and Dr. Anni Reissell presented the AFI approach, aims and activities. 

Ambassador Aleksi Härkönen, Chair of Senior Arctic Officials of the Arctic Council during the Finnish chairmanship 2017-2019, gave an update on Arctic Council, with Finland continuing U.S. chairmanship topics on environment, climate change and connectivity, as well as meteorology.  

Professor Lassi Heininen noted that there are different perceptions on and approaches to the Arctic, including misinformation. Geopolitics has been part of Arctic discussions and studies all along, for example in relation to knowledge, identities, economies and the large variety of actors. Importantly, geopolitics and security should be discussed together, and international politics and geopolitics is always with uncertainty, related to always ongoing change taking place in the Arctic and elsewhere. AFI should aim for analysis and synthesis for reshaping policy, with courage, and systemic thinking is here of importance, including security and economy, and comprehensive security (e.g., environmental and human security).

Dr. Pekka Pokela from Gaia Consulting and Business Director of Team Arctic Finland, noted that sustainability is a strengthening trend, demanded by consumers. The focus of Gaia Consulting is sustainability, with U.S., Canada, Norway and China as key countries in relation to risk management, sustainable development, and challenging environments and circumstances. The most important issue for businesses is to keep international dialogue and collaboration going. This is reflected in the foci themes of the Arctic Economic Council: interconnected Arctic, connected Arctic, safe Arctic. Important for AFI to connect economy, social issues and environment.

The introductory presentations were followed by lively discussion on the role of AFI, how research can support decision making with neutral information, and stressing the importance of keeping up international dialogue.

Print this page

Last edited: 26 June 2019


International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313