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Rovaniemi – The Undisputed Arctic Capital

5/6/2019 8:00 AM

With its location in the Arctic Circle and its vast Arctic know-how, Rovaniemi is the undisputed Arctic capital of both Finland and the European Union. The City’s Arctic profile is a key concept in the Rovaniemi City Strategy. The Mayor of Rovaniemi, Esko Lotvonen, says that, as a result of extensive development work, Rovaniemi has become a leading global destination for Arctic tourism.

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The meeting of Ministers of the Environment from Arctic countries in Rovaniemi in 1991 began the extensive collaboration within the current Arctic Council. The city’s role in Arctic cooperation has been reinforced by the Arktikum Museum and Arctic Science Centre, which was built to celebrate 75 years of Finnish independence – and in particular the Arctic Centre that it houses.

Finland’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council, which began in May 2017, has elevated Rovaniemi’s role in collaboration. Ministers of the Environment from Arctic countries met in Rovaniemi after a 27-year break, and the meeting between Ministers of Foreign Affairs, which ends our chairmanship, will be held in May 2019.Meanwhile, there have been meetings between officials that have provided an opportunity to demonstrate regional competence in Arctic matters.

Location, competence and international collaboration make Rovaniemi the Arctic capital
With its location in the Arctic Circle and its vast Arctic know-how, Rovaniemi is the undisputed Arctic capital of both Finland and the European Union. The City’s Arctic profile is a key concept in the Rovaniemi City Strategy. As a result of extensive development work, Rovaniemi has become a leading global destination for Arctic tourism. There is exceptional diversity in the nationalities of tourist groups visiting Rovaniemi. Recently, the city’s great appeal has led to extensive tourism-related construction projects. More extensive accommodation options, diversifying restaurant culture, an excellent natural environment and improved travel connections are all helping to boost Rovaniemi’s international development. 

The City of Rovaniemi is adding its own strengths to those in the evolving network of Arctic cities. We are also one of the leading cities in the global Winter Cities Association, in which Rovaniemi’s special responsibility is Arctic design. The city also owns the Arctic Design Capital trademark, and it is within this framework that international collaboration is being developed. This development work is implemented in close collaboration between the University of Lapland’s Faculty of Art and Design, Lapland University of Applied Sciences’ School of Technology, and local companies.
As a continuation of the Rovaniemi process that started in 1991, the City of Rovaniemi, the University of Lapland, the Arctic Centre and the Arctic Society of Finland organise Arctic Spirit conferences that always focus on current topics related to politics, research and business. The theme of the conference being held on 12–13 November is “Climate change and future generations.” 

Making the Arctic dimension a part of our daily lives
As a result of the aforementioned processes, we see a lot of Arctic activity in Rovaniemi. Increasing conference and research activities, growing tourism, and increased investments are improving services and generating income and work for residents. On the other hand, it’s also important for residents and other actors to take the Arctic dimension into account in their own lives and work. This could be more visible in how we mould the look and feel of our city.

If a single city is to successfully stand out internationally from a large group of cities, it will require involvement and commitment from various actors both locally and nationally, including the government. I therefore invite everyone to actively contribute to the international development of Rovaniemi and Finland!