Finland followed Norway as chairman of the intergovernmental Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) in October 2013. The motto of the Finnish BEAC chairmanship 2013 – 2015 is dynamic, inclusive and sustainable development of the Barents region. Finnish chairmanship has three priority areas: economic cooperation including transport and logistics, environment and climate change, and youth cooperation.
Environment and climate change continue to be a high priority in Barents cooperation. The reason is clear: the arctic and boreal environment is unique and sensitive and joint measures are needed for its preservation and protection.
The Barents forest and wetlands ecosystems are under increased pressure from land-use, exploitation of natural resources and climate change. This is why the co-operation on the Barents Protected Areas Network (BPAN) is of utmost importance and why the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, together with Norway and Sweden, NCM and the WWF, has financed it.
The BPAN project has links to Green Belt of Fennoscandia project and to Arctic Council cooperation. It is a regional application of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and can thus be of wider interest. It is important to disseminate information of this project widely and not to keep it only in the Barents framework. The International Barents Secretariat in Kirkenes and its new climate, environment and hot spots adviser can support in this work.
Chair of the BEAC Committee of Senior Officials
Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland