”A great opportunity to meet and talk to decision makers and together shape future sustainable forest policies in the Nordic and Baltic countries”. The words of Erno Järvinen at the Finnish Forest Ministry sums up the sentiments at the kick-off in Helsinki that took place on May 10th.
The Government of Finland and the Congress Secretariat arranged a kick-off in Helsinki, Finland aimed at engaging different Finnish stakeholders in the IUFRO World Congress 2024. About 40 representatives had answered the call to participate including executives and directors from the forest industry, innovation centres, think tanks, non-governmental organizations and government officials.
”We want and seek the dialogue with decision makers. We are very solution orientated and the congress gives us extra opportunities to discuss new solutions to our cross sectoral challenges and form an action base to make real change possible”, says Laura Höijer, keynote speaker at the kick-off and Managing Director at the Baltic Sea Action Group, a non-profit foundation dedicated to save the Baltic Sea.
The possibilities not only to meet but also to participate in real dialogue with different stakeholders from research, forest industry, NGO:s, unions and politicians are some of benefits with the congress.
”In a faster and ever changing future we need the dialogue with decision makers. At the congress we can address important mega trends interlinked with research and forest policy making. This holistic view is important and helps us to improve our ecological reconstruction for a plausible better future”, says Tatu Torniainen from the think tank and innovation centre Sitra.
The kick-off included presentations from keynote speakers invited by the Finnish government and a panel discussion about hot topics for the congress and important input to the legacy of the congress.
”We need to discuss and find solutions based on resilient research areas. Today this is a weakness in for example the forest economy. Balancing economy, climate change and biodiversity issues is a true future challenge we need to address today”, says Kalle Karttunen from the Forest Owners in Finland, MTK.
”The congress gives us an opportunity to learn from other countries on how to handle climate challenges”, says Jimi Rajajärvi, from the Finnish Forest Industries. ”We hope to display our monitoring systems and innovative solutions in dialogue with delegates from all over the world. More accurate data in the future will help us manage our forest in the best sustainable way”.
The closing remarks of the kick-off was made by Mikko Peltonen, Research Director at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry:
”This is a once-in-a-life-time opportunity for us in Finland and the Nordic and Baltic countries to influence the global forest agenda and I’m proud to represent a government who fully supports the congress and together we will make this the greatest IUFRO World Congress ever. We strongly encourage stakeholders in Finland to participate in the congress”.
The chairman of the Congress Organizing Committee, Fredrik Ingemarson also appreciated the valuable feed back and input from the stakeholders in Finland:
”I’m glad for the initiative from the Finnish government to hold this kick-off and to offer stakeholders the possibility to join and influence the congress. I’m also glad the government will join the upcoming dialogues and round table discussions at the Almedalen event in Sweden in late June. It is the most important event during the year to meet and influence Swedish and Nordic policy makers and important stakeholders”.
Participants at the kick-off in Helsinki were Stora Enso, Metsä, The European Forest Institute, the City of Helsinki, the Finnish Forest Industries Federation, the Finnish Forest Association, the Central Union of Agricultural Producers and Forest Owners, the University of Eastern Finland, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Baltic Sea Action Group (BSAG), VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE) and Sitra, a think tank and research fund.