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Anja Laisi: Sustainability – a storyline running through all Presidency meeting arrangements

EU2019FI 17.6.2019 9.55
Column

During its Council Presidency, Finland will host both informal meetings of ministers and meetings of working groups and experts. Finland is aiming for well-functioning and welcoming arrangements that are as sustainable as possible.

The sustainable approach is evident from the centralised meeting venue and the reasonable number of meetings, but also from actions put in place at the venue. As a leading country in digitalisation and circular economy, Finland has the courage to invest in new ways of implementing the Presidency. Many Finnish organisations have already implemented solutions for organising more environmentally friendly meetings. The aim during Finland’s Presidency is to continue this policy.

From selecting the venue to taking climate action

The story of Finland’s sustainable meeting arrangements started back in autumn 2016 with a decision to centralise all Presidency meetings in Helsinki and a single venue. It marked the beginning of an overarching sustainability policy that has guided the planning of meetings.

The goal of sustainable meetings has influenced all choices we’ve made, both big and small. In early 2019, Finnish ministers in charge of EU policy decided that Finland will use the money reserved for the traditional Presidency gifts to offset carbon dioxide emissions from air travel by delegates and participants. It’s a concrete climate action that Finland hopes will be kept going by future presidencies.

We’ve tried to make it as easy as possible to reach the meeting venue, but we’ve also paid particular attention to reducing emissions. Finlandia Hall is easily accessible by public transport and only a short walk away from hotels and attractions in the centre of Helsinki. Delegates and participants can also use city bikes as a convenient way of getting around the city.

Not just for the Presidency

Finland is one of the EU’s leading countries in digitalisation. So it’s only natural that we’re replacing printed meeting materials with digital solutions with a view to promoting a circular economy. The sustainability theme is also echoed in the visual identity of the Presidency, which borrows its design from Finland’s previous Presidency in 2006.

High-quality Finnish food and water will play a key role in the catering at meetings. The menus have been planned with a focus on organic, seasonal and locally produced Finnish food. As Finland holds the Presidency in the latter half of the year, we will get to taste the very best of what autumn has to offer. Another key objective for us is to reduce food loss and waste. Clean Finnish water will feature prominently in the Presidency meetings. Instead of bottled water, we’ll offer delegates and participants pure, high-quality Finnish tap water.

Apart from well-functioning and welcoming arrangements, we want Finland’s Presidency to be remembered for launching new ways of doing things and implementing sustainable meetings.

Anja Laisi
Head of the Secretariat for Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the EU