Turning good intentions into practical actions for climate, environment and Hot Spots


Tuuli Ojala started her work as a Climate, Environment and Hot Spot Adviser at the International Barents Secretariat this spring 2014.

She came to Kirkenes after working as the Project Manager at John Nurminen Foundation, Clean Baltic Sea Projects (international investment and capacity building projects for enhanced nutrient removal from municipal wastewaters). Her educational background is in Limnology (the study of inland waters) as well as in Russian language and literature.

The BarentSaga newsletter interviewed Tuuli about her new work.

From following up to mapping and to practical issues

“I coordinate the activities related to the recently adopted Barents Action Plan on Climate Change and support the BEAC Working Group on Environment in its tasks. One specific focus is the Barents Environmental Hot Spots, significant environmental polluters and health risks in the Russian part of the Barents region. The aim is to initiate new activities in climate issues and facilitate improvements at the hot spots. NEFCO has a specific financial tool, the Barents Hot Spot Facility, for launching projects at the hot spots.

I have various tasks from following up the implementation of the Action Plan on Climate Change and mapping out synergies with other organizations to practical issues related to working group meetings. Often my work has to do with to communication, e.g. giving presentations about the Barents climate change work in different fora and improving the information available on the WGE and climate work of BEAC. There are many different things to do and I can, to a great extent, decide myself what my working days consist of, which makes the task motivating and interesting. Of course for me coming from southern Finland, the whole Barents region and the location of the IBS office in Kirkenes is more or less an everyday adventure.

We are sawing off the branch we are sitting on

The main motivation for me in this work is to bring contribution to the efforts to improve the state of the environment. Unfortunately, the global situation with the protection of the environment does not look good. We are truly sawing off the branch we are sitting on. In spite of the fact that we know so much more on the environmental issues than our ancestors did, we keep on overexploiting the natural resources and making irrecoverable changes in the natural environment.

The Barents region has some major environmental pollution issues that wait for solving already for decades, and at the same time, the North is facing increasing pressures from human activities, such as mining, oil and gas exploration, forestry, transport. Moreover, the rapidly changing climate may be seriously affecting the resilience of the system to the pressures.

Environmental issues have a central role in the Barents work

Still, there is a lot of good will and dedicated people trying to make the situation better. As examples can be taken the various efforts with regard to the Barents Hot Spots and the significant improvements that have taken place in some of the objects. The adoption of the Action Plan on Climate Change during the Norwegian presidency of BEAC and the efforts to facilitate its implementation now during the Finnish presidency are examples of the central role that the environmental issues have in the Barents work.

Our responsibility, in the Barents region as in any other regional, national or global organization, is to turn good intentions into practical actions that lead to improvements that the people can see, smell and hear. “

Welcome to Barents cooperation, Tuuli!




Tuuli’s link tips:

Barents Environmental Hot Spots


BEAC Working Group on Environment

Barents and Climate Change



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