JWC – Smart mobility solutions for Northern regions


Mattias Goldman, Fores institute, gave a fun and inspirational start to day 3 of the Jokkmokk winter conference. If we want to solve the climate problem we have to work with transport, says Mattias. A warmer climate will affect the north of Sweden in many ways, however, fear of loosing something is not effective for a change of peoples behaviour. People move from denial to despair and we need to find the active drivers that will make people act/react. According to Mattias, we thus may have to change the way we communicate sustainability. One of Sweden’s climate goals is fossil-independent transport fleet year 2030. But was does fossil independent mean? Mattias recommends us to read the government report FFF-utredningen.

Sharing good experiences from around the world is important – “We can do it if they can do it” is a very good argument, says Mattias. Sharing good practices is one of the main aims of the JWC. Kenneth Gyllensting from the Swedish Eco-Municipalities shared good examples from around Sweden. The Eco-municipality concept in Sweden started in Övertorneå in 1983 and in 1995 Secom was formed. Today there are 290 Eco-municipalities in Sweden, and the concept is spreading to countries around the world.


Embassies from arctic countries have been represented at the JWC every year. Today diplomats Michael Sullivan (US), Patrick Hébert (Canada) and Frode Solberg (Norway) gave their countries’ views on transport and mobility in the circumpolar North. All three countries seem to have a plan; Anna Hövenmark concluded half-way. However, it was less clear if the plan was to completely move away from fossil fuel. According to Sullivan, there is not one perfect solution, instead there will be an energy mix including fossil. Solberg says they are looking forward to be fossil-independent, but it won’t happen tomorrow. We are making progress, look at where we were 10 year ago and where we are today, says Hébert.

On the questions if it is necessary take up the oil in the arctic, the panel seemed to think so. They all agreed it has to be done sustainably with best technology. There is no priority between economy and environment. It is a political question! We all have a responsibility, Sullivan concludes.

Jokkmokk municipality’s work on energy efficiency involves Energy Performance Contracting. EPC is a public private partnership where the company (in this case Schneider) guarantees the client energy efficiency whilst ensuring technical functionality of facilities. Jokkmokk municipality is showing good results in the project so far, thus freeing up resources for maintenance, representatives for the municipality and Schneider informed us.

Biofuel vs electricity in the transport sector was debated by Ari Lampinen (Finish biogas association) and Karl Bergman (Vattenfall) with Mattias Goldman as a moderator. The pros and cons of bio-fuel and as well as electricity are plentiful and by the end of the discussion the audience’s vote went to a mixture of both, i.e. we need both in roughly equal amounts.

The day is ending with round-table discussion before inauguration of the Winter market.

Jokkmokk Winter Conference 2014

The theme of the conference this year is Make it happen: Eco-mobility of the North. David Cooper, Toronto, set the scene with an inspiring talk on sustainable transport in Canadian cities.

Today (day 2 of JWC) started with Lidia Suokko presenting the Green Highway project and the vision to create a fossil-free transport corridor (by 2030) from coast to coast between Trondheim in Norway and Sundsvall in Sweden. In 2012 the Zero Rally – a climate car rally race – took place on the Green highway.  There is a Green highway Buyers guide for electrical and plug in hybrid cars for those of you who are thinking of getting a green car. Or why not an electric tuk-tuk instead of a car?

Lassi Heininen, University of Lapland in Finland – has talked at the conference many times before. This year Lassi talked about challenges and possibilities in transport and mobility in the circumpolar North. Last year 200 ships passed through the Atlantic-Arctic Pacific Ocean corridor, but traffic is due to increase as the Arctic ice is melting. Choosing the north sea route vs the Suez canal saves distances up to 50%, which means saving of time, fuel, money and environment. An ”Arctic paradox” – a challenge for sustainability and “Ecomobility”, says Lassi. The big challenge, Lassi says, is how to show to decision makers that the price is too high for exploiting the arctic. We need a school of critical geopolitics!

“Lessons from previous generations” was the topic of the talk by Josefina Lundgren Skerk, Swedish Sami Parliament. Driven by her passion for nature, environment and human rights, Josefina was one of a group of 16 people to ski to the North Pole last year. The group wanted to draw attention to the problem of exploitation in the Arctic. We got the here her inspiring story. Josefina wishes we would stop valuing nature as a resource to be exploited.


After her talk, Josefina took part in the panel discussion together with the politicians Jonas Sjöstedt (Party leader Left party Sweden), Jonas Eriksson (MP Green party Sweden), Helena Lindahl (MP Centre party Sweden) and Johan Johansson (MP Moderate party Sweden). First question from Anna Hövenmark was “Will the Norrbottnia railway be built, and if so when?” The panel more or less agreed that it will be built, but the opinion on when it should be built varied. Jonas Eriksson would build it next year whereas Johan Johansson didn’t see it as a priority.

Road traffic is not bearing its’ costs today. Sjöstedt says reducing long distance heavy traffic through taxation and investment in railways is important. We have to dare to do it otherwise we will fail, he says.

However, as Lindahl said, in rural areas we will always be dependent on cars and hence the discussion has to be about fuel as well. Eriksson added that the big problem is car driving in the cities not the few cars in the rural areas. Nevertheless, we in the rural parts also want to reduce our carbon footprint and be less dependence on fossil fuel. The discussion then went on to mines and Arctic exploitation.

In the afternoon we were divided up into workshops and the day ended with a presentation of the history of the conference and Wolfgang Mehl presenting the results from the NNCC project, which JWC has been a part of.

Fourth day of JWC 2013

The topic of the last day was building bridges to the future  and sustainable community plans.

”100% renewable energy is not a choice, it is the only alternative”, says Anna Leidreiter from World Future Council.  After showing us why non-renewable energy is not an option, Anna talked about success stories from Jämtland (Sweden), Iceland and Denmark. In Denmark community participation was key in the switch to renewable energy. Anna’s take away message was: Climate and security questions in the world are not to do with energy but rather fuel; Shift from fuel-based to infrastructure-based energy.

Anna Leidreiter

Anna Leidreiter

Next up was Michaela Hogenboom  and Elias Kindle, who are working together to create a connected and sustainable Liechtenstein. Through their project they are trying to move Lichtenstein from vision to implementation in sustainability. They bring people together in Future workshops and on online platforms. As well as trying to create community engagement they also offer consultancy to policy/decision makers. They finished their session with an interactive exercise. Below is one of the flowers that was created by the participants. To find out more contact Michaela and Elias at Verein Symbiose (www.symbiose.li).

Michaela and Elias

Michaela and Elias


After coffee break Wolfgang Mehl (Jokkmokk Municipality/ Norrbotten Energy Agency) went on to present SEAP-PLUS. The Covenant of Mayors and Sustainable Energy Action Plans (SEAP) are instruments for implementing sustainable communities. Wolfgang started off by telling us about all the great work being done in Jokkmokk and then went on to explain what the Covenant of Mayors is.  The Covenant of Mayors is the mainstream European movement involving local and regional authorities, voluntarily committing to increasing energy efficiency and use of renewable energy sources on their territories. By their commitment, Covenant signatories aim to meet and exceed the European Union 20% CO2 reduction objective by 2020. When signing the Covenant of Mayors the municipality or council have to create a SEAP and BEI (baseline emission inventory). So far 4750 authorities have signed the Covenant of Mayors.

Jeppe Mikel Jensen (Union of Baltic cities environment and sustainable development secretariat) further explained that the Covenant of Mayors should work as a roadmap to the 2020 targets.  It is a bottom-up approach (although it kind of starts as a top-down tool ?) and a way of making climate protection happen on a local level. Jeppe represents NET-COM (a supporting network on Covenant of Mayors) and he sees the network as a way for small and big cities to get together and collaborate,  to exchange ideas and best practice and also to influence government.

Silva Herrmann encourages us to push our politicians into joining the Covenant of Mayors. If your municipality already has signed the Covenant of Mayors then ask your politicians what they are doing with it. A SEAP should not be a dust collector – it should be a plan of action.

Anna Hövenmark rounded up the conference and thanked everybody involved. She confirmed that JWC will be happening again next year first week in Februray (3d-6th). We’ll meet again in Jokkmokk!!!

Thank you Anna, Tiina, Silva and Wolfgang for an interesting and well-organized conference.


Third day of JWC 2013

Today JWC focused on the way forward – turning ideas into reality.

The morning started with Rob MacMonagle from Canada presenting Toronto’s green economy strategies.  After an introduction to Toronto, Rob gave us some depressing data on the state of the earth and then went on to talk about his work for the City of Toronto on strategies for developing whole sectors in the green economy. There they have worked with innovation-integration strategies and a new paradigm: doing more with the same (or less).

Rob McMonagle

Rob McMonagle

Next up was Eva Vitell from Vatttenfall and Antonio Caló from University of Oulu discussing centralised vs. decentralised energy systems. They gave us a good overview on the technical point of view: transmission vs transformation, smart grids etc. Interestingly, Antonio tells us how energy use in Finland peaks twice a day except at the weekend when there is a third peak, a so called sauna peak in electricity use. We must get better at balancing energy use.

On the question “What is better for climate and sustainability” Antonio and Eva more or less agreed that a mix between centralised and decentralised energy systems is the best. Eva pointed out that centralised solar panels (i.e. big solar parks) often are better for the environment (more efficient) than small decentralised solar panels. In general renewable energy is considered decentralised. However, as Eva pointed out, wind and water power are very much centralised since wind and water is where it is. Antonio added that social, economic and environmental aspects of the energy systems have to be considered when thinking sustainability, and thus decentralised will be beneficial due to the use of local resources. Eva admitted that decentralisation with small producers entering the market is a challenge for Vattenfall.

Eva Vitell and Antonio Caló

Eva Vitell and Antonio Caló

The morning session ended with parallel round-table discussions resulting in questions for the panel discussion on climate and energy policy in the afternoon. The panel consisted of: Karl Petersen, Municipal league Norrbotten; Jeppe Mikel Jensen, Union of the Baltic Cities environment and sustainable development secretariat; Eva Vitell, Vattenfall; Jon Petter Gintal, Sami Parliament Norway; Governor Sven-Erik Österberg; and Counsellor Michael Sullivan, US Embassy.

Panel discussion

Overall the panel agreed on a lot of the questions asked. For example, on the question of “mining or no mining” in Jokkmokk (a very hot topic!). Karl Petersen emphasised that discussion should be developed into dialogue between people in the conflicts over land and natural resources. Others agreed and Eva further suggested that the dialogue requires a facilitator/mediator.

Transparency and education to help people understand the impact of things they purchase was suggested as a way to change people’s behaviour or consumer pattern. Furthermore, it was suggested that we need to make politicians secure/comfortable that we will re-elect them when they make the right (but sometimes difficult) decisions for the environment. Long term thinking in policy making was also considered important. Jon Petter finished off by reassuring us that the Sami people are here for the future – mines or no mines – and will adapt to change.

The day ended with open space discussions followed by the inauguration of Jokkmokk winter market.


The second day of Jokkmokk Winter Conference 2013

The topic of the morning session was “A planet under stress”. Shora Esmailian, author and journalist, spoke about climate refugees in her talk “Out of the frying pan and into the fire”. According to Shora, climate refuges already exist today in many parts of the world. She has met victims of climate change in Egypt, Kenya and Pakistan, and she shared some of their stories with us today. However climate refugees are not recognised by the Geneva Convention and hence we need a new definition for refugees that includes climate and is borderless. Many people who have to leave their land due to extreme floods, draught or sea level rise become refugees within their countries.

Shora Esmailian

Shora Esmailian

Next up was Lassi Heininen, University of Lapland, who gave us a run through of the politics of the arctic. Decision makers are picturing the Arctic without ice – a new ocean – and new opportunities.

“Indigenous knowledge – A resource for today?” was the question Kristna Sehlin MacNeil, Centre for Sami Research, addressed in her talk. According to Kristina, non- indigenous people have a lot to learn from indigenous knowledge and we should be asking indigenous people if they would be willing to share their knowledge.

Mats Berg, GirjasSamiVillage, expressed his concern over the expanding mining industries and how potential new mining will kill the reindeer herding and Sami traditions in his village. 8000 reindeers pass through his Sami village every year. A planned new mine will split the village up and stop the reindeers from passing between winter and summer pastures. Mats sees mining industry as the new predator in his area and calls for the right of the Sami people to say no.

Mats Berg

Mats Berg

The afternoon was spent in workshops and the day was finished off with beautiful Sami music and stories performed by Ella Katarina Rimpi.

First day of Jokkmokk Winter Conference 2013

After welcome and presentation of the JWC reference group we had the pleasure to listen to an interview on climate and energy strategies in the North with Lena Ek (Minister of Environment, Sweden), Audun Garberg (Political Advisor for the Ministry of Environment, Norway), Mika Flöjt (City Council Kuusamo, Finland), Stefan Mikaelsson (Chairman of Sami Parliament, Sweden) and Marianne Balto (Sami Parliament, Norway). Anna Hövenmark asked the panel questions.Lena Ek, Minister of Environment, Sweden

Lena Ek spoke of the importance of Ecosystem services and how nations and states should look at our balance sheet as well as results sheet (like stock market companies do).  According to Lena, nations tend to only look at the results and not the recourses we have got. The natural recourses and ecosystem services should be included in the budget says Lena, who is on her way to a meeting with the Ministers of Environment for the member states of the Arctic Council to discuss these type of questions, including ecosystem based management of the Arctic, the resilience of the Arctic, and short lived climate pollutants.

On the question “What message they can give to young people who are deeply concerned about climate change” all the interviewees agreed that there is a very serious situation. However, Audun and Lena pointed out a number of good things that are happening. For example the development of renewable energy in Germany, an impressive decrease in emission levels from new cars in Norway, and in Sweden a decision on a fossil free transport fleet 2030 and net zero emissions 2050. According to Lena this is possible and we need to take action.

Sefan Mikaelsson didn’t think this is enough and that we must stop consuming natural recourses at the rate we are doing today – we need food not minerals.  Marianne Balto says we should include indigenous people more in the discussion and learn from their knowledge on how to live with nature.

Marianne Balto and Stefan Mikaelsson

On the question on how to include young people in the decision process Mika Flöjt gave a good example from Kuusamo: The Youth Municipal Council is a common practice in Finish municipalities and a place where young people are engaged in these questions. Similarly in Norway you have a young Sami council, said Marianne.

Ylva Pavval did a great job as chair for this session. Three more exciting days to come.