Minister Ville Skinnari Leads a Circular Economy Themed Trade Mission to Toronto
Finland’s Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade, Mr. Ville Skinnari visited Toronto on December 2nd with a Finnish business delegation. During the visit, he met with Canada’s Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Mr. Jonathan Wilkinson. In addition to a bilateral meeting, both ministers delivered speeches at a business conference organized by Business Finland. In his speech, Minister Wilkinson announced that Canada will be hosting the World Circular Economy Forum 2020 in Toronto, September 29 - October 1. The Forum is founded by the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra. The minister’s visit also included the official opening of Business Finland’s new Toronto office.
Despite the extreme weather conditions in Toronto on Sunday December 1, the ministerial delegation landed in Toronto almost on time. The evening programme included an interview with CBC Toronto’s reporter about Finland’s climate policies. You can find Minister Skinnari’s interview on Sunday’s 11 PM News (time 13:17-16:43) or read it online.
On Monday, the minister had a full schedule that included meetings with Canadian officials and a business seminar. The circular and bio economy themed business seminar took place at Honorary Consul Peter Auvinen’s office. Among the participants where companies and other stakeholders from both Canada and Finland. Minister Skinnari also had a time to meet with the Canada Finland Chamber of Commerce’s board members.
Circular economy relevant for both countries
The atmosphere at the seminar was very enthusiastic. Finland and Canada are both committed to the Paris Climate Targets. Transitioning into a low-carbon, circular economy is one of Finland’s top priorities. Our goal is to make Finland a forerunner in the circular economy, offering sustainable solutions to global challenges. Finland and Canada are both resource-intensive economies with cold climate and long distances, which makes Finnish circular economy solutions relevant in Canada too.
The highlight of the morning was Canada’s announcement to host the World Circular Economy Forum, a initiative founded by the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, in Toronto from September 29 to October 1, 2020. Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Mr. Jonathan Wilkinson made this announcement. Both ministers delivered speeches in the beginning of the event. The ministers also had a chance to discuss how Canada and Finland can be in the forefront of building clean growth. The bilateral discussion was followed by a short press conference.
Later on Minister Skinnari participated in a panel discussion ‘Digging deeper into Circular Economy & Canada key topics’ moderated by Co-Chair of the Circular Economy Leadership Council, Mr. David Hughes. Other participants included Mr. Mika Sulkinoja, Senior Lead on Carbon-neutral Circular Economy at Sitra, Ms. Melissa Mirowski, Country Sustainability Manager at IKEA Group and Mr. Mike Wilson, Executive Director at Smart Prosperity Institute. Minister Skinnari talked about Finland’s ambitious goal to become carbon neutral by the year 2035. This raised much interest and questions about what tools are used to reach the goal. Overall, there were many useful exchanges of ideas - a conversation to be continued at the Toronto Circular Economy Forum next fall.
Business Finland opens an office in Toronto
The visit also marked the official opening of Business Finland’s new Toronto office. The office is located with the other Nordic Trade Council’s in midtown Toronto. It’s part of Business Finland’s North America Network that has its headquarters in New York. The office will work in close collaboration with the Embassy of Finland in Ottawa and Finland’s Honorary Consulates in Canada, all part of the Team Finland Network in Canada.
“Expanding the activities of Business Finland’s network to Toronto will significantly strengthen Finland's Team Finland work in Canada and it is a sign of Canada's growing importance to Finland. Physical presence in Toronto will make it possible for Business Finland to create permanent networks and to seize local business opportunities,” says Minister Skinnari.