Students planned the catering for the Arctic Council’s Ministerial Meeting
The 11th Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting was held in Rovaniemi, Finland, on 7 May 2019. The meeting was hosted by Finland and chaired by Minister for Foreign Affairs Timo Soini. The Foreign Ministers of all the Arctic States attended the meeting. The meetings were planned according to the green meetings concept. Catering is an essential part of sustainable meeting arrangements. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs worked in close cooperation with local service providers but and Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences.
Finland's Arctic Chairmanship team and WWF Finland developed the green meetings concept to help organise more environmentally friendly meetings that would ensure eco-friendly catering solutions, minimise the amount of rubbish and waste, and reduce emissions.
Finland prioritised environmentally friendly solutions during the two years of its Arctic Chairmanship. The rest of the Ministry have started to follow the guidelines this spring.
The concept is based on values
The meeting arrangements showcased the expertise of young professionals. Conference coordinator Annariina Kukkonen contacted Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences in autumn 2018. Second-year student chefs in the culinary management programme, led by Senior Lecturer Jari Karjalainen, took on the task.
Aleksi Lukka and Erika Helme, students at Haaga-Helia, found the project very interesting.
“We were excited about the assignment right away, because the values of the event were very much in line with our own. We are inspired by delicious, hand-made local food that is healthy, responsibly produced and rich in vegetables.
“We started the process by looking into the seasonal options available in the spring, immersing ourselves in the atmosphere of Lapland and by studying the WWF food guides for sustainable food choices. The date and location of the meeting turned out to be the most challenging part of the planning phase, as spring was just beginning in Lapland.
“Our team work flowed smoothly and we are happy and proud about what we achieved. It was easy to communicate with people from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Their feedback was relevant and constructive, and we had to make hardly any changes. It was a pleasure to work with the Ministry and we believe that they were satisfied with our work,” says Aleksi Lukka, who served as project manager.
Tracking the origin of ingredients
To make sure that all ingredients used in the catering were environmentally friendly, Annariina Kukkonen asked the service providers to list the ingredients used in the foods and drinks.
“We were happy to see that the menus at the ministerial dinner at Arktikum on 6 May and at the final reception on 7 May, for example, were made using local products,” Kukkonen says. “Even though many companies have assumed responsible practices, they do not always pay attention to all possible green options. It may be difficult to make dishes relying on seasonal products. It is the client’s responsibility to discuss the options with the service providers,” says Kukkonen.
Minister, delegates and other guests as well as the reporters working in the Media Centre commended the food served at the meetings. Green meetings are here to stay.