Press Release - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Riikka Karppinen Joins Arctic Initiative’s International Advisory Board

| Feb. 21, 2023

Riikka Karppinen

CAMBRIDGE, MA – Riikka Karppinen, a prominent youth leader, environmental activist, and politician from Finnish Lapland, has been appointed to the International Advisory Board of Harvard Kennedy School’s Arctic Initiative. As a Board member, Karppinen will leverage her substantial expertise in nature conservation, policymaking, activism, and communication to help the Arctic Initiative advance its research and education goals and train the next generation of interdisciplinary Arctic experts and leaders.

Comprised of leading Arctic scholars and policymakers, the Arctic Initiative’s International Advisory Board informs the Initiative’s research and provides a critical eye as to how the Initiative can have the greatest impact. Board members help grow the Arctic Initiative’s local and global networks, advise on trends in the Arctic, provide strategic guidance, and engage in priority projects across the Initiative’s research areas, such as permafrost thaw, governance, socio-ecological resilience, and marine pollution. Board members also participate in seminars, events, and other student-facing programs connected to the educational component of the Arctic Initiative's work at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

“I’m absolutely delighted that Riikka Karppinen is bringing her wonderful combination of smarts, environmental and policy experience, and youthful energy and enthusiasm to our International Advisory Board”, said Arctic Initiative Co-Director John Holdren.

Karppinen, who resides in Sodankylä, Finland, combines impressive political credentials with firsthand experience of the challenges facing Arctic communities and broad knowledge of Arctic and global affairs. In 2012, she was elected to the municipal council of Sodankylä, Finland, and has since served three terms, becoming Chairperson in 2021. From 2019 to 2021, Karppinen served as Vice President of Finland’s Green Party. She is also a Member of the Board of the Arctic Society of Finland and the Regional Council of Lapland, the governing body responsible for regional planning and development. In addition to her political career, Karppinen studies Finnish language and literature at the University of Helsinki and works as political assistant for the Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto and the Minister of the Interior Krista Mikkonen.

“Ms. Karppinen brings to the Advisory Board an up-to-date view on policymaking in Finnish Lapland, strong experience in nature protection and sustainability, and a youth perspective on the Arctic region. Her effective work in environmental activism has been remarked upon internationally,” said Tarja Halonen, former President of Finland and current Arctic Initiative Board Member, referencing Karppinen’s campaign to protect the Viiankiaapa nature reserve against a mining project, among other efforts. Karppinen began her career in environmental activism in 2010, at the age of 15.

“I’m very honored to become a member of the Arctic Initiative’s International Advisory Board. It will be great to be able to discuss the future of the Arctic region with the best experts in the field,” said Karppinen. “I want to bring a young perspective into the discussions of the present and future of the Arctic, to stress the importance of vital and acute actions required in the field of nature protection and sustainability, and to provide the Board with insights into policymaking in Finland and Lapland. The issues of the Arctic are the issues of the whole world, and therefore we should make the importance of our region visible to everyone.”

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:Riikka Karppinen Joins Arctic Initiative’s International Advisory Board.” Press Release, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, February 21, 2023.

The Author


John P. Holdren