EU environment and climate ministers convene in Finland to find solutions to the sustainability crisis

Press release 2019-06-19 at 14:55

Finland is keen to put the sustainability crisis and its possible solutions at the heart of EU policymaking. That is why climate change, the circular economy and the loss of biodiversity will be high on the agenda during Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the informal meeting of environment/climate ministers on 11–12 July in Helsinki.

The informal Environment Council meeting is the second informal meeting of ministers organised during Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the EU. The meeting will be chaired by Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Krista Mikkonen.

"It is imperative for the future of Europe that we tackle the climate crisis and halt the loss of biodiversity. Solving the sustainability crisis will require international cooperation and versatile actions, such as transitioning to a circular economy. We need an EU economy that is increasingly based on sustainability, that is, on climate change mitigation and efficient, long-term utilisation of renewable natural resources through reuse and recycling. Europe is expected to show leadership, and Finland’s Presidency wants to contribute to finding joint solutions to the challenges ahead,” says Minister Mikkonen.

Ministers to seek international solutions to climate change and biodiversity loss

The first day of the meeting, Thursday 11 July, will be dedicated to the EU’s climate objectives and messages with regard to the UN Climate Action Summit 2019 to be held in New York in September. The ministers will also discuss means to drive international climate objectives forward. The day’s second topic is biodiversity. The introduction to the topic will be given by Cristiana Pașca Palmer, United Nations Assistant Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. The ministers will discuss the EU’s plan and timeframe for halting the loss of biodiversity. In 2020, countries around the world are set to agree new targets for stopping global biodiversity loss and improving the state of the environment.

Friday 12 July will be dedicated to the circular economy. The topic will be introduced by Per Klevnäs, a specialist in sustainable economy, and Commissioner Jyrki Katainen, European Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness. The first working session will focus on the potential of circular economy solutions to tackle the climate crisis and biodiversity loss. The meeting will end with a discussion on how the circular economy should be expanded, and into which sectors. 

Finland’s third Presidency starts on 1 July

Finland will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from 1 July to 31 December 2019. Finland chairs the formal Council meetings in Brussels and Luxembourg and the informal meetings of ministers held in Finland. Six informal meetings of ministers and a number of meetings of working groups and experts will be held in Finlandia Hall in Helsinki.

Sustainable development forms a common thread throughout the meeting arrangements for Finland’s Presidency. Meetings have been centralised in the capital, Helsinki, to minimise emissions from transport. Finland will produce very little physical material just for the Presidency and has decided on a no-gifts policy. The money earmarked for Presidency gifts will be used in full to offset carbon dioxide emissions from air travel by delegates.

The presidency of the Council takes forward the Council’s work on EU legislation and policy initiatives and ensures the continuity of the EU agenda. In addition, the presidency represents the Council in relations with the other EU institutions, particularly with the European Commission and the European Parliament.

Media representatives covering the informal meetings of ministers held in Helsinki must complete their accreditation via the online accreditation system at the latest two weeks before the meeting starts. Accreditation for the Informal Meeting of Environment/Climate Ministers will close on 27 June 2019.


Liisi Klobut, Head of EU Cooperation, tel. +358 295 250 131, (informal meeting of environment/climate ministers)

Outi Honkatukia, Senior Environmental Adviser, tel. +358 50 341 1758, (climate change)

Marina von Weissenberg, Senior Environmental Adviser, tel. +358 295 250 321, (biodiversity)

Taina Nikula, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 250 202, (circular economy)

Riikka Lamminmäki, Head of Communications, tel. +358 50 576 2604, (interview requests)