The operating environment of the Finnish forest industry has changed: the focal points of lobbying to be realigned

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The operating environment of the Finnish forest industry has undergone significant changes in recent years and this is posing new challenges for the sector’s lobbying efforts. In response to the challenges posed by the changed situation, the Finnish Forest Industries Federation has clarified its strategic focal points and tasks as well as launched a restructuring of its organisation. In addition to labour market issues, the Federation will more clearly focus on matters associated with competitiveness and the innovation environment as well as sustainable development and resources.

“Our forest industry cannot build a future on the foundation of its traditional competitive advantages. The central challenges due to the changes in the operating environment are the strengthening of competitiveness and renewal of the sector. In intensified global competition our efforts must be strengthened especially in issues that have a significant impact on the ability of companies to operate and invest in Finland and Europe,” says Anne Brunila, President of the Finnish Forest Industries Federation, about the factors that indicate a need to restructure operations.

“From the point of view of the forest industry, the price and availability of energy, bioenergy and emissions trading have become questions of particular importance. International and EU-level solutions on energy, climate and environment policy have led to a situation in which it makes more sense to assess all of these questions as parts of a totality. This also calls for stronger lobbying and competence,” Brunila says.

“The new organisation will also strengthen lobbying efforts on behalf of the wood products industry and wood construction especially. Future success and competitiveness presuppose investments in research, product development and innovation. The establishment of a centre of expertise for the forest cluster and the drafting of a national research agenda are examples of important new initiatives that affect the entire sector. The Federation must be an active participant in these projects as well,” says Brunila.

The Finnish Forest Industries Federation is an organisation representing the interests of companies involved in the forest industry and associated activities. It is tasked with promoting the competitiveness and profitability of the paper and wood products industries by strengthening the sector’s operating environment and public image in both Finland and abroad.

Organisation to correspond with new operational focal points

The operations of the Finnish Forest Industries Federation will be organised into three units, respectively concentrating on the labour market, the business and innovation environment as well as sustainable development and resources.   

The objective of the labour market strategy is the achievement of collective labour agreements that improve competitiveness and productivity. It additionally aims to promote the availability of competent employees and high-quality training for the needs of working life. The labour market unit will be headed by Arto Tähtinen, D.Soc.Sc., up to 31.1.2007, when he will retire according to his agreement. From the beginning of February 2007, the labour market unit will be headed by Jari Forss, D.Soc.Sc.. The unit’s four groups concentrate on collective labour agreements in the paper and wood products industry and forestry sector, workplace wellbeing as well as training and competence.

The objective of the Federation’s competitiveness and innovation strategy is to ensure Finland’s competitiveness as a business and innovation environment for the paper and wood products industry. The corresponding business and innovation environment unit is headed by Pertti Laine, M.Sc. (Engineering). The unit comprises three groups, which focus on the functioning of the markets, research and development as well as the competitiveness of the forest industry and questions associated with its business sectors. The unit is also responsible for lobbying for wood construction and the wood products industry.

The goals of sustainable development strategy are the implementation of efficient and competitive energy and climate solutions, promoting the competitive advantages of using renewable natural resources sustainably as well as the building of competitive infrastructure. The leader of this unit will be appointed at a later date. This unit comprises three groups, which concentrate on energy and infrastructure, resource and environment issues as well as sustainable forestry.

The EU-level coordination of lobbying efforts is the responsibility of Riku Eksymä, LL.M.; Anneli Kotonen, M.Sc. (Econ.), is in charge of Russian affairs. Helena Aatinen, M.Sc. (Econ.), heads the communications department and Anu Karessuo, M.Sc., is in charge of the information and administration services section.

All of the above report to President Anne Brunila, Ph.D. (Econ.).

The Finnish Forest Industries Federation employs 64 fulltime employees. Pension arrangements and other individual agreements is estimated to reduce the staff by five persons by 2008; these arrangements have been made in agreement with all of the individuals affected by the changes.

Further information:   President Anne Brunila, Finnish Forest Industries Federation, tel. +358 (0)9 132 66 00