SuomiAreena: Future in focus – who’s listening?

The debates at SuomiAreena have traditionally been used as a way to get politicians to pay attention to important issues. But are they still listening, asks Sini Korpinen.

In this blog series, we visit Nordic societal platforms and join the debate on our societies’ future. Miltton’s experts will report from Naantali 24h, Almedalsveckan, SuomiAreena and the Arvamus Festival.


The sky over Pori is grey – there have been heavy rains during the first few days of SuomiAreena, but the big tent on Antinkatu 5 is full. A discussion about the future visions of young people is about to start. Tieto Oyj, Futures School and The Children and Youth Foundation conducted a survey which aimed to give a clearer picture of the thoughts, hopes and fears of young people. What will Finland look like in 2050?

The way young people are talked about is often filled with worry. Young people don’t think about the future. Or they worry about the future too much. Why do they fuss about climate change? Who will pay taxes in the future if the young people aren’t interested about earning money and going to work? This discussion – and the survey it is based on – is taking a different kind of point of view.

The panelists are making insightful points: Are we demanding too much from young people? Are we going into a wrong direction with our educational system when we look at the facts about developmental psychology and neuroscience? The audience is nodding.

This is not the only discussion concerning the future in SuomiAreena. Important issues such as climate change, social and health care system and educational politics are being brought up all over the city of Pori. Policy actions are demanded. Audience is nodding during each panel discussion I attended.

The debates and panel discussions in SuomiAreena have traditionally been used as a way to get politicians pay attention to important issues. It’s been four years since I last attended SuomiAreena, and the big difference I noticed is the smaller amount of the political decision-makers roaming the streets of Pori. Spring was long and filled with elections and tearing debate about the social and health care reform. Is this the reason why the members of parliament are harder to spot in the audience and crowd?

I take a look around the tent. It really is full, and yet SuomiAreena’s future is one of the main topics when people meet in the crowded streets of Pori. “How does this amount of people look to you”, people ask each other. Wasn’t it more crowded last year and the year before that?

I don’t know about that, but I can’t help but wonder: If the people that actually can make the changes happen in politics are not hearing the panel discussions, how does that change the spirit of SuomiAreena?

Sini Korpinen is a Senior Advisor at Miltton Networks.

The everlasting light of the Nordic summer nights inspire us – politicians, journalists, civil servants, activists and business representatives – to discuss where our societies are going, via the world-famous Nordic societal platforms.

Being part of this debate has always been at the core of Miltton. This summer, we want to share the insights, issues and ideas with all our stakeholders.

Tune in for blogs from Naantali 24h, Almedalsveckan, SuomiAreena and the Arvamus Festival to learn about the debate that will shape our societies’ future. Is this summer the defining moment for Europe? We are here to find out.

For more information, please contact:

Jan Westö
Director, Miltton Oy
+358 40 572 2481