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The Nordic Council of Ministers' Secretary General steps down in 2023

The Nordic Council of Ministers' Secretary General steps down in 2023

| Text: Marie Preisler, photo: Kristian Septimius Krogh/

Finnish Paula Lehtomäki, who became Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2019, has decided to step down in March next year at the end of her contract.

There will be changes at the top of the Nordic Council of Ministers in March 2023. That became clear as the current Secretary General, Paula Lehtomäki, decided she will step down in March next year for personal reasons. Lehtomäki announced this on Thursday in an interview with the Nordic Labour Journal.

“Professionally the job as Secretary General is very inspiring and exciting, but privately it has been a challenge in several ways not least because of Corona. I have therefore decided to end my term as Secretary General in March next year,” Lehtomäki said.

A good solution

The Nordic Council of Ministers’ Secretary General is the Nordic region civil servant with the top responsibility for securing the best possible framework for the eight Nordic governments to cooperate within. The Secretary General is the leader of the secretariat for the official Nordic government cooperation, which is situated in Copenhagen.

Paula Lehtomäki Group

Paula Lehtomäki participated when the labour ministers met ILO head Guy Ryder in Reykjavik. Sweden's then minister of employment Ylva Johansson to the left of Paula Lehtomäki. Photo: Björn Lindahl

When Paula Lehtomäki was appointed to the job in 2019, she moved from the Finnish capital Helsinki to Copenhagen with her husband and the couple’s three children. Her children are moving back to Finland at the end of the current school year, and Paula Lehtomäki will follow next spring.

”I am really very happy with my job as Secretary General, but I have decided that all in all, moving back to Finland in 2023 after four years in the position is a good solution.” 

Work on vision carries on apace 

In the autumn of 2019, the Nordic prime ministers approved a vision for Nordic cooperation towards 2030. By then, the Nordic region should be the world’s most sustainable and integrated region. For Paula Lehtomäki and her team, it has been a high priority to support the Nordic governments in their joint effort to make this vision a reality. This will remain a central task, she explains. 

”The job of realising the vision is going ahead at full speed, and I will stay very focused on this until my last day in the office.”

One of the things she has focused on as the top leader of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ secretariat in Copenhagen is to increase cross-sector cooperation between the Nordic Council of Ministers’ staff. This is also a process she will push forward with undiminished vigour, she assures us.

Former Secretary Generals

2019–2023: Paula Lehtomäki, Finland

2013–2019: Dagfinn Høybråten, Norway

2007–2013: Halldór Ásgrímsson, Iceland

2003–2006: Per Unckel, Sweden

1996–2002: Søren Christensen, Denmark

1992–1996: Pär Stenbäck, Finland

1985–1992: Fridtjov Clemet, Norway

1982–1985: Ragnar Sohlman, Sweden

1978–1982: Hans Kühne, Denmark

1973–1978: Olli Bergman, Finland

1972–1973: Gudmund Saxrud, Norway


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