Conference speakers


Here you can find short introductions of the conference speakers, as well as their topics. Please, notice that this section is incomplete and will be updated.

Registration for conference

 Speakers, Monday

Johanna Maasalo

Project manager, Visit Jyväskylä Region

Greetings of City of Jyväskylä

Johanna is an international tourism professional working at Visit Jyväskylä Region, the destination management organisation (DMO) in Central Finland. She is well-versed in the cultural tourism highlights of Central Finland, specifically the UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Struve Geodetic Arc’s Oravivuori measurement point and Petäjävesi Old Church. Both sites are crucial attractions and unique selling points when promoting Central Finland globally.

Johanna is also a passionate advocate for sustainable and responsible tourism, seamlessly integrating culture as an essential component of sustainability. Previously serving as a destination specialist at Visit Jyväskylä Region, she currently works as a project manager in the Sustainable international accessibility for tourism of Jyväskylä Region under Visit Jyväskylä Region’s administration.

Speakers, Tuesday

Pauliina Grym

Journalist and the moderator of the conference

I am an experienced public speaker and journalist. My radio program, “Kulttuuriykkönen” on Finnish National Broadcasting Company Yle, is Finland’s most in-depth and diverse cultural show, running for nearly an hour. Since 2018, I have been involved in creating this program, which seamlessly blends contemporary artistic and cultural surprises and current discussions with the rich historical gems of both Finland and the wider world.

Previously, I hosted six-hour rock programs on Radio City and upbeat shows on Radio Nova. As a confident presenter, I have also had the privilege of hosting various events, from massive rock festivals like Sonisphere to stakeholder gatherings.

Currently, I am working on a doctoral thesis at Jyväskylä University, focusing on activism journalism. I excel at creating a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, where people feel comfortable and can easily share their thoughts and maybe even a laugh.

Stefan Wessman

Specialist, Finnish Heritage Agency






Laura Heikkilä

Project manager, Association of World Heritage Sites in Finland

Topic: Outsanding Universal Value in a Nordic context

Stefan works as a specialist at the Finnish Heritage Agency with responsibility for international matters. His focus is on UNESCO´s cultural heritage policy through the three UNESCO conventions he is responsible for; the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, the 1972 convention concerning the protection of the World cultural and natural heritage and the 2001 convention on protection of the underwater cultural heritage.

As national focal point for Finland´s cultural world heritage sites, Stefan has acted as an expert and Finland’s head of delegation at various UNESCO meetings, among them the World Heritage Committee meetings during Finland’s period on the committee (2013-2017). He currently represents Finland at the Hague conventions 2nd protocol Committee (2021-2025). He has also been an expert on the ICOMOS World Heritage Panel (2017-2018) which assesses future World Heritage sites and acted as an expert for several World Heritage nominations.

Topic: Interpretation and Visitor Survey in Finland

Laura has worked as a project manager for the Association of World Heritage Sites in Finland since 2017 planning and coordinating on-going projects as well as introducing the association and its activities to various partners. The Association of World Heritage Sites in Finland has carried out seven projects during 2017-2024. Two of the most significant projects implemented are the Visitor Survey and the Interpretation project. The standardized Visitor Survey has been carried out twice, collecting comparable data of all of the sites and creating an important knowledge base for the development and protection of the sites. The Interpretation project focused on creating a basis for understandable communication on World Heritage based on the values of the sites. Main focus of the association is to develop and increase the cooperation between World Heritage Sites in Finland as well as to improve the sites’ skills and resources.

Malin Henriksson

World Heritage Coordinator, Kvarken Archipelago

Examples, The Utilisations of the Visitor Survey in Finland

Malin works as the World Heritage Coordinator for the Finnish part of the World Heritage Site High Coast/Kvarken Archipelago. Since 2018, she’s been actively developing joint management of the transnational site through various projects and activities. She is a co-author of the nature interpretation plan for the site, titled “To Communicate the Ice Age and Land Uplift,” published in 2020. It was the first plan developed for the entire site and was created in close cooperation with colleagues at High Coast. This plan emphasizes well-thought-out messages for communicating World Heritage values and stakeholder engagement. Heritage and nature interpretation planning have also proven valuable in other management activities, and the main theme can be applied in various contexts. The nature interpretation plan has set a model for interpretation planning in Finnish World Heritage Sites, and Malin was able to contribute to guiding other sites through the interpretation planning process based on her experience from High Coast/Kvarken Archipelago.

Speakers Wednesday

Einar Á.E. Sæmundsen

Director of Thingvellir National park

Speech of chair of Nordic World Heritage Association

Einar Á.E.Sæmundsen is the director of the most visited tourist destination in Iceland Thingvellir national park in southwest Iceland a World Heritage site since 2004.  He is also the chair of the Nordic World Heritage Association and been involved with the board since 2016.

Einar graduated with a B.Sc in geography from the University of Iceland but later went on to study landscape architecture at the University of Minnesota in the United States. His job duties are very diverse, ranging from practical matters, staff, finances and basic administration and project management on different design, planning and construction projects.

Key note Mike Robinson

Professor of Cultural Heritage, Nottingham Trent University

Mike is Professor of Cultural Heritage at Nottingham Trent University and Professor Emeritus, University of Birmingham, where he was Director of the Ironbridge Institute. He was previously Founder / Director of the Centre for Tourism and Cultural Change and remains Editor of the international Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change. For 35 years Mike’s work has focused upon the relations between heritage, tourism, culture. He has published extensively on heritage / World Heritage with specific interests on cross-cultural communication and interpretation.

Mike is an independent consultant specialising in Heritage. Sustainable Tourism and Enterprise having worked on projects in over 40 countries with UNESCO, the European Commission, Council of Europe, various state agencies, NGOs and heritage sites. As advisor to the UNESCO Programme in Sustainable Tourism he was principal consultant to the World Heritage European Journeys Project. He was government appointed member of the UK’s Expert Panel to determine the UK’s World Heritage Tentative List and has worked with UNESCO offices in China, South East Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East and various parts of Europe. He is a founding member of the UNESCO UNITWIN Network on Culture, Tourism and Development and he works as long-standing expert with the Council of Europe’s Cultural Routes Programme.

 The geographical foci of Mike’s more recent work is Uzbekistan having been commissioned by UNESCO to write the Sustainable Heritage and Tourism Strategy for Karakalpakstan. He is also working with heritage sites in Jordan and China (third-line construction and related industrial heritage in Sichuan and Zhejiang Provinces).

Eila Seppänen

RDI Specialist, Lapland UAS

StruveNorth – a journey along the Northern parts of the World Heritage Struve Geodetic Arc

Eila Seppänen works as a RDI specialist at Lapland University of Applied Sciences. She coordinated an EU’s Interreg Nord financed project called the Northern parts of the World Heritage Struve Geodetic Arc, better known as StruveNorth in 2020-2022. Cross-border effort included partners and collaborators from Sweden, Norway and Finland. The aim of the project was to unveil the potential of the unknown heritage, as Struve Geodetic Arc measurement points were not too familiar for people of the Norhtern region – despite the fact that there were measurement points in nearly every village between Haparanda-Tornio and Hammerfest.  The actions of the project concentrated in capacity building, business perspective and digitalization of the heritage, which was hard to access for many people. The experience was transformative in terms of increase of virtual visits on sites. Struve Geodetic Arc is like a measurement tape, but also like a zipper between the three countries.

Emma Backelin

Museum Educator and Event Coordinator, Vitlycke museum

Aino Osola

Event Coordinator, Governing Body of Suomenlinna

Forging Connections: World Heritage Volunteer (WHV) Camps in Tanum and Suomenlinna

Emma works as a Museum Educator and Event Coordinator at Vitlycke museum, Tanum World Heritage. Her main focus within the museum’s educational outreach is to teach the local schools about the importance of World Heritage sites by anchoring global perspectives in a local context. Emma started in her current role in 2021 and is the camp coordinator for the World Heritage Volunteer camp in Tanum.

Aino works as an Event Coordinator in the Governing Body of Suomenlinna. She has been working with culture heritage for 15 years, specializing in museum education and audience work. She started in her current role in Suomenlinna in 2023. Aino is the camp coordinator of the 8th World Heritage Volunteers camp in Suomenlinna, taking place in August 2024. 

The World Heritage Volunteers (WHV) initiative, established in 2008, aims to raise awareness about the importance of protecting and promoting World Heritage sites. By engaging young adults in hands-on projects, the program fosters a deeper understanding of cultural and natural heritage. In 2024, the initiative will host 90 projects worldwide, including two in the Nordic countries: at the Rock Carvings in Tanum, Sweden, and the Fortress of Suomenlinna, Finland.

WHV projects are primarily work camps for young adults (18-30 years) from around the world. Volunteers share accommodation and work closely together, building bridges between diverse cultures and languages. This interaction deepens their appreciation for different perspectives and shared cultural heritage.

The camps rely on extensive cooperation to function. In Suomenlinna and Tanum, the key partner is Allianssi Youth Exchanges, a Finnish youth association that manages volunteer applications and promotes youth exchange. Volunteers also form connections with the World Heritage sites and their work supervisors. Communication during the camp is impactful, generating new ideas for both volunteers and site managers.

The Rock Carvings in Tanum and the Fortress of Suomenlinna have established a significant partnership within the WHV initiative. They plan parts of the camps together, maintain regular contact, and develop common communication strategies. The WHV initiative emphasizes cooperation and connection, and in Suomenlinna and Tanum, we’ve found this to be essential for the success of the camps. Looking ahead, we hope to see a stronger Nordic network of World Heritage sites hosting WHV projects. We also envision a network of former volunteers who continue to share ideas and stay connected with the World Heritage sites.

The WHV initiative represents a unique and impactful opportunity for young people to engage with World Heritage, fostering global connections and collaborative efforts to safeguard our shared cultural and natural heritage.



Intangible World Heritage -theme

Katja Mäkinen

Senior researcher, University of Jyväskylä

European Heritage Label and Interpretation

Katja works as a senior researcher at the department of Music, Art and Culture Studies in the University of Jyväskylä (JYU). She has a PhD and a Title of Docent in political science and MA in art education. Currently she is JYU’s consortium PI in the research project d@rts (dialoguing@rts – Advancing Cultural Literacy for Social Inclusion through Dialogical Arts Education) funded by the HorizonEurope Programme. Previously Katja has worked in several multidisciplinary research projects funded by the Academy of Finland, Kone Foundation, European Research Council and HorizonEurope. She has worked as a lecturer in cultural policy and political science and a visiting fellow in the University of Bologna, European University Institute in Florence and the University of Auckland. She was editor in chief in the Politiikka (Politics) journal and is currently member of the editorial staff of the Kulttuurintutkimus (Cultural Studies) journal. Katja conducts conceptual and ethnographic research on participatory governance and EU policies on citizenship, culture and education, for example the European Heritage Label. Her research focuses on citizenship, participation, identities, cultural heritage and performing arts. Her research interests include temporality and spatiality as well as the social impact of cultural institutions and arts-based practices.

Karoline Grytten

World heritage coordinator, Urnes stave church

Interpreting and conveying 900 years of faith, culture and craftmanship

Karoline has a background in archaeology and Nordic history and is currently the world heritage coordinator for Urnes stave church, one of the twenty-eight stave churches that still stand in Norway. Urnes stave church has been listed as a World Heritage Site since 1979 and is the only one of Norway’s remaining twenty-eight stave churches to have gained this distinction. The church dates back to the early 12th century, although parts of the construction are even older, and the building is today owned and managed by the National Trust of Norway (Fortidsminneforeningen).

Karoline has previously worked for the National Trust of Norway as a guide in and around the stave church and is therefore very familiar with the building’s history and construction, historical and modern interpretations, and how this is currently communicated to audiences.

Tove Damholt

Consultant, Stevns Klint World heritage Site

Stevns Klint Experience – a new visitor center communicating a World Heritage Site

Tove has worked with a wide range of aspects of World Heritage. She was lead on the nomination process for Stevns Klint that was adopted in 2014. Following the adoption, she formed the anchor point in developing the management of the site based on the values of UNESCO. This included the establishing of a shared management system and a partner program creating value for the local community hand in hand with communication and interpretation. 

Tove held a key role in the establishment of the award-winning visitor center for Stevns Klint as World Heritage, from the idea-phase through to the opening in 2022 including the role as content project manager for the exhibition telling the story of the Outstanding Universal Value of Stevns Klint.

Tove has served as an expert for several Danish world heritage nominations, as a study advisor and contributor to the IUCN thematic study on Geological World Heritage in 2021 and as member of the board of the Nordic World Heritage Association since 2020.

Ulla Mikkanen

World Heritage Coordinator, National Land Survey of Finland

Katriina Koponen

Development director, Foundation of Petäjävesi Old Church

World Heritage Center of Central Finland -Project

Although the Old Church of Petäjävesi has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994, the site lacks a visitor center required by the World Heritage strategy and the tourism potential of the site. The project aims to build an independent year-round visitor center, the World Heritage Center of Central Finland, near the Old Church. Fundraising work is currently ongoing.

The Old Church does not have heating or appropriate social facilities, making it challenging to secure a workforce for the church. The difficult working conditions also hinder guided tours during the winter season. Additionally, souvenirs are currently sold inside the old church, where the conditions significantly limit the possibilities for sharing World Heritage knowledge.

In the Central Finland region, there is also another World Heritage site: one of the 34 protected measurement points of the Struve Geodetic Arc: Oravivuori Point, located in Korpilahti. The points of the Geodetic Arc are mostly on private land, which makes arranging separate guided tours difficult. The visitor center is therefore planned to serve as the common World Heritage Center of Central Finland and to share World Heritage knowledge about both the Struve Geodetic Arc and Petäjävesi old Church.

Speakers Thursday

Petteri Takkula

Development manager, Suomenlinna

Development manager Petteri Takkula is a heritage professional working for the Governing Body of Suomenlinna. He moderates Thurday’s program.

The Fortress of Suomenlinna is a historical sea fortress and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The fortress is one of the most popular tourist sites in Helsinki, Finland, with approximately one million visitors a year. Suomenlinna is also a city district of Helsinki and home to approximately 800 permanent residents. The Governing Body of Suomenlinna is a government agency under the Ministry of Education and Culture responsible for the restoration, maintenance, presentation, and administration of Suomenlinna.

Petteri has a background in history with a master’s degree from the University of Helsinki. He worked for years in the museum sector in Helsinki before accepting in 2013 his current position in Suomenlinna. Petteri leads a team of heritage professionals coordinating the efforts of the Site Manager organization and its various stakeholders.

Petteri participated in the writing of Suomenlinna Management Plan (2014), Suomenlinna Sustainable Tourism Strategy (2015) and the revision of the Suomenlinna Management Plan (2019). He was also a member of the steering group for the Finnish World Heritage Strategy (2015) and its Implementation Plan (2016). Petteri was a founding member of the Nordic World Heritage Association and has served as a board member.

Niina Svartström

Project manager, Finnish Heritage Agency

Preparing a National Serial Nomination: Aalto Architectural Works – a Human Dimension to Modern Movement

Niina Svartström works at the Finnish Heritage Agency with responsibility of coordinating the nomination of Aalto Architectural Works for the inscription on the World Heritage List. She is an architect with a special interest in built heritage. Her focus on Aalto is derived from practice as an architect at Arkkitehdit Mustonen Oy (2002-2022), with deep involvement in the reparation and conservation of modern heritage such as the Aalto Church of the Three Crosses in Imatra, The Church of the Cross in Lahti and Villa Skeppet in Tammisaari as well as recent heritage inventories and teaching these topics part-time at Aalto University. She is an active member of both Icomos and Docomomo.

Eva Rose Waldorff

Site Manager, Stevns Klint

Tove Damholt

Consultant, Stevns Klint

Nordic World Heritage Conference 2025

Eva is responsible for the day to day coordination of the work surrounding Stevns Klint UNESCO World Heritage. Aiming to protect, but also utilizing the value of Stevns Klint and tourism to increase joy and community in Stevns. This includes monitoring, communication and collaboration with local partners and residents.

Tove has worked with a wide range of aspects of World Heritage. She was lead on the nomination process for Stevns Klint that was adopted in 2014. Following the adoption, she formed the anchor point in developing the management of the site based on the values of UNESCO. This included the establishing of a shared management system and a partner program creating value for the local community hand in hand with communication and interpretation.  

Tove has served as an expert for several Danish world heritage nominations, as a study advisor and contributor to the IUCN thematic study on Geological World Heritage in 2021 and as member of the board of the Nordic World Heritage Association since 2020.