Blog | 07/02/2024 10:56:50 | 3 min Read time

A lobbyist works as an interpreter between decision-makers and business world

Stefan Sundman

Vice President, Public Affairs

Expectations for transparency in all influencing done by companies is increasing, while the core of the work – regulation – has multiplied and become more complex. For an outsider, the word lobbying may still have a negative echo to it, but for many decision-makers it is an indispensable source for the information they need.

I work as the VP of UPM’s public affairs and lead the company's policy influencing team. At the heart of our work are policies and regulation and their impact on the business environment, which is influenced not only by national but also by EU laws and their local interpretations.

Finland is opening up influencing on decision-makers with a new national transparency register, while Germany and the EU already have their own transparency registers. The aim of the Finnish Transparency Register is to make the decision-making in Parliament and the ministries more transparent. This includes lobbying targeted at the Parliament and ministries not only by companies but also by NGOs, environmental organisations, and the trade unions, for example.

The first reporting period, which started in April, ended on June 30th. Now companies, NGO’s, organisations, trade unions, and consultancies are expected to file their first disclosures on lobbying activities by the end of June. The first disclosures on lobbying activities are made by the end of August.

Reporting on these activities is something quite new, but lobbying has been going on for as long as there has been regulation in the world. Instead of lobbying, some talk about advocacy, others about influencing.

In practice, influencing is about increasing understanding. A colleague of mine uses the analogy of an interpreter: He illustrates to decision-makers what the proposed regulation would mean in practice for a business. Within the company, he interprets what the regulatory environment is now like and how it affects our business.

A lobbyist illustrates to decision-makers what the proposed regulation would mean in practice for a business. Within the company, he interprets what the regulatory environment is now like and how it affects our business.

For decision-makers, lobbyists can be very helpful. In an interview with MustRead, Nils Torvalds, who recently ended his long career as an MEP, has described lobbyists as top experts in their field. Listening to these experts from all sides makes it easier for a decision-maker to get a full picture of what a policy decision is really about.

Few decision-makers can be expected to know every sector well enough to understand all the implications of their decisions. Also, the initiative for a meeting does not always come from a company; decision-makers and officials also actively seek information and contact company representatives. These contacts are all recorded in the Finnish Transparency Register, regardless of the initiator.

UPM wants to be transparent in its influencing activities, which is why we have opened up our main topics of influencing on our website. In essence, lobbying is about dialogue, where in the end everyone hopes to be not only heard but also understood. We keep doing this work in the hope that the Finnish Transparency Register will contribute to this understanding.

 
Forging a Sustainable Path: UPM Raflatac and Sustana Join Forces to Drive Circular Solutions
Story | 3 min

Forging a Sustainable Path: UPM Raflatac and Sustana Join Forces to Drive Circular Solutions

Read more
UPM volunteers support school kids in learning about work life and society
Story | 8 min

UPM volunteers support school kids in learning about work life and society

Read more
Transport emissions of WISA plywood in Finland decrease by a quarter
Story | 5 min

Transport emissions of WISA plywood in Finland decrease by a quarter

Read more