The Sámi Parliamentary Council’s statement on wind power projects in Sámi areas – Projects must obtain a free, prior and informed consent of the Sámi people

The Sámi Parliamentary Council (SPC) convened on 25 January 2021 for a plenary session in which the chairmanship of the Council was transferred from the Sámi Parliament in Finland to the Sámi Parliament in Norway for the next 16 months. The plenary session was organised as a video conference.

The plenary session accepted the annual report of the Finnish chairmanship and discussed the use of wind power in Sámi areas and adopted a statement on this. According to the statement, the SPC demands that the Sámi people must give their free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) for wind power projects in the Sámi area. You can read the statement here. The new action plan for Norway’s term as Chair was also adapted. The action plan is available here.

The Sámi Parliament in Finland assumed the chairmanship of the Sámi Parliamentary Council on 19 September 2019, and the Chair of the Sámi Parliament in Finland has been the Chair of SPC since. The Youth Council of the Sámi Parliamentary Council has also been chaired by the Youth Council of Sámi Parliament in Finland.

Covid-19 pandemic affected the chairmanship

The main goals of the chairmanship of the Sámi Parliament in Finland included, inter alia, establishing the operations of Sámi Giellagáldu, the Nordic Resource Centre for Sámi Languages, promotion of the Nordic Sámi Convention and advancement of the process on enhancing the participation of Indigenous Peoples at the United Nations.

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020 and the exceptional circumstances that followed had a major impact on the chairmanship as well as SPC’s activities. Due to the exceptional circumstances, all of the Board Meetings of Sámi Parliamentary Council were organized as video conferences with the exception of the first meeting of the Board that took place in Inari in January 2020. As a result of the pandemic, international meetings, conferences, seminars and other events were cancelled, at least in their conventional form since March 2020, so the number of SPC’s international activities remained below their normal level.

The conference of Sámi parliamentarians, originally scheduled for August 2020, was also cancelled due to the outbreak of the pandemic. The Board of the SPC decided that the conference will be organized in August 2021. The conference will be organized in Inari.

The SPC is a parliamentary body for the cooperation of the Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden, and Finland with representatives from Russian Sámi organisations. Representatives from these three Nordic countries and Russia convene for a plenary session at least once a year. The Sámi Parliamentary Council seeks to promote the inter-parliamentary cooperation of the Sámi parliaments in the Nordic countries and it discusses cross-border matters that affect the Sámi as a people. The SPC also often represents the Sámi people living in the Nordic countries in international contexts. 

The representatives of the Sámi Parliamentary Council are appointed in the plenum of the Sámi Parliament, for one parliamentary term at a time. This parliamentary term, the representatives are:

Tuomas Aslak Juuso (deputy Leo Aikio)

Anni Koivisto (deputy Juha-Petteri Alakorva)

Pirita Näkkäläjärvi (deputy Magreta Sara)

Anne Nuorgam (deputy Asko Länsman)

Karen-Anni Hetta (deputy Irja Seurujärvi-Kari)

Tauno Ljetoff (deputy Veikko Feodoroff)

Niko Valkeapää (deputy Ulla-Maarit Magga)

In the Board of The Sámi Parliamentary Council, the Sámi Parliament’s (in Finland) representatives are Tuomas Aslak Juuso (deputy Leo Aikio) and Anni Koivisto (deputy Leo Aikio). Following the collaborative agreement of the SPC, the political heads of the Sámi parliaments must participate in the activities of the Board of the SPC.

Additional information

President Tuomas Aslak Juuso, +358 (0)40 687 3394, tuomas.juuso(at)samediggi.fi

Secretary for International Affairs, Inka Saara Arttijeff, +358 (0)50 574 7629, inka-saara.arttijeff(at)samediggi.fi

Photo: Ville-Riiko Fofonoff

Ministry of the Environment and Sámi Parliament negotiate on the Climate Change Act

The negotiations on the Climate Change Act between the Ministry of the Environment and the Sámi Parliament under section 9 of the Act on the Sámi Parliament were held on Tuesday 27 October. The Government proposal for the reformed Climate Change Act should be ready in spring 2021.

In the negotiations the representatives of the Sámi Parliament presented their views on how the rights of the Sámi people should be taken into account in the Climate Change Act.

“Climate change is a very serious threat especially to the Sámi culture and its traditional nature-based livelihoods. In the reform of the Climate Change Act we want to strengthen the rights of the Sámi as an indigenous people and their opportunities to participate in climate policy,” says Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Krista Mikkonen, who also took part in the negotiations.

The topics raised included the importance of climate change adaptation and support for this, and the need to create a knowledge base, expert assessments and monitoring related to the impacts of climate change from the perspective of the Sámi people.

“I wish to thank Minister Mikkonen for participating in the negotiations with the Sámi Parliament in person, which is quite exceptional. For developing a climate policy of and for the Sámi people, it is important to include a climate panel and climate change adaptation programme of the Sámi people in the Climate Change Act. Taking the rights of the Sámi people more broadly into account in the Climate Change Act is most welcome, as well as highly necessary,” says Tuomas Aslak Juuso, President of the Sámi Parliament.

Online survey on citizens’ views concerning the Climate Change Act

A public online consultation is currently open to collect the citizens’ views. The consultation consists of two surveys, and in one of these the key focus is on how the rights of the Sámi people should be incorporated into the Climate Change Act.

The surveys are available on the Otakantaa website, also in the Sámi languages. They will be open until 12 November 2020. A summary of the replies will be compiled and delivered to the working group tasked with preparing the new Act and published on the Ministry of the Environment website.

Inquiries:

Riikka Yliluoma, Special Adviser to the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, tel. +358 295 250 091, riikka.yliluoma@ym.fi

Leena Ylä-Mononen, Director General, chair of the working group reforming the Climate Change Act, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 295 250 023, leena.yla-mononen@ym.fi

Tiina Lovisa Solbär, Environmental Secretary, Sámi Parliament, tel. +358 10 839 3184, tiinalovisa.solbaer@samediggi.fi

Tuomas Aslak Juuso, President, Sámi Parliament, tel. +358 10 839 3101, tuomas.juuso@samediggi.fi

Read more about the Climate Change Act and its reform on the Ministry of the Environment website

The Sámi Parliament Participates in the International Week for Biological Diversity

The Sámi Parliament in Finland participates in the International Biodiversity Theme Week 18-22 May by publishing a video every day of the week related to biodiversity and Sámi culture. Themes of the week have been applied to Sámi culture, and the aim is to raise issues that are important to Sámi culture in relation to biodiversity and traditional knowledge.

The United Nations proclaimed May 22 as the International Day for Biological Diversity (IBD). The purpose of the day is to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity and its significance.

This year, Biodiversity Day will extend to a full week. Each day of the week has its own biodiversity theme, linked to the main themes of international biodiversity work. During the week, comprehensive nature communication will take place all around the world.

The themes of the Sámi Parliament for each day of the week are:

Mon 18th: Traditional knowledge and its meaning for biodiversity.

Tue 19th: Biodiversity, protected areas and traditional livelihoods.

Wed 20th: Biodiversity, traditional food, fishing, and food security.

Thu 21st: Biodiversity and culture: handcrafts.

Fri 22th: Actions to prevent biodiversity loss from a Sámi perspective.

You can use tags in social media #BiodiversityDay #Biodiversity #BiologicalDiversity

Background

The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was opened for signature at the United Nations Conference on Environments and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Finland ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1994. The objectives of the convention are the conservation of the biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources.

Article 8(j) of the Convention on Biological Diversity obliges Parties to protect indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge relevant to biological diversity. The article requires Parties to respect, protect and maintain, in accordance with their national legislation, the knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous people and local communities relevant for the conservation of biological diversity, and to promote their wider application with the approval of knowledge holders and to encourage equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of biological diversity.  In Finland, the obligations outlined in the article apply to the Sámi people.

The year 2020 is so-called super year of the biodiversity. During the year, a new global biodiversity framework (post-2020 global biodiversity framework) will be negotiated and a UN Summit on biodiversity will be organised. In addition, a meeting of the parties of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) was to be held in China, but the conference has been postponed to the next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

More information

President Tuomas Aslak Juuso, +358 40 687 3394, tuomas.juuso(at)samediggi.fi

Secretary for International Affairs Inka Saara Arttijeff, +358 50 574 7629, inka-saara.arttijeff(at)samediggi.fi

The First New Illustrations of the Ethical Guidelines of Sámi Tourism Have Been Released

Young Sámi comic artist, Sunna Kitti, illustrates Principles for Responsible and Ethically Sustainable Sámi Tourism -guidelines. All the new illustrations are now ready and waiting to be published. New material is primarily meant to be used as study material for students in the field of tourism studies and for various sectors and actors in tourism industry and as well as for the tourists arriving to the Sámi Homeland in Finland

By combining illustrations with the text of the ethical guidelines, the Sámi Parliament in Finland wants to raise larger public awareness of the challenges of Sámi tourism. ‘We hope that the visual information clarifies the message of the guidelines and, thus, eases their internalisation and implementation.’ says the project co-ordinator Kirsi Suomi.

First illustrations are now released. The Future We Want -illustration is based on the vision in the ethical guidelines. Following the vision, the traditional livelihoods of the Sámi are viable and profitable. Modern livelihoods such as responsible and ethically sustainable tourism based on Sámi culture support the profitability of traditional livelihoods and promote employment locally.

According to the vision, there will be a Sámi tourism information centre distributing accurate information on the Sámi and Sámi culture to visitors and various interest groups in tourism industry. Furthermore, the centre has information about the responsibly and ethically sustainably operating Sámi tourism entrepreneurs. In the good vision, the everyday lives and festivities of the Sámi community as well as the land use in Sámi Homeland have also been successfully co-ordinated with the needs of tourism while primarily securing and respecting the rights of the Sámi and their culture.

The Future We Want. Illustration: Sunna Kitti

The opposite of the good vision is The Future We Do Not Want. In this illustration, the vision in the ethical guidelines has not taken place. The uncontrolled and constantly increasing numbers of visitors arriving to the Sámi Homeland have caused increasing amounts of challenges that have not been manageable or solved. The traditional livelihoods of the Sámi have been forced to retreat due to tourism. The safeguarding of the cultural practices and traditions of the Sámi not involved in tourism have failed. Instead, the everyday lives and festivities of local communities have ended up as tourist attractions against the wishes of the local people.

The Future We Do Not Want. Illustration: Sunna Kitti.

‘I hope my illustrations have impact on the way in which tourism industry and tourists react to and treat the Sámi and Sámi culture. Tourism based on incorrect and outdated conception of the Sámi reduces the already-limited space where Sámi can freely practice their own culture without being disturbed. I am worried that the villages [in the north] will become inhabitable for the locals’, says the comic artist Sunna Kitti when explaining why she decided to participate in the project by illustrating the ethical guidelines for Sámi tourism.

On September 24th in 2018, the Plenum of the Sámi Parliament in Finland accepted Principles for Responsible and Ethically Sustainable Sámi Tourism. The main aim of these ethical guidelines is to terminate tourism exploiting Sámi culture as well as erase false information and misrepresentations regarding the Sámi and Sámi culture spreading through tourism. The second aim is to safeguard the cultural practices and traditions of the Sámi not connected to tourism industry. The project has been financed by the Ministry of Education and Culture.

More information:

Co-ordinator Kirsi Suomi, Culturally Responsible Sámi Tourism, 010 839 3118, kirsi.suomi(at)samediggi.fi