Arctic Frontiers 2019 opening speech

Arctic Frontiers 2019 opening speech - President Aili Keskitalo, Sámi Parliament of Norway

Nyhet | publisert

Buorre idit buohkaide!

Dear friends of the Arctic! On behalf of The Sámi Parliament of Norway, it is my honour to welcome all of you to Sápmi, the homeland of the Sámi people.

I like to thank the organizers for the opportunity to address the Arctic Frontiers 2019, The smart Arctic. I hope you will have a great time her in Tromsø, or Romssa as we say in the Sámi language.
Romssa is an important gathering place for Sámi’s. There is a relatively high number of Sámi’s living in Romssa. The Arctic university has many Sámi students. The University and other institutions are important for Sámi and Indigenous research, education and knowledge production.

Sámi reindeer husbandry has been in this area since historic times, it is located on the mainland and on the islands outside of Romssa city. Please try the distinctive taste of reindeer meat. It is healthy and eco-friendly, and got a fantastic flavour.

Sámi culture, languages and communities connects to the sustainable use of our fjords, rivers, lakes, forests, the tundra and mountains. Sápmi form the basis of our identity, and provide livelihoods to many Sami families. Sámi culture is therefore extra vulnerable to climate change.

We have experienced major changes in the climate system. Climate change threatens Sámi livelihoods and culture. The changes are happening so fast and unpredictably that it is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to adapt. We see impact both by a warming climate, but also because of mitigation measures, through new land use.

As an example, it is very hard for reindeer herders to adapt to seasons with more extreme weather, and to periods of rain during the winter. That leads to increased frequency of locked grazing land for the reindeers because of sheets of ice in snow. At the same time, we have to adapt to new land use when the government allows the wind power industry to occupy important grazing land. This is happening all over Sápmi, even on the island of Sállir/Kvaløya right across the bridge. These are challenges we need to address, we must work together to find solutions that are sustainable also for the development of Sámi culture. It is not smart to displace eco-friendly Arctic food production, however green one might paint the industrial activities.

In the Arctic, warming is two to three times above average in the world. We are not talking about 1.5 or 2 degrees of warming, but perhaps of 4 to 6 degrees already by 2050.

Time is running out for the world. We cannot continue as before. Everyone must reduce greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible everywhere. Let us not forget about the Indigenous people’s role in this picture. We have a lot to contribute when it comes to circular and sharing economy. It is in our blood, managing the life cycle of natural resources where less or nothing is wasted. That is smart Arctic!

I like to highlight that the UN has declared 2019 The Year of Indigenous Languages. Languages matter for development, peace building and reconciliation. We have to stop the alarming disappearance of languages around the world.

In this case, nerd facts for you can be that one of the Sámi languages with fewest speakers is Kildin Sámi. It is spoken mostly in Lujávri/Lovozero on the Kola Peninsula on the Russian side of the border. Around 100 persons speak Kildin Sámi on a daily basis, and a few 100 more have passive language skills. However, the word I used earlier, tundra, has its linguistic origin from Kildin Sámi.

Always remember, being bilingual affects your brain, it makes you smarter!

Thanks for the attention/ Ollu giitu!

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