Gæjhtoe! Thank you! Good afternoon. Everybody!
On behalf of the Sámi Parliament on the Norwegian side, it is my pleasure to welcome all of you to our homeland, Saepmie.
I agree in that the world situation is difficult. The corona pandemic was replaced by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. We also see that climate change create challenges in both domestic and foreign policy. All this affects conflict patterns, alliances, and power relations. Indigenous peoples, and other marginalized groups are often hit first and hardest.
We, the Sami people, are affected by the borders between the four states that divide us. All over, in the different countries, as Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, our people as facing different struggles because of the different national politics.
Unfortunately, sámi cooperation with the Russian side are in pause mode because of the war, and the lack of trust between the Sami people across the borders. We worry about and think about our brothers and sisters every day and hope that the war will end soon.
The war also contributes Europe into an energy crisis. These speeds up the green shift. That means that so-called green energy projects are realized and planned on a large scale in indigenous areas in Saepmie.
In such cases, Indigenous rights must be safeguarded, to ensured that our culture emerges strengthened when climate measures and climate adaptations are carried out. For that, funding is needed that benefits indigenous peoples. Let’s face it, in the Arctic the climate change goes much faster than projected for other world regions.
Our livelihoods are closely related to nature. It is based on control of and easy access to natural resource and self-employment of local food. Such as reindeer husbandry, fishing, small scale farming and harvesting. This is not only a business practice, but also important as cornerstones for Sámi culture, language, and traditions. A Sami way of life.
Sadly, our practices are facing a double climate burden. The cumulative effects of new land use and climate change have already increased vulnerability and reduced the adaptive capacity of way of living to the extent that its long-term sustainability is threatened. Maintaining and improving the solution space to adapt, is crucial for reducing existing impacts and projected risks of climate and land use change.
I think that so called green solutions often feels like a new colonization in many indigenous people’s lands. It is a fact that indigenous peoples have suffered from historic injustices as a result of colonization and dispossession of their lands, territories and resources.
And this is what we experience right now. In the name of the green shift, we see that the states give permits to companies to build new industry in our areas without our free, prior, and informed consent. This is a huge threat to our livelihood. We also see from the debate about wind power development, electrification of Melkøya gas-power-plant, the building of power lines and proposed mining projects. We experience this all over Saepmie.
The consequences and the cost may be difficult for you to understand. You may not have the knowledge, but you could respect it and take the Sami society’s concerns seriously. It is necessary that the right and just measures are taken to prevent this from happening. The concept of climate justice is crucial. If it fails, our livelihood will be further marginalized and maybe displaced.
This brings me up to the last days development in the Fosen-case. The Supreme Court of Norway had a historic judgment in 2021 where the licenses for wind power development on Fosen was ruled invalid. The construction amounts to a violation of the reindeer herders' right to enjoy their own culture under Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Today, it is 506 days since the ruling in the Supreme Court. We see that our youth are taking the fight in Oslo. They demand justice and faith for the future. I am hoping the conflicts ends as soon as possible, and that the state stops the ongoing violation of human rights and take measures to reparation. This is not only important for this case, but for our future and the Sami trust in the state.
I will also use this opportunity to highlight that what happens to the indigenous people, affect the whole society. I have mentioned the situation in Russia and silencing of the Sami people. I have also mentioned the struggles with mining and other so-called green industry. Also, at the Finnish side indigenous rights take a backseat because the government punted legislation that would have clarified legal rights for the indigenous people and revised how Finland’s parliament consults with the Sami legislative assembly.
Dear all of you, I do worry about the future if our voices and our warnings is not heard. It is crucial that our homelands are preserved and that our democracy are strengthened so we truly could be involved in the decisions that affect our lives and existence.
Change must happen, and you people could contribute to that. That means you should not only listen, but also take our perspectives seriously. We want to contribute to face these challenges we are facing. We are here and want to still be here in the future.
Thank you for your attention. Gæjhtoe.