Sámi Climate Council started its work
The Sámi Climate Council convened at its first meeting in Rovaniemi on 13 October. The mission of the Council is to bring the knowledge base and perspectives of the Sámi people into the climate policy processes.
The main task of the Sámi Climate Council is to give statements on the national climate plans that guide the national climate policy and determine what kind of climate measures are taken in Finland.
“Enhancing the knowledge on the special circumstances of the northern regions and people living there is vital as the impacts of climate change will be the greatest in the north. I am sure that the work of the Sámi Climate Council will help us understand the urgency of climate change mitigation, and find ways to support the vitality of the Sámi culture even in the face of challenges brought by climate change,” says Minister of Climate and the Environment Kai Mykkänen.
This Sámi Climate Council is the first one appointed under the new Climate Act. It is an independent expert body with 12 members. Half of its members represent the scientific community and the other half are holders of traditional knowledge. It is chaired by Klemetti Näkkäläjärvi, Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Oulu.
“Personally, I consider chairing the Council as one of the most challenging and interesting tasks I have had. I am very happy that the work of the Council has now started. The spirit of cooperation is excellent and we all share the will to create better conditions for climate change adaptation. Globally, the Sámi Climate Council is a unique body. Now we can start building a model where the knowledge and skills of indigenous peoples are taken into account in scientific work on an equal standing,” Näkkäläjärvi says.
“At first the focus will be on planning and organising the activities of the Council and on starting the collection of the knowledge base. I believe that the Sámi Climate Council can mark a new beginning for the cooperation between the scientific community and holders of traditional knowledge,” Näkkäläjärvi says.
The first meeting elected a vice-chair for the Council who, according to the Decree on the Sámi Climate Council, must be a holder of traditional Sámi knowledge. The meeting unanimously elected Petra Biret Magga-Vars as the vice-chair. Magga-Vars is a reindeer herder, artisan, yoik musician and artist from Vuotso.
“Holders of traditional knowledge, like me, see our culture and the surrounding nature as a landscape memory, as we grow in it. The knowledge, learnings and advice of the past generations are all present in our cultural context. This means that the impacts of climate change are also registered in our landscape memory. We have a lot of knowledge on the environment and ways to observe it that is similar to scientific knowledge. This is a historical situation: in the Sámi Climate Council we are in an equal position with the scientific community, and together we can look for solutions to climate change adaptation, perhaps even to its mitigation,” Magga-Vars says.
At its first meeting the Sámi Climate Council planned its activities for the near future and practical arrangements for these. Among the most urgent matters will be the preparations for setting up a secretariat. The next meeting will be held in Rovaniemi on 15 November 2023 in connection with the Arctic Spirit Conference. At the conference, the Sámi Climate Council will participate in the scientific panel ‘Co-creation of knowledge and climate change in the Nordic countries’.
chair of the Sámi Climate Council
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