Arendalsuka 2023: Indigenous Empowerment


Photo: Arctic Council Indigenous Peoples Secretariat

For a whole week in Arendal, Norway, a Lavvu - a traditional nomadic Sámi tent - stood on a hill, offering the most beautiful view of the city to its visitors.

Since 2012, Norway's political community has gathered for Arendalsuka, an annual event that features lively open-air discussions between representatives of civil society, political parties and wide-ranging public interest groups on a variety of issues and topics.

During this week, Arctic indigenous youth leaders had a chance to speak directly to government representatives, civil society and institutional experts about the urgent need to address land conflicts, land degradation and permafrost thaw across the circumpolar North.

These discussions were part of a week-long workshop for Indigenous youth titled Exploring Arctic Sustainability: Enhancing Resilience, Addressing Land Degradation, and Permafrost Thaw Through Indigenous Empowerment. About 20 Indigenous youth from Alaska, Canada, Mongolia, Norway and Sweden participated in the workshop.

Experts and teachers from the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR), the Indigenous Peoples’ Secretariat of the Arctic Council, the Arctic Initiative, and Woodwell Climate Research Center taught courses on video production, policy advocacy, policy communication, participatory mapping, and systems thinking.

Speaking to the many leaders present at the Arendalsuka forum, Arctic indigenous youth leaders express their concerns about:

  • loss of identity and food insecurity due to declining salmon populations in their traditional fishing grounds in Yellowknife, Canada;
  • their frustrations with policies that prioritize development over respect for their human rights, leading to the fragmentation of their traditional reindeer grazing pastures in Northern Norway and Sweden;
  •  the strict conservation policies in Mongolia threatening the Dukha reindeer herders’ livelihoods and nomadic practices;
  • their fears as news of evacuations from the Northwest Territories due to wildfires displaced their families.

Understanding these common challenges faced by Arctic indigenous communities is essential to enhancing resilience.

This week is about building competence, confidence, and community, said Anders Oskal, ICR Executive Director.

Source: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School



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