Seminar on Traditional Knowledge, Arctic Indigenous Peoples and Reindeer Herding

Indigenous peoples are not only impacted, they have valuable contributions in our common effort to meet the challenges caused by a changing climate, said Minister of Local Government and Modernisation Jan Tore Sanner in his opening statement.

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Dear participants!

I am happy to be here in Kautokeino and to open this conference on Traditional knowledge, Arctic Indigenous Peoples and Reindeer Herding.

More than 20 indigenous peoples live in the Arctic region. For many of these peoples reindeer herding is a central element of their culture. Indigenous peoples traditionally live and work close to nature. And nature is an important basis for their culture.

Today the climate is changing – changes that affect daily life of indigenous peoples in this region. The future scenarios are even more dramatic, particularly in the artic.

Indigenous peoples are not only impacted, they have valuable contributions in our common effort to meet the challenges caused by a changing climate. Indigenous peoples and local communities are holders of traditional knowledge. This knowledge can be used within reindeer herding societies throughout the Arctic, to build capacity to meet a changing and challenging future.

Traditional knowledge can also be used – together with scientific knowledge ­– as a basis for adaptation and sustainable development in the high north.

In this respect, the EALÁT-project and their report on Reindeer Herding, Traditional Knowledge and Adaptation to Climate Change and Loss of Pastures is an important step forward. A lot was achieved during the project period. I was particularly pleased by the passages on “legacy after the project” – as it seems the project has resulted in structures for cooperation in the field that will have a continuing impact.

Local communities, like Kautokeino, have long-term observations and engagement with the environment. This also means first-hand knowledge of climate change impacts and strategies for responding to these changes.

I have been briefed on the activities of the Sami University College and the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR), and I know that you are making important contributions work in this field, both securing knowledge for the next generation and creating new ways of transmitting this knowledge, and thereby inspire others.

International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR) was established by the Norwegian Government in 2005 here in Kautokeino, as a contribution to the unique international cooperation of circumpolar reindeer herding peoples. The initiative came from the Arctic Council and earlier projects on reindeer herding.

International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR) is engaged in an important and unique work to contribute to documentation of traditional knowledge of reindeer herders. This includes seeking relevant traditional knowledge and ways to monitor and handle climate changes in the future. ICR functions as the International Secretariat of the UArctic EALÁT Institute – University of the Arctic Institute for Circumpolar Reindeer Husbandry. ICR is also doing important work in hosting the secretariat of the Association of the World Reindeer Herders.

I am also pleased to hear about your efforts to combine using the traditional knowledge of reindeer herders with small-scale business development.

Later today I will meet with the Sami University College. I am interested to see how the college work to bring indigenous knowledge and Sámi language into school curricula, and how Sámi language functions as a medium of instruction at the College.

Indigenous and local knowledge is most often transmitted orally between and within generations. It is also embodied in practice and transmitted through activities. Traditional knowledge is therefore not only a question of learning in classroom settings or formal education. Therefore it is essential to explore ways of enhancing the transmission of indigenous knowledge from one generation to another, as a complement to mainstream education.

Indigenous knowledge is an important area of research. Bringing together scientific knowledge from academia with traditional knowledge and practices from indigenous peoples is a key contribution to overall knowledge development and scientific assessments.

Seminars and workshops like the one we are attending here today bring together natural and social scientists and indigenous and local knowledge holders. Together you can help us build the synergies necessary to include traditional knowledge of biodiversity and ecosystems as part of

  • future resource management
  • community planning and
  • in the development of small scale industries.

Today more than 70 leaders, experts and representatives of indigenous peoples are gathered here in Kautokeino for a unique cooperation to further the work on these issues.

I wish you all the best for the implementation of this conference on Traditional Knowledge, Arctic indigenous peoples and Reindeer Herding.

Thank you.