The topic of the morning session was “A planet under stress”. Shora Esmailian, author and journalist, spoke about climate refugees in her talk “Out of the frying pan and into the fire”. According to Shora, climate refuges already exist today in many parts of the world. She has met victims of climate change in Egypt, Kenya and Pakistan, and she shared some of their stories with us today. However climate refugees are not recognised by the Geneva Convention and hence we need a new definition for refugees that includes climate and is borderless. Many people who have to leave their land due to extreme floods, draught or sea level rise become refugees within their countries.
Next up was Lassi Heininen, University of Lapland, who gave us a run through of the politics of the arctic. Decision makers are picturing the Arctic without ice – a new ocean – and new opportunities.
“Indigenous knowledge – A resource for today?” was the question Kristna Sehlin MacNeil, Centre for Sami Research, addressed in her talk. According to Kristina, non- indigenous people have a lot to learn from indigenous knowledge and we should be asking indigenous people if they would be willing to share their knowledge.
Mats Berg, GirjasSamiVillage, expressed his concern over the expanding mining industries and how potential new mining will kill the reindeer herding and Sami traditions in his village. 8000 reindeers pass through his Sami village every year. A planned new mine will split the village up and stop the reindeers from passing between winter and summer pastures. Mats sees mining industry as the new predator in his area and calls for the right of the Sami people to say no.
The afternoon was spent in workshops and the day was finished off with beautiful Sami music and stories performed by Ella Katarina Rimpi.