ICR Director Oskal Interviewed by Chinese News Agency at Arctic Council Ministerial

May 15, 2013 • Philip BurgessBlog, ICR/WRH

Arctic Council Ministerial Kiruna 2013

Representatives of the indigenous Saami people told Xinhua on Tuesday that they were actively adapting, with “the best knowledge available”, to challenges posed by the changing environment in the Arctic region.

According to the Saami delegation participating the Arctic Council Working Group presentations here in Kiruna, the northernmost Swedish city within the Arctic circle, they were trying to learn the best knowledge and to cope with the challenges, particularly the changing situations for reindeer herding, typical means of the group’s livelihood.

“There were needs, of course, minerals, copper and perhaps cellphones, but one thing we can say for certain is that, the world that people also need food (reindeer products)”, said Anders Oskal, a Norwegian Saami, also director of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry, voicing awareness been raised to the livelihood of his people just before the Eighth Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council.

“The loss of pastures due to infrastructure development, resource exploitation, tourism, etc. are grave challenges for reindeer herds”, Anders explained, unlike farm animals, reindeer migrates freely on natural pastures, and the Saami follow reindeer “in an annual migration from seasonal pasture to seasonal pastures.” “So the access to the pastures is critical to the Saami”, he said.

While actively coping with the challenge of the loss of pastures in the Arctic, adaptation to consequences of climate change seem vital to these indigenous people famously known as “northernmost indigenous people of Europe.”

To this end, Anders believe the Saami should use their best knowledge available.

“We need to try to integrate scientific knowledge with traditional knowledge of reindeer herds or local knowledge, to try to make two plus two become five.”

“By bringing these different forms fo knowledge together, bringing cross-disciplinary research and action, we can probably better adapt to our common future.” said Anders.

The Eighth Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council is scheduled on Wednesday in Kiruna, and approximately 300 people, including ministers, delegates from the eight Arctic states, representatives of indigenous peoples, scientists and observers will participate to discuss issues on the Arctic region

China will be the host of the 5th World Reindeer Herders Congress in July 2013

Source: china.cn.org