Arctic Frontiers of World Reindeer Herders
Major international conference Arctic Frontiers 2014 has taken place in the city of Tromsø, on the north of Norway, from 19th to 24th of January. This 8th edition of the annual conference was dedicated to “Humans in the Arctic”. Arctic Frontiers is organized as an independent network and a leading meeting place for pan-arctic issues. The conference brought together around one thousand participants among them were representatives from science, politics, business, civil society, and indigenous peoples, all to discuss development on the north.
Arctic Frontiers began on Sunday evening with opening at Polaria expedition hall.
The first part of the conference was the political conference that run the first two days, after that the conference moved to the three days of science section. For the political section the interest was absolutely huge. Among the key note speakers were Norwegian Prime Minister, Erna Solberg; Icelandic Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson; Rector of the University of Tromsø, Anne Husebekk. Ambassador at Large, Senior Arctic Official for Russia, Anton Vasiliev said that one the tasks in the strategic development of the Russian Arctic is to provide comfortable living for the population of the Russian North, including the preservation of traditional land use of indigenous peoples. He also added that life in the Arctic should be better so that young generation would not leave these territories. One of the most impressive speakers was the Prime Minister of Greenland, Aleqa Hammond, who talked about impacts of climate change on environment and indigenous peoples, how it is affecting traditional life style and how difficult it is for indigenous peoples to get used to what climate changes are bringing. She stressed that is important to think not only about economic development.
The science section had two main themes ‘Health, society and environment’ and ‘Maritime operational challenges’ and also was divided into four parts.
International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry and the Association of World Reindeer Herders were also participating in the Arctic Frontiers 2014. During their stay in Tromsø, representatives of ICR and WRH had a number of fruitful meetings, most notably, the Rector of Tromsø University Anne Husebekk; Dean of the Graduate School of Business, University of Nordland Bjørn Olsen, Director of the High North Center for Business and Governance of University of Nordland, Frode Mellemvik. They all expressed big interest to the ICR and WRH presentations about their activities and projects. Discussion focused on issues of education and cooperation. As a result of these meetings it was suggested to further communicate and think about possible establishing of joint educational projects.
Furthermore, the delegation of the Association of World Reindeer Herders and International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry met with the leadership of the Barents Secretariat represented by Rune Rafaelson and Anne Salo, and discussed prospects of cooperation on joint projects in the field of education, research and culture of indigenous peoples. ICR and WRH also had a meeting with Officer-in-Charge of Division of Environmental Policy Implementation (DEPI) Elizabeth Mrema, Director of Regional office for Europe Jan Dusik, GEF programme officer Lev Neretin and Olav Orheim, Chairman of the Directors’ Board at GRID-Arendal. The main focus of this meeting was GEF/UNEP Nomadic Herders project and participation of indigenous peoples in the conservation of biodiversity.
Since 2000 Association of World Reindeer Herders has a status of regular observer in Arctic Council, so it was important to hold a meeting with Director of the Arctic Council Permanent Secretariat in Tromsó, Magnús Jóhannesson. Mr. Jóhanneson was also very interested in assistance and expressed his willingness to receive further information on the projects and activities of ICR and WRH.
Besides, the Arctic Frontiers 2014 was attended by the delegation from the Sakha Republic (Yakutia), which included Vladimir Vasiliev, Executive Director of the Northern Forum Secretariat; Aleksandr Kugaevsky, Director of the Institute of Finances and Economics at the North-Eastern Federal University; Valentina Kondratieva, Head of the Strategic Research Center of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia); Valery Protopopov – Deputy Director of the International Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Federal and Foreign Affairs of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia); Mikhail Tomsky, Director of Yakut Science Center of RAMS and the Government of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia). ICR and WRH organized meeting with the Sakha Republic delegation concerning the plan of common activities within the declared by the President of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia) in 2014 – the Year of Arctic.
Eventually, the work of Association of World Reindeer Herders and International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry during Arctic Frontiers 2014 can be summarized as productive and useful. ICR and WRH hope for further cooperation with many organizations, which were able to meet during this busy week.