Climate Resilience, Indigenous Youth and Local Economies in a Changing Arctic: New Tools for Arctic Indigenous Peoples

Climate Resilience, Indigenous Youth and Local Economies in a Changing Arctic: New Tools for Arctic Indigenous Peoples

Anders OSKAL

International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry ICR, Norway

Arctic indigenous peoples face major challenges related to changes in their societies and the northern climate. What most would not recommend for the world, ie. over 2 degrees temperature increase, is already a reality in the Arctic. There is an urgent need for increased understanding of the effects of globalization, climate change and development, as well as adaptation and society resilience, for securing sustainable development in the Arctic.  Arctic change means both challenges and opportunities. Indigenous reindeer herding communities however often find themselves in a disadvantaged position; The negative impacts of eg. cumulative land use change and socio-economic conditions often ´overshadow´ possibilities of positive local development, in terms of the communities´ capacity to be proactive and take lead for local actions. New approaches for adaptation and resilience to Arctic change in local indigenous communities are thus needed.  For this reason, a new Arctic Council project was initiated by Association of World Reindeer Herders: The project is called EALLU Indigenous Youth, Climate Change and Food Culture, and will focus on Traditional Knowledge on food as a foundation for diversification of local economies in the indigenous peoples areas, as a new approach to adapt to Arctic change. The project is hosted by USA, Canada, Norway, Russia and Denmark/ Greenland, and will work under the US and Finnish Arctic Council chairmanships 2015-2019. The Arctic Council EALLIN Reindeer Herding Youth project was a follow-up of IPY/Arctic Council EALÁT, hosted by the Russian Federation and Norway in the Arctic Council, and led by ICR. Following a vision of improving the lives of pan-Arctic reindeer herding youth, the project focus on engaging, educating, networking and empowering youth.  More than 160 reindeer herding youth have thus participated in the ´Training of Future Arctic Leaders´ program of UArctic EALÁT Institute at ICR in 2012-2015. EALLIN legacy includes the initiative Arctic Indigenous Peoples´ Culinary Institute. The final report was presented at the 2015 Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting (Pogodaev et al, 2015).  ICR´s IPY/Arctic Council EALÁT project focused on the reindeer herders’ ability to respond to climate change and changed use of the Arctic, investigating reindeer herders’ traditional knowledge for adaptation, and being reindeer herders’ voice to the Arctic Council on these issues. EALÁT organised 21 community-based workshops in reindeer herding societies, where herders, scientists and authorities jointly addressed the challenges. Recommendations/ findings were presented in the EALÁT reports to the Arctic Council Ministerial Meetings in 2009 and 2011 (Oskal, 2009; Magga, 2011).  Central to EALÁT/EALLIN are the methods for integrating traditional knowledge with science (Oskal, 2009; Magga, 2011;Eira I., 2012). The community-based approach of EALÁT is an example of bridging the gap between universities and societies, and between science and traditional knowledge (Rosswall, 2012). These issues were also in part reflected by the participation of ICR in the IPCC AR5 WG II Polar Regions Chapter (Nymand-Larsen, 2014).



Anders Oskal is the Founding Executive Director of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR), and representative of the Association of World Reindeer Herders to the Arctic Council. These organisations both focus on traditional economies.  Holding a Master Degree in Business with a major in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Oskal comes from an indigenous background in Sámi reindeer herding in northern Norway. He has broad experience with traditional indigenous economic activities, including from operation of his family's small scale reindeer slaughterhouse and processing plant.  Oskal earlier worked for a number of years for the Norwegian Government/ Innovation Norway, leading the development of programs for increased value added and innovation for reindeer herders and their companies.  Through ICR, Oskal is also in lead of the Arctic Indigenous Peoples' Culinary Institute, a virtual academic network institute established to document and utilize traditional knowledge and food cultures of indigenous peoples as a means for local business development and innovation.  Association of World Reindeer Herders (WRH) are observers to Arctic Council. Through this position Oskal has lead a number of projects on adaptation and traditional livelihoods. Oskal was also contributing author to the Polar chapter of the IPCC 5th assessment report.


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