Gávnnadeapmi 2015 Declaration

We, indigenous reindeer herding youth from Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, gathered in Inari, Finland between 17 – 20 September 2015 to discuss climate and land use change and adaptation actions in the Barents region,

Note that indigenous peoples are self-governing peoples, who have the right to self-determination and traditional lands,

Note that over time reindeer herders have been able to adapt to climate change as long as we have access to our lands and are able to use our traditional knowledge, and note that reindeer are a key species in preserving biodiversity,

Note with concern the effects on reindeer husbandry of ongoing land use changes in the Barents region including mining, windmill construction and other encroachments coupled with climate changes,

Support the Aologuya Declaration approved at the 5th World’s Reindeer Herders’ Congress in China,

Bring forth the following Declaration to the Arctic Council and its member countries with following recommendations:

Climate Change

Urge the states to take responsibility and sign an ambitious climate agreement in Paris in COP21, December 7-8, 2015

Encourage the Arctic Council to work effectively in cooperation with states and permanent participants to mitigate the effects of climate change on indigenous peoples,

Reindeer Herders’ Rights

Suggest that the Arctic Council more effectively monitor whether its member states follow their international obligations towards indigenous peoples,

Encourage Nordic states to continue negotiations towards ratification of the Nordic Sámi Convention in order to harmonize minimum standards concerning the protection of reindeer husbandry

Urge Finland to start legislative and administrative changes in order to protect special status of Sámi reindeer husbandry and its customary land use in the Sámi home area,

Urge Sweden and Norway to amend their mineral acts to provide effective protection to reindeer husbandry and Sámi traditional lands

Remind Sweden to respect Sámi peoples’ right to effective consultations before agreeing to any projects that will affect their traditional lands in accordance with the principle of free prior and informed consent,

Recommend that Sweden update their reindeer husbandry law and this should be done in close consultation with reindeer herding society.

Ask that the Arctic Council follow-up the concluding observations of the Commitee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination reports of Norway (CERD/C/NOR/21-22) submitted in one document at its 2373nd and 2374th meetings (CERD/C/SR. 2373; CERD/C/SR. 2374), held on 17 and 18 August 2015. At its 2385th and 2386th meetings, held on 25 and 26 August 2015, it adopted the concluding observations.

Russia should develop new approaches in reindeer husbandry to increase the capacity of reindeer herders especially herding youth. Russia needs to develop infrastructure for economic development of reindeer husbandry in combination with the further development of private reindeer husbandry.

Russia should ensure that reindeer herders have the right to use their traditional reindeer pastures, fishing and hunting areas free of charge and provide more easy access to land.

Recommend that states work effectively to prevent the poaching of reindeer.

Apply the rule of consensus (not right of the majority) in decision-making processes. Currently method is not accurate enough to give reliable results.

Create counseling centers for the legal support of indigenous peoples engaged in traditional economic activities.

Welcome the good examples of Laponia in Sweden and Akwé-kon in Finland signifying an improved relationship between indigenous peoples and protected areas.

Impact Assessments:

States should develop impact assessment procedures in cooperation with reindeer herding peoples in order to provide them the effective right to say no to projects planned on their traditional lands that may have harmful effects for their traditional livelihoods.

In addition to environmental impact assessments there should also be an ethnological impact assessment, to investigate how planned projects will impact traditional activities of indigenous peoples.

Development of new tools to monitor and protect reindeer pastures.

Traditional Knowledge and Education

In research on climate change issues in Arctic, indigenous peoples should be included in all stages.

When research concerning areas, culture and traditional livelihoods to indigenous peoples is undertaken, traditional knowledge must be given space. Indigenous knowledge holders should be included during the entire study.

States need to improve education and research models for indigenous peoples. We need our own educational systems defined firstly by ourselves.

Traditional knowledge should be included in education models in indigenous societies and young herders need to be educated about our rights as secured in national and international laws and mechanisms.


States should take urgent actions to prevent reindeer losses to predators and improve policies on controlling predator populations and include reindeer herders in decision-making regarding predator policies

Recognise and highlight the impact of predator policies on herders’ mental health and health effects for reindeer

Communication Between Reindeer Herding Peoples

Acknowledge the work done by the Association of World Reindeer Herders, the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry and the UArctic EALÁT Institute and encourage reindeer herding communities to further collaborate with eachother. We call for more exchange programs between reindeer herding youth.


We ask that the Arctic Council assist in securing funding for indigenous youth collaborations where we can share skills and knowledge, in order that we can define the work we need to do and how we can do it.

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