Snowchange 2003: Conference Declaration
Conference on Indigenous Observations of Ecological and Climate Change

22-25 February 2003, Murmansk, Russia

As Arctic peoples have shown since time immemorial, life in the North requires flexibility. In the modern world, this principle applies not only to our physical and spiritual connections to the environment, but also to the legal, political and economic circumstances that affect our lives. To maintain and improve our ability to respond and adapt to climate change, or any other environmental disturbances, we must preserve a healthy, resilient environment and create human institutions based on participation, and respect. This course means aiming not for maximum economic use of resources, but for investment in environmental reserves and cultural diversity.

The world is in an accelerating spiral of change and uncertainty. Participants at Snowchange 2003, representing indigenous communities from around the Arctic, shared stories of common experiences. Temperatures are warmer and the weather is now unpredictable; the sea ice is thinner and freezes later in the fall and melts earlier in the spring, winter rains create thick layers of ice on the tundra. Species that form the basis of our traditional lifestyles -whales, seals, reindeer, and many birds- are under increasing threat from climate change.

We do not own the Earth, we just borrow it from future generations.

We, as participants at the Snowchange 2003 and representing a wide range of individuals and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), call on world leaders to replace the unrestrained use and misuse of natural resources with development that follows the principles of sustainability and respect for human and indigenous rights.

On behalf of our people, our children and in respect of our ancestors, we call upon responsible nationstates in general, and the Russian Federation in particular, as citizens of the global village and members of the United Nations who carry a responsibility to uphold international laws, ratified conventions and signed agreements, to immediately implement them.

We especially highlight the following actions:

The Snowchange process is one mechanism for providing indigenous peoples with a common forum for raising and discussing issues of concern to them and for sharing ideas for progress and improvement. Our future work and conferences will continue this effort, and we invite all who share our commitment and concerns to join us.