UNDP in Kamchatka
Editorial note: This autumn it became publicly known that important UN-supported development projects in Kamchatka were organised without the participation or representation of the concerned indigenous communities. We have selected a few documents from the subsequent debate to show how the matter was handled and to indicate the preliminary outcome.
Note form the Ethno-Ecological Information Centre “Lach”
Memorandum of Understanding
by Oleg Zaporotskiy
President of "Tkhsanom", the Council of the Itelmens of Kamchatka (NGO)
On 26 August 2003 the first meeting of the Coordinating Committee of the new project "Preservation of Salmon Biodiversity and Sustainable Development in Kamchatka" a joint project of the UNDP/GEF and the Russian government took place in the Fish Agency Building in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy.
The project without question is of great interest to all inhabitants of the Kamchatkan Peninsula. But I am particularly interested in the participation of indigenous minority peoples of the North in the project. Unfortunately, the first meeting of the Coordinating Committee confirmed my fear that this UNDP project has not made provisions for the participation of indigenous peoples. I found out about the meeting of the Coordinating Committee by chance. It is not clear who represented the interests of the indigenous peoples of Kamchatka in the Coordinating Committee meeting; there were no representatives of the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North, nor from indigenous communities. Maybe somehow this time they forgot to invite the natives?
In the application process for employment in the project, the positions were won by employees of the Northeast Fish Agency (Sevostrybvod) and KamchatNIRO. One gets the impression that it was all decided in advance. Then why did UNDP announce an application process for the vacant positions? We do not even know how many applicants there were for any of the positions or by what criteria the successful applicants were chosen.
The one thing at which we succeeded was in extending the selection time for the community participation coordinator, who represents the point of view of the indigenous peoples of the North in UNDP’s project. In the view of the organisers of such projects, indigenous people are not suitable as managers. In this regard, it should be mentioned that there were no natives in the first UNDP project. This has been a regular pattern.
All of my critiques and suggestions on the role of indigenous peoples or consideration of their interests were cut off by the president of the Coordinating Committee, the head of the main Fish Agency, Grigory Kovalev, supported by the head of the Ichthyology Department at the Moscow State University, Dmitri Pavlov. At the same time, all the other members of the committee were silent; they went along with it. I looked at the members of the Coordinating Committee, who would have an interest in the future results of the project, and asked myself the question: why preserve salmon in our region? For the world society, for Moscow, for Petropavlovsk? Or for us, Itelmens who participate in necessary poaching, simply because we have nothing?
My suggestion to make the main emphasis of the project be alternative sources of subsistence for the local population was rejected. Again there will be many seminars, training sessions and conferences. And there won’t be any real help to people who fish for salmon in order to live. There are some indigenous people in the project, but they are counted only on paper for the purposes of presentation.
Respected friends, if you are in agreement with my thoughts, I ask that you voice your comment on this matter. If we don’t help one another in difficult situations, then our point of view will NEVER be counted in the organisation of various projects and programs.
Note from the Ethno-Ecological Information Centre “Lach”
Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, 5 October 2003
During the public conference “Kamchatkan nature and society: ways of evironmental problems solution”, the 1st vice-president of RAIPON, Pavel Sulyandziga held a members’ meeting of the Network of Indigenous Peoples’ Public Organisations for Solving Environmental Problems with the director of the Environmental Unit of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Russia, Elena Armand. At the meeting a Memorandum of Understanding between RAIPON and UNDP concerning the projects “Demonstrating Sustainable Conservation of Biological Diversity in Four Protected Areas in Russia’s Kamchatka Oblast” and “Preservation of Salmon Biodiversity and Sustainable Development in Kamchatka” was signed. The Memorandum shows the intention of UNDP and RAIPON to cooperate in realising these UNDP/GEF projects in Kamchatka.
They also agreed to establish a working group to include representatives of state authorities of the Kamchatkan Oblast and the Koryak Autonomous Okrug, as well as indigenous peoples’ organisations of Kamchatka. The working groups will regularly hold consultations, prepare, develop and implement programme measures which are relevant to indigenous peoples.
Memorandum of Understanding
between Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) concerning the projects “Demonstrating Sustainable Conservation of Biological Diversity in Four Protected Areas in Russia’s Kamchatka Oblast ” and “Preservation of Salmon Biodiversity and Sustainable Development in Kamchatka”
Based on the decision of the 72th General Assembly of the UN on developing partner relationships with indigenous peoples,
Taking into consideration the “Agenda-21” adopted in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, in which Paragraph 26 is wholly devoted to the strengthening of the role of indigenous peoples in environmental problem solving,
Marking that the Convention on Biological Diversity considers it necessary to preserve and use indigenous peoples’ traditional experience and knowledge,
Taking into consideration the intention of UNDP and RAIPON to cooperate in realising the projects “Demonstrating Sustainable Conservation of Biological Diversity in Four Protected Areas in Russia’s Kamchatka Oblast” and “Preservation of Salmon Biodiversity and Sustainable Development in Kamchatka” (hereafter called the Projects),
the present Memorandum of Understanding was signed, and in this connection:
1. UNDP singles out from the Projects programmes related to the indigenous peoples, which will form a separate category, and elaborates programme measures concerning this population group in accordance with international and national principles and norms, with the participation of regional and ethnic divisions of RAIPON in Kamchatka.
2. It is agreed that new applicants will be sought for the position of the indigenous peoples programme category coordinator. The UNDP will give due consideration to RAIPON’s recommendation in this regard. The recommendation must be approved by the Kamchatka Regional Association of Public Unions of Indigenous Peoples of the North, the Union of Public Organisations of Indigenous Peoples of the North of the Koryak Autonomous Okrug, and the regional public organisation Council of Itelmens of Kamchatka “Tkhsanom”.
3. RAIPON and UNDP will establish a working group numbering 7 persons to include representatives of authorities of the Kamchatkan Oblast and the Koryak Autonomous Okrug, the Kamchatkan Regional Association of Public Unions of Indigenous Peoples of the North, the Union of Public Organisations of Indigenous Peoples of the North of the Koryak Autonomous Okrug, the regional public organisation Council of Itelmens of Kamchatka “Tkhsanom”, the Ethno-Ecological Information Centre “Lach”, and RAIPON. This woroking group will hold regular consultations, prepare, develop and implement programmes of the indigenous peoples’ programme category.
4. UNDP assists in maintaining the connection of the Projects with indigenous peoples’ organisations and in timely distribution of the information on the Projects’ activity, in particular, through the Information Centre “Lach”.
5. RAIPON and its regional and ethnic divisions inform UNDP on their activities on environmental protection in Kamchatka, in particular, through the Information Centre “Lach”.
6. UNDP develops and implements educational programmes for indigenous peoples’ representatives aimed at giving them the necessary qualifications to carry out programme measures.
7. RAIPON and UNDP will hold joint educational seminars for Project officials and representatives of indigenous peoples involved in the Projects’ activities to study international principles, norms and experiences in working with indigenous and local populations, and Russian legislation relevant to indigenous peoples.
Head of the Environmental Unit, UNDP in Russia
1st Vice President of RAIPON