The Saami/Nordic programme

"Capacity building for Russia's indigenous peoples and promoting their participation in the sustainable development of the Arctic"

November 1999

Lars Kullerud
Polar coordinator,

The main purpose of the programme is to develop the capacity of the regional and central organisations of the indigenous peoples of Russia in the fields of communication, information, environmental knowledge and awareness raising:

To achieve this, the programme is developed as six separate projects that can be funded and run fairly independently. The proposed projects are:

  1. Networking: Focusing on a RAIPON newsletter in Russian and an Internet home page with key information in Russian and English and the necessary information service training for RAIPON staff;
  2. Communication: To identify solutions for regional communication needs within individual indigenous groups in Northern Russia;
  3. Environmental Impact Assessments: Develop capacity among the indigenous peoples in the fields of assessments of existing and planned industrial, communication and conservation developments that may have an impact on indigenous peoples and their environment;
  4. Legal regime: Development of capacity within RAIPON to address issues related to existing regulations, and the development of new regulations related to environment and natural resources;
  5. Regional Environmental Information: State of environment reports and traditional land-use mapping at the local and regional level with a focus on indigenous peoples and their traditional lifestyles;
  6. Small Business Development: The establishment of a small business commission with a focus on sustaining traditional, and indigenous lifestyles including microcredit systems.

In addition to the above there is a need for programme management, fund-raising, and co-ordination with other existing or planned projects.

The Norwegian government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has declared their will to support this programme by funding its networking and management aspects. The funding was made dependent on the programme's ability to raise funds for the other activities.

During the Arctic Leaders' Summit in Moscow, September 1999, the first meeting of the programme advisory board was held. The advisory board consists of:

The implementing agency of the programme is UNEP/GRID-Arendal, while RAIPON staff will manage the project on information. Coordination with other activities is secured through the new consultative board on international projects established by RAIPON aiming at improved coordination, optimal resource use and transparency. This coordinating unit includes representatives from AMAP, Canada/ICC, the Danish/Greenlandian project, and the Saami/ Nordic programme.

The main focus for 1999 and early 2000 will be to establish the project organisation, to produce the first issues of the RAIPON Newsletter and to create the first version of the web site. The Norwegian Network for the Support of the Indigenous Peoples of the Russian Arctic (NNSIPRA) has offered to join forces so that the NNSIPRA Bulletin could become the international link of the RAIPON Newsletter.

One of the present main challenges is to raise funding for the other aspects of the programme. Currently it has been agreed with SIDA (Swedish Int. Development Agency) to work out a project proposal on legal issues. A workshop on telecommunication was held in August in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency) which focused on the needs of the indigenous peoples of the Russian Arctic, and where it was agreed on a process towards test implementation of a light satellite based system. Discussions on opportunities for funding Environmental Impact Assessments and Small Business Development projects are also underway. The programme welcomes cooperative efforts from other initiatives aiming at the same overall goals.