Information on the 2nd Seminar
on Indigenous Peoples and the Environment
of the Russian Arctic (SIPERA)

Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples
of the North, Siberia and the Far East


A 2nd Seminar on Indigenous Peoples and the Environment of the Russian Arctic (SIPERA) was held in Moscow on 20-21 March 1999. It was organized by the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON) with financial support from the Danish-Greenlandic Project for Assistance to the Indigenous Peoples of Russia, and with the participation of the Indigenous Peoples Secretariat of the Arctic Council (IPS) and the United Nations Environment Programme's Global Resources Information Database (UNEP/GRID-Arendal). Thirty regional indigenous organizations and groups were represented at the seminar, including two recently formed indigenous organizations. In all, there were 67 indigenous representatives from the North, Siberia and the Far East of the Russian Federation. Nine foreign participants were present as observers, along with scientists and specialists from research and governmental bodies related to indigenous affairs.
The purpose of this seminar was to facilitate the compilation of project proposals concerned with the solution of specific social, economic and environmental problems affecting indigenous communities of the Russian North. The first (theoretical) session of the seminar was held during the first evening, immediately after the arrival of the regional participants. After a short introduction, basic requirements to the project applications were presented. Participants received application forms and instructions for compiling project proposals.

The seminar was opened by the President of RAIPON, Sergey Kharyuchi, who emphasized how the participants themselves had shaped the meeting and determined its topic: From Writing to Funding. Kharyuchi confirmed that RAIPON is going to organize a subsequent seminar next year. He said that participants would have to study and achieve skills and knowledge needed for practical work in their regions.

The session on 20 March 1999 started with the presentation of the report on the SIPERA seminar of 1998, published on the basis of the material received from the participants, and printed in Norway in 1998 by UNEP/GRID-Arendal. Pavel Sulyandziga, RAIPON vice-president and co-author of the report, delineated the initiatives launched in accordance with the seminar's recommendations. His presentation was supplemented by Lars Kullerud (GRID-Arendal), who gave information on a joint meeting in Karasjohka, Norway, in January 1999. That meeting discussed the establishment of a Norwegian-Russian programme for the development of capacity and participation of indigenous peoples in the sustainable development of Arctic Russia, as well as necessary coordination with already existing programmes. This planned five-year programme will be developed in cooperation by GRID-Arendal and RAIPON. The topical priorities of the programme resulted from the analysis of the questionnaires filled in by the SIPERA-1998 participants and were ranked at the present SIPERA seminar. They were determined as follows: the first and second priorities are networking and communication issues affecting the indigenous organizations, the third priority is the development of independent environmental expertise, and finally, least prioritized, legislative issues, small business development and the production of regional environmental information.

Natalya Kosheleva took the floor to represent the TACIS programme "Increased population awareness on environmental problems", presenting the two manuals for non-governmental organizations: "Place under the sun" and "Partnership for the future". This set of two books was passed to all presidents of the RAIPON regional affiliates and representatives of the regional indigenous organizations.

The publication of the Russian version of the "Arctic Pollution Issues: A State of the Arctic Environment Report" was announced. The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) working under the Arctic Council since 1991, had prepared and published the English-language report on all factors of Arctic pollution in order to spread information about these issues to the public. In the beginning of 1998, under the coordination of the Indigenous Peoples' Secretariat and with the approval of the Danish-Greenlandic Project for assistance to the indigenous peoples of Russia, RAIPON transferred the funds for the translation of the AMAP report into Russian. This report was translated and printed by Hydrometeoizdat in St. Petersburg in early 1999. The official resume of this report was distributed to the SIPERA participants. After receiving the print-run, RAIPON will send a copy of the Russian edition to all its regional affiliates and indigenous organizations. The report is considered to be an excellent digest and directory for the study of Arctic pollution issues, including the Russian Arctic.

Lars Kullerud then gave information on the compilation of "State of Environment Reports" (SoER), as it is annually being organized in the CIS countries with the technical assistance of GRID-Arendal. For those who showed an interest in the methodology and compilation process of these reports a CD-ROM demonstration of the information on national SoER was proposed.

After the introductory part, the seminar entered the phase of practical work with the project proposals. Tamara Semenova, Deputy Coordinator of the Danish-Greenlandic Project, demonstrated a model database in Microsoft Access format containing the project proposals submitted to RAIPON by the indigenous organizations and their members. The database is available in two separate versions: one in Russian and one in English. After further improvement, the database should be available on the internet to faciliate searching for potential cooperation partners, sponsors and investors.

Lyubov Lunyova, an invited expert on writing and evaluating grant applications, continued her training with the SIPERA participants on problem evaluation, background information, goals, objectives, methods of description, etc. She also commented upon, criticized and evaluated the submitted project proposals. Work on the project proposals was continued until late evening, after a break when the participants met Mr. Valery Kirpichnikov, the Minister of Regional Policy. This an hour-and-a-half meeting highlighted the desire for a constructive dialogue between the authorities and the non-governmental organizations, and the urgency of the problems facing indigenous peoples' as they attempt to survive in traditional land use areas. The session on 21 March was opened by the Danish-Greenlandic Project (DGP) Manager, Mads Fægteborg, who informed the participants about the evaluation of the proposals submitted to the RAIPON office within the frame of the Danish-Greenlandic Project and announced the three projects selected for subsequent funding. DGP will seek funds for the implementation of these projects from potential sponsors abroad (in particular, application to the Danish Environment Protection Agency is planned). From 38 project proposals submited the following three were selected as winners:

Winfried Dallmann (Norwegian Polar Institute) described the first results of establishing a Norwegian Network for the Support of the Indigenous Peoples of the Russian North (NNSIPRA). The network was initiated by Dr. Dallmann who participated at the SIPERA-1998 seminar and requested RAIPON to supply the contact information on its regional affiliates. The first issue of the NNSIPRA Bulletin with information on the network participants was sent to all Russian addressees. Unfortunately, not all the RAIPON regional affiliates received this issue. The verification of contact addresses was therefore requested. In the future it may be possible to distribute the bulletin in both electronic and printed versions via the RAIPON office in Moscow. Dallmann invited all SIPERA participants to submit relevant information for publishing in the bulletin.

The seminar was organized in a way that questions brought up by the indigenous representatives could be considered in the course of discussions. The emphasis was on solving existing problems as soon as possible.

Gifts were delivered at the concluding ceremony. The following regional representatives received prizes for their work: Oleg Zaporotsky (Itelmen, Palana settlement, Koryak Autonomous Region): a laptop computer; Galina Volkova (Ulchi, Bogorodskoe settlement, Ulchsky District, Khabarovsk Region): a photo camera; Vlad Peskov (Nenets, St. Petersburg): a high-speed fax modem.

In the closing session, recommendations for the next SIPERA were discussed. The following recommendations were made:

  1. Distribute copies to SIPERA participants of the project proposals accepted by the Danish-Greenlandic Initiative for subsequent funding as models;
  2. Invite the donors to visit the project sites and evaluate the implementation;
  3. Express gratitude to the sponsors and organizers of the SIPERA 1999 for the excellent organization of the seminar;
  4. Organize the dissemination of knowledge and skills acquired at the seminar to the regions;
  5. Continue the training on writing project proposals, including organizing regional sessions;
  6. Take into consideration the intense schedule of the meetings and plan breaks during the seminar;
  7. Positively stress the noteworthy opportunity for communication and social activity during the seminar for both its participants and observers;
  8. Request RAIPON to organize expert evaluation and assistance in the development of the project proposals;
  9. Improve the regional affiliates' activities in correspondence with RAIPON's active work and increased the level of participation and involvement in public life;
    Note that expanded participation of regional reprsentatives in the training seminars will be a positive factor;
  10. Organize a meeting betwen the Minister of National Policy, Ramazan Abdulatipov, with the indigenous activists and leaders at the next Coordinating Council of RAIPON;
  11. Make poaching in aboriginal lands a priority issue for the next SIPERA seminar;
  12. Study and apply experiences of environmental organizations in developing communication networks, and publish grant applications and information on project proposals in the Bulletin "Zhivaya Arktika" (Living Artic);
  13. Collect information on environmental threats and disseminate it among the participants;
  14. Support the high level of organization of RAIPON meetings and ensure an adequate press and mass media coverage of the events;
  15. Make sure that the issues of project implementation and reporting are followed up by the SIPERAs;
  16. Invite the representatives of the foundations providing financial support for indigenous peoples' participation in the seminar;
  17. Compile a list of relevant foundations and disseminate it among the regional affiliates and interested parties.

The seminar was held in the Ministry of Regional Policy in Moscow, prospekt Vernadskogo, 37, building 2, room 602. Information about the seminar in Russian and English can be obtained both in electronic and printed form at the RAIPON office:
Coordinator of the SIPERA seminar in Russia: Pavel Sulyandziga, RAIPON vice-president