The NORSIL network discussed Sámi rights and sustainable development

For two days, the network NORSIL has met in Umeå to discuss Sámi rights and sustainable development. In the workshop, researchers from the Nordic countries together with, representatives from Sámi institutions and representatives of the National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI) in Norway and Finland participated.

Photo Sofia Strömgren

During the meeting, the representatives of the Sámi institutions presented the challenges they face in their work on sustainable development. A common question addressed is, for example, how Sámi institutions and communities can achieve meaningful influence in different decision processes that concern them.

According to Åsa Larsson Blind, president of the Sámi Council “A good example of participation is the Arctic Council, where we sit at the table and participate in the discussions. However there are many examples of situations when we are not invited to issues that concern us, especially at the national level”.

In this context, the participation and meaningful consultation of the Sámi people in the governance and management of their traditional land and resources were highlighted as significant and long standing issues of concern in all three Nordic countries. From the forestry to the mining sectors and including the development of wind energy projects, the workshop discussion evidenced the need to question the adequacy of the law and policy to ensure the protection of the rights of the Sámi people at the national level.

The workshop is part of a NOS-HS project funded by the Nordic Research Council. The next workshops will take place in Tromso and Helsinki in 2020.



Umeå, 27-28 May 2019

NORSIL Workshop on the Rights of the Sámi People and Sustainable Development: Leaving No One Behind in the Nordic Transition?


27 May 2019

Welcome and Presentation of the Workshop Series
 9h30 Dorothée Cambou & Malin Brännström

 Key Note Speech 

10h Challenges in achieving a just and inclusive transition                                      Åsa Larsson Blind – President of the Sámi Council

10h45 Coffee Break

The Views of Sámi Representatives

Faciltator, Malin Brännström

11h00 The right to speak the language of the heart – 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages – Eirik Larsen, Political adviser, Sámi Parliament in Norway

11h30 Cumulative impact assessment of Forestry in Finnish Sápmi – Jan Saijets, Sámi Parliament in Finland

12h00 The necessity to increase knowledge and data to ensure the inclusion of the Sámi people – Mathilda Månsson, Sámi Parliament in Sweden

12h30 Lunch


Faciltator, Christina Allard

13h30 Jenny Wik Karlsson, Svenska Samernas Riksförbund

14h00 Presentation of the report on “Good Practices for Environmental Impact Assessment and Meaningful Engagement in the Arctic, from the Ministry of Environment in Finland-Assi Harkoma, Arctic Centre, Finland

14h30 Break

The Views and Work of Human Rights Institutions

14h45 Johan Strömgren, Norwegian Human Rights Institution

15h15 Leena Leikas, Human Rights Centre, Finland

What actions do we take? 

15h45 Discussion on the production of an impact report and the development of future workshops

16h30 End of the meeting

19h00 Dinner at the expense of the NORSIL Network, Rex Rådhuset, Rådhustorget


28 May 2019


Faciltator, Stefan Kirchner

9h00 The Sustainability in viewing lands and resources in the Sámi traditional areas as a Collective Sámi Commons (as distinct from Sámi Community rights)- Mattias Åhren, University of Tromsø – The Arctic University of Norway

9h30 Forest and sustainability – Malin Brännström, Umeå University

10h00 Collaboration for conservation in Sápmi – Elsa Reimerson, Umeå University

10h30 Coffee Break

10h45 Mineral extraction in Swedish Sápmi: To what extent can Sámi influence permit decisions? – Christina Allard, Luleå University

11h15 Wind energy vs. Sámi reindeer herding: An assessment of the developing jurisprudence of Swedish courts- Dorothée Cambou and Emma Borg, University of Helsinki

11h45 “Significant harm” under Article 27 of CCPR- Leena Heinämäki, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland

12h15 Lunch


Faciltator, Leena Heinämäki

13h15: Externally motivated Infrastructure Development in Sápmi: The Right to a Healthy Environment as a Procedural Tool for Indigenous Persons and Communities? – Stefan Kirchner, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland

13h 45: Can “Sámi sustainability” create legal policies to protect Sámi lands and resources? – Corinna Casi, University of Helsinki

14h15 Towards Sustainability of the Sámi Communities: A Perspective from the Relationship between Traditional Knowledge and Impact and Benefit Agreements (IBAs) – Yu Long, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China, via Skype

14h45 Coffee Break

What are the future steps?

15h00 Discussion on the publication of academic contributions

15h30 End of the Workshop

This event is financed by the Joint Committee for Nordic research councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NOS-HS)

NORSIL – the Nordic Research Network for Sámi and Indigenous Peoples’ Law

The network aims to strengthen and further develop the Nordic research community related to Sámi law and Indigenous Peoples Law.

©James Hardy/AltoPress/Maxppp Sweden

The annual workshops are the core of the network, establishing a physical platform for all researchers to meet and discuss certain topics and allowing training for participating Ph.D. students and young researchers. During the years 2019-2020, the NORSIL will organised a workshop series on the topic of the sustainable transition and the rights of the Sámi people.

The workshops will be hosted by Umeå Univeristy, Tromso University and Helsinki University

The workshops organised by NORSIL in 2019 and 2020 are funded by the Nordic Research Council

First Workshop 27.- 28. Mai 2019 – in Umeå! 

For program, please contact Dorothée Cambou:

NORSIL Workshop on the Rights of the Sámi People and Sustainable Development


NORSIL Workshop on the Rights of the Sámi People and Sustainable Development:

Leaving No One Behind in the Nordic Transition?

27-28 May 2019 – Umeå University

The Nordic Network for Sámi and Indigenous Peoples Law (NORSIL) hosted by Umeå University, Sweden calls for abstract and participation in its First Workshop on “Transitioning towards a sustainable Nordic Society: Assessing and monitoring the implementation of the rights of the Indigenous Sámi people as a means to achieve inclusive and sustainable development”.

This event is the first of a NOH-HS workshop series to examine what societal and legal changes must occur over the next generation to ensure the implementation of the rights of the Sámi people in order to achieve an inclusive transition to sustainability in the Nordic countries.

In 2015, the Nordic countries announced support as a whole for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed under UN auspices. The goals aim to eradicate extreme poverty and to achieve sustainable development in all fields while leaving no one behind. Yet, numerous problems are still limiting the inclusion of the Sami people in the sustainable transition of the countries of Finland, Norway and Sweden. Despite the recognition of their rights at the national and international levels, there are still important concerns regarding the implementation of their rights on the ground. While adopting a human rights based-approach to sustainable development, this workshop series provides a platform to assess and measure the progress and challenges towards the implementation of the rights of the Sami people in order to promote a sustainable and inclusive transition in the Nordic countries

For its first workshop organised in Umeå on 27-28 May 2019, the NORSIL network welcomes abstracts submissions relating to the progress and obstacles encountered in the Nordic countries to ensure the rights of the Sámi people in the context of sustainable development:

Abstracts must relate to the study of the rights of indigenous peoples, more specifically the Sámi people and sustainable development (broadly defined).

Interested academics and practitioners, senior and junior as well as Sámi representatives and individuals are invited to submit abstracts addressing the following suggested topics:

  • What does sustainability means for the Sámi people and indigenous peoples more generally?
  • What are the law and policies in place to promote and guarantee the sustainable livelihoods of the Sámi people in the Nordic countries and more generally of indigenous peoples at the international level?
  • What is the current perception of such policy and law and their impacts at the local level?
  • What steps must be taken to ensure Sámi sustainability at the legal and policy level? In the field of education and languages? To promote the development of the Sámi livelihoods and the protection of their lands and resources? To ensure children and women equality? Etc.…
  • What does the Sustainable Development Goals means in the Nordic Countries for the Sámi people?
  • How is the relation between Sámi sustainability and sustainable development interpreted?

The deadline for abstract submission is April 1, 2019 
via  E-mail: In the e-mail subject please put “Abstract”.
The application should include:

  • title of the paper,
  • name of the participant
  • academic title
  • organization/place of work
  • contact e-mail
  • the mention whether it is a prospective paper or not for junior researcher
  • Abstract (300-words)

Participants will be registered without fee. However, the workshop can only host a limited number of participants. Therefore, participants will be shortlisted following their invitation and/or the submission of their abstracts. For junior researchers, the selection committee will also take into account whether the applicant has planned to submit a full paper to be published after the conference.

Financial support: support for accommodation and travel expenses are only available for short-listed applicants and invited speakers. Selected participants will receive travel funding to cover their return (economy) airfare and accommodation in Umeå for the duration of the workshop in the limit of our budget. Hotels rooms will be pre-booked. We warmly encourage all participants to use more eco-friendlier alternative to travel to Umeå, when possible. Budget restriction do not allow us to pay per-diem.

Applicants whose abstracts have been selected will be notified by April 15.

Following the conference, it is expected to publish an electronic peer-reviewed collection of papers upon the selection of the articles made by the organizing committee. Criteria for the article format will be defined in a second information letter. The publication of papers is however not mandatory.

The first workshop is kindly hosted by Umeå University. It is located 7 hours from Stockholm by train. The city is situated on the traditional lands of the Sámi people. Lunch and refreshments will be served during the workshop, and a networking programme will soon be circulated. The workshop series is funded by the Joint Committee for Nordic research councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NOS-HS).

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about the workshop or call for abstracts via email: