Sámi Living Environment Programme, ‘Eallinbiras’
Photo: Benny Jonsson
From a Sámi perspective, all issues are environmental issues, since the environment touches on all aspects of our lives and our surroundings. In February 2009 the Sámi Assembly adopted an environmental programme that will inspire the preservation of a robust living environment.
Our goal is a sound and sustainable Sámi living environment. We want to live in a vibrant Sápmi with a firm base formed by a sustainable environment and a living Sámi culture. Man and nature will have a long-term capability to renew themselves and become more sustainable – even in times of considerable change. In Sápmi visitors will perceive the natural and cultural environments as enriching for the rest of the world.
View of nature
The Sámi view of the natural environment as a living entity stands in strong contrast to the Western view of nature. Our view of nature has characterised our values, customs, social structures and relationships. Our view of life builds our common core value that is reflected in the Sámi language. Sápmi is our home. If we – or anyone else – destroy our natural environment, our culture is destroyed as well.
Traditional livelihoods are based on the long term. If the natural conditions failed in a
particular area, alternative resources could be used so that the weakened resources could have time to recuperate. Just as modern materials, new technology and vehicles have become a part of our lives, natural conditions have also changed.
Positive and negative changes
For those of us whose livelihoods have revolved around reindeer herding, hunting, fishing, handicrafts and small-scale agriculture, the changes have greatly affected our living patterns. Modern life brings with it positive changes and vital technical aids. These changes are welcomed and are integrated into our lives and our activities. At the same time, it is important to differentiate between those innovations that have a positive impact and those that make us more dependent on the global economy and access to oil, while draining the natural environment.
From our overall perspective, attention must be directed to the underlying causes of climate change, such as industrialisation, globalisation, our lifestyle, our consumption habits, and the continued large-scale exploitation of natural resources.
The objective of the Sámi Assembly’s Living Environmental Programme is to create a starting point for all the activities of the Assembly, establish goals for a sustainable and viable Sámi living environment and for our Sámi environmental view to serve as inspiration and a stimulus to initiative.