The Saami: Custodians of Our Planet
Áslak Holmberg, President of the Saami Council, is a pioneering leader who fights for the rights of 80.000 Indigenous people in the Arctic - on the global stage.
Speaking at the UN, the IPCC or in Davos, Áslak makes sure the world understands what it means to be Indigenous in the middle of Europe; being European citizens, whose rights to their land, their water and their traditional way of making a living, through fishing and reindeer herding, is being denied.
“We are colonized by 4 European countries: Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden. That means, we are not in charge of our own territories, governing or livelihood.”
Throughout this Podcast my key thought is, “How can we sustain the planet if we don’t empower the very people who dedicate their life to it?”
In our conversation, Àslak and I talk about:
🎤 Indigenous communities as the Custodians of our planet, because they live in peace with nature. They are driven by sustainability, not by growth, by their love of the environment not by terrorizing it.
🎤 Despite comprising 5% of the world‘s population, Indigenous people protect 80% of the Earth's biodiversity. We are in urgent need of their knowledge if we really want to tackle climate change and the loss of biodiversity.
🎤 The Saami deserve a seat at the table – so do all representatives of the global Indigenous community. There are more than 476 million Indigenous people in the world, spread across 90 countries and representing 5,000 different cultures, living in all geographic regions.
🎤 Since 2007, the UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples contains a legally vague, yet symbolically significant, recognition of Indigenous people’s rights over the development of their own territories. It can only be just the start.
🎤 Today, young leaders like Áslak are being listened to in the international arena – but not in the nation states that occupy them and strip them of their rights. Norway, for example, has illegally built the world’s largest onshore wind farm with 1,000 turbines on Saami land, effectively killing one of the two ways the Saami can make a living in that area.
🎤 Áslak has for the past decade worked with Saami and indigenous issues through NGOs, the Saami parliament, as well as through activism and academia. He is a fisherman, teacher and holds a master’s degree in Indigenous studies.