Maritime Forum

The Moscow Declaration V Arctic Indigenous Leaders Summit Industrial development of the Arctic under climate change-new challenges for indigenous peoples

Published on: Thu, 17/03/2011 - 18:58
Table of Contents

    Moscow   14-15 April 2010

    We, the representatives of the indigenous peoples of seven circumpolar countries, gathered on 14-15 April in Moscow, have discussed the prospects of developing our peoples in connection with intensifying industrial development in the Arctic under the climate change conditions.

    We call upon all Arctic States to approve, endorse and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in order to ensure that industrial development in the circumpolar Arctic accords fully with the principles of sustainable development and self-determination of indigenous peoples, and provides for free prior and informed consent.

    We confirm the right of our peoples to own our ancestors land, to manage our resources, to protect our ecosystems which guarantee our survival and safeguard our unique culture, to protect the sacred sites, archaeological and historic objects that are situated on the original aboriginal territories.

    Yet again we declare the right of indigenous peoples to social economic and cultural development that should be realized on the basis of traditional management methods that do not upset the balance between our communities and nature and therefore can be called entirely sustainable.

    We confirm all the demands and messages formulated in the declarations adopted previously at different kinds of the world's indigenous peoples' forums dedicated to climate change and aggravating industrial impact on the vulnerable Arctic nature. At the same time a combination of industrial development in the Arctic, a growing interest to its resources shown by the transnational companies and countries including non-Arctic ones, requires additional assessment of the current situation and elaboration of measures to protect indigenous peoples and their way of development.

    We fully understand that there are rich mineral reserves in the Arctic region that the global economy needs. Industrial development of Arctic resources should not upset the ecological balance, destroy livelihood of indigenous communities and impede their development.

    We attach special importance to elaboration of sustainable Arctic development strategies. Our demands and suggestions are formulated on the basis of analysis of current trends in the Arctic region industrialization and new risks for Arctic indigenous peoples which result from industrial development and climate change.

    Arctic industrialization together with climate change aggravates existent threats and hazards to the Arctic indigenous peoples and creates new ones. Climate warming leads to increased human and animal sickness rates, arctic ecosystems destruction, washing of a coastline and permafrost degradation, results in changing of traditional food storage conditions which means the destruction of traditional management techniques of indigenous peoples. Besides, climate warming in the Arctic creates ripe conditions for its industrial development therefore a list of inevitable climate change consequences includes increased industrial loading of the territory.

    Warming significantly multiplies ecological hazards that have been produced already by the existent industry: level of environmental pollution grows, landscape and geological changes can cause hazardous waste storages destruction, oil pipelines ruptures. The greatest danger of industrial Arctic development is the initiation of unknown and unpredictable changes that can prove fatal for region's nature and the indigenous peoples of the Arctic.

    We declare the necessity of preserving and developing the Arctic economic activities regulation system and also the necessity of elaborating strategy that will secure preservation and development of traditional culture in the context of climate change and industrial growth in the Arctic regions.

    We demand to guarantee the participation of the indigenous peoples at all stages of creation of such strategy: from research to implementation; and also their participation in any kind of decision-making that affects somehow the situation in the Arctic, including obligatory ethno-ecological expertise with indigenous peoples' participation.

    We are convinced that such strategy should be based on traditional knowledge and take into account flexibility of traditional culture, its mechanisms of adaptation to changing climate and ecologie conditions.

    We appeal to the United Nations and its relevant agencies, bodies, institutions to include into current programs (or create additional ones if necessary) objectives of analyzing possible consequences of industrial development in the Arctic in the context of global warming.

    • To stimulate a creation of the system that will monitor industrial development impact on nature of the Arctic and on traditional culture of its indigenous peoples.
    • To guarantee participation of the experts which represent the organizations of the indigenous peoples of the Arctic in research and monitoring. To provide experts' training if needed.
    • To apply traditional knowledge of the indigenous peoples equally with the expert one in researches and monitoring. To recognize the information obtained with the help of traditional knowledge entirely equivalent to the expert one. To take into account during the research and monitoring observations made by the indigenous Arctic peoples.
    • To stimulate the development of new, stricter international standards of the indigenous peoples' rights and interests protection and environmental protection in the Arctic.
    • To develop and adopt the documents that will not simply restrict the activities of transnational corporations which affect the environment but will restrict the Arctic activities of specific national industrial companies.

    We acknowledge and will continue to participate in the ongoing dialogue between Arctic Indigenous Peoples and the European Union.

    We appeal to the international financial institutions, including the World Bank, to

    impose more rigid requirements to protect the natural environment and to acknowledge and respect the rights of indigenous peoples in investment programs.

    We invite the Governing Council of the UNEP to invite the six Permanent Participants of the Arctic Council to explore how Arctic perspectives may be more fully considered by UNEP including a permanent presence by Arctic Indigenous Peoples in the Governing Council.

    We recommend that the Arctic Council approve a mandatory assessment of the ecological risks (including demographic, social and cultural components) of the industrial development in the Arctic regions which can be caused by climate change.

    We also suggest that the priorities of Arctic development should be discussed and formulated and common strategy of protection of the indigenous peoples and nature of the Arctic regions in the conditions of industrial growth should be elaborated. Then, on the basis of such common strategy specific strategies for each of the participating countries can be developed. We suggest that special attention should be paid to the analysis of possible consequences of climate change in combination with industrial expansion and also to the development of measures in order to minimize emerging risks.

    We welcome and approve the initiation of the new project steering group: Indigenous Peoples Community Action Plan (IPCAP) under the Arctic Council Action Plan on contaminants, and seek representation on the steering group by all Permanent Participants.

    We call upon Arctic States which have not already done so to negotiate with Arctic Indigenous Peoples land and natural resources ownership and management arrangements as a means of promoting sustainable development.

    We appeal to the Arctic Council member states to develop and impose additional institutional instruments of regulation of the corporations' activities in the Arctic zone of countries that will take into account known consequences of their activity under the climate change conditions and also a possibility of unpredictable risks emerging.

    We also call upon the Arctic Council member states to:

    • Take into consideration the industrial impacts on Arctic nature in the context of climate change, on health and life activities of the inhabitants of the region and on their culture when creating new institutions for environment and indigenous peoples' rights and interests protection. To develop a system of compensation payments to cover social and cultural as well as economic damage caused to the indigenous communities by the industrial development. To include corresponding norms and regulations into effective environment protection laws and laws which regulate life activities of the indigenous communities and protect their rights.
    • Develop national programs aimed at supporting the ability of Arctic indigenous peoples to adapt to conditions of industrial growth and global warming.
    • Secure the indigenous peoples' participation in the development of laws, norms, programs and their control over realization of these initiatives.
    • Secure the indigenous peoples' representation in legislative bodies.

    We call upon mineral, hydrocarbon, hydro and all energy development companies operating in the Arctic to negotiate Impact and Benefit Agreements with local and regional indigenous peoples, as appropriate, to minimize impacts and guarantee benefits in line with the highest standards and principles established by law and policy based on free prior informed consent

    We appeal to the industrial corporations which operate in the Arctic to:

    • Take account of the risks connected with climate change in the ecological policy and ecological management of the companies, including an environmental impact assessment, ecological and ethnological examination and the systems of ecological management;
    • Provide a complete transparency of company's plans and actions that can affect somehow life activities of the local indigenous peoples and environmental conditions;
    • Inform local communities about the emerging hazards of ecological pollution, breakdowns and accidents without any delay;
    • Guarantee participation of the indigenous peoples in the discussion of companies' plans related to the use of the original aboriginal territories;
    • Completely compensate for damage dealt to the environment as well as to the population that suffers from adverse effects produced by the activities of the companies, their contract and subcontract organizations;
    • Participate in the development of plans of social economic and cultural development of local communities together with the indigenous peoples and their organizations and support realization of such initiatives.

    We call upon the international and national public organizations, citizens of Arctic and all other states to jointly support our actions. The industrial development of the Arctic under the climate change conditions can lead not only to the loss of Arctic ecosystems but also to the loss of traditional culture. And it is not just unique — it is the only sustainable one in the modem world. Traditional management techniques by indigenous peoples do not destroy the balance between nature and society and therefore their preservation and development can give an opportunity of finding a sustainable variant of the modem industrial civilization development.

    On behalf of RAIFON

    Sergey Haruchi, President

    On behalf of ICC

    Jim Stötts, Chair

    On behalf of Saami Council Olav

    Mathis Eira, Vice-president

    On behalf of AAC

    Deputy Chief Danny William Cresswell

    This is an English translation of the Russian language Moscow Declaration