Sáminuorra, founded in 1963, is an organisation of and for Saami youth in Sweden. The Saami people are the indigenous people of northern Europe inhabiting Sápmi, which encompasses parts of northern Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. Sáminuorra is actively trying to raise awareness about the Saami and their culture, and to target decision-makers to take into account the interests of the Saami youth.
The traditional way of living for the Saami is centered around reindeer husbandry at the core of the culture. This is why, the consequences of climate change, which are already disrupting this way of living, threaten not just the survival of reindeer but moreover, the entire Saami culture.
The Saami are organised in economic associations designed to enable community life around reindeer husbandry, so called “Sameby”. These are mostly within a designated area, but they can also be defined as a working partnership. Members have individual rights to resources, but help each other with the management of the herds. Members of one Sameby do not necessarily live in one geographical location.
Observational data shows that winters have been warmer in recent decades. Almost all winters since 1989 were warmer than the average for the 20th Century and over the past 50 years there has been a positive trend in both the frequency and intensity of winter warming events in northern Scandinavia. This supports findings that climate change warming is amplified i.e. stronger in polar regions. Projections show that this warming will continue, often at greater rates than the global average. Melting snow and loss of snow cover, followed by low temperatures of -20 to -30°C, cause ice encasement and frost damage.
Temperature increase during winter does not mean more food for herds, but the contrary: a reindeer would normally find its food such as lichen, a fungus-algae combination, in the winter snow. However, milder winters have caused melting and refreezing of precipitation on the ground, preventing reindeer from smelling and digging for meals trapped under hardened ice (so called rain-on-snow events). This is a common problem for herders today. Besides this, an increase of parasites and spread of diseases are also already being observed among the herds due to warmer summers.
Many of Sáminuorra’s members, comes from reindeer herding families.
The president of Sáminuorra, Sanna Vannar (22), is from Jokkmokk, and is – like many of Sáminuorras members – a member of a traditional reindeer herding family. Her family serves as an example to show why and how the membership is universally affected by climate change and therefore raises direct and individual concerns of their membership.
Not all the members of Sáminuorra are from reindeer herding families, but as a cornerstone of Saami culture, the reindeer are integral to the lives of all Saami. This is why the fate of the reindeer is directly linked with the future of the Saami. Sáminuorra has decided to take this case to the European General Court, because the time for reindeer is running out and as Sanna Vannar chairwoman of Youth Association Sáminuorra stated: “If we lose the reindeers, the Saami culture will be lost. Many of the Saami youth want to be reindeer herders, but they cannot see a future. This is mostly due to the threat of climate change. This must be urgently addressed for the safety of our generation and the next generations.”
Please contact Protect the Planet to reach out to Sáminuorra.