Indigenous Peoples’ Rights International: Saami People of Norway Stand Strong Against Encroachment of Energy Companies

Indigenous Peoples’ Rights International: Saami People of Norway Stand Strong Against Encroachment of Energy Companies

RwB International Coordinator recently signed an appeal to support Saami People, whose land is being encroached upon by windmills of Statkraft Company. The Company has systemic problem with indigenous people. In the XX century the whole Saami national movement was triggered by Statkraft’s Alta River hydropower project development disregarding traditional river users. Now the Statcraft has,probably,the best written policies and certainly best web-site among hydropower companies, but their DNA has not been unchanged. As any large monopolist they believe that water (and now wind and land) belongs to them, not to local indigenous communities.

While in the Nordic realm the Company now preaches solar (and diversification), in hydropower-saturated regions of the less developed countries they market their hydropower-building capabilities. Dam construction in Satluj basin in India and Khimti Dhalkebar Hydro Power project in Nepal are just two examples where the company’s activities resulted in negative impact on indigenous communities in areas with multiple problematic dam projects.

The two-dam Devoll River project has been just completed in Albania , while the Government of Albania has been repeatedly warned by an EU accession Commission on Energy that it has dangerously high dependence on hydropower and officially discouraged from its development. Sweden and Norway have been lobbying to push hydropower into EU Green Taxonomy without major conditions, because that is what they export to EU. The Statkraft and several other companies are likely the main beneficiaries of this lobbying. The disguise of “renewable energy” is often seen as a excuse for destruction of nature and human rights violation.

Below – the appeal in support of Saami People displaced by “reneweable energy development”.

March 7, 2023

Global solidarity with the Saami people of Norway

Indigenous organizations around the world and their allies express our deep solidarity with the Saami people in Norway, who are demanding respect and recognition of their rights in the context of the Fosen windmill park. There are 104 organizations with 80 indigenous peoples organizations and 134 individuals from 61 countries have signed an open letter, calling on the government of Norway to respect the rights of the Saami indigenous peoples, and for the company involved to also be held accountable. The letter also points out that the green transition must be fully aligned with the protection of human rights and principles of social equity [click here to read the full letter].

We salute the courage and determination of the Saami youth who were leading the peaceful demonstration in front of the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, as well as in other nine government buildings, and standing their ground despite being physically removed by the police. The impressive demonstrations took place for eight continuous days. The Norwegian government has apologized and acknowledged “ongoing human rights violations” in the situation. However, a good faith and constructive dialogue between the government and the Saami indigenous peoples to solve this conflict is yet to take place

This is an emblematic case of how Indigenous Peoples are systematically sidelined in decision-making processes on matters that affect us and our territories. We support the just transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy, but the transition needs to be respectful of our rights and wellbeing. Otherwise, it is green colonization. 

We should not be seen as obstacles  and even criminalized  when we defend our rights against so-called green projects imposed on us. Indigenous peoples are essential partners for combating climate change and conserving biodiversity. We want to pursue partnerships instead of conflicts in the green transition. It is essential for world leaders to engage with us in good faith and work together to address the global crises of climate change, conserve biodiversity, and advance sustainable development for all.

Contact person
Joan Carling
Executive Director-IPRI .Indigenous Peoples’ Rights International:
Whatsapp: +639219949843