Tour began 5th November in Australia, with the 5 days of the Indigenous and Local Community Conserved Areas Movement meeting.
Snowchange was accepted as the ‘Arctic’ member of this loose movement of Indigenous peoples and local communities from five continents. There is no specific aim to the movement, rather to act as a support network right now for the immediate threats, such as mining. We can now call upon 76 aboriginal and local communities globally for support letters.
World Parks Congress 2014, Sydney, Australia
Then Snowchange participated in the World Parks Congress 2014, in Sydney, Australia. We had our VIP high level panel – I had in the end 2 minutes to speak.
I mentioned at first our work and most recent issues in Northern Russia, and the fact that I ll arrive to Sakha soon for discussions for 2015. Then I proceeded to identify the urgent issue of the diamond mine in Utsjoki Saami area in Northern Finland that has been issued exploration licenses inside strict nature preserve IUCN category I.
Lastly I mentioned that we will launch now international letter campaign, in early December, with allies of Indigenous and local organisations globally, against Metsahallitus – the State Forestry Agency, who threatens the last old growth forest of Havukkavaara, Selkie, our place, where the film was shot last month.
After my speech the head of the Convention of Biological Diversity – CBD from UN and myself had a brief discussion on Metsähallitus and other issues, I think their reputation is now affected from UN side.
Session went well, it was devoted to Resilience of Indigenous communities in the face of climate change and livelihoods. We reached one concrete proposal to the outcome of the World Parks Congress and the ‘Promise of Sydney’ Final Document – the establishment of Rapid Response Center for Indigenous Communities within the IUCN, the international conservation body. The idea of the center would be to act as ‘first responders’ to requests to pass information about urgent threats to communities. During the WPC many old and new friends were met, including Gleb Raygorodetsky, Haida Nation leadership, Nuu-chah-nulth and so on.
WPC final documents are available here:
Off to Northern Australia, Cairns
All clear on landing to Northern Australia, Queensland, Cairns to catch up with Victor Steffensen and Living Knowledge Place. It s really hot, but all good with swimming in the rainforest rivers.
We agreed to web launch the education service Living Knowledge Place once it will be ready in a few months also on the Snowchange site. We spent a splendid day out with the rangers from the Indigenous Protected Area close to Yarrabah aboriginal community south of Cairns, learning about how they manage land, how they have won native title and installed 3D model of land use mapping and governance.
We visited an area suffering from low pH much like our Selkie place Jukajoki, and solutions are almost the same! Then we saw 5 m salt water crocodile submerging and learned about the Krokodile and Sting Ray Dreamings of that place. Lastly went to see ancient fish traps, 30,000 years old, at the Coral Sea, incredible day out in the sun, plus 35C. Thank you all rangers and Victor!
Aotearoa Communities, NIWA and Wakaiti
In Aotearoa we have been travelling for over 600 kilometers and meeting several communities and leaders to continue our cooperation!
Darren King and Apanui Skipper, two recognized Maori who lead a lot of the climate change work in here, took me on a special tour spanning ancient Maori fortresses, the Pacific beaches of Paihua, treaty grounds of Waitangi, where the British and the Maori signed their accords, onwards to the Kauri forests, where we saw the largest tree in Aotearoa, a Kauri tree of immense 50 meters!
In between we were hosted by the people and community where Wakaiti Dalton, a young Maori woman leader lives – together with her grand mother and aunts she is leading lot of the community work to restore the community and livelihoods for the people.
Her grandmother in a quiet and powerful voice told our team: ‘Let s work together to heal our planet.’
Onwards we went to the peak of Toka-Toka, a needle shaped mountain on top of which we bid farewell to the landscapes of the north of the Northern Aotearoa.
Saturday morning we had a extensive meeting, courtesy of Nadine, wife of Darren, himself and Elsa and Oliver, their beautiful children, to meet with Riki Reinfelds and Maori scholar and leader Fiona Cram, who has just published a ground breaking book on Indigenous social research.
We discussed steering committee work for 2015, and other community plans, prepared for the Siberian leg of the tour and had excellent foods. Apanui Skipper and Riki Reinfelds were called to the steering committee work. With that the South Pacific tour is winding down after three extensive weeks in Australia, Aoteaoroa and meetings with many South Pacific islanders and leaders at the World Parks Congress.
With that all love, Kia Ora and extensive thanks, especially to Apanui, Darren and Nadine for making possible out of impossible, in a short time, as well as Victor and all people over there in Yarrabah, Dr. Tommy George, Natalia and so on.
Into Siberia, Sakha Republic: Solar Panels and World Heritage
After Hong Kong and Moscow, I arrived to Siberia, Sakha-Yakutia. It was another balmy -31 C in the morning, so not so cold. They expect -42 C towards the end of the week.
At first I met with the Minister of Nature Protection and as well Minister of Foreign Relations of Sakha Republic, with total of 2,5 hours of talks. We discussed all issues, ranging from results of Australia and World Parks Congress, to Maori examples and the current situation in Russia.
I conveyed our concerns and priorities to continue working with the communities for 2015. More precisely we are trying to focus on three areas for 2015:
- Expanding the Solar Panel work in Kolyma, with an application of 50,000 USD to support this activity that we will send to the government in December.
- Advancement of nomadic education in Kolyma
- Possibilities of publication of the Evenki cultural-environmental atlas some time this decade based on the field work in Iengra 2004-2014.
I met with the Press Service from the state agency and gave a long interview of the Maori, Australian and Siberian work. Later I participated in the UNESCO Adaptation of Globalisation and Climate Change High Level Conference, where I had 12 minutes to address the Plenary.
I met with the Chief of the Yukaghir Council of Elders Vyacheslav Shadrin, Then on thursday evening we had extensive meetings with the reindeer herders and member communities here to discuss 2015.
South Pacific and Siberia tour is winding to its end, today is the last day here in Yakutsk, with -41 C. We have held extensive meetings with the member communities from Kolyma and participated in the Arctic Conferences to present results of 2004-2014 work here. Today in the conference, after an initiative from Kolyma, we proposed that the Halartsa Tundra zone, home of the member community Turvaurgin would be included as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – to initiate this process.
Thanks also to Dawn Adams, Theresa Neel from Kwakwakwala in BC, Victoria Hykes-Steere in Alaska, Chris Madine in the UK and Kaisu Mustonen in Selkie Finland for supporting.