Global Leadership Prize to Snowchange

aaTällberg-SNF-Eliasson Global Leadership Prize is awarded annually to outstanding leaders—in any field and any country— who demonstrate the willingness and capacity to address the complexity of 21st-century challenges in innovative, risk-taking, and ethical ways, and whose work is global in aspiration or implication and is rooted in universal values.

The Tällberg Foundation explores the issues that are challenging and changing our societies with the goal of stimulating new thinking for a new world. We also believe that a new kind of leadership is badly needed for our societies to prosper: leadership that is innovative, courageous, dynamic, rooted in universal values and global in implication.

In that spirit we have established the Tällberg-SNF-Eliasson Global Leadership Prize named in honor of Jan Eliasson, one of the most accomplished global diplomats of our era and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) to recognize their IMG_7468tremendous support to the prize and for being the most dynamic and innovative global philanthropic organizations—one that uses its resources and imagination to promote positive global change.

Leaders whose track record of accomplishments is substantial and who, in the jury’s judgement, are likely to continue to make important, positive contributions in their chosen field.

The winners for 2021 are:

Tero Mustonen

For his efforts to blend science and the wisdom of local and Indigenous peoples to define new, robust and sustainable approaches to climate change.

Asha de Vos

For her pioneering research and the creation of a world class marine conservation research and education institution in Sri Lanka, in the face of long-standing bias to reserve such platforms for the Global North.

Watch a video regarding the prize here.

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Snowchange at COP

ranuaA recording of the Need to Be Cold Panel from COP is now available, featuring Snowchange, Sámi and Siberian leaders. You can see it here.

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Wild Reindeer as an Indicator of Evenki Biocultural Systems

Evenk woman on the way to the sacred mountain, Southern Sakha-Yakutia, Russia in Spring 2006. Photo: Snowchange, 2015

Evenk woman on the way to the sacred mountain, Southern Sakha-Yakutia, Russia in Spring 2006. Photo: Snowchange, 2015

A new science paper co-authored with two Indigenous co-authors on the wild reindeer of Eastern Siberia is out today. Available here.

This paper reviews oral histories and established scientific materials regarding wild rein‐ deer (Rangifer tarandus spp.) in the Southern Sakha‐Yakutia, in the Neriungri district and surround‐ ing highlands, river valleys and taiga forest ecosystems. Wild reindeer is seen as an ecological and cultural keystone species through which environmental and social changes can be understood and interpreted.

Oral histories of Evenki regarding wild reindeer have been documented in the community of Iyengra between 2005 and 2020. During this 15‐year‐co‐researchership the Southern Sakha‐ Yakutian area has undergone rapid industrial development affecting the forest and aquatic ecosystems. The wild reindeer lost habitats and dwindles in numbers. We demonstrate that the loss of the wild reindeer is not only a loss of biodiversity, but also of cultural and linguistic diversity as well as food security.

Our interpretative and analytical frame is that of emplacement. Socio‐ecological systems have the potential and capacity to reconnect and re‐establish themselves in post‐extractive landscapes, if three main conditions are met. These conditions for successful emplacement include

(1) surviving natural core areas,

(2) links to cultural landscape knowledge and

(3) an agency to re‐ new endemic links.


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Oceans-Wide Relief


Snowchange opens Oceans-Wide Relief, a small grants programme for the marine Arctic and Pacific communities. It will be available also in 2022.

Marine communities are often the guardians and recipients of system change under way in the Arctic and the Pacific in terms of climatic (sea level rise, storms, tidal surges, coral reef die off events, human-induced ecosystem changes) and biodiversity shifts (species on the move, marine regime shifts).

17 02 2016 - Tero visit (21)Therefore we open “Oceans-Wide Relief“, a small grants programme, for the regions – We welcome applications from

  1. Grassroots Indigenous Organizations: grassroots Indigenous organizations who are continuously working for the collective rights of the Indigenous Peoples, and for the advancement of their self-determination. Priority is given to organizations who have lesser or no access to funding mechanisms.
  2. Indigenous Communities: Certain communities may also receive support upon the endorsement/recommendation of the ally and partner organizations.
  3. Indigenous Leaders/Individuals: In particular cases, individuals may also be granted support upon the recommendation of the region. For example, circumstances where individual is under political persecution for being a human rights defender; part of the community’s traditional authority; considered as a community change agent.
Sea ice off Iqaluit, Nunavut.

Sea ice off Iqaluit, Nunavut.

Arctic Marine Support

We welcome applications on the Marine Arctic Seas grants up to 10,000 USD / grant due to the high cost of living and transportation (fly-in communities, remoteness).
The principles of support include

  • Support for actions that revitalise Indigenous ways of knowing, culture and language in coastal communities
  • Allow for rapid action to respond to crisis, such as storm surges, coastal erosion events, sea ice anomalies or other hazards for Indigenous health and well being
  • Allow for transition into permanent sustainable communities, such as a solar panel powered nomadic camps
  • Allow for well justified equipment and gear purchases to allow traditional harvests in safe manner.

Ultimately the grants are however assessed as articulated by the community needs. 

17 02 2016 - Tero visit (4)

Pacific Support

Indigenous and local communities in the Pacific are eligible to apply. The guiding principles of the small grants programme will aim to

  • Restore the collective coastal lands and access and resource rights where applicable
  • Support community-based protocols for maintaining biocultural systems, food security and gendered ways of knowing the Pacific
  • Support the sharing-gifting traditions of the region
  • Support inter-community cohesion and exchanges
  • Restore and directly reserve a portion of the small grants to support revitalization of traditional navigation and Starlore of the Pacific peoples
  • Proliferation of technology and solutions to make Indigenous governance and coastal tenure more visible
  • Implementation of Indigenous/tribal rights through traditional institutions

Ultimately the grants are however assessed as articulated by the community needs. We consider the Pacific Sea community small grants in the range of 3000-8,000 USD / grant.

Grants will be available for 2021 as long as funds remain. A new call will open in Spring 2022 for the next season. We accept applications on a rolling basis.

In order to apply, please send one page free form application, which includes contact information, rationale, and grant use proposal to



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Snowchange Wins the St. Andrews Prize 2021!


Snowchange Co-op has won the The St Andrews Prize for the Environment. It is one of the most prestigious and largest environmental global prizes. The award goes to the Landscape Rewilding Programme of Snowchange. The cash prize is 100,000 USD. 

Tero Mustonen comments:

We bow humbly in receiving this prize which we dedicate to the northern Indigenous and community women who lead the Snowchange work. Rewilding landscapes in Finland using traditional knowledge and science matters for all of Europe because of the migratory bird fly ways and large amount of peatlands we can restore. Our work also ratifies Saami indigenous rights in practice, even though unfortunately they are still not recognized by Finnish Government. We hope the global society joins us in a broad alliance to protect the boreal forests and Northern ecosystems of Finland.”

The St Andrews Prize for the Environment is a major international initiative led by the University of St Andrews that recognises and supports innovative and inspirational responses to environmental challenges, including the climate crisis.

Since 1998, the Prize has awarded more than $2 million in prize money across the world to individuals and organisations whose imaginative solutions are protecting the environment and promoting a more sustainable society. Now in its 23rd year, the Prize aims to champion the people and ideas addressing the greatest challenge of our age.

The St Andrews Prize for the Environment was established in 1998 by the University of St Andrews to recognise significant contributions to environmental conservation. Since its launch, the Prize has attracted almost 6,000 entries which cover everything from reducing human-animal conflict, to environmental justice, to reducing and eliminating waste, to urban regeneration.

There have been 22 winners, who have each received $100,000 to further develop and implement their projects while the runners up have each received $25,000.

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