The 5-year  GEF project Peatlands and Nomadic Herders´ Resilience will work with land conservation in the reindeer grazing areas in a broad sense, and will reduce vulnerability and strengthen resilience / resilience in nomadic reindeer husbandry communities during climate change, land use change and globalization. The project will make professional studies as well as develop and implement 13 different education and training programs for around 300 indigenous young people from various reindeer husbandry people in the circumpolar northern areas. The project will also make recommendations to the UN Environment Program and the Arctic Council.

Why is this important? " The fact that this award has now been received shows that the UN- Environment  and the GEF  are aware of the demanding area situation of reindeer husbandry ," says Anders Oskal , Secretary General of the World Reindeer Husbandry Association ( WRH ). He continues: " This is a support for competence building and training of indigenous youth and the future leaders of reindeer husbandry, where the development of new approaches, environmental apps and dialogue forms for land protection are also central ." The purpose is to strengthen the reindeer husbandry's adaptability and resistance to change.

The project is initiated by the  Association of World Reindeer Herders ( WRH ). It is based on the fact that the International Reindeer Husbandry Center ( ICR ) has recently received approval as an executive body for UN projects, which enable funding from Global cility Environmental Fa(GEF). In 2020-2021, the initiative has been in a pre-project phase, with an international project team led by UN-Environment and  and institute leader Dr Svein D Mathiesen at ICR .

The GEF  project has two main components. One part focuses on the conservation of wetlands in Mongolia, and is led by the Mongolian government. The second part is led by ICR , with NOK 20 million in grant framework, and focus on the 24 different indigenous peoples who live off reindeer husbandry in the world today. Many of these are very vulnerable in relation to the combined effects of climate change, loss of grazing land, biodiversity change and globalization. Observed permanent degradation of reindeer grazing land is worrying in many reindeer husbandry regions in the northern areas, at the same time as processes and land management regimes vary.

" There is a great need for better processes and a knowledge base for developments in indigenous areas, which is also illustrated, for example, by the Supreme Court's recent ruling in the Fosen case ," says project manager and professor Svein D Mathiesen at ICR . He emphasizes that there is potential for improvement : « The project will include contribute to improving methods, dialogue tools, the reindeer husbandry competence level, and the application of traditional knowledge, so that predictability can be strengthened for all parties involved in development and area processes ». Professor Mathiesen also points out that the project does not primarily have a focus on rights, but a focus on capacity and knowledge building.

Indigenous youth from reindeer herding nomadic communities are the target group for participation in the various competence programs planned, which will include online, physical and hybrid teaching, seminars and simulations, as well as field trips and workshops in local reindeer herding communities in Scandinavia and Mongolia. The professional work will include new knowledge about resilience in nomadic social systems, use of traditional knowledge in land management, use of newly developed environmental apps , gender -sensitive knowledge about grazing land use under change, new insight into impact assessments, and focus on land and food systems.

Among the knowledge partners in the project are e.g. Harvard University in the United States, considered by many to be the world's premier university. Here is also the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, which is one of the world's best educational institutions in diplomacy.

Oskal elaborates: " The course part will strengthen the indigenous youth's competence, skills, self-confidence and international contact surface and perspective, so that they are better able to handle their own destiny . " The ambition is seriously rooted: "We want to help them take the step to become the leaders of the future, and make a difference in preserving their own nature, society and culture, which is absolutely necessary in these times of great upheaval in the Arctic ."

The project is reported by ICR to  GEF and the UN Environment, and results from the project will also be reported to the Arctic Council through WRH , as an approved part of the Council's biodiversity work.

ICR's new UN approval and the new project could also have a positive impact locally, and raise the visibility and recognition of the Sami village Kautokeino internationally : for international indigenous peoples' cooperation in the High North ", says Anders Oskal , who sees concrete opportunities:" We see, for example, a clear potential for interaction with the establishment of a new national park center in Kautokeino in view of our own focus on the Convention on Biological Diversity other indigenous institutions locally and regionally. This contributes to building our Arctic Resilience Center ».


Contact :

Anders Oskal

Secretary General, World Federation of Reindeer Husbandry

Director, International Reindeer Husbandry Center ( ICR ), Kautokeino, Norway

+47 99450010

Svein Disch Mathiesen

Project Manager GEF UNEP Nomadic Shepherds

Department , Professor PhD, University of the Arctic EALÁT Institute, ICR , Kautokeino , Norway

+47 90524116


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Brief background:

Association of World Reindeer Herders ( WRH ) is a voluntary civil society organization for all 24 different nomadic indigenous peoples living on reindeer herding, with around 100,000 people in total spread across 10 nation states in the circumpolar north. WRH is a permanent observer for the Arctic Council, and has NGO Consultative Status at the UN. WRH celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2022.

International Reindeer Center Husbandry - ICR ) is a state administrative body with a special authority, under the Ministry of Local Government and District . The center was established as a result of processes in the Arctic Council and the first High North report to the Storting. The center serves as a professional support secretariat for WRH , and is the coordinator of the University of the Arctic EALÁT Institute .


ICR website: About - International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry - ICR (