Association of World Reindeer Herders (WRH) is the international organization for reindeer herding peoples. The history of our international collaboration started back in 1990. WRH is a Civil Society Organization (CSO), representing Arctic indigenous peoples; it is an organization working for reindeer herders, composed of reindeer herders, benefitting reindeer herders’ societies. We represent 25 years of history of transboundary people-to-people cooperation between pan-Arctic indigenous peoples.
Arctic change, globalization and our dependence on Arctic nature are key factors why the Arctic Council is decisive for our peoples’ sustainable futures.
The History of Reindeer Herding and the Arctic Council
During the first US chairmanship, Norway and other Arctic Council members recognized world reindeer herding as significant for the Arctic, yet not represented in the Council. Thus by Norway’s initiative WRH became an observer in 2000. This meant that also reindeer herding issues were lifted into the international agenda, in a time of rapid Arctic change. It resulted in the first Arctic Council reindeer herding projects, highlighting the state of world reindeer husbandry and reindeer food processing. WRH also contributed substantially to the Council’s Arctic Climate Impact Assessment report. These efforts led to the establishment of International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry (ICR) in 2005, following Norway’s offer to the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Iceland in 2004 to host and fund the Centre. This capacity-building has aided WRH’s initiation of further Arctic Council reindeer herding projects, positively engaging states and permanent participants, including SDWG/IPY EALÁT-EALLIN-EALLU and CAFF Nomadic Herders. This further assists our contribution to assessments, reports, task forces and other work, and ICR is regarded as an important contributor to knowledge production in the Arctic Council.
Towards Our Future
Our horizon shows a future that is very challenging in terms of Arctic change. The current international situation also adds to this.
The Arctic Council is, however, a pioneer in including indigenous reindeer herders and their traditional knowledge, providing us room for improving our own communities and well-being. The Arctic Council has managed to reach into and inform small pan-Arctic reindeer herding communities, giving voice to local indigenous peoples and our traditional knowledge, facilitating education (in cooperation with UArctic), and providing unique opportunities for our youth. World reindeer herders today know about and count on the Arctic Council.
As the Arctic Council is celebrating its history, we remain dedicated to take active part, to contribute, to consult, and positively impact its work to the best of our ability – for the benefit of the Arctic peoples.
Projects with the Arctic Council
Arctic Council/IPY EALÁT: Reindeer Herding, Traditional Knowledge and Adaptation to Climate Change and Loss of Pastures (2007-2011)
Leads / Co-Leads
Norway, Russia, Saami Council, RAIPON. Project managed by WRH and ICR. Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG)
Increased understanding of impacts of climate change, loss of pastures and adaptation options. Circumpolar community-based workshops and seminars. Being “the voice of reindeer herding peoples” to the Arctic Council, defining examples of traditional knowledge use in adaptation to change.
Establishment of the UArctic EALÁT Institute as a human legacy of IPY and SDWG.
Arctic Council EALLIN: Reindeer Herding Youth (2012-2015)
Leads / Co-Leads
Russia, Norway, Saami Council, UArctic and others. Project managed by ICR and WRH (co-lead by indigenous youth themselves). Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG)
Being “the voice of reindeer herding youth” on challenges and opportunities of a changing Arctic, including on human health, Arctic change and globalization, technology, management, economy and capacity building. UArctic Training of Future Arctic Leaders program, for 160 circumpolar indigenous youth. Competence and confidence building for indigenous youth.
Establishment of the Arctic Indigenous Peoples Culinary Institute, under the direction of indigenous youth.
Arctic Council EALLU: Indigenous Youth, Climate Change and Food Culture (Ongoing, 2015-2019)
Leads / Co-Leads
Norway, USA, Russian Federation, Canada, Greenland, Saami Council. Project managed by ICR and WRH (co-lead by indigenous youth). Involving UArctic. Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG)
Utilizing Arctic indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge on food and culinary traditions as a novel approach to adapt to Arctic change. Education and training programs, an Arctic Council Cookbook, documentation of traditional knowledge, regional community-based workshops and seminars.
Arctic Council NOMADIC HERDERS Project: Enhancing the Resilience of Pastoral Ecosystems and Livelihoods (In preparation, 2012-)
Leads / Co-Leads
Norway, Russia, Saami Council. AC project parts managed by ICR and WRH. Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna Working Group (CAFF). UNEP Endorsement
Protection of biodiversity and development of reindeer herding livelihoods in the taiga areas of Sakha Republic, Russia. The project is ready for startup, currently awaiting funding clarifications.