OECD - IEA Global Forum on the Environment and Climate Change,
Paris 21.-22. March 2023
Breakout Group B1 - What is loss & damage (L&D)?
Introduction by Gunn-Britt Retter, Saami Council (7 minutes)
What are different types of L&D currently being experienced / expected at the regional,
national, local or community level?
Since my childhood, I have wandered on our lands, following my mum, my uncles and my
grandmother, and learnt where to find the best cloudberries. I have learnt to follow the
weather events and patterns, to read the nature and figure out where there is better chance to
find good berries, and also learnt to be concerned if the strong winds, or heavy rains would
impact the berry season. There is whole universe to learn about the interactions in nature, that
is transferred between generations, and I would claim provides a holistic understanding to the
surroundings and an urge tp protect and transfer this to future generations.
I am from the coastal Sámi community Unjárga by the Várjjatuotna - Várjjatfjord at 70
degrees north. In Norway, close to both the Finish and Russian border. The Sámi people live
across these borders and in Sweden as well. We are Arctic Indigenous People.
In the early 2000 we saw an immense birch larvae invasion, three different species following
each other making the natural peak both to be higher and longer, whipping out the birch trees
in large areas, changing the ground to be greener and grassier, and even impacting the access
to local berries. The latter leading to an abrupt breech in the berry picking trips and thus
breach in transfer of knowledge. The change in birch larvae peaks, is consider to have
happened du e to climate change, warmer winters, earlier, spring, later winter, longer growing
As we heard this morning, the Arctic is warming 3-4 times faster than the global average, the
last 50 years. Arctic as we know it – is disappearing. My cloudberry picking might be a minor
activity in small scale. But I think this example is valid for other Sámi communities, for other
actives, in other places, and for Indigenous Peoples worldwide.
We are also impacted by the efforts to mitigate climate change, and response measures to climate
Human rights violations in Sápmi - an example from Fovsen Njaarke
2021, a landmark decision on cultural rights of Sámi reindeer herders was taken by the Supreme
Court of Norway. Referring to Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights (ICCPR), the Supreme Court determined that the construction of the wind industry park
in Fovsen Njaarke was illegal as it violates the reindeer herding Sámi in the area to exercise their
culture. The Supreme Court determined, citing statements by the UN Human Rights Committee,
that although the interference by itself may have so serious consequences as to constitute a
violation of Article 27 of the ICCPR it must also be considered in the context of other projects,
both past and future. According to the ruling, whether a violation occurred is determined by the
overall impact of the development. As a result, the Supreme Court determined that wind power
development would violate herders' rights if adequate remedy measures were not implemented
(Supreme Court of Norway, 2020).
As for today, the wind industry park is still up and running, without consequences for the
company that owns it, and without action from the Norwegian government to act on its human
- Arctic change: ice, snow, land and ecosystem change causing loss and damage in
- Mitigation measures leading to further loss and damage.
- No financing to Arctic Indigenous Peoples to support loss and damage, beyond
emergency funds, while emergencies are becoming the standard.
- In Sápmi, lack of land rights, thus not being in charge of the land that is used and
needed to carry our culture.
What are different types of support needed to respond to the economic and non-economic
impacts of L&D?
o Need to recognize the Indigenous Peoples Rights, so we can have a say in how the
land and territories on which our cultures depend, is used.
o Be part of decision-making, to prevent conflict raising afterwards.
o Support continuous presence and Indigenous Peoples land and territories as stewards
of these lands, rather than be replaced by wind turbines and wholes in the ground
turning pastures into stone.
o Recognize the value of Indigenous cultures also in the Arctic. At the present we carry
and are expected to continue to carry the heaviest burden of the mitigation efforts – in
the countries we live in.
o Develop Finance mechanisms that also include the needs of Arctic Indigenous
Peoples and other Indigenous Peoples in developed regions that don’t have access to
o The big question is how to get away from fossil fuels, transit to low emission
societies, without comprising intact ecosystems and avoid massive nature destruction
and with that also land and territories being protected by Indigenous Peoples use,
being the foundation for Indigenous Peoples cultures?