The France-Finland Conference on the circular economy was organized Tuesday, May the 17th at Eurooppasali in Helsinki. The event was hosted by Institut Francais-Finlande of the French Embassy in Finland. The participants were a varied group of governmental actors, such as Minister of the Environment Emma Kari, as well as directors of research institutions and businesses and us researchers, Teemu Loikkanen and Saara Alakorva. The event was part of the World Circular Economy Forum.
The keynote by Mathieu Leporini examined the basis of how our scientific thinking has led the world towards extractivism and linear economy, and how achieving circularity necessitates the questioning of those ideas. We were invited to speak on the indigenous, Sámi perspectives on Circular Economy. The presentations were varied, but each gave a positive lookout of the holistic ways how to steer our societies towards circularity.
We presented under the title “Circularity in the Sámi nature- based livelihoods. What could EU’s circular economy policy learn from the Indigenous and local perspectives.” The whole event can be seen from the Institut Francais-Finlande Youtube channel. The presentations will also be published in written form by the organisers, but the key points of our presentation can already be read here:
1) We argue that in the Sámi nature-based economies, circularity is one of the key principles.
2) There are contradictions in the EU regulations that have impaired or even prevented circularity in the Sámi nature-based livelihoods, such as reindeer herding.
3) From the Sámi perspective and from the local point of view, the EUs Circular Economy is seen as a top-down policy, not taking into account the practices that have been part of the Sámi livelihoods for centuries. Thus, we should pay more attention to the challenges of local actors in adapting to EU’s Circular Economy policies as well as to how they could be implemented in a way that supports circularity which already exists in the livelihoods based on nature.
4) Regulations imposed by the EU transform local practices which may endanger the transition of traditional knowledge from generation to generation. Hence, we should examine how to simultaneously strengthen the local and Indigenous communities as well as the EU’s CE.
Link to watch the conference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5ksctN7t28&t=6178s
Written by Teemu Loikkanen & Saara Alakorva, University of Lapland