Group of Indigenous Peoples in the Barents Region halts all activities

Lars-Anders Baer (to the right) joined the “family photo” after the Barents Summit

The Working Group of Indigenous Peoples in the Barents Region halts all activities due to lack of funding. The decision was taken one day after the Prime Ministers praised the Indigenous Peoples work at the Barents Summit.

Dmitri Medvedev, Jens Stoltenberg, Jyrki Katainen and Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, the Prime Ministers of Russia, Norway, Finland and Iceland, all underlined the importance of Indigenous Peoples participation in the Barents Cooperation in their official speeches at the Barents Summit on Tuesday. So did also Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, Denmark’s Foreign Minister Villy Søvndal and the European Commission’s Vice President Siim Kallas.

Lars-Anders Baer, chair of the Working Groups of Indigenous Peoples (WGIP) was among the ministers at the podium.

“It’s a long way from the fine words of the Prime Ministers at the 20th anniversary of the Barents Cooperation, to the real world for us Indigenous Peoples,” says Lars-Anders Baer today after the ministers have taken off from Kirkenes with their private jets.

The Working Group has since 1995 had an advisory role for both the Barents Council and the Barents Regional Council.

Members of the WGIP represent the Sámi in Norway, Russia, Finland and Sweden as well as the Nenets and Vepsian peoples in Russia.

It is the lack of economic support that now forces WGIP to suspend its activities. Russia does not grant any funding, and funding from Sweden and Finland are sporadic. Norway is the only providing economic support on a regular basis.

“Russia is with its zero-funding hindering its own Indigenous Peoples participation. One can say that Russia’s contribution to WGIP today is only fine words. Also Russia’s new law on NGOs that need to register as “foreign agents” create problems for the Indigenous Peoples cooperation, “says Baer.

During the Barents Summit, Lars-Anders Baer, was sitting on the stage discussing the further of the Barents Cooperation together with the Ministers. Afterwards he told BarentsObserver “We are on stage, but we’re the cheap ones.

“It’s not a question of big money,” he says, adding that annual funding of even NOK 400,000 (€52,000) would be sufficient for indigenous people to have adequate involvement in the Council’s activities and decisions. It’s peanuts in the governmental structure.”

On Wednesday, the Working Group made the decision to suspend activities. Lars-Anders Baer says that also Finland and Sweden mainly have contributed with nice words at conferances and festivities. (Barents Observer)

Canadian Chairmanship program stated

Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt hands the gavel, which symbolizes handing the chairmanship of the Arctic Council, to Canada’s Minister of the Arctic Council Leona Aglukkaq

The 8th Ministerial Meeting of the Arctic Council took place the 15th of May in Kiruna, northern Sweden.

The forward-looking statement entitled ‘Vision for the Arctic’ was adopted at the meeting. The document outlines the Arctic states’ and indigenous Permanent Participants’ joint vision for the development of the region.

Arctic Council States also signed a new, legally-binding Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic which will substantially improve procedures for combatting oil spills in the Arctic.

A number of important reports were presented to the Ministers at the meeting. During the meeting, ministers also signed the Kiruna Declaration, which sets out the work of the Council during the Canadian Chairmanship (2013-15).

“Canada is honoured to assume the Chairmanship of the Council,” said Minister Leona Aglukkaq, the first Inuk to helm Arctic Council. “The theme for Canada’s Chairmanship is Development for the People of the North.”

During the Canadian Chairmanship, the Arctic Council program will include the establishment of a Circumpolar Business Forum to provide new opportunities for business to engage with the Council; continued work on oil pollution prevention; and action to address short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon and methane.

Click here to dowload the Canada´s Chairmanship priorities. (Arctic Portal)

Six new observers to Arctic Council

Heads of seven of the member delegations in Kiruna

China, India, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore were all welcomed as new observer states by the Arctic Council during the ministerial meeting in Kiruna today.

China, Japan, Republic of Korea and Singapore are the first Asian countries to  gain observer status to the Arctic Council.

The European Union’s application for observer status was received affirmatively but has not yet been approved, as the union must first address several questions about its bid, including concerns on its ban on sea products from Canada, which today took over the chairmanship of the council from Sweden. The EU banned the import of seal products in 2009. It is an issue of key importance to Canada, as seal hunting is an important part of life for many indigenous groups. The EU was granted the right to observe council proceedings until a final decision is made.

The ministerial meeting also adopted an observer manual that will define what rights the observer states have and clarify which decisions that are not included in the observers’ mandate. (Barents Observer)

Greenpeace plant flag on seabed at North Pole

Four young people on a mission with Greenpeace have planted a flag on the seabed beneath the North Pole, at the same spot where a submarine planted a Russian flag claiming the Arctic for Moscow. (1) The young people planted their ‘flag for the future’ four kilometers beneath the ice at the top of the world and called for the region to be declared a global sanctuary.

The campaigners (2) held a ceremony this weekend at the geographic North Pole, led by two Arctic Indigenous ambassadors. There they cut a hole in the ice and lowered a flag designed by a child (3) from Malaysia, through the freezing waters to the seabed.

The flag is attached to a glass and titanium time capsule (4) containing the signatures of nearly three million people, including actors, musicians, artists and business leaders (5) who asked for their names to be taken to the Pole when they joined Greenpeace’s campaign calling for the Arctic to be protected from exploitation.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu this weekend joined the call for a global sanctuary, saying: “I offer my full support to these young people who travelled to the North Pole on behalf of those whose lives are being turned upside down by climate change.” (6)

Hollywood actor Ezra Miller — star of We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Perks of Being a Wallflower — is one of the youth ambassadors who planted the flag and the names. Another is 26-year-old Josefina Skerk, an Indigenous activist and Sami Parliament member in Sweden.

“By coming to the top of the world and planting this flag, we’re hoping to inspire young people everywhere. We’re here to say this special area of the Arctic belongs to no person or nation, but is the common heritage of everyone on Earth,” Skerk said. “Our names and those of millions more are now planted on the seabed beneath the Pole. Together we’re asking that this area be declared a global sanctuary, off-limits to oil companies and political posturing. We stand in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples, in the whole of the Arctic, whose way of life is now being threatened by the unchecked greed of industry.”

The expedition coincided with the first ever meeting at the North Pole of the Arctic Council, the governing body comprised of foreign ministers and senior officials from Arctic states. As the expedition started, Skerk requested a meeting with the group, but was refused.

The week-long expedition to the Pole is part of a global campaign to protect the Arctic, under threat from climate change, oil companies, industrial fishing and shipping. As global warming melts the sea ice, companies such as Shell, Gazprom and Statoil are moving in to exploit the region’s oil as nation states lay claim to areas previously covered by ice.

The youth ambassadors and Greenpeace campaigners have challenged the companies and nations seeking to profit from climate change. By planting the time capsule and flag, they have drawn a line in the ice, telling the polluters and oil companies: you come no further.

The young people are part of a Greenpeace team that trekked for one week across the frozen ocean in freezing winds and temperatures of minus 30 degrees Celsius. They traveled around 10 km a day, each dragging heavy sleighs weighing 80kg behind them. In a remote and dangerous environment their supplies dwindled as the shifting ice took them further from the Pole. The team then hitched a ride with a helicopter that was flying in from the nearby Barneo Base, to put them within striking distance of the Pole, allowing them to ski and drift a shorter final distance and complete their journey to the top of the world.

[1] A Russian submarine, piloted by explorer Artur Chilligarov, planted the Russian flag beneath the Pole in 2007. Before embarking on his expedition Chilligarov said: “The Arctic is Russian. We must prove the North Pole is an extension of the Russian landmass.” Wikileaks cables later revealed he was acting on the instructions of the Kremlin.

[2] The Team Aurora youth ambassadors include 20-year-old musician and Hollywood actor Ezra Miller, star of We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Perks of Being a Wallflower; Renny Bijoux, member of the Youth Parliament from the Seychelles; Kiera-Dawn Kolson of the Tso’Tine-Gwich’in nations in Northern Canada, and Josefina Skerk, an Indigenous activist and member of the Sami Parliament in Sweden.

[3] The ‘flag for the future’ was designed by 13-year-old Sarah Batrisyia from Malaysia, who won a global competition run by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and Greenpeace. The contest was judged by fashion icon Dame Vivienne Westwood

[4] The time capsule was designed and made in Amsterdam by Joris Laarman Labs. More information on the construction of the time capsule can be found here.

[5] Among those who asked Greenpeace to take their names to the bottom of the ocean at the top of the world are boy band One Direction, Paul McCartney, Penelope Cruz and dozens of other actors, musicians, artists, and members of the business community such as Richard Branson.

[6] Archbishop Desmond Tutu said: “I offer my full support to these young people who travelled to the North Pole on behalf of those whose lives are being turned upside down by climate change. The melting of the Arctic matters to every person on earth, and I believe that we must work together to create a sanctuary in the uninhabited area around the North Pole. We owe it to future generations to protect the Arctic and keep destructive industry away from this fragile and beautiful place.” (GreenPeace)

*** Da Greenpeace bandiera al Polo Nord, creare “Santuario Artico”***

Una bandiera di titanio piantata a quattro chilometri di profondita’ sul fondo dell’oceano, nel punto piu’ a Nord del Pianeta. Dopo quasi otto giorni di cammino sui ghiacci artici, gli attivisti di Greenpeace hanno raggiunto il Polo Nord geografico e, dopo aver praticato un buco nello strato di ghiaccio, hanno calato una capsula di titanio e vetro sul fondale con la bandiera. Insieme ai rappresentati delle comunita’ indigene dell’Artico, con questo gesto gli attivisti hanno simbolicamente reclamato l’area come patrimonio di tutta l’umanita’, chiedendo l’istituzione di un Santuario Globale per la protezione dell’Artico.

All’interno della capsula, rende noto l’associazione ambientalista, ci sono i quasi tre milioni di nomi di coloro che, in ogni parte del mondo, hanno firmato per difendere l’Artico dalle esplorazioni petrolifere e dalla pesca industriale ed eccessiva. Una telecamera installata sulla capsula ha registrato le immagini della discesa sul fondale. Tra i membri della spedizione anche l’attore statunitense Ezra Miller. Nell’ultimo anno sono stati molti i personaggi del mondo degli affari e dello spettacolo a sostenere la campagna Save the Arctic di Greenpeace, tra questi anche Paul McCartney, Penelope Cruz e Richard Branson. Recentemente anche l’Arcivescovo Desmond Tutu ha espresso il suo appoggio per la spedizione, che e’ parte della campagna globale di Greenpeace per proteggere l’Artico.

Approfittando dello scioglimento dei ghiacci dovuto al cambiamento climatico, denuncia infatti Greenpeace, ”compagnie petrolifere senza scrupoli come Shell, Gazprom e Statoil stanno sviluppando programmi per la ricerca di petrolio senza preoccuparsi delle conseguenze sul fragile ecosistema artico”.

La Finlandia abbassa le tasse alle imprese

Jutta Urpilainen

La Finlandia si prepara a tagliare le tasse sulle imprese dal 24,5 al 20% dall’anno prossimo, dopo averle già ridotte di un punto e mezzo nel 2012, quando erano al 26 per cento. L’annuncio è stato dato oggi dal premier Jyrki Katainen.

Il Paese, uno dei più virtuosi dell’Eurozona e dei pochi a poter ancora vantare un rating tripla A, non intende però rinnegare il suo proverbiale rigore e conferma di voler azzerare la crescita del debito pubblico (che viaggia verso il 56% del Pil) entro il 2015. Per far questo pianifica 300 milioni di nuovi tagli alla spesa e altrettanti di maggior gettito fiscale, raccolto cancellando le esenzioni sui dividendi e alzando le imposte su alcolici, dolci, tabacco ed elettricità. Andranno ad aggiungersi ai 5,2 miliardi di aggiustamento varati l’anno scorso dal Governo di coalizione che riunisce i liberalconservatori di Katainen e i socialdemocratici del ministro delle Finanze Jutta Urpilainen.

Con il nuovo taglio di quattro punti e mezzo, la Finlandia scavalca Svezia e Danimarca e si mette al pari con il Regno Unito. Stoccolma, dal 1° gennaio, ha ridotto la corporate tax dal 26,3 al 22 per cento. Copenhagen ha appena presentato una riforma che la porterà dal 25 al 22% nel 2016. Londra, martedì, ha annunciato che la abbasserà al 20% nel 2015.

La crisi dell’Eurozona e le difficoltà di Nokia hanno già spinto la Finlandia nella sua seconda recessione in quattro anni: nel 2012 il Pil si è contratto dello 0,1% e la ripresa si annuncia lenta. Per quest’anno, il Governo prevede una crescita dello 0,4%, mentre la disoccupazione a gennaio è salita all’8,7% dal 7,8% del 2012.

La Urpilainen, che fino a qualche settimana fa nel Governo era per così dire l'”avvocato” delle tasse, ieri ha affermato di aspettarsi un atteggiamento responsabile da parte delle aziende e quindi nuove assunzioni. «Vogliamo mandare al mondo un segnale chiaro – ha detto la Urpilainen – siamo decisi a difendere il nostro sistema di welfare fondato sul lavoro». Non abbandoniamo l’austerity, ha aggiunto Katainen, «ma al tempo stesso stiamo facendo la più importante riforma fiscale in vent’anni in modo da sostenere l’economia, le imprese e l’occupazione».

Il taglio dell’imposta costerà al Fisco 900 milioni di gettito, ma il Governo conta di dimezzare le perdite grazie ai benefici che arriverebbero dall’aumento dell’occupazione e dalla maggior crescita. La Confindustria finlandese aveva chiesto di tagliare l’aliquota addirittura al 15%, liberando così le risorse per creare 100mila posti di lavoro. (Il Sole 24 ore)