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Issues related to reindeer herding from the justice point of view have been one of the main case studies of the Arctic Centre’s workgroup. Photo: Mia Landauer

JustNorth project explores the questions of justice

30.5.2022 10:23

The JustNorth examines the economic development of the Arctic region and the approaches for its governance and inclusion from the perspective of justice and ethics. The project consists of eight workgroups and one of them is led by Tanja Joona, a University researcher and Docent in International law, at the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland. The project is funded by the EU's Horizon 2020 program.

There are four case studies under the workgroup of Arctic Centre. Among others, these case studies focus on the Arctic Railway, mining, land use, wind power, reindeer herding, fishing, and tourism.

The project is implemented as closely as possible with various stakeholders, such as reindeer herders and local communities.

– The aim of these case studies is to analyze the effects of current economic activity on a different scale from the perspectives of justice and participation of stakeholders, says Joona.

One of the project’s key questions is how the people of the Arctic experience different economic development projects and whether everything is always measured in terms of profitability. In particular, the workgroup of Arctic Centre is considering the fundamental issues in Lapland related to land use, the utilization of natural resources, and the preservation of traditional livelihoods.

Participatory methods are leading the research

Henri Wallen, a researcher at the Arctic Centre, says that as research methods, the workgroup has utilized various interviews and workshops with the participation of representatives of various stakeholders. About 80 interviews have been collected and four workshops have been organized.

In some of the workshops, the “Timeout”-method has been utilized. This method is based on a constructive and equal way of discussing. The discussion is led by an outside facilitator who takes care of the constructive and equal atmosphere of the discussion.

– Interviews and workshops have left me with a good feeling. For example, the people interviewed in connection with mining are already accustomed to this kind of discussion and participation due to previous research on this topic. In this sense, the interview situations have been familiar to them, Wallen says.

Why justice?

The project aims to create a framework in which the sustainable development of the Arctic region can be promoted. Especially in the context of sustainable development, it is important to address the issues of equity.

– The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals set important guidelines for economic development, of which many can also be applied in the Arctic, but are primarily defined on a global level. If the development of the Arctic is carried out in a way that is not considered ethical or fair by local communities, it is unsustainable, Tanja Joona emphasizes.

The JustNorth project is coordinated by Uppsala University and led by Associate Professor Corine Wood-Donnelly. The total budget of the project is 6 million euros, of which the University of Lapland’s share is just under one million euros. The implementation period is 1.6.2020 – 30.11.2023.

For more information: www.justnorth.eu

Text: Juulia Tikkanen, intern in JustNorth project spring 2022