Opening address 2013 Conference for Forum for Development Cooperation with Indigenous Peoples
Vice Rector for Education, UiT
Dear participants at the 2013 Forum Conference,
It is a great pleasure, and honour, for me to welcome you to Tromsø, and to the University of Tromsø – The Arctic University of Norway!
In the thirteen years that have passed since the Forum for Development Cooperation with Indigenous Peoples was established by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it has become an extremely important arena for Indigenous peoples, Indigenous peoples’ organisations, researchers, development workers and development managers engaged in North-South cooperation on development.
Through the key topics that have been addressed at the annual meetings, the Forum Conference has provided these diverse actors with a platform for discussing how national, bilateral and multilateral policies, actions and practices contribute to the capacity and capability of Indigenous peoples to exercise their right to development.
The main topic this year is Land and Sea Rights – Protecting the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to Land and Sea. The Circumpolar North is a region rich in resources, be it oil and gas, minerals or food. In a situation where the Global demand for these resources is higher than ever before, and where climate change makes new areas available for exploration and development, the question of rights to land and sea is more relevant than perhaps ever before. Just how relevant, will be highlighted by some of the presentations that you will be given during the two conference days.
In order to understand mechanisms, and develop the tools needed to address these challenges, taking the comparative approach often provides invaluable insight. It is therefore an immense strength for this year’s conference that Abraham Korir Sing’Oei, advocate of the High Court of Kenya, international human rights law expert, and Member of Parliament in Kenya, and Kelly Askew, associate professor, and director at the African Studies Center at the University of Michigan, have agreed to participate, and share their knowledge and expertise with us.
I wish you all productive days in Tromsø!
And with that, I give the floor to Aili Keskitalo, President of the Sámi Parliament, Norway.