This project saught to understand what decolonization could entail for the everyday practice of land use planning in Sami lands.
The rights of indigenous peoples in land and resource decisions have seen growing recognition in international law. To ensure implementation of the new norms, indigenous communities have called for decolonization of land use planning across sectors. Yet, policy reforms have mostly remained fragmented and piecemeal.
This project saught to understand what decolonization could entail for the everyday practice of land use planning in Sami lands (Sápmi). Building on long-term partnerships with Sami reindeer herding communities in Sweden and Finland, it addressed both the content of land use planning (how is land to be governed?) and the process of decolonization (how may such a future become possible?).
The research tasks were:
- to identify how land use planning institutions and practices would look if genuinely based on Sámi perspectives on international indigenous rights norms;
- to develop decolonizing methodologies to support Sámi communities, state actors and academia in dialogues to re-imagine land use planning.
The project has high relevance for all natural resource actors: national and regional authorities, Sámi actors, land owners, developers and local communities. The effectiveness and legitimacy of Swedish policies on climate change mitigation, bio-economy, sustainable mining and regional development ultimately depend on whether Sweden succeeds in reconciling Sami land use rights with economic interests in natural resources in the north.