SLU news

Rights-based land use dialogues – essential for enabling a just green transition

Published: 11 April 2023
Kaisa Raitio, Annette Löf.

Northern Sweden is expected to play a strategic role in Sweden as well as Europe’s green transition. Yet, conflicts around diverging needs are already materializing and, if left unaddressed, will seriously impede transition efforts.

This blogpost is written by Kaisa Raitio and Annette Löf, researchers at Mistra Environmental Communication. It is available in its entirety in Swedish, accessible by changing the language settings in the menu above.

A major challenge ahead is therefore to make sure that land use decisions related to the green transition are perceived as fair and legitimate, particularly by those who will be impacted the most. One such group includes the Indigenous Sámi reindeer herding communities, whose livelihood depends on continued access to land for grazing. Respecting and protecting Sámi land rights is therefore a critical component in enabling a just green transition in Sweden. While the Nordic countries are renowned internationally for their commitment to justice and human rights, our research in Mistra Environmental Communication points to major deficits in how Sámi rights are currently recognized and respected in land use planning and consultation processes. In this blog post, we therefore examine what a rights-based approach to land use dialogues could entail and how it differs from today’s (state mandated) corporate consultations between industrial forest owners and Sámi reindeer herding communities. In order to realize a just green transition globally, we need to demonstrate that Indigenous rights and a green transition are possible to combine also in Northern Europe. Here, rights-based dialogues could play an important role.