Insight from Sápmi Business Conference

Quis nostStorebrand Asset Management had the privilege to participate in the Sápmi Business Conference, which was organized by Ovddos, Nordic Innovation, Innovation Norway, the Sámi Parliament Norway, Barents Secretariat and The Community Pledge. Representatives of the Sámi population, ministries and businesses gathered in the heart of Sápmi Guovdageainnus/Kautokeino to discuss value creation that reinforces the Sámi culture.rud fadderullandei. Pax romanum est pacificae. Snufs og hufsa latterandum pesimes. Slax neofix storumblocksum est upidae.

By  Sunniva Bratt Slette

Sámi representatives from Norway, Finland and Sweden were active both on stage and in the audience, with the unfortunate exception of the Russian Sámi delegation that were hindered due to sanctions following the Russian-Ukrainian war.

A conference program packed with fascinating speakers, ranging from Sámi handcrafters, reindeer herders and the democratically elected Sámi Parliament to exploration legends like Lars Monsen, mental coach Erik Bertrand Larssen and the CEO of the world's thinnest tablet, ReMarkable. Local youth shone with sky high ambitions, ranging from innovations in traditional handcraft to the tech startup Tundra Drone that delivers the world's brightest auto moving drone lights [3]. The dialogues of the conference reflected a deep understanding of nature, culture and tradition, worry over climate change that is already causing significant impacts on Sámi lands and livelihoods, curiosity linked to new technologies like electrical snowmobiles and drones for more efficient reindeer herding.

The Norwegian Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development recently launched a report which is available in Norwegian, "Samisk språk, kultur og samfunnsliv — Næringsgrunnlag for levende samiske lokalsamfunn". The report concludes that sustainable business development should be possible if we learn from the Sámi expression "birgejupmi", which can be translated to "to manage with limited means". "Birgejupmi" represents the perspectives of eternity, inter-generational transfer of knowledge, nature's regenerative power, moderation in the use of natural resources, using only what you need and the establishment of a circular economy¹. These are values that modern society need to adapt and incorporate in cities and communities to run sustainably over time.

Storebrand aims to be a trusted partner in sustainable investing, which means that both environmental, social and governance considerations need to be satisfactory. Two examples show why all three aspects matter: Firstly, renewable energy sometimes comes in conflict with human rights, as has been seen in Norway, Finland and Sweden when land-based wind power projects are constructed in vulnerable natural habitats that are used by Sámi reindeer herders. Secondly, valuable minerals may typically be found in similar areas, adding to the pressure on Sámi traditional livelihoods and culture. To protect the human rights of the Sámi indigenous people to maintain their culture and exercise their traditional livelihoods, it is essential that Sámi rights-holders are consulted on any business projects that may impact them, with the aim of obtaining their free, prior and informed consent. Potential conflicts of interests between business activities and indigenous people's rights must be fully discussed and analyzed in advance of any decision. Value creation is only truly valuable when all affected parties gain from the business development. See the Storebrand Sustainable Insight Report, page 7, for more information on the work of our Risk and Ownership team's active ownership dialogues related to the rights of the Sámi people. For in-depth insight in the juridical elements of Sámi human rights linked to natural resource and area exploitation, the report "Menneskerettslig vern mot inngrep i samiske bruksområder" is useful (only available in Norwegian).

A specific case that was discussed at the conference was the Nussir mining project in which the copper smelting and refining company Aurubis AG withdrew from the memorandum of understanding to be a supplier to the mine. The project is planned to be the world's first fully electric mine with zero CO2 emissions, which is a quantum leap forward to get environmentally sustainable mining. However, the social aspects linked to unwanted intervention in Sámi territory was not satisfactory handled, so Aurubis decided to withdraw after a thorough due diligence process² [7]. Aurubis is a holding company in the fund Storebrand Global Solutions, included in Q1 2022 for its role as a battery and copper recycling firm and a major supplier of copper to electrical power cables worldwide. The fact that the company's comprehensive sustainability targets and ESG policies work in practice is an important confirmation that the holistic approach to sustainable investing is what counts for the long term investor.

¹ Kommunal- og moderniseringsdepartementet, Samisk språk, kultur og samfunnsliv — Næringsgrunnlag for levende samiske lokalsamfunn
² Aurubis, Press Release

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