Finnish researcher pushes traditional knowledge
A Finnish scientist wants the United Nations to encourage the use of traditional knowledge in research projects on climate change in the north.
Tero Mustonene is a teacher at the Tampere Polytechnic in Finland. He's also the manager of the "Snowchange" project.
The project brings together observations on climate change from Inuit, Saami, First Nations, and other indigenous groups from Russia to Alaska.
Mustonene says the "Snowchange" group has recently drafted a simple, two-page declaration on traditional knowledge that it will present to the United Nations. A more complete document will follow, he says.
"There will be a more detailed version for the scientists, which outlines basically the relevance of elders, the relevance of traditional knowledge in the ecological and spiritual and other aspects of northern life," he says. "The current way of climate change documentation, the mainstream activities don't recognize this."
The acting executive director at the Nunavut research institute says Inuit have had more of a say in climate change research in recent years.
But Mary Ellen Thomas says there still room for improvement, and a declaration from the United Nations would help.
"The more that we actually hear the voices of the people who live in this climate and who watch the weather and have watched it over 30-40 years of their lives, the more that we will have valid information that blends both the traditional knowledge and the science point of view," she says. "So I think that's an excellent project."
Mustonene says the draft declaration will be presented to northern communities this spring, and to the United Nation's permanent forum on indigenous issues in New York this summer.
Mustonene hopes it will ensure that the views of northern indigenous peoples are included in research on climate change in the arctic.