This week university students, young decision makers and opinion builders from North America, Northern Europe and Russia meet in the snowy and icy (-34 degrees Celcius during the weekend, according to weather reports!!) Jokkmokk [map] in the North of Sweden, for the annual Jokkmokk Winter Conference, which has climate change as its main focus.
Places like Jokkmokk, in the (sub)Arctic regions, expect to feel many effects of climate change. For example fishing, forestry, energy production, tourism and reindeer herding will be affected.
The aim of this conference is, as quoted from the conference’s own website:
“… to offer young people an opportunity of working with the future, meeting friends and developing new strategies and initiatives for the North. Their recommendations and demands will be handed over and discussed with governmental representatives from Sweden, Norway, Finnland, Canada and the US.”
During the week there have been seminars about how to adapt to the impacts of a warmer climate, about how indigenous rights can be strengthened in Laponia (like for example solving co-existence issues in the World Heritage area) and meetings between ambassadors, politicians and youth representatives.
Unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to go there myself. But according to a friend who has been there several times, it’s one of those rare places where people from very different backgrounds and sectors actually do meet and become friends. She told me about a Canadian mayor eagerly discussing city planning with a group of hardcore environmental activists. That very same mayor later became an excellent contact for my friend, when helping a small Swedish city with their climate and city planning.
The conference is part of the annual Jokkmokk Winter Market , which has a history going back to 1605. The purpose at that time was actually to strengthen the state’s control of the population in the north as well as to collect taxes, hold legal court and spread the Word of God.
Nowadays it is rather an opportunity to show a northern way of life and celebrate Sámi culture and handicraft, gathering about 40.000 visitors every year.
More interesting articles in Swedish media (In Swedish, but can be autotranslated here):
Radio Sweden: Sami mining protest in Arctic Sweden
Miljöaktuellt: No big success for electric cars in Sweden
DN: Swedes eat more fat
Svenska Dagbladet: Swedes eat more meat
Göteborgs-Posten: Endangered maned wolves born in Swedish zoo