Sustainable indigenous employment and entrepreneurship should be based on languages and cultures

Business opportunities for indigenous peoples of Russia were addressed at a side event in the UN European headquarters. Different stakeholders from private sector, government, the World Bank and civil society answered the same question - how to use best existing promising practices and how indigenous business could become profitable and instrumental for the communities. 


The speakers introduced local cultural aspects of businesses as opportunities through development of handicraft activities, development of local tourism that involves indigenous communities, studies on good practices realized locally. Representative of the World Bank raised the crucial issue on how to design investment projects that benefit indigenous peoples and address economic development issues under a sustainable perspective, which would not weaken indigenous peoples' cultural identity with regards to their collective rights. 


Mention has been made on how to gather the youth into economical local development and make flourish the local activities by avoiding loss of traditional cultural knowledge and rural migration to cities. Another speaker presented the positive case of cooperation between Sakhalin energy company and indigenous communities in Siberia, with local projects that ensure to indigenous communities their right to FPIC.


The event was hosted by the Center for Support of Indigenous Peoples and Civic Diplomacy Young Karelia and the International Consultative Committee of Finno-Ugric Peoples with the support of the Russian permanent mission to the United Nations.

Main findings of the event: 

1.    Special attention should be paid to the collection of statistical data in the context of the socio-economic situation of indigenous peoples, since the lack of municipal, regional and country statistics makes it difficult to formulate and adopt strategic decisions on various aspects of the life of indigenous peoples. Speakers also noted that indigenous youth often prefer economic benefits and good jobs to adherence to their culture and traditional economic activities. Indirect causes of this choice are loss of language, difficult access to quality education and medicine in places of traditional residence.

2.    Speakers noted the importance of rethinking the approaches to work with the cultural heritage of indigenous peoples. Many indigenous peoples and state institutions pay the most attention to the preservation of traditions, while it is necessary to work on actualizing the cultural heritage of indigenous peoples and integrating traditional knowledge and culture into their daily lives. Particular attention should be paid to the study of positive practices of cooperation of artisans, designers, cultural managers in the field of actualization of cultural heritage.

3.    Speakers called on states and indigenous peoples of the Arctic to solve the problem of low profitability, and often loss of business based on traditional activities of indigenous peoples, including reindeer herding and plants gathering. They noted the high level of subsidies given by the regional authorities to the development of communities, but they made it clear that they would also help the indigenous people to find jobs in the extractive, energy and tourism industries.

4. Experts identified tourism as a promising area that could support and develop indigenous communities, promote the preservation and popularization of traditional knowledge and cultural heritage. Tourism is one of the most sustainable spheres of indigenous owned businessed, since it leans on culture and languages. There should be more such spheres, which can employ indigenous youth without the loss of identity and assimilation to the dominand population. 

This material has been prepared with the assistance of DOCIP.