Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 316

316         Arctic Yearbook 2014 Proposals For Enhancing Socio-Natural Capital Enhancing Public Participation The multiple stressors present in the European north and the complexity of the situation requires open, inclusive and democratic problem-solving mechanisms and partnerships. According to a questionnaire respondent “land use planning that has an open process is the way to avoid conflicts”. In the workshop it was emphasised that there is a need for an equal dialogue where all parties are respected with a confidence that their views are taken into account. This could close the gaps in socio-natural capital regarding lack of trust and discrepancies between participatory ideals and actual practice. According to a questionnaire respondent “Respect for the existing international legal regime, as well as the establishment of mechanisms that enhance the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in decision making is needed”. However, as noted in the workshop, increasing participation encounters some problems. Firstly, lack of trust results in negotiations that are not often based on mutual respect, reciprocal compromise-making and trust, but rather strategic behaviour to promote own interests. Secondly, the capacity of local actors in terms of time and capacity to take part in often rather technical discussions is limited. Thirdly, the actual effect of participatory processes on decisions is often blurred, and this further creates mistrust and feeling that local opinions are heard but not acknowledged. Fourthly, participation overload is possibly emerging when there are too many complex processes for an organization to follow and effectively contribute to – as is sometimes the case with the Sámi parliaments in Fennoscandia (Stepien et al. 2014). Finally, a questionnaire respondent, diverging from the other responses, stated that participatory structures are already in place and there is no need to develop new ones. Taking into account the above challenges for fair and balanced participation, the following proposals can be made to enhance socio-natural capital: (1) Use trust-building techniques to try to break existing interest positions and search synergies; (2) Explain a realistic scope of participation and how it effects, or not, actual decision making; (3) Improve capacity building to explain technical details and types of inputs the decision process requires. However, participation overload should be avoided, and thus it would seem feasible to invite people only when it is important for actual decisions and their legitimacy; (4) Try to build reciprocal relationships between conflicting parties. In land use this can mean that negotiation over several sites is partly resolved in the favour of one party in one area, and partly for another elsewhere. Stronger Institutionalization of Indigenous Rights It was emphasised in the workshop that decision-making processes need to take into account the connection of local cultures to traditional lands, especially in the case of indigenous peoples. According to one questionnaire respondent “Human rights and indigenous peoples’ rights to both land and culture must come first. Having these core issues respected will without doubt be the best way to avoid and resolve conflicts”. That line of argument continues to assert that due to the close relation between culture and environment, in the long term land use may adversely affect culture and identity. In the short term it has been argued that land use may threaten Sámi rights to practice their culture, especially reindeer Socio-Natural Capital for Sustainable Land Use in the Fennoscandia