On November 21st, 2023, Akordi released a new report examining the results of a collaborative process between wind power and reindeer herding.
You can download the report here [In Finnish – English version to appear later]
The transition to clean energy involves increasing usage of wind power and other renewable energy sources. However, if the social impacts of these new energy sources are not accounted for, there is a risk of conflicts arising from intersecting interests. Consequently, if the resulting conflicts are not considered and resolved, the transition may not proceed as planned.
Sparsely populated areas, such as reindeer herding territories, are considered attractive locations by the wind power industry. The challenge arises because these same areas are already used for reindeer herding, which requires stretches of unoccupied land. The wind power sector does not always recognize the unique position of reindeer herding, nor does it understand the significance of different regions for reindeer herding. These intersecting interests resulted in numerous local conflicts.
The report describes a stepwise process of building collaboration between the wind power industry and reindeer herding. As a result, tensions were eased, and recommendations for best practices in wind power planning and operation in reindeer herding areas were developed. Additionally, an inter-industry collaborative forum was established. What were once contentious individual projects have now evolved into collectively acceptable practices for development and implementation.
The process began in 2019, with key players including the Finnish Wind Power Association, the Reindeer Herders’ Association, and Akordi, an independent mediator specializing in negotiating solutions to environmental disputes.
The significance and impact of this work, carried out during the past four years, were the topic of a study funded by the Ministry of the Environment. The Tiina and Antti Herlin Foundation have also supported the work starting June 2023 with a grant to Akordi.
Views and experiences on the significance of the “collaborative intervention” were gathered from wind power stakeholders, reindeer herders, municipalities, and consultants specializing in the social and environmental impacts of wind power. According to the data collected, the most significant factors for building cooperation and trust in the work so far have been the constructive contacts between stakeholders, carefully prepared and executed interaction situations, and the increase in shared knowledge and understanding. Crucially, the work has laid the groundwork for better identifying critical areas for reindeer herding. Similarly, collaborative efforts have begun to develop solutions for compensating for the adverse effects on reindeer herding, such as restoring and rehabilitating pastures.
The long-term collaborative forum built on common understanding between reindeer herding and the wind power industry provides a promising example of a proactive approach to conflicts. This model is a concrete example of what does just energy transition look like on the ground.
The press release can be found on the Ministry of the Environment’s website [only in Finnish for now]
Finnish Wind Power Association
Reindeer Husbandry Advisor
Reindeer Herders’ Association