The Arctic railway project from Rovaniemi, Finland to Kirkenes, Norway caused heated debate in Europe until it was tanked by a government report in February for being economically unviable.
Business people and northern politicians denounced the decision saying the project was needed to ensure the prosperity and economic development of their regions.
But Saami communities, an Indigenous people whose traditional homeland spans Arctic Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia’s Kola Peninsula, a region they call Sapmi, breathed a sigh of relief.
They’d spoken out against the project for over two years saying the railway would divide their lands, harm their reindeer and cause irrevocable damage to traditional hunting and fishing.
But that all changed this May when celebrity entrepreneur Peter Vesterbacka, the marketing mastermind behind the Angry Birds mobile game, took the stage at the Arctic Business Forum in Rovaniemi, Finland and made an announcement that sent shockwaves across Sapmi.
The working group report was wrong about the project’s economic potential, he said, and he was going to relaunch the project to prove it.
Now that the Arctic railway project is back from the dead, do Europe’s Saami communities stand a chance?… more