Sami parliament braces for budget cuts in Finland

Sajos, the Sami cultural centre in Inari, Finland and home to the Sami Parliament in Finland.(Eilís Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)

The Sami Parliament in Finland is bracing for budget cuts as Helsinki seeks to reduce spending by 9 billion euros during its mandate.

“We are very concerned about how we will be able to perform our statutory duties next year,” Pirita Näkkäläjärvi, president of the Sami Parliament, said in a statement this week.

“The cuts will inevitably also have an impact on the language and cultural work of the Sámi assemblies. The sufferers are especially Sámi children, youth, and the next generations.”

National debt reduction measures

The government of Prime Minister Petteri Orpo announced the cuts in April, describing them as “difficult but necessary” to bring down debt.

At the end of 2023, Finland’s state debt was 156 billion euros, up from 54 billion euros in 2008, reported Yle News.

The education and health care sectors are also part of the budget reductions.

“We are starting to think about how much adaptation measures we are ready for without jeopardizing the Sámi Parliament’s ability to carry out its statutory duties and the realization of the rights belonging to the Sámi as an indigenous people,” Pirita Näkkäläjärvi, President of the Sámi Parliament in Finland, said. (Ville-Riiko Fofonoff / Sámediggi | Saamelaiskäräjät)

The Sami Parliament’s funding comes from a variety of sources, including the Department of Justice, Ministry of Education and Culture, and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, and the Board of Education.

The Sami Parliament’s budget is currently approximately 10 million euros.

“We haven’t been told the exact amount yet [to be cut],” Näkkäläjärvi said.

“It is known, however, that the cut to the funding coming through the Ministry of Justice is very significant.”

Cuts come at same time Sami regions increasingly come under pressure

The Sami Parliament in Finland is not a law-making body but defends Sami interests and plays a significant role in areas such as language, education, and culture.

Sami leaders have long warned that as climate change and commercial interest in Lapland grow in sectors ranging from industry to tourism, the parliament’s limited budget and small staff make it increasingly challenging to protect their lands and respond effectively to new developments.

“There are many processes in which the contribution of Sámi assemblies is needed,” Näkkäläjärvi said.

“Cutting resources would slow down and make it more difficult to go through these processes, which is certainly not appropriate. On the contrary, it should be ensured that the processes related to the use of land and water in particular are smooth and that the Sami Parliament can negotiate issues to ensure the rights of the Sámi.”

The Sami Parliament said as it waits for more precise figures, it is reviewing operations and considering adaptation measures.

Comments, tips or story ideas? Contact Eilís at eilis.quinn(at)

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Isolated and expensive, the N.W.T.’s Sahtu riding feels squeeze of climate change, CBC News

Finland: Sámi knowledge helps developing climate policies, The Independent Barents Observer

Greenland: Canada and Greenland sign letter of intent on marine conservation area in Arctic, Eye on the Arctic

RussiaOral histories unlock impact of climate change on nomadic life in Arctic Russia, says study, Eye on the Arctic

United States: Alaska senators seek 5-year Buy America waiver for Indigenous communities, Eye on the Arctic

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