Oil and gas exploration immensely impacts the lives of indigenous peoples in the Arctic states, changing the natural surroundings they are used to and forcing them to change their lifestyle. In particular, the issue is relevant in the United States, Canada, Russia and Greenland.
"It is absolutely critical for member states [of the United Nations] and Arctic nations in particular to stand with the indigenous peoples of the Arctic region in order to ensure that external economic forces do not adversely affect the people," Darlene Dorough, chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues said during the forum's intersessional meeting in Russia's Salekhard.
Dorough noted, citing her personal experience, that climate change impacts peoples in the Arctic dramatically.
"I would very much like to underscore the significance of sustainable and equitable development, and also the right of the indigenous peoples to participate in the decisions that do [ have an] impact on them," Dorough said.
At the same meeting, Dmitry Kobylkin, governor of Russia's Yamal-Nenets autonomous district reaffirmed his commitment to protecting rights of the peoples of the northern regions in the context of the extraordinary oil and gas wealth of the region. He underscored that the district provides as much as 90 percent of Russia's natural gas production.
Dorough added that the policies of the Yamal-Nenets autonomous district on indigenous peoples issues may be taken as an example by other regions of the country.