Sámi democratic engagement in the energy transition: advancing justice, legitimacy and participatory governance (SAPMIDEM)

The project has four interconnected objectives:

  • developing a locally relevant articulation of 'just transition' in Sápmi;
  • analysing the impact of national permitting practices and EU-level corporate due diligence initiatives on enhancing Sámi democratic participation within existing national regulatory frameworks;
  • exploring systemic and structural changes needed at local, regional, and national levels for a just and legitimate energy transition in Sápmi; and
  • identifying strategies and best practices to facilitate Sámi democratic participation, justice, and legitimacy in the energy transition in the short and long term.

The project addresses a demonstrated democratic deficit in the Nordic countries concerning Sámi participation in resource development projects and legislative efforts.

The project's novelty lies in both its substantive and methodological aspects: 1) the topic of Sámi democratic engagement has not been previously studied, and 2) the project employs innovative methods, such as future scenarios and backcasting, previously unused in Sámi research, contributing to methodological development.

The project also advances the theory and practice of Sámi democratic engagement by incorporating gender as a central analytical lens in assessing Sámi democratic engagement vis-à-vis the energy transition. The research engages with deliberative theory, in particular feminist deliberative theory, which critiques standard deliberative theory for its limitations and omissions related to gender and other forms of marginalization, advocating for more pluralistic democratic deliberation. The project is informed by structural justice theory, focusing on the underlying structures and systems that produce and perpetuate social inequalities.

The research employs a range of methods, including qualitative interviews, focus groups, and community surveys, as well as innovative approaches such as collaborative, intersectional, gender-sensitive policy design and Indigenous futurities. The anticipated results will provide new knowledge for implementing an equitable transition, contributing to the development of a socially sustainable energy system.