Chapter 2. Linking the Sami with regional and rural development policies and programmes

This chapter reflects on how the Sami are included in regional and rural development policies and how this shapes Sami contributions, livelihoods and outcomes. It describes Sami affairs in national and EU policies and regional and local affairs. It explores how the Sami could be better linked with regional development efforts with a particular focus on land management and reindeer herding. Finally, it recommends how policies and programmes could be better structured in order to create an enabling environment for Sami businesses and livelihoods.


Northern Sweden faces unique challenges related to sparsity and remoteness and at the same time has unique strengths – the collective assets of the Sami form one of these strengths. The Sami economy in northern Sweden tends to involve small businesses that are grounded in an ethos of sustainability and that emphasise connections to culture. In order to ensure that regional development works for all, it is important to understand how the policy environment shapes the opportunities for Sami businesses and communities in northern Sweden. This entails a wide range of policies – some that are place-based and others that are not. This chapter examines the rural and regional policy environment in northern Sweden and its connections to the Sami community and economic development.

Recent reforms present an opportunity to strengthen these connections. Directly elected County Councils, governments on a regional level, or indirectly elected Regional Co-operation Bodies, consisting of the municipalities in the region have gradually taken over responsibility for regional development over almost 20 years from decentralised national administrations (representatives of the national government in the regions called County Administrative Boards). In recent years there has only been a movement towards County Councils. From 1 January 2019, County Councils will be responsible for regional growth in all 21 counties (with the exception of the island of Gotland where the municipality has the responsibility of a County Council as well). (Sveriges Riksdag, 2018[1]). This presents an opportunity to better connect the Sami with regional development efforts and to build new partnerships with them. Doing so requires that the framework conditions are in place. As will be discussed, the Sami economy is not at present realising its potential. There is a lack of data and information about the Sami economy and about Sami culture and society more generally (as noted in Chapter 1). This has contributed to a lack of visibility of the Sami within regional and rural development efforts in northern Sweden. Enhancing awareness and developing stronger partnerships between the Sami and the national, and regional and local governments is critical in order to build a shared vision and establish priorities for the future.

Another recent reform has been the adoption of a new rural policy in Sweden (adopted in June 2018) (Sveriges Riksdag, 2018[2]). The new rural policy aims to achieve a viable rural area with equal opportunities for entrepreneurship, work, housing and well-being that leads to long-term sustainable development throughout the country. Prior to its adoption, rural policy in Sweden was addressed by a bundle of measures, (mainly the European Union (EU) Rural Development Programme and other measures within other policy areas such as regional policy). The new rural policy ushers in a coherent and comprehensive national approach with goals decided upon by the parliament (which is stronger than decisions by the government alone). Within this new policy environment, the regional level has an important role; regions are responsible for co-ordinating regional growth (at the regional level) and for developing and implementing a regional development strategy (RUS) that includes the rural perspective.

This chapter outlines this policy environment. It reflects on how the Sami are included in regional and rural development policies and how this shapes Sami contributions, livelihoods and outcomes. The chapter begins by describing Sami affairs in national and EU policies before proceeding to how they are reflected in regional and local affairs. It then discusses how the Sami could be better linked with regional development efforts with a particular focus on land management and reindeer herding. The chapter ends by outlining how policies and programmes could be better structured in order to create an enabling environment for Sami businesses and livelihoods. Related to these issues, the final chapter of this report (Chapter 3 on governance) reflects on how the Sami – as a group of diverse individuals and institutions – could have stronger linkages to regional development and be better included in decision making on the issues that impact them.

The multi-level governance framework for rural and regional development – Sami affairs at the national, regional and local levels

A wide range of polices across levels of government shape rural and regional development outcomes in northern Sweden and in turn, impact the enabling environment for Sami businesses and communities. These extend from national sectoral policies (e.g. infrastructure development, natural resources exploitation, environmental policies and supports for business development) and frameworks for regional and rural development – to policies and services at the regional/county and municipal levels. This policy environment structures how Sami rights are realised in practice, how services are delivered, and the types of business supports that are on offer. This section outlines this policy environment and governance framework while reflecting on how the Sami are included within it.

Sweden has three levels of government – national, regional (County Councils) and local (municipality) – as well as representatives of the national government in the regions (County Administrative Boards [CABs], regional state agencies). The national government shapes rural and regional development accordingly to the goals decided upon by the parliament. The goal for the rural policy is for rural areas to have equal opportunities for enterprise, work, housing and welfare that lead to long-term sustainable development throughout the country. Beyond this, the rural policy’s sub targets set goals for sustainable growth; a circular, bio-based and fossil-free economy; and the creation of attractive rural environments to live and work.1 The national policy goal for regional development is to develop the potential in all parts of the country with stronger local and regional competitiveness.

The national government specifies the regional policy through the National Strategy for Sustainable Regional Growth and Attractiveness. The National Strategy for Sustainable Regional Growth and Attractiveness 2015-20 sets the direction for the alignment and implementation of regional growth efforts as well as the involvement of state authorities in the work with regional growth. It is also binding for how the national funding for regional growth measures should be used. Regional growth policy is also closely integrated with the implementation of EU cohesion policy for regional growth and employment.

Both the main goals in these policy areas as well as the sub-targets within rural policy and the priorities within regional policy are cross-sectoral and therefore these two policy areas need to involve many other policy areas as well as different levels of government and other actors. This means that sectoral co-ordination and multi-level governance are central. Sectoral co-ordination requires cross-sectoral governance as well as interaction between actors in different sectors. Multi-level governance involves co-operation between actors at different levels but also the management of resources and governance of state agencies. Here the regulation of work with regional growth is important. Initiatives within these policy areas are funded by both national funding and EU-funds. But just as important are the resources within all expenditure areas and policy areas.

Beyond these policies, the national government also shapes regional and rural development through other sectoral supports and, importantly, through the manner in which Sami rights are recognised and related obligations are delivered (e.g. in terms of the protection of language and culture). European Union programme objectives and funding are also important in this regard, both in terms of programmes for regional and rural development and for cross border collaboration (which address Sami affairs).

Figure 2.1. Multilevel governance in Sweden from 1 January 2019

At the regional level, directly elected County Councils – which were formally largely focused on delivering healthcare – will soon take on responsibilities for regional development. These reforms have taken place over a period of 20 years, some counties at a time; but from the 1 January 2019 County Councils will have the responsibility in all 21 counties (except in the municipality of the island of Gotland which also has the responsibility of a County Council). The strategic objectives, programmes and funding of the national government structures opportunities at the regional and local level – but regions themselves elaborate regional development strategies and this presents an opportunity to strengthen relations with the Sami at this level. Municipalities also matter for regional development; they, for instance, provide services for the Sami related to language rights and are therefore important for cultural reproduction. This section discusses how each level of government shapes the inclusion of the Sami in rural and regional development policies.

The national government sets rights frameworks for the Sami and structures national, regional and rural development policies

Rights frameworks for Sami shape economic development and self determination

As noted in Chapter 1, how Sami rights are recognised is critical for shaping Indigenous identity, self-determination and economic relations. It also shapes how policies are structured and delivered. The core rights framework for the Sami recognises them at once as an Indigenous people and as a national minority and there are state obligations associated with each connotation. In terms of national minority rights, the state has an obligation to promote the ability of Sami and other national minorities to maintain and develop their culture and language in Sweden. In terms of Sami rights as an Indigenous people, a major distinction is made is between those Sami with membership in Sami reindeer herding communities (sameby) and those without. Those without membership do not for example, have rights to consultation over large scale mining and energy projects that impact land use and the environment, other than rights as a regular citizen.

These rights (as national minorities and as Indigenous peoples), alongside remnants of old colonisation and guardian policies, in turn, have implications at the operational/policy level. The Sami Parliament has purview over matters concerning reindeer herding, compensation for damage caused by predators, and Sami language and culture – but not sole purview. County Administrative Boards are for instance responsible for hunting and fishing licences. At the more operational level, the manner in which the totality of these rights are applied is embedded in both relevant acts and regulations and then reflected in how policies and programmes are delivered – from the national down to the local levels.

Responsibilities for Sami affairs extend across a number of national ministries

There are a number of ministries in Sweden which are important for Sami affairs but the Ministry of Culture is recognised as the lead ministry in these matters. In all countries with Indigenous populations, Indigenous affairs will be relevant to a range of ministries/portfolios. In countries such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand, there is a minister assigned specifically for Indigenous affairs.2 In Sweden, there is no single minister for Sami affairs and this is in turn reflected in both legislative frameworks and polices. There are benefits and drawbacks to this approach. On the one hand, Sami issues touch on a range of topics and as such, it makes sense to have this reflected across a number of ministries. On the other hand, it can be difficult to obtain a comprehensive picture of government actions on Sami affairs and how the range of policies complement or detract from one another – co-ordination challenges inherently arise.

There is no collection of Sami legislation in one place which makes is hard to provide an overview of Sami rights and understand how the Sami should participate in decision making. The government of Sweden is generally characterised by a joint-decision making process wherein every minister is equally responsible for every decision and can be held accountable. Thus, there is no single point in the ministries accountable for all decisions about Sami affairs or monitoring a cohesive Sami perspective on different decisions in other sectoral policies affecting Sami affairs. As will be discussed in Chapter 3, this makes it more difficult to have Sami interests reflected in government policy because the Sami – as a relatively small group with limited resources – are asked to consult or need to pay attention to a wide range of laws, programmes and policies that may impact upon. Table 2.1 outlines the Swedish ministries that have responsibilities for some aspects of Sami affairs alongside the relevant acts/legislation. There are established channels of communication or co-operation between the Sami Parliament and the ministries noted in Table 2.1 with the exception of the Ministry of Justice, where none presently exists.

Table 2.1. Key Swedish ministries for Sami affairs



Sami affairs

Relevant acts


Culture, media, democracy, human rights at national level and religious communities

National minorities and the language and culture of the Sami people. Provides funding for Sami culture and Sami organisations. The Sami Parliament of Sweden, as an agency of government, reports to the Ministry of Culture.

Language Acts in Northern, Lule and Southern Sami; Act on National Minorities and Minority Languages. Sami Parliament Act.

Education and Research

Education, research and youth policy

Sami School Board – state school authority – Sami children with a Sami-oriented education and to contribute to preserving and developing the Sami language and the Sami culture.

Education Act; Sami school ordinance; Act on National Minorities and Minority Languages

Enterprise and Innovation

Business sector, housing and transport, information and communications technology (ICT), regional growth and rural policy

Responsible for fisheries, hunting and reindeer husbandry policies for Sami. Responsible for rural and regional development policies – this includes Sami projects. Sami right to use land and water for Sami to conduct reindeer herding is protected in law under the Reindeer Husbandry Act of 1971. The act states that land uses that jeopardise reindeer husbandry are not permitted and infringements on rights must be compensated in accordance with the regulation on expropriation. Partly provides funding for The Sami Foundation that decides for themselves if to promote reindeer husbandry, Sami culture and Sami organisations with the available funding.

Reindeer Husbandry Act and Reindeer Ordinance, the Planning and Building Act, the Minerals Act, Forestry Act

Environment and Energy

Environmental, energy and climate policy

Rights to consultation by sameby before any decision is taken regarding land use as relates to planning and building, mineral development, environmental code, forestry, power line projects (the sameby as concerned stakeholder). Reindeer herding is protected in the environmental code.

The Environmental code; Electricity Act


Fundamental laws

The constitution stipulates that the Sami people’s opportunities to keep and develop their cultural- and community life shall be promoted and that the Sami right to reindeer husbandry is regulated in law

Swedish Constitution.

Swedish Constitution

Health and Social Affairs

Social welfare, including health promotion and healthcare

The overall national objective of public health policy is to create conditions in society enabling the entire population to enjoy good health on the same terms. For the Sami, the government has authorised a grant of SEK 3.7 million toward the establishment of a network on Sami health issues in the aim of the project is to increase the availability of healthcare taking into account Sami language and culture.

Patient Act, Health and Medical Services Act

Sami affairs at the national level focus on language and cultural policies, reindeer husbandry and consultation on matters involving Sami

There are three main areas of responsibility for Sami affairs that inform the nature of regional and local/rural policies. The first pertains to Sami culture and language policies which are overseen by the Ministry of Culture and largely implemented by the Sami Parliament which is an elected representative body of the Sami people but at the same time a national state agency of the Swedish government. The Sami Parliament is tasked by the government to promote Sami culture and is mandated to make decisions about the distribution of state funds from the Sami Fund for Culture and Organisations, and other state funds. The regulation for regional growth work (Förordning (2017:583) om regionalt tillväxtarbete) is one way in which the regional policy and its national strategy is implemented. For example, this regulation states that relevant actors at the national, regional and local level should be involved in the cross-sectoral work on regional growth; that the regional strategic plans (RUS) should be developed with relevant actors and; that the finalised plan must be sent to them – e.g. including the Sametinget. The regulation does also state that state agencies should be involved and contribute to the goal of regional growth policy.

Within regional and rural policy, the Sami Parliament is also a Competent Authority for the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and a member of the Monitoring Committee for the regional development programme (RDP). In the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), they are also a part of the Monitoring Committee. It is also mandated to appoint a board for the state agency the Sami School Board (Sameskolstyrelsen), decide upon goals for and guide the work on the Sami language and to ensure Sami interests and needs are taken into consideration in such areas as reindeer husbandry and the use of land and water.3 These policies are critical for the reproduction of Sami language and culture, economic development and self-determination. The dual role of the Sami Parliament is important to note; it acts as a voice for the Sami people in Sweden, but it is not an independent voice as they are also an agency of government that implements government policies and manages government funds. As such, the scope for the Sami Parliament to advocate for policy positions that contradict the Government is reduced (Lawrence and Mörkenstam, 2016[3]).

The second main area of responsibility relates to the practice of reindeer husbandry and rights to hunting and fishing. The Swedish government annually allocates approximately SEK 113 million for various forms of remuneration to the reindeer husbandry. These include compensation for example, the presence of predators. While the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation is responsible for fisheries, hunting and reindeer husbandry policies for the Sami, the Sami Parliament also bears some responsibility for ensuring these rights.4 This pertains to such matters as the monitoring of the stock of reindeer and their health, tracking of the impact of predators on reindeer and compensation for predators. In terms of the division of responsibilities, the Sami Parliament is responsible for, for example, the geographical division of samebyar, while County Administrative Boards are responsible for deciding the maximum number of reindeers in each sameby. These two elements are related to one another and require co-ordination.

A third major area of policy for the government relates to rights to consultation on matters impacting Sami. For example, Sweden’s Environmental Code (Chapter 3, Section 5) outlines protections for land and water areas that are important for reindeer husbandry (as well as for commercial fishing and aquaculture). Beyond this, acts on land use planning, forestry, minerals, infrastructure and the prevention and limitation of chemical accidents, are connected to provisions in the Environmental Code and are important in terms of how they govern land use issues – including on reindeer herding lands. On land use issues, there is a distinction between those Sami who are members of reindeer herding communities and those who are not. In terms of the principle of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), Sweden’s interpretation is that this is an important principle. In Sweden’s Explanation of Vote at the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, the Swedish Government stated that the duty of States to consult and co-operate with Indigenous peoples “does not entail a collective right to a veto”. Rather, the principle of “Free, Prior and Informed Consent” is interpreted as a means to achieve a consultative process, not a standalone right. This is a critical area of policy because access to grazing is fundamental to the practice of reindeer husbandry. For example, all infrastructure projects that have the potential to disrupt the grazing grounds and migration of reindeer along with forestry practices, mining and energy projects all require some element of consultation with sameby in order to ensure compatibility of use.

The formality within the law in terms of how consultation rights are treated in this sectoral legislation differs. For example, there is no law that directly addresses Sami land rights in infrastructure planning. For both road and railway planning, there is a mandatory process of consultation, treating land owners and use-holders (i.e. holders of beneficial rights) including samebyar, equally. When the Swedish Transport Agency launches a new infrastructure project in reindeer grazing areas, consultations with the affected samebyar are held but these are non-binding on outcomes. While reindeer herding is recognised as an industry of national interest, so too is mining. If there is an area with a national interest for the reindeer husbandry that might be affected, the Sami Parliament is also involved in the consultation process. Some Swedish ministries and agencies are presently developing guidelines on how to engage with the Sami which could bring more consistency to this process. For example, the Swedish Transport Administration in the midst of developing a standardised and established approach to consultations on reindeer husbandry and infrastructure. The CAB has the task to ensure that the national interest of reindeer herding is considered in planning and permits. Sometimes the CAB also balances national interests of different kinds against each other and makes an assessment on which is the most sustainable.

Box 2.1. The dual role of the Swedish Sami Parliament – Elected body and agency of government

The Sami Parliament in Sweden is unique in its dual role. As an elected political body, it has a mandate to advocate for Sami affairs, including as a voice of critique against the Swedish government. At the same time, it is reliant on the government for its funding and, as government authority, bears responsibility for a range of activities and programmes in such areas as social planning, Sami business, landscape protection/drainage, rural development, the promotion of Sami cultural expressions, and the protection of cultural heritage, leading the Sami language work, Nordic co-operation across Sapmi, human rights, minority issues and Indigenous peoples’ issues. The Sami parliament’s role in these various areas has increased over time, particularly with regards to its obligations to consult with a wide range of actors – e.g. the national, regional and local governments, mining and energy firms.

Table 2.2 provides an overview of the Sami Parliament’s budget in 2016. The largest budget area by far (57% out of total) relates to the Parliament’s work supporting the reindeer husbandry industry; this includes providing reindeer herders with compensation for game injury and loss by predators (which has been growing in recent years, with different regions impacted to different extents). This work is supported by the “Sami Fund” – a fund intended to promote and support the Reindeer herding, Sami culture and Sami organisations. The fund’s income consists of interest, damages for intrusions (e.g. mining, motorways, aviation) and fees for leases, hunting and fishing, and land sales. The government, based on a proposal from the Executive Board of the Sami Fund, determines on annual basis a maximum amount that may be submitted as a contribution from the fund.

The political activities of the Sami Parliament account for approximately one-fifth of the budget while measures for national minorities, which primarily related to the promotion of the Sami language, account for 18% out of the total budget and contributions to general cultural activities, development and international cultural exchange and co-operation, 8% out of the total budget. The Sami Parliament’s most recent budgetary documents (2018-20) express that “with the current workload and resource allocation, the Sami Parliament cannot fully fulfil its statutory role – neither at the official level nor at the political level” (Sametinget, 2018, p. 7[4]). A 2011 report by the UN Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of Indigenous peoples echoes this view, stating that, in Sweden, “the Sami Parliament receives funding principally to carry its obligations as a government agency, but has minimal funding for its work as an independent publicly elected body” (Anaya, 2011, p. 12[5]).

Table 2.2. Overview of Sami Parliament Budget, 2018, SEK thousand


Percentage of total

Sami Parliament

52 401


Measures for national minorities

32 000


Contribution to general cultural activities, development and international cultural exchange and co-operation

17 800


Supports for reindeer husbandry

113 900



216 101

Sources: For table: Appropriation direction regarding Sami Parliament (2018), appropriation regarding 7:1 and 7:2 Measures for national minorities (2018), appropriation regarding 1:22 Supports for reindeer husbandry (2018).

Sametinget (2018[4]), Budgetunderlag 2018-2020, (accessed on 26 March 2018), p. 9; Anaya, J. (2011[5]), “Human Rights Council Eighteenth Session; Promotion and protection of all human rights: The situation of the Sami people in the Sápmi region of Norway, Sweden and Finland”, (accessed on 08 April 2018).

In terms of rights to consultation as a national minority group, the Act on National Minorities, aims to create a balance between the consideration of minority and majority interest. Consultations provide a way to capture Sami interests in this regard and can counter conflicts in the local community (Hagsgård, 2016[6]). In practice, the manner in which such consultations are conducted can differ considerable depending on the issue and the place. The Ministry of Culture is presently working on an Act on Consultation which will outline the duty of the government and agencies to consult with the Sami Parliament, samebyar and other Sami organisations on matters outlined in the act. It is anticipated that these guidelines will help to bring more rigour and consistency to the process.

European Structural and Investment Funds are an integrated part of Sweden’s national regional growth policy

Sami affairs are also reflected in regional and rural policies at the national level in Sweden. Both national rural and regional policy as well as the EU-funded parts of these policies fund and support rural and regional development within the Sami society in such areas as tourism, businesses within duodji, etc. However, the connections are not always as direct as in the above-mentioned policy areas. The remainder of this chapter examines the manner in which these connections could be better recognised and reinforced within regional and rural development efforts.

The European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) are the EU’s main investment tool to deliver on the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy which are to foster competitiveness, knowledge and innovation; strengthen the sustainable and efficient use of resources for sustainable growth; and increase employment, promote employability and improve access to the labour market. There are three main funds which are important in the Swedish context: the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). All three funds support regional and rural development activities across the three northern regions. The largest fund among these is the EAFRD, which accounts for 55% of total ESIF funds in the 2014-20 programming period (Table 2.3). In Sweden, a large share of ERDF for the period 2014-20 has been allocated to regions in Northern Sparsely Populated Areas (45%), while the share of ESF allocated to these regions is relatively small (7% of the total) (compared to their share of the national population which is 9.1%) (OECD, 2017[7]).

Regional and rural development policies are both overseen in Sweden by the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation (Figure 2.2 and Figure 2.3). The member state and the European Commission form a partnership agreement regarding how the ERDF and EAFRD will be operationalised in the Swedish context (this is true also of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and European Social Fund (ESF). This includes identifying the strategic areas of focus, and how the fund will be prioritised and delivered across different regional areas. Historically, Sweden has a relatively centralised approach to strategic planning and policy development in an OECD context (OECD, 2017, p. 195[7]). This helps Sweden to deliver equitable levels of infrastructure and services across the national territory; but may also diminish the capacity to adapt polices to the needs and circumstances of different places. Beyond this, there is a general guiding ethos that programmes and services should work for all – that is, that certain segments of society (e.g. Sami, migrants) should not be specifically targeted.5

Table 2.3. Components of the European Structural and Investment funds, Sweden, 2014-20 programming period

ESI fund


EU and national contributions

(EUR millions)

Total funding amount

(EUR millions)

Percentage out of total ESI funds for 2014-20

European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)

Focuses on resolving the particular challenges facing the EU’s rural areas; agricultural competitiveness and environmental issues and rural development

EU: 1763.6

SW: 2647.9



European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

Strengthens economic and social cohesion within the EU by reducing regional disparities. Invests in growth and employment to strengthen regional development in a sustainable way

EU: 934.8

SW: 961.2



European Social Fund (ESF)

Supports employment-related projects throughout Europe and invests in Europe’s human capital – its workers, its young people and all those seeking a job

EU: 719.9

SW: 719.9



European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF)

Helps fishermen to adopt sustainable fishing practices and coastal communities to diversify their economies, improving quality of life along European coasts

EU: 120.2

SW: 52.7



Youth Employment Initiative (YEI)

Supports young people not in employment, education or training in regions experiencing youth unemployment rates above 25%

EU: 88.3

SW: 44.2



Note: The European Territorial Cooperation (Interreg) is not included in the numbers for ERDF. The YEI is not traditionally thought of as one of the five core ESI funds; it is a special fund for the 2014-20 perspective and includes joint initiatives with the ESF.

Source: European Structural and Investments Funds (2018[8]), ESIF 2014-2020 Finances Planned Details - Data, (accessed on 13 April 2018).

In the past decades, there has been greater decentralisation of roles and responsibilities related to regional development, which has resulted in a differentiated approach to the governance of regional development policies across Sweden. The implementation of the Rural Development Programme has been retained by different national agencies, including the County Administrative Boards (CAB), the Sami Parliament, Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth (Tillväxtverket), the Swedish Board of Agriculture (Jordbruksverket) and the Swedish Forest Agency (Skogsstyrelsen), and voluntary Local Action Groups (LAG) also playing an important role in programme implementation (Figure 2.3).

Figure 2.2. Schematic of public governance arrangements for regional growth policies

1. SKL = Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Region.

2. Until 2018-12-31: 13 County Councils, 1 municipality (with the role of a County Council), 6 regional co-operation bodies and 1 County Administrative Board.

From 2019-01-01: 20 County Councils and 1 municipality (with the role of a County Council.

3. Involvement mainly through the regional actors.

Note: the figure does not include INTEREG an important part of the Cohesion Policy.

Source: Data provided by the Government of Sweden, Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation.

Figure 2.3. Schematic of public governance arrangements for rural policies

* denotes co-ordinating body.

Source: Data provided by the Government of Sweden, Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation.

Framework for Regional Growth Policy in Sweden

Sweden’s National Strategy for Sustainable Regional Growth and Attractiveness 2015-20 (hereinafter the “National Regional Development Strategy 2015-20”) is the main framework document to guide regional development policies. The strategy is focused on the importance of integrating economic, social and environmental (ecological) sustainability into all regional growth priorities and establishes four national-level priorities for promoting sustainable regional growth: i) innovation and business development; ii) attractive environments and accessibility; iii) provision of skills and competence; iv) international co-operation (Regingskansliet, 2015[9]). It places an emphasis on business development (over business creation); accessibility and transportation system and infrastructure; more fully integrating and activating its labour force; and furthering cross-border collaboration. The strategy serves as a guideline for regional authorities, state agencies, government offices, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other actors involved in regional growth efforts (Box 2.2). It is also binding for how the national funding for regional growth measures should be used.

Box 2.2. The co-ordinating role of the Strategy for Sustainable Regional Growth and Attractiveness 2015-20

The Strategy for Sustainable Regional Growth and Attractiveness 2015-20 describes the priorities of the government for regional policy and it acts as guidelines for actors to prioritise regional-level activities, such as sector programming at the national level and the regional-level development strategies. It is also used to support spending evaluations, specifically of national grants, and it monitors and steers the use of central government appropriations for regional growth measures.

The strategy was developed through close dialogue with regions and other actors. Despite being associated with concrete objectives, the strategy is non-binding to the relevant actors – following it is purely voluntary – and there are no explicit incentive mechanisms to prompt actors to incorporate these guidelines into their relevant programming. This said, regions can and do use the strategy to help them prioritise regional growth efforts, Regional Development Strategies (RUS) and programming for EU funds. Where the strategy is binding is in term of how national funding distributed to national agencies and regions.

One of the primary measures of the strategy is to facilitate and maintain a continuous dialogue among a wide and diverse array of stakeholders (e.g. municipalities, counties, central government, central government agencies, third sector actors and the private sector) via the Forum on Sustainable Regional Growth and Attractiveness. Another very important policy measure has been to further clarify the roles and responsibilities among the national and regional actors. Regions across Sweden are taking on a greater role in regional development in order to stimulate regional growth. This process is being supported by ongoing dialogue between the national, regional and local levels to build trust between these actors as their roles evolve.

Source: OECD (2017[10]), OECD Territorial Reviews: Sweden 2017: Monitoring Progress in Multi-level Governance and Rural Policy,

The National Strategy 2015-20 mentions the Sami only once in reference to the unique assets of the northern regions and the need to better promote cross-border co-ordination (Regingskansliet, 2015, p. 54[9]). The Sami live across the four countries of Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Kola peninsula of Russia (collectively referred to as Sapmi) and cross border collaboration occurs through cultural institutions, reindeer herding practices and the Sami Parliamentary Council – an umbrella organisation for the Sami Parliaments of Finland, Norway and Sweden (est. 1998).

Beyond cross-border collaboration, other elements of the National Strategy 2015-20 which are of particular importance for Sami affairs are entrepreneurship and business development and support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs – given that Sami businesses tend to be small and can face challenges accessing capita) alongside culture, leisure and tourism policies. In recent years, there have been efforts to better link up the various tourism bodies at the national level with regional tourism efforts and the government has dedicated resources to a new a Sustainable Product Programme due to run from 2016 to 2019 which will focus on cultural and nature tourism (see Box 2.3 for details). This emphasis on culture and nature tourism is a good fit for Sami tourism businesses which tend to cater in these areas.

Table 2.4. National Strategy for Regional Growth and Attractiveness (2015-20): Priorities and focus areas

Priority: 2015-20

Focus areas: 2015-20

Innovation and business development

Innovation and research – regional innovation environments

Entrepreneurship and business development

Business development in environmental technology and energy

Support for SMEs (commercialisation, internationalisation, provision of capital)

Attractive environments and accessibility

Using transport systems and ICT to improve accessibility

Commercial and public service

Spatial planning and housing

Culture, leisure, and tourism

Provision of skills and competence

Labour market matching

Education and training structures

Increase supply of skilled labour through integration and diversity

International co-operation

Deepen regional co-operation globally and with neighbours

Export and trade promotion

Cross-border integration

Exchange of experiences and learning

Source: OECD (2017[7])OECD Territorial Reviews: Northern Sparsely Populated Areas

Box 2.3. Tourism and governance funding in Sweden – A focus on cultural and nature-based tourism

A new national policy for tourism

The Swedish government initiated a Commission of Inquiry into a coherent policy for the tourism industry in October 2016. The aim has been to provide the government with information to strengthen the tourism and hospitality industry as an engine for export growth and job creation throughout the country. The Inquiry submitted its report to the government in December 2017. The report included 50 proposals and the report was until the beginning of April referred for consultation. The report and the consultative responses are now being analysed in the government offices.

One of the Commission of Inquiry’s recommendations is that the government engage the Sami Parliament to support the development of a Sami tourism industry network. In 2016, the Minister of Enterprise and Innovation established a forum bringing together public and private players in the tourism industry to identify common challenges.

Well-functioning transport is crucial for Sweden’s tourism development given its sparseness and remoteness, particularly for the northern regions. These same variables make destination development and profitability particularly challenging in rural areas. In all Swedish regions, access to high-speed internet is also an important factor for the industry. Sweden faces large seasonal variations, with distinct and rather short winter and summer seasons, with great variations within the country. There are efforts in all Swedish regions to extend the tourism season.

The Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth – Tillväxtverket – is responsible for promoting the tourism industry in Sweden, and has a focus on strengthening the Swedish tourism destinations. Tillväxtverket is based in Stockholm but has a regional structure handling issues related to structural funds. VisitSweden AB (a company half owned by the government and half owned by the tourism industry) is responsible for marketing Sweden as a tourist destination internationally. Both Tillväxtverket and VisitSweden AB report to the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation, the Ministry of Culture, the Swedish Institute, Business Sweden and VisitSweden are members of the Council for the Promotion of Sweden.

Strengthening sustainable tourism in the regions

The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR) is an umbrella organisation for local and regional authorities. In recent years, SALAR has increased its engagement in tourism through partnerships with industry organisations and platforms for networking with municipalities, County Councils and regions.

Tillväxtverket has been tasked to develop sustainable destinations, increase SME competitiveness, and improve knowledge in how to develop attractive and functional destinations. Tillväxtverket’s current sustainable tourism programme - the Sustainable Production Programme was launched 2016 and will run until 2019. The programme has a budget of SEK 40 million, and another SEK 40 million in co-funding.

Figure 2.4. Sweden: Organisational chart of tourism bodies

Source: OECD (2018[11]), “Sweden”, in OECD Tourism Trends and Policies 2018,, p. 277.

The European Regional Development Fund as a part of regional policy in Sweden

The ERDF is implemented by an operational programme developed for groups of counties within Sweden. The Sami are not strongly represented in these guidance documents. In Upper Norrland (the counties of Norrbotten and Västerbotten), the operational programme (2014-23) emphasises the importance of improved transport and communications infrastructure to overcome challenges associated with distance and low population densities. Although it mentions the territory of the Sami, the traditional knowledge and industries of the Sami are not noted as a competitive strength. The focus areas for Smart Specialisation have some intersection with the Sami economy through a priority on experience, cultural and creative industries and Sami businesses are explicitly mentioned in the investment priority for entrepreneurship. The Operational Programme for North Middle Sweden (the counties of Västernorrland and Jämtland) also mentions the importance of experience, cultural and creative industries but does not mention the Sami beyond their invitation to attend consultation meetings. There are Interreg programmes (with ERDF funding) in the regions as well, which will be discussed further in a following section of this report.

As a condition for accessing ERDF funds, regions also prepare strategies for Smart Specialisation or similar regional development strategies connected to the ERDF programmes regarding investment. These have been developed in the northern counties and prioritise areas such as technology testing, energy, tourism, and cultural industries (Table 2.5). The essential idea of the approach is that regions have some ability to shape their future economic development by identifying sectors where they either currently have a comparative advantage, or they could have a comparative advantage in the future, and then targeting innovation policies to provide new products and processes in these areas (OECD 2017). The Sami have the potential to be part of Smart Specialisation; however, they are not well connected in an operational sense because the ERDF prioritises larger scale projects with higher barriers to entry through matching requirements.

Table 2.5. Smart Specialisation Priorities – Northern regions


Smart Specialisation Priorities


● Technology and service development – including primary and manufacturing activities

● Testing, tests and pilots of products - transport and communications

● Energy and cleantech

● Digital services

● Cultural and creative industries


● Sustainable energy and environmental technology

● Digital service sectors for smart regions

● Life science

● Innovations in healthcare

● Experience based and creative industries

● Testing activities

● Technology and service development for industry


● Clean tech

● Tourism, sports and leisure time

● Public sector innovation, spin-offs and improved processes

Source: European Commission (2018[12]), Smart Specialisation Platform,

The Rural Development Programme provides access to funds for Sami businesses and initiatives in reindeer herding, tourism and culture

Within the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EARDF), Sweden’s Rural Development Programme for 2014-20 (the second pillar of Common Agricultural Policy) establishes a number of priorities for which the competent authorities (The Swedish Board of Agriculture, the County Administrative Boards, the Swedish Forest Agency, the Sami Parliament, the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth) then develop regional or thematic strategies on a more detailed level. The CABs are tasked with implementing national policy priorities at a regional level and are responsible for developing an action plan for rural development in the region. The highest overall priority in the RDP (in terms of the share of funds allocated) is for restoring, preserving and enhancing ecosystems related to agriculture and forestry; around 60% of funds are allocated for this priority out of the total RDP envelope (Table 2.7).

The Swedish Sami Parliament is a competent authority for a portion of the RDP funds (2014-2020).6 Together with a number of key Sami organisations, the Sweden Sami Parliament developed a regional action plan for 2014-20 that was used to inform programme delivery (Sametinget, 2015[13]).7 This included a SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis focusing on Sami business and economic development (Box 2.4) As such, it is possible to determine how Sami businesses, individuals and institutions are making use of the RDP for applications that are received through the Sami Parliament. Of course, a much larger share of the Sami population may be accessing other funds, but this is not identifiable.

Box 2.4. Sami Parliament SWOT analysis to inform RDP (2014-20)

The Sami Parliament of Sweden has conducted a SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis of the rural programme which serves to illustrate how Sami businesses and initiatives could be better supported by both rural and regional development efforts (Table 2.6). The strengths of the community lay in their unique culture, language and traditions for which small scale, high quality ecologically produced and sustainable activities and products are valued. Within this, reindeer herding is clearly a very visible and important component, but there are also new and emerging opportunities in such areas as the promotion of Sami food and tourism and using traditional knowledge in new ways. New service solutions – e.g. new technologies – will help Sami businesses make the most of these emerging opportunities and gain vicinity and increase access to markets. The enabling environment for Sami businesses and livelihoods could be enhanced in order to build on its strengths and help to realise its possibilities.

Table 2.6. SWOT Swedish Sami Parliament RDP 2014-20



● Living Sami cultural landscape

● Specific Sami livelihoods with long-term ecological sustainability

● Sustained and adaptable reindeer industry with long-term ecological sustainability

● Unique common culture - and livelihood resources such as Sami food and Sami tourism

● Diversity of languages and cultural traditions

● Long and substantial experience in combination livelihoods

● Own raw materials and traditional production methods

● Sami culture and social life enriches the rest of society

● Traditional knowledge via own Sami competence

● Potential for developing new livelihoods

● The Sami languages find new areas of use

● No well-developed branch organisations or business structures

● Lack of risk capital and in certain cases solid funding

● Lack of development motors

● Inadequate equality between men and women

● Lower levels of education and education traditions in some regions

● Sparse population and community structure

● Long distances to attractive markets

● Strong dependence on public sector

● Low level of refinement of goods and services

● Low level of innovation and commercialisation of innovations

● Resistance to change

● The Sami languages are not used naturally in all Sami activities



● Strong and profitable reindeer industry businesses

● Focus on the unique aspects of Sami businesses - Sami knowledge based on sustainable use of resources

● Use of traditional knowledge in new ways, for example, Sami food businesses/Sami food craftsmanship

● Increased small businesses in new areas such as service, year-round tourism and distance work

● Increased co-operation between traditional and new livelihoods, clustering

● Development of new service solutions for rural communities via new technology

● Increased co-operation within different (Sami livelihoods, languages, cultures, traditional knowledge, FoU)

● Increased competition via investments in innovations, entrepreneurship and new livelihoods

● Attractive and unique natural environment

● Minority in a majority society

● Lack of knowledge by the rest of the world

● Outer affecting factors that steer the control of natural resources

● Exploitation of Sapmi

● Migration/draining of Sami human resources and competence

● Competition for natural resources

● Lack of resource centres

● Lack of risk capital

● Marginalised Sami businesses in regional politics

● Lack of local/regional participation

● Lack of service functions in rural areas

● Sami languages are threatened

● Structural discrimination

Source: Sametinget (2015[13])Sametinget Handlingsplan för Landsbygdsprogrammet, (accessed on 15 March 2018).

Among the various programme priorities accessed through the Sami Parliament as a competent authority have been allocated for projects that address social inclusion, poverty reduction and economic development – around 52% of funds have been accessed under this priority measure to date (around 41% for new jobs and diversification and 11% for local development in rural areas) (Table 2.7). Activities under this priority have included skills training (including for reindeer herding) and funds for tourism businesses, Sami cultural industries, such as duodji and food entrepreneurship. This includes efforts to connect entrepreneurs and provide supports to Sami industries so that they can raise their profiles and grow their businesses. The second most accessed priority measure is for restoring, preserving and enhancing ecosystems in agriculture and forestry; this measure amounts to 30% of the funding to date managed by the Sami Parliament and just over 60% of the total RDP funding that is allocated to this priority.

Table 2.7. Sweden’s Rural Development Programme 2014-20 – Funds managed by the Sami Parliament

RDP 2014-20 priorities

Percentage of funding out of total RDP allocated to priority

Funds managed by the Sami Parliament by focus area

Total funding to date per focus area managed by Sami Parliament

Percentage of funding to date per focus area managed by the Sami Parliament

1. Knowledge transfer and innovation

(Priority 1 is horizontal and is to be promoted in all parts of the programme)

2. Farm viability,

competitiveness and sustainable forest



Competitiveness, restructuring and diversification

4 948 030


Start farming/generational renewal

3 250 000


3. Food chain organisation,

including processing and marketing of agricultural products, animal welfare

and risk management


Animal welfare and short food chain

3 894 783


4. Restoring, preserving and

enhancing ecosystems in agriculture

and forestry


Biodiversity’s restoration,

preservation and enhancement

24 936 674


5. Resource efficiency and shift to low carbon and climate resilience economy in agriculture, food and

forestry sectors


Energy use efficiency



Renewable energy

2 619 609


6. Social inclusion, poverty

reduction and economic development in

rural areas


New jobs and diversification

34 387 503


Local development in rural areas

8 962 041


.. : not available

Note: This table only shows those focus areas for which the Sami Parliament manages funds.

Sources: Data provided by the Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation; European Commission (2014[14]), Factsheet on 2014-2020 Rural Development Programme for Sweden, (accessed on 29 March 2018).

Within the RDP, the Sami Parliament, along with other competent authorities at the regional and national levels, have several mechanisms for vertical and horizontal co-ordination. In terms of vertical integration, the EU regulations, Swedish regulations, and procedures for RDP are addressed within the governing law and regulations. There is also a formal process of consultation with the competent authorities such as the Sami Parliament which takes place prior to the introduction or updating of rules. In terms of horizontal integration, there are several mechanisms such as the Sami Parliament’s action plan for rural development, the Sami partnership; the Monitoring Committee for RDP and; dialogue fora, which are Dialogues between the Swedish Board of Agriculture and the competent authorities such as the Sami Parliament which take place digitally and at conferences and at meetings organised by the National Rural Network.

A need for greater flexibility in RDP programming requirements to meet Sami needs

Sami businesses and initiatives can face some unique barriers to access. The above-mentioned funds tend to be focused on either reindeer herding or traditional and cultural industries and are dominated by small firms. The RDP projects that fall under the competent authority of the Sami parliament are on average four times smaller than those of the RDP programme as a whole.8 This raises two issues. The first is the extent to which there is the potential and willingness among Sami entrepreneurs to grow their business, given that small and sustainable activities are often important values, and secondly, whether RDP and other funds are well-structured for their unique characteristics. Few Sami projects have been received in the current programming period, which could be a symptom of either of these factors. Recent changes to the programme structure may also explain these differences in project size; applications are not open but need to follow nominations made by the Sami Parliament and these amounts are smaller now than before. When comparing the sizes of projects receiving funding it bears noting that “projects” also include other types of funding, such as investment funds or start-up funds.

There are several barriers to how funds are accessed by Sami businesses including the selection criteria for different measures (e.g. on innovation and technology, focus on agriculture); how support is defined (skills, hiring); and requirements for matching funds (and coving upfront costs) and reporting requirements which may be burdensome for smaller businesses and which may not work well for the cyclical nature of reindeer herding in particular. Some key examples of these RDP mismatches and barriers are as follows.

  • Co-financing can present a barrier due to the small scale and local nature of Sami activities in terms of minimum amounts of support and the degree of administration required for small projects.

  • Under current rules, reindeer herders can only apply for the start-up support within 24 months from when the business was started. Since most reindeer herders develop their businesses from when they are young, they often have been active for more than 24 months when they turn 18/19 and are eligible to apply to the funds (i.e. the point in time when they shift from being students to being active full time in their business).

  • Specific funding is available for food strategies including supports to develop food companies and short food chains. This focus on food production is based on innovation and technology (as it is in most measures/funds), whereas the Sami use more traditional knowledge in food production. The food policy signals the importance of Sami food, but the funding criteria are not well suited for this type of support.

  • The current programme structure does not take into consideration that reindeer husbandry is an extensive, mobile (in the meaning nomadic over large areas) business. Funds are presently only granted for the construction of fixed/permanent facilities and as such, buildings and facilities required for reindeer husbandry (such as mobile slaughter houses) cannot be funded.

  • Some of the funding under the RDP is directed towards skills upgrading and hiring new employees. However, Sami businesses tend to be family run and have requirements for investment in infrastructure as opposed to skills.

In some cases, measures that were deemed to have been working well for the Sami have been ended. For example, between 1999 and 2013 the Rural Development Programme offered environmental compensation which aimed to preserve Sami cultural environments and landscapes in the traditional reindeer herding area, specifically elements such as pasture fields, renvallar and fences.9 The purpose of the compensation was to protect and preserve the high cultural values associated with reindeer husbandry and Sami traditional living that are unique both from a national and European perspective. The landscaped elements that the compensation set out to protect are associated with older reindeer husbandry and display the presence of Sami activity in the areas and preserve the traces of Sami tradition, work and life - a living Sami cultural landscape. It is important for the Sami culture and trades to visualise and preserve the Sami heritage, especially for following generations. The support generated a compensation of approximately SEK 100 million in 2007-13 (Sametinget, 2018[15]). In the new EU Rural Development Programme for 2014-20, the measure was replaced by an investment support for Sami cultural environments (e.g. Sami traditional buildings such as kåtor) and the compensation was decreased to SEK 25 million (Sametinget, 2018[15]).

A new framework for rural policy in Sweden – but limited engagement with Sami affairs

In terms of rural policy, Sweden has historically focused on sectoral support for agriculture, and state aid for businesses located in sparsely populated areas. With accession to the European Union, Sweden introduced the standard programmes from the Common Agriculture Fund (CAP) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). While this has supported rural programming, it has not resulted in a coherent national rural policy (Box 2.5). In an effort to address this, a government bill proposing a coherent policy for rural Sweden has made its way through the legislative process (Riksdag, 2018[16]). It sets the primary objective is to have “viable rural areas with equal opportunities for enterprise, work, housing and welfare that lead to long-term sustainable development throughout the country”. There are three associated sub-objectives:

  1. 1. The ability of the rural areas to make use of the conditions for business and employment is long-term sustainable, while achieving the environmental goals. The rural areas contribute to a positive development of Sweden’s economy.

  2. 2. The rural areas contribute to strengthening Sweden’s competitiveness in a development towards a circular, bio based and fossil-free economy and for the sustainable use of natural resources as well as compliance with relevant environmental quality objectives.

  3. 3. Equal opportunities for people to work, reside and live in rural areas.

  4. 4. The bill notes that a living Sami culture, built on sustainable environmental practices and traditional food contributes, to rural development and that is it therefore important that the Sami are consulted on issues concerning them (Riksdag, 2018, p. 16[16]) As previously noted, the Ministry of Culture is presently developing rules on consultation with Sami in order to improve their inclusion in decision making (Kulturdepartementet, 2017[17]). Beyond the issue of consultation, there are no special provisions or programmes that mention the Sami in the government’s new bill for rural policy. As such, it is unclear how efforts to promote the collective assets of the Sami within rural development will be acted upon/implemented in practice.

Box 2.5. Tackling the rural and regional policy divide: Sweden’s impetus for a new rural policy

Sweden’s undertaking of a new framework for rural policy has been framed in part by debates since the 2014 national elections about whether rural Sweden is being left behind in the country’s growth and development. A key issue is that rural policy issues are not sufficiently represented in Sweden’s growth policy. Sweden’s regional growth policy is a broad and integrated approach, and combines EU and state funding to invest in key enabling factors for growth at a regional level. A lot of the national funding within regional policy goes to rural or sparsely pop areas – e.g. for transportation, business development, programmes for commercial services in sparsely populated areas, funding to rural regions for regional growth work. Underlying this policy framework are different funding and governance arrangements for regional and rural policies, which are the consequence of EU funding rules. This results in different scales of investment, and different entities responsible for the rural development and regional growth policy at a regional level. More effective mechanisms and incentives are needed to link the rural programme with the regional growth policy, and other sector policies. Another issue is that sectoral policies such as education and health services, spatial planning, and transport do not have a clear and coherent “rural articulation”.

Recent regional reforms in Sweden have sought to tackle the need for consistency, and enhanced democratic accountability for regional and rural policies. The CABs are responsible for the regional action plan for implementing the Rural Development Programme funded by EAFRD. There are currently three different models for implementing regional policy in Sweden, which include one County Administrative Board, 13 directly elected County Councils, one municipality (with the role of a County Council) and 6 indirectly elected county co-ordination bodies. Consistency in administrative structure is important in terms of the national government establishing clear governance, monitoring and accountability arrangements to deliver national priorities. However, specific regional and rural development policies should reflect the preferences and aspirations of the region. County Councils and county co-ordination bodies, which are led by political representatives in each region, provide the best opportunity to achieve this outcome. From 1st January, there will only be County Councils and one municipality responsible for regional growth in the counties.

Source: OECD (2017[10]), OECD Territorial Reviews: Sweden 2017: Monitoring Progress in Multi-level Governance and Rural Policy,

Sami affairs in the EU – focus on transnational co-operation across Sapmi

Sami affairs in the European Union are reflected across a number of dimensions and add another layer of governance to the implementation of regional and rural polices in northern Sweden. The Sami are the EU’s only recognised Indigenous people. Within Sweden’s agreement on EU membership there is a Sami protocol attached which outlines the country’s obligations in relation to the Sami people in accordance with national and international laws. The protocol states that Sweden is committed to preserving and developing the Sami people’s living conditions, language, culture and way of life and as part of this, both Sweden and the EU note the importance of reindeer herding in areas where the Sami traditionally live (Gower Lewis, 2003[18]). The position of the Swedish Sami in Sweden and Europe was thus strengthened following EU membership; Sapmi has been designated as a region in Europe with dedicated programmes attached and, in accordance with the EU’s principle of subsidiarity, the Sami Parliament in Sweden bears responsibility for the use and prioritisation of relevant funds – such as the rural development fund which was described above. Furthermore, the Sami parliaments and other Sami organisations co-ordinated by the Saami Council – a pan-Sapmi non-governmental organisation established in 1956 – co-ordinate with the EU’s northern development initiatives.

The main programmes directed to Sami affairs under the current EU programming period is for cross-border and transnational co-operation. The project priorities and share of EU funds directed to Sami activities have changed over each EU programming period. Over the 2000-06 programming period, there were four programmes that had some element directed towards Sami affairs within the regional development portfolio (Table 2.8). Under the current programming period, Sami affairs are primarily addressed through a programme for cross-border co-operation (Interreg V-A North) between Finland, Norway and Sweden. The programme’s overarching goal is to strengthen the cross-border innovation system and increase the co-operation of SMEs. It also prioritises bio-diversity preservation and the unique cultural heritage in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. Within this, the programme identifies the objective of preserving and developing the culture, language and economic activities of the Sami and notes that the traditionally ecological lifestyle of the Sami promotes broader objectives for environmental sustainability across the region. With a primary objective of strengthening SMEs, the programme thus navigates the dual challenge of “strengthening and preserving the Sami’s traditional trades, at the same time as creating the conditions for developing new, vital businesses on the basis of culture and social life” (Samer, 2018[19]).

An example of one of the projects funded under the current programme (Interreg V-A) is the work of Slow Food Sapmi. Their project – “Our Common Food Heritage in Sapmi” – to strengthen and develop food culture, entrepreneurship and the supply of food-related industries in Sapmi. The project has been granted EUR 6 500 under the current funding period to undertake this work. Over the course of the 2007-13 Interreg programming period, there were a number of projects with young Sami entrepreneurs in such areas as marketing, music, event/entertainment, tourism, lawyers, interpretation, and traditional Sami business such duodji. One experience from that project was that participants felt more comfortable working with their business plans in a group with Sami colleagues, where they also could speak the Sami language and shared the experience of living in the Sami culture.

In recent years, there have been changes to the Interreg V-A programme in order to make it easier for organisations to access funding. The Sami Parliament has advocated for the programme to be better suited to small institutions that do not have funding of their own. Despite changes, Interreg continues to have heavy administrative requirements and projects require funding upfront.

Table 2.8. European Commission regional development funds for Sami affairs, by programming period


Type of fund

Programming period

Sami affairs within project priorities


Operational programme Interreg V-A North

European Territorial Cooperation Objective, co-funded by ERDF


To promote Sami culture and the use of Sami languages; to strengthen cross border collaboration and SMEs.

Finland, Sweden, Norway

Operational programme Northern Periphery and Arctic

European Territorial Cooperation Objective, co-funded by ERDF


To promote co-operation with the Arctic Council Indigenous Peoples Secretariat and representative organisations of the main Indigenous peoples in the programme area, such as the Inuit Circumpolar Conference and the Sami Council.




Faroe Islands




Operational programme ‘North’; Sapmi sub-programme

European Territorial Cooperation Objective, co-funded by ERDF


To develop Sami cultural life and industry by making use of their resources in an ecological and sustainable way. Developing methods and structures that facilitate co-operation between the regions.

Finland, Norway, Sweden

Interreg III A “Nord”



Strengthening of the identity and social conditions of the Sami community by assisting their development in all 4 countries of the programme area.

Finland, Sweden, Norway, Russia

Objective 1 programme for Norra Norrland



Aid to Sami agricultural holdings and the diversification of activities, basic population services, sameby renovation, infrastructure development, environmental protection and financial engineering.


Objective 1 programme for Södra Skogslän



Aid to Sami agricultural holdings and the diversification of activities, basic population services, sameby renovation, infrastructure development, environmental protection and financial engineering.


INTERREG III A - Sweden/ Norway



Under the priority of economic growth and skills development, economic development will be adapted to the Sami population and enhance its culture.

Sweden, Norway

Note: FIFG: Financial instrument for fisheries guidance.

Sources: European Commission (2018[20])Interreg V-A - Sweden-Finland-Norway (Nord) - Regional Policy, (accessed on 26 March 2018); European Commission (2018[21])Operational Programme 'North' - Regional Policy, (accessed on 26 March 2018); European Commission (2018[22])INTERREG III A - Finland/Sweden/Norway/Russia - Regional Policy, (accessed on 26 March 2018); European Commission (2018[23])Objective 1 programme for Södra Skogslän - Regional Policy, (accessed on 26 March 2018); European Commission (2018[24])INTERREG III A - Sweden/Norway - Regional Policy, (accessed on 26 March 2018).

In terms of broader regional development goals related to the European Union and the arctic, there can be a difference in perspectives between those living within the arctic area and how those outside of it view development. Those in the arctic want sustainable development while those outside can view it as an area of preservation. As illustrative of this debate, the EU’s policy on large carnivores has been a divisive issue for the Sami. County Administrative Boards have been tasked by the government with two opposing goals. On the one hand they are responsible for the conservation of large carnivores which is related to the EU habitat policy directive and on the other hand, they are required, in co-operation with samebyar within the management system (förvaltningsverktyg) for large carnivores, to ensure that the reindeer herders lose a maximum of 10% of their winter herds from these large carnivores. However, the loss of reindeer from predators has been estimated in the range of 7%-40% by county.10 The average loss of reindeer by predators for all samebyar is estimated at 24% in 2016 (Sametinget Kulturdepartementet, 2018[25]).

A strengthened role for regions brings new opportunities for Sami engagement

Recent reforms enhance the role of regions in Sweden – this presents an opportunity to strength relations with the Sami in the regions

The subnational government level in Sweden consists of two tiers – counties and municipalities. Each operates as a self-governing entity under the central government – municipalities are thus not subordinate to counties. Sweden’s multi-level governance has been described as having an “hourglass” shape, with greater weight given to the national and municipal levels – top and bottom tiers – compared counties (OECD, 2017[10]). However, recent regional reforms have strengthen the status of counties and moreover, municipalities are increasingly co-operating with counties on regional development issues which in turn shifts the “hourglass” dynamic (OECD, 2017[10]).

At the regional level, there are two types of regional political bodies with decentralised responsibilities – Regional Co-operation Bodies (indirectly elected, co-operation of municipalities in a few counties) and County Councils (directly elected in all 21 counties). The main task of Swedish County Councils is healthcare provision but they are transitioning to take on greater responsibility for regional development (including regional growth policy, transport and infrastructure planning) and regional growth policy. When County Councils take on the responsibilities of regional development, they are allowed by law to rename themselves as a region.11 Regional Co-operation Bodies have been created in some counties to be responsible for regional development. Among the three most northern regions in Sweden, the Region of Västerbotten (a co-operation body) took on this broader role for regional development responsibilities in 2008; in Jämtland, a co-operation body was first formed in 2011 but a few years later in 2015 the responsibilities were transferred to the County Council and the Region of Jämtland-Härjedalen was formed; and most recently, Norrbotten County Council was transformed into a region in 2017 when they took over regional development from the County Administrative Board. 12 The parliament has however recently decided upon a bill from the government to transfer the responsibilities of regional growth from the remaining Regional Co-operation Bodies and the one remaining County Administrative Board with this responsibility to County Councils only (with the exception of the County of Gotland). This will come to effect the 1st January 2019.13 This shift presents an opportunity to better link the Sami who live in this region with regional development efforts which had been previously centralised.

Counties are also home to County Administrative Boards (CABs) which are the face of the national government in the regions, regional state agencies; they are responsible for co-ordinating central government activities in the counties including Managing Authority for some Interreg programmes, Competent Authority for the EARDF and monitoring subnational governments in order to make sure they comply with laws and regulations in specific sectors (e.g. environmental regulations). The CABs also co-operate with County Councils and municipalities to promote important public investments and economic growth in the region. The CABs are responsible for implementing the Rural Development Programme at the regional level through regional action plans. Each action plan is prepared and implemented by a regional partnership composed of diverse stakeholders, including the organisations responsible for the regional development strategies (RUS). With the CABs in charge of rural programmes – and from 1 January 2018 20 County Councils and 1 municipality in charge of overall regional development, including its rural components – it is important that these two territorial policies are well aligned.

Regional development strategies at a county level (RUS) share a strong focus on innovation and entrepreneurship, transport and digital connectivity, and educational attainment – which generally aligns with national strategic priorities (OECD, 2017[10]). Within this general focus, each northern region has oriented its development strategy according to its specific assets. For example, Norrbotten has a focus on infrastructure for the mining and processing industries; Region Jämtland-Härjedalen on culture and creativity as an economic asset and; Västerbotten on renewable energy (OECD, 2017[7]). Across all three regions, there tends to be less of an emphasis on spatial planning, regional and cross-border co-operation (with the exception of Norrbotten), and export and trade promotion (OECD, 2017[10]).14

Table 2.9. Regional strategies: Norrbotten, Västerbotten, Jämtland


Innovation and entrepreneurship

Infrastructure and accessibility

Demographic, labour markets and service delivery


● Regional innovation strategy

● Entrepreneurship

● Cross-border collaboration

● Rail investment for the mining industry

● Extending broadband coverage

● Integration of migrants

● Young people finishing upper secondary school

● Co-ordination between business and training providers


● Regional innovation system and venture capital

● Renewable energy

● Internationalising SMEs

● Transport and digital connectivity

● Leisure, culture and amenities

● Secondary school and tertiary attainment

● Workforce participation


● Entrepreneurship and venture capital

● Role of the university

● Renewable energy

● Culture and creativity

● Transport and digital connectivity

● Secondary school and tertiary attainment

● Social inclusion and healthcare

● Welcoming new inhabitants

Source: OECD (2017[7])OECD Territorial Reviews: Northern Sparsely Populated Areas

The cultural assets of the Sami are identified in all northern regional development strategies – but only Region Västerbotten concretely addresses the need for improved engagement with the Sami

All three regional development strategies in northern Sweden identify Sami culture and food traditions as key assets, with the tourism industry specifically singled out as an area of growth potential. The three strategies collectively recognise Sami businesses as having unique characteristics and, in the cases of Norrbotten and Västerbotten, describes a need for specific supports for support Sami entrepreneurship and innovation. However, it is Region Västerbotten’s development strategy which is the standout among the three in terms of how Sami affairs are addressed in the manner that land use conflicts are acknowledged and solutions proposed.

Region Jämtland Härjedalen’s regional development strategy (2014-30) focuses on innovation and attractiveness (Härjedalen, 2014[26]). On Sami issues, the strategy primarily addressed the role of the Gaaltije South Sami Cultural Center as a hub for south Sami culture, language, food and social development. Region Jämtland Härjedalen’s regional development strategy identifies growth opportunities in Sami tourism and describes Sami culture and businesses an important part of the county’s history and development and a necessary part of cross-border co-operation. It further notes that six out of eight municipalities in Jämtland/Härjedalen are Sami management municipalities; these are municipalities in which Sami is a relevant minority and have the right to communicate with authorities and receive services in their language. A municipality can have more than one minority (e.g. Jokkmokk is both a Sami and Finnish management municipality). The strategy states that recognition as a Sami management municipality generates opportunities – though these are not described.

Norrbotten’s regional development strategy is in the process of being updated by Region Norrbotten for the years 2020-30 – the Sami parliament has been included in the consultation process. As a new region, the 2020-30 strategy presents an opportunity to shape a new development vision and to strengthen relations with the Sami and other stakeholders – particularly in terms of land use issues. The current strategy (2014-20) was written when the responsibility for regional growth was still at the Norrbotten County Administrative Board. The strategy describes a desire to offer residents a versatile, permissive and innovative environment (Län Norrbotten, 2017[27]). It notes the importance of Sami businesses and cultural entrepreneurship, alongside the protection of national minorities’ languages, nature and the environment. The strategy recognises that Sami companies face special development conditions and that they help to increase the diversification of the county’s business community, including the importance of reindeer herding to tourism and entrepreneurship in the services and knowledge sectors. The strategy explicitly aims to support entrepreneurship and innovation among the Sami and notes the importance of cross-border development in cultural and creative industries for Sami culture and language.

Region Västerbotten’s regional development strategy (2014-20) identifies natural resources as a key asset alongside resource-efficient technologies and the business potential of Sami culture. Strengthening Sami entrepreneurship in tourism is a noted priority (Region Västerbottens, 2014[28]). The strategy recognises that reindeer husbandry and Sami culture have the potential to enhance regional development, but that these activities are also associated with land use conflict and cultural and historical contradictions. The strategy makes it clear that positive relations between Sami and other stakeholders in all parts of the county are a prerequisite for effective development and outlines the following objectives:

  • Develop synergies between reindeer husbandry, Sami culture and other entrepreneurs that use the land.

  • Create forms of co-operation and consensus between the reindeer herding industry and other stakeholders.

  • Promote research and education on reindeer husbandry as well as its impact on nature and cultural heritage, and with the biosphere parks within Sami areas.

  • Promoting knowledge building on sustainable development and gender equality.

  • Integrate reindeer husbandry into planning processes which impact the conditions for reindeer husbandry in Västerbotten.

  • Strengthen the reindeer herding industry in the face of climate change.

  • Develop sustainable forestry methods in collaboration with research and forestry industry (Region Västerbottens, 2014[28]).

Region Västerbotten’s development strategy provides an assessment of how reindeer herding could be better connected to regional development by specifying how the industry can better connect with other stakeholders and be respectful of Sami culture. In contrast to the development strategies of the other two regions, it explicitly mentions the importance of reindeer herding businesses and acknowledges the land use conflicts that have arisen with other forms of land use. It outlines an action plan for how the region can better structure relations between the multiple stakeholders in this regard and as such, is the only regional development strategy among the three to address these issues with any depth. However, it remains overly focused on just one Sami activity – reindeer herding – and as such offers a limited lens for interaction. Regional development policies should emphasise the importance of preserving Sami culture and ways of living more broadly.

This is a best practice among the three regions in the sense that it offers concrete practices to address a critical issue for the Sami and others in terms of land use. In order to truly be effective, these objectives should be described in a manner for which they can be monitored and reported on in order to help gauge if progress is being made and if relations are in fact improving. In the coming years, all three regions will be updating their plans – with region Norrbotten currently engaged in this process. This offers an opportunity to strengthen this element of the plans and to operationalise actions in a more concrete manner that can help to improve relations.

In general, the Sami economy and development vision needs to be more visible in regional priority setting in northern Sweden. For example, on economic policy, the Sametinget has articulated that they put sustainable development at the forefront of policy objectives, stating that “ecologically and economically viable industries are the best guarantee for preserving the high environmental and cultural values found in the mountain and forest areas” (Sametinget, 2018[29]). Within this, they express ecological long-term care, conservation of natural resources, conservation of environmental and cultural values alongside economic, social and gender equality as the foundation of Sami business development. However, they are just one Sami institution among many (albeit directly elected). As discussed in Chapter 3, more inclusive governance requires strong engagement methods combined with capacity building among Sami institutions.

Municipal policies and services – Focus on Sami culture and language

Engagement with Sami affairs at the municipal level tends to focus on support for Sami culture and language services

Under Sweden’s minority rights policy, Swedish municipalities are obliged to provide some services in the Sami language. Municipalities also provide support for culture and in the case of the Sami, need to address access to grazing lands for reindeer herders in terms of physical planning. All of these functions matter for Sami economic development and well-being. Access to land is critical for the reindeer herding industry to perpetuate while cultural reproduction is no less important for Sami economic development and self-determination. Language training in schools and access to services in the Sami languages (of which there are six dialects across Sapmi, three of which are spoken in northern Sweden), reinforce Sami identity and culture. Sami languages are under threat; South and Lule Sami risk extinction and the North Sami language is in a precarious situation (Swedish Equality Ombudsman, 2008[30]).15

Under the current minority rights policy (implemented since 2010), public support to fulfil this mandate has increased and there have been joint efforts by County Administrative Boards and the Sami Parliament to enhance the implementation of and the awareness of national minority rights in municipalities. These are positive developments. Certain municipalities are designated as administrative areas for the Sami language and additional municipalities can apply for voluntary admission to be included as an administrative area. The municipalities that do so receive funding to address minority issues, largely as related to accessing services in the minority language. These funds are also used to fund a minority co-ordinator position; this person acts as a liaison between minorities and the municipality in order to ensure access to services. As one example, a group of Sami in Umeå municipality (Västerbotten County) have organised themselves as a delegation which meets with the minority co-ordinator and other municipal officials around 30 times a year in order to discuss issues regarding access to kindergarten and elderly care in the Sami language. Municipalities also support the promotion Sami culture. For example, there is an active Sami organisation in Umeå-Såhkie – which organises Sami cultural week. Umeå municipality has allocated the organisation SEK 1 million to organise the Sami week for the past 19 years (Såhkie, 2018[31]).

The level of engagement by municipalities with the Sami can differ considerably – both across municipalities but also across departments within the municipality. This is related to a more general point about Sweden’s model of service delivery; OECD analysis has found that nationally designed rules and funding arrangements are not always suited to sparsely populated areas, and there is a lack of incentives for social innovation and co-operation between municipalities at a functional scale (OECD, 2017[10]). Some municipalities are more aware of their responsibilities related to the Minority Act than others. For any department working on Sami issues, the minority co-ordinator tends to be included in engagement/discussions and as such, can provide both a consistent connection to the community and can help to co-ordinate on Sami issues across the organisation. This is important as Sami organisations and groups can experience engagement fatigue. Minority co-ordinators meet twice a year and there is co-operation and conferences among the municipalities on such issues as how to provide language services for the Sami in elder care and kindergarten. As knowledge has increased regarding the right of access by the Sami for these services, demand has grown. The minority co-ordinator also has a role in building cultural competence in the municipality – this is a critical function given the lack of visibility of the Sami.

The minority rights policy is not being realised in practice

A recent review by the Ministry of Culture of the application of Sweden’s minority policy indicates there are serious flaws in terms of how these policies are being applied/realised in practice. The report states: “minorities policy has almost completely failed in terms of guaranteeing the fundamental rights that all five national minorities should enjoy in all municipalities in this country” (Kulturdepartementet, 2017[32]) (Box 2.6).

One of the elements contributing to this is a lack of teachers in the Sami languages (Swedish Equality Ombudsman, 2008[30]). In some municipalities, larger salaries for Sami speaking teachers are individually negotiated as an incentive to overcome the shortage of Sami speaking teachers; however, there is no standard policy about this. For schoolchildren up to the age of 12, there are 5 Sami schools in Sweden, in Karesuando, Kiruna, Gällivare, Jokkmokk and Tärnaby in southern Sapmi. For those who reside in areas where there is no Sami school, children are provided with Sami language training of an hour or two a week (often at the end of the school day).

The Ministry of Culture’s recent report makes a number of important recommendations to strengthen minority rights. Specific to the role of municipalities, it is recommended that municipalities and County Councils:

  • Adopt documented minority policy objectives and guidelines and report on them.

  • Offer all or a substantial part of pre-school teaching in minority languages.

  • Ensure that the rules about access to this service are clear to parents.

  • Ensure that the government should establish a centre for Sami health in order to address the major need for knowledge and training for caregivers serving Sami populations (Kulturdepartementet, 2017[32]).

These are all prudent recommendations that would help to build the capacity to deliver these services, increase awareness among the Sami of their rights to access and establish accountability measures for reporting on the application of minorities policy. It is equally important that the Sami can meaningfully participate and have real influence in matters concerning them. As noted by the Swedish Equality Ombudsmen in 2008, increased support for those Sami organisations that work against discrimination and for human rights and improved information and education for County Administrative Boards and municipalities on the Sami situation would serve to enhance such meaningful engagement (Swedish Equality Ombudsman, 2008[30]).

Box 2.6. Sami minority and language rights – A case for reform

Language rights are an essential part of cultural reproduction for the Sami and other national minorities. Supports for language rights are all the more pressing since Sami – in its various dialects – has been identified as a marginalised and threatened language (Swedish Equality Ombudsman, 2008[30]). The rights stated in the conventions on minorities are primarily realised through decisions at national and local level. This applies for example to the possibility to receive education in the national minority languages at school, receive eldercare in one’s native language in the administrative district and the possibility to use one’s native language in contact with authorities in dealings with public authorities and courts in the specified administrative district in Norrbotten County (Swedish Equality Ombudsman, 2008[30]). The laws apply only to the exercise of authority in the named municipalities where Sami languages have been used for a long time. It is also prescribed that individuals in these municipalities have the right to pre-school education and eldercare upon request.

A recent review by the Ministry of Culture of the application of Sweden’s minority policy indicates there are serious flaws in terms of how these policies are being applied/realised in practice, stating – “minorities policy has almost completely failed in terms of guaranteeing the fundamental rights that all five national minorities should enjoy in all municipalities in this country” (Kulturdepartementet, 2017[32]). The report recommends that:

  • The minorities policy needs to focus more on the transfer of language and culture between the generations and minorities policy needs to be better integrated into other policy areas.

  • The application of the act to public agencies should be expanded to cover the Swedish public employment service.

  • Municipalities and County Councils must adopt documented minority policy objectives and guidelines and report on them.

  • The obligation of administrative authorities to consult with Sami and other national minorities needs to be clarified in law since they do not have adequate conditions to be equal parties.

  • Agencies must pay particular attention to the conditions for children and young concerning influence and consultation.

  • Funding for national minorities organisations at the national level should be at least doubled to help them keep up with the growing workload since 2010, primarily due to consultation.

  • The government should establish a special agency for the follow-up, co-ordination and promotion of minorities policy.

  • Municipalities should be obliged to offer all or a substantial part of pre-school teaching in minority languages and the rules about access to this service should be made clearer to parents.

  • The government should establish a centre for Sami health in order to address the major need for knowledge and training for caregivers serving Sami populations.

  • There is a need for cultural awareness training related to national minorities in schools and adult education and curriculum to support this.

Sources: Kulturdepartementet (2017[32]), Nästa Steg? Förslag för en Stärkt Minoritetspolitik, (accessed on 15 March 2018); Swedish Equality Ombudsman (2008[30]), Discrimination of the Sami – The Rights of the Sami from a Discrimation Perspective, (accessed on 27 February 2018).

Beyond support for language and culture, another area of common engagement between the Sami and the municipality is with regards to reindeer herding and land management. Municipalities consult with reindeer herders where any land rights and access issues may arise. However, they at the same time have limited means to resolve some of the most pressing issues related to extractive industries and energy developments in their municipalities since these are largely the purview of the national government.16 Land use policies are discussed in Chapter 3.

Creating an enabling environment for Sami businesses and livelihoods

The manner in which the Sami are included in regional and rural development efforts in northern Sweden – including how funds are structured to support Sami businesses and institutions – tends to focus on reindeer herding activities, culture, tourism and food production. There are a number of ways to improve current policy settings for Sami businesses and economic development.

Make regional and rural development programme design more inclusive of the Sami

Sami-owned businesses have a number of characteristics which distinguishes them from non-Sami businesses. This includes the connection between business activities and the reproduction of culture and Sami institutions, the use of traditional knowledge in the management of the landscape and the production of goods and services, balancing market participation with non-market values, and the unique property rights regime associated with reindeer husbandry. Sami society is also small and predominantly located in sparsely populated areas. This is reflected in the average size of grants allocated through the Sami Parliament’s RDP funds relative to other funding streams.

Because of these unique characteristics, a number of challenges are generated in how the Sami economy is present in strategic planning and operational documents, and therefore their accessibility to programmes under the framework of the ERDF and EAFRD. These challenges can be summarised as the following: the minimum threshold size for grants and matching requirements is too high; the reproduction of traditional knowledge and culture are not recognised as legitimate economic development objectives; there is a mismatch between the needs of reindeer herders and what funding is available (e.g. lack of available upfront investment and the emphasis on skills and job creation); and administrative burdens associated with grant applications on micro-enterprises. It bears noting that such issues as threshold size for grants, matching requirements for funds and administrative burdens are a challenge for many small businesses and NGOs within rural development more generally.

The manner in which the Sami are referenced within policies or have access to targeted funds tends to focus either on reindeer herding or on the cultural sector. While Sami businesses often have unique characteristics and are guided by an underlying ethos of sustainability, cultural reproduction and connections to traditional forms of knowledge and methods, there are other elements in which they are much like other businesses in the north which face constraints related to sparsity and distance. While there are targeted funding measures for Sami businesses and initiatives through the RDP, Sami firms can also operate like any other and have access to the range of supports, the same as any business in Sweden. There are concerns among some Sami businesses and initiatives that identification as a Sami business requires one to first apply for funding through the Sami Parliament, even where the project criteria are not a strong fit or where the available funds may be more limited. For example, the cultural funds administered by the Sami Parliament are open to all Sami institutions and organisations on a yearly basis; there is a lot of burden and competition in this one area of funding. Further, within project criteria, it may be important for Sami businesses to remain small and this notion can contradict criteria for projects and funding that are based on the need for growth which not the will of those participating in traditional livelihoods with the Sami.

There are a number of options available to address these challenges and make regional and rural development programmes more inclusive of the Sami, programmes which are the purview of the Swedish government but also at the EU-level:

  • Ensure that Sami business and economic development objectives are better reflected in future revisions of Smart Specialisation Strategies, and ERDF allocations in Sapmi.

  • Provide support for intermediary organisations that can support collaboration between Sami owned businesses so they can build scale to jointly apply for grants.

  • Redesign rules/create opt-outs in the existing programme framework that create barriers to accessibility for Sami-owned businesses.

  • Create a separate Sami economic development programme that would combine funding from the RDP and the ERDF, and give the Sami Parliament of Sweden the competency to managing it and promoting the Sami economy.

  • Explore the potential of linking focus areas such as language and health within the European Social Fund with the Sami in regional and rural development efforts. In the past (2006), ESF funds were allocated for the Sami Parliament for Sami projects related to traditional knowledge, skills development/training and health.

Box 2.7. Programme design for Indigenous peoples: Experiences from Canada

Both the Government of Sweden and the EU do not currently offer many programmes and services specifically adapted to Sami needs. As a result, Sami must, in many cases, either use the same programmes and services as other Swedes or not at all. In contrast to Sweden, Canada’s governments have been developing programmes targeted towards Indigenous peoples for decades. Here the problem historically has been that those programmes were poorly designed, developed without properly consulting with the populations they were targeted towards. Since 2015, as part of a broad effort to achieve national reconciliation with Indigenous peoples through a renewed nation-to-nation relationship, the Government of Canada has made some significant changes to the way it goes about designing for and delivering programmes and services to its Indigenous peoples. Fundamental to that new approach is meaningful, ongoing consultation with Indigenous peoples through a distinctions-based approach that recognises the enormous diversity of Canada’s Indigenous population.

In 2016 the Government of Canada announced the establishment of permanent bilateral mechanisms between the Government and Canada’s Assembly of First Nations, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the four Inuit Nunangat Regions, and the Métis National Council. Through these new bilateral mechanisms, the prime minister is meeting with these representatives of Indigenous peoples each year to develop policy on shared priorities and monitor progress, with similar meetings with key cabinet ministers taking place at least twice each year. This consultative approach adopted at the highest level of government is being replicated throughout the public service at many levels.

Address regulatory and financial barriers to Sami business development

The legislative framework is extremely important – it shapes Sami community identity and economic relations. In terms of identity, it has created a cleavage in Sami society between those who practice reindeer husbandry and have associated rights – especially land rights and rights to hunting and fishing – and between those who do not. Increasing pressures on reindeer herding – as an industry that is under stress and change – intensifies the need for members to broaden their livelihoods. Samebyar could take on an important role in this regard and help to strengthen Sami businesses which tend to be small, less visible and that can often struggle to access markets. They have the potential to act as a broader vehicle for economic development. While individual members are able to establish companies without restriction, samebys have a unique role and are important for collective community decision making. Enabling samebyar to take on a wider range of economic activities could enhance their resilience and broaden membership.

One of the reported impediments to Sami economic development are challenges in accessing capital for business development. There are various reasons for this impediment. In some cases, business activities are small (Sami livelihoods may entail combining several activities) and as such, the types of loans that are available may not be the right fit. Another identified impediment is that while reindeer herding Sami hold herding, hunting and fishing rights across large tracts of land, these are not ownership rights – meaning they cannot be used as collateral for financial purposes. In some northern municipalities in Sweden, local lending institutions are sensitive to these characteristics and have adapted strategies to effectively meet the needs of Sami businesses. However, these practices are variable. In the case of duodji businesses, a reported impediment is that there is no industry code to recognise Sami duodji (one code for all types of handicrafts); consequently, there are no statistics to understand this economy. Consequently, Sami contributions to this industry are invisible and moreover, it is difficult to measure whether supports for Sami cultural industries are in fact leading to growth in this sector.

These types of challenges in accessing financing are a common challenge for Indigenous entrepreneurs across the OECD. Sami handcrafters are disproportionately women and it is reported that they are often hesitant to approach financial institutions for loans (based on research interviews). In North America, Indigenous financial institutions fill an important role in this regard (Box 2.8). These institutions are Indigenous-led and because of their community ownership have developed strong networks, linkages and trust with Indigenous peoples. In addition to financial intermediation, these institutions also provide capacity building and training for Indigenous entrepreneurs and business owners. A Sami-led financial institution could be capitalised in a number of ways, for example, through revenues from hunting and fishing licenses, benefit sharing agreements related to resource extraction, state funds, and the European Structural and Investment Funds. The applicability of this model to the Swedish Sami context should be explored. For example, it could be prudent for such an institution to have cross-border to reach (pan Sapmi) in order to access a more substantial number of benefactors and funding.

Box 2.8. Indigenous financial institutions

Businesses in remote rural areas can have difficulties in accessing capital and this problem is amplified for Indigenous entrepreneurs. In Canada, Indigenous peoples who live on reserves possess a right to live there but the land itself is owned by the Crown. To help address this and other problems experienced (such as discrimination) by Indigenous peoples in Canada the government supports an array of funding programmes and financial institutions dedicated to Indigenous needs. Examples include:

  • Aboriginal Financial Institutions (AFIs). A national network of autonomous, Indigenous-controlled, community-based financial organisations, AFIs provide lending and business financing and support services to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit businesses and communities in all provinces and territories.

  • BDC - Indigenous Entrepreneur Loan. The Business Development Bank of Canada is a national Crown Corporation dedicated to small businesses and entrepreneurs. The bank offers a loan whose eligibility and other conditions are tailored to the specific needs of Indigenous Canadian Entrepreneurs.

  • Government of Ontario – Indigenous Economic Development Fund (IEDF). The IEDF provides grants and financing to Aboriginal businesses and Indigenous communities and organisations. IEDF is administered on behalf of the Ontario Government by the AFIs. In recent years, both the federal and some provincial governments have been leveraging AFIs as delivery agents for several Indigenous financial support programmes.

In the United States, Native Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) can include loan funds, credit unions, banks, thrifts and depository institution holding companies that share a mission to promote economic development for Indigenous communities (Hoffman et al., 2016[33]). Native CDFIs in North America provide a variety of different banking and financial services, together with programmes to build the skills, capabilities, and financial literacy of Indigenous entrepreneurs and community members.

Meanwhile, in Australia, the Indigenous Entrepreneurs Capital Scheme (IECS) are a new initiative which recognises that Indigenous businesses often are unable to receive finance from banks because of lower levels of collateral and limited access to personal wealth. The IECS – co-designed with banks, investors and Indigenous businesses – will target Indigenous businesses who are established and ready to grow, but are under-capitalised and unable to access mainstream bank financing outright. It is anticipated that businesses participating in the scheme will be able to transition to mainstream banking independently over the medium term.

Source: Hoffman et al. (2016[33])Access to Capital and Credit in Native Communities (accessed on 05 April 2018).

There are two key options to consider for removing legislative and financial barriers to Sami business development:

  • Remove restrictions in the Reindeer Husbandry Act (1971) to sameby undertaking other economic activities.

  • Examine the viability of establishing a Sami-led Financial Institution that could provide financial intermediation and capacity building initiatives for Sami entrepreneurs and businesses.

Any review of laws and regulations related to reindeer herding should also consider the differences in rights and access to land between Sami who are members of Sami villages and Sami who are not. Removal of the restrictions in the Reindeer Husbandry Act (1971) to sameby undertaking other economic activities should be considered alongside ensuring that all Sami have the same opportunities and abilities to exercise their rights (e.g. rights to hunting and fishing).

Ensure regional and rural development programmes support clustering activities to support small businesses

The SWOT analysis undertaken by the Sami Parliament to inform the RDP highlights the importance of increased co-operation; the clustering of activities and the application of new service solutions (i.e. new technologies) to support Sami business development. Intermediary institutions play a critical role in this regard. Sami businesses tend to be small and, in many cases, offer high-end products. By clustering activities in certain sectors, these types of entrepreneurs can build capacity (e.g. pool marketing efforts) and have better access to markets. Many Sami make their livelihoods by combining a number of activities and business clusters can help such entrepreneurs manage these activities. For example, for reindeer herders who are also engaged in tourism activities, businesses owners can often be out of reception and require flexibility to deal with the demands of animal husbandry. There are clusters working together to cover for one another to fill in the demands of running a parallel tourism business.

The clustering of activities can take place through more formal or informal channels. There are examples for instance of hubs for the development of duodji that have played a critical role in the community. For example, the creative hub Vallje located in Gällivare (supported through the ERDF) provides a space for entrepreneurs to work on their craft and exchange practices and expertise. It also showcases these activities in the broader community. As many of the crafters are women, this hub is also specifically designed to help female entrepreneurs balance the demands of family and work – it has created an inclusive space where children are also welcome. Thus, the hub serves multiple functions – as a business incubator, workspace, cultural and social centre, and space for female empowerment and mentorship. Public funding to support these types of hubs/spaces (e.g. initial project loans or grants) can thus boost both Sami business and cultural development.

Options to better support clustering activities by Sami entrepreneurs are:

  • Include a specific reference in programme criteria for the ERDF and EARDF to support small-scale clusters for Sami businesses.

  • Recognise the role that Sami institutions (schools and cultural centres) can play as business incubators, and in business growth, and ensure they have the funding to provide this role.

Building capacity in the Sami business sector – Strengthening the role of intermediary institutions

Related to the notion of clustering, intermediary institutions – those that can act as a bridge between government and other funders and businesses – offer critical supports for Sami entrepreneurship. An effective example of this is the Economic Agency and Development Company in Gällivare (Ávki) which has a specialised competence in supporting the Sami business community. Ávki is a small organisation whose creation was born out of a project in 2009 which acquired three years of funding to develop Sami businesses; the project was funded by the EU, the municipalities, the region and a financial institution. Ávki’s main role today is to support bookkeeping and accounting practices, but they also develop their own projects and work as project leaders. At present, the organisation is involved in five projects and also runs Gällivare’s tourist information office. One of the most recent projects focuses on creating events that promote Sami entrepreneurship with a focus on Saami food. The aim is to strengthen Sami companies to create more jobs in Sapmi through information and development efforts. To accomplish this, relevant meeting places need to be created to provide the conditions for knowledge sharing, inspiration and visibility of Saami food culture and other products.

Because samebyar cannot be structured as companies (they are prohibited by law from running businesses), flexible companies like Ávki are able to take on a range of activities in support of local enterprise development. The vast majority of Ávki’s work is with microenterprises that need access to only a very small amount of capital. These firms can access small grants for investments and marketing and consulting from the Sami Parliament or the region. Importantly, because, many Sami are grounded in Sami culture, Ávki can support the development and growth of these firms on the basis of a strong understanding of the Sami lifestyle. The company is governed by a board and presently employs around ten people on various projects and for core business activities such as bookkeeping services. The municipality in Gällivare has been proactive in working with samebyar and understand their potential and Ávki has been successful as a result. The organisation is also reported to be well-linked with regional development efforts – it has worked closely with the region for two years on culture and creative SMEs and on the development of strategic plans.

Organisations such as Ávki are often in a precarious funding position, relying disproportionally on short-term project funding. More stability in their operations would help them improve their services, develop new projects including mentorship for new and aspiring entrepreneurs, and enhance their ability to partner with regional and local development efforts. A lack of stable funding has also hampered Visit Sapmi (they are no longer operational) and initiatives such as Slow Food Sapmi and Renlycka (quality label for fair trade and ecological reindeer products).

More stability in funding would also enable such organisations to collect more systematic information about their membership and the specific needs of the Sami business sector. At present Ávki does not survey its members for information. The Sami business community within the municipality (and even the broader region) is a small group and members tend to know one another; however, there is no structured information flow and co-operation among groups. Increased investment in intermediary institutions could help to address some of the threats identified by the Sami Parliament such as a lack of resources, low visibility of the Sami community and a lack of participation in local and regional development efforts.

Policy options to better support Sami-led development organisations are:

  • Provide core funding to these institutions to support projects and support Sami development in society.

  • Consider extending the Ávki model to other municipalities in the Sami language administrative area (or alternatively investigate a shared services model between municipalities).

Expand skills and training opportunities for Sami business development

Growth opportunities for Sami businesses and for northern Sweden more generally in such areas as tourism, cultural industries and food production require training and business skills in order to reach new markets and development, and deliver high-quality products and experiences. One key institution which supports these efforts is the Sami educational centre (upper secondary school and vocational training) in Jokkmokk which provides two-year training in duodji, languages and Sami food. It also offers cross-border education for reindeer herders who have to navigate a complex regulatory environment (e.g. navigate different land and reindeer herding laws) and includes students from Finland and Norway (this is part of an Interreg-funded project). The Sami educational centre has around 150 students and is the only such Sami education centre in Sweden; students board during term time. The Sami education centre trains crafters; it is a culture-generating business. This is a unique institution in Sapmi – while individuals who participate in the programme develop businesses, the institution also supports Sami society and self-sufficiency in culture and duodji. Another notable example is the upper secondary school at Bokenskolan/Laplands gymnasium of Jokkmokk. It offers a social science programme with a Sami profile and includes Sami languages, duodji, culture, guide training, reindeer knowledge and entrepreneurship as subjects. Application is open nationwide, and upon programme completion, students are eligible for university studies.

National policies should create an enabling environment for Sami and non-Sami alike. In some case, national rules are restrictive of Sami activities – often this has to do with size. For example, the Sami educational centre is hindered from becoming a centre of higher education because national rules stipulate that such a designation would require a higher number of students. In a similar vein, there is no Sami daily newspaper and establishing one has been hindered by national funding rules, including the requirement that newspapers release one issue per week and have at least 1 500 paying subscribers. Promisingly, in 2014, changes were made in order to make it easier for Sami newspapers access a press subsidy by lowering the threshold for subscribers.17

Beyond the types of skills training offered by the Sami educational centre, entrepreneurs need the opportunity to build the necessary business skills in such areas as accounting, business planning, and marketing. Training opportunities in mainstream Swedish education institutions are often too far away from where Sami live, do not offer training in Sami language, or simply do not operate on a timetable sensitive to the annual migration of reindeer that shapes Sami life. In the Rural Development Programme, there are funds managed by the Sami Parliament to support training. However, the reach and specialisation of such training could be expanded and involve a broader array of actors and institutions. Some flexible and place-based solutions to training could help to overcome the aforementioned challenges. Practices from Canada highlight how community-driven, economic development initiatives can be tailored to the particular needs of their community and how Indigenous organisations are leveraged to support the delivery of national programming in support of Aboriginal business and entrepreneurship development (Box 2.9).

Policy options to expand skills and training opportunities for Sami business development are:

  • Adapt rules related to the delivery of business training programmes to better match the needs of Sami entrepreneurs in rural areas.

  • Expand the availability of culturally sensitive business training opportunities (e.g. in Sami language and/or led by the Sami community and institutions).

Box 2.9. Indigenous business skills training in Canada

In Canada, Indigenous peoples also face a variety of challenges in developing the necessary skills and knowledge to be successful in business. The Government of Canada has created several programmes and institutions in an effort to help Indigenous peoples access skills training opportunities that meet their needs. Examples include:

  • Indigenous Community Futures Development Corporations. The Community Futures programme is a community-driven, economic development initiative designed to assist communities in Canada’s rural areas to develop and implement strategies for dealing with a changing economic environment (Community Futures Canada, 2018[34]). The Community Futures network consists of 268 non-profit Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDCs) across Canada. All CFDCs provide small business services such as loans, tools, training and information to people looking to start a business. Some CFDCs are located in Indigenous communities and are Indigenous-run, offering a package of CFDC services that is tailored to the particular needs of their community. Indigenous CFDCs are funded by the Regional Development Agencies.

  • Indigenous Services Canada - Aboriginal Business and Entrepreneurship Development (ABED). The ABED programme supports Indigenous entrepreneurs with activities such as: business planning, acquisitions and expansions; marketing initiatives that are local, domestic, or export-oriented; new product or process development; technology adoption; financial services; and business-related training and mentoring services (Indigenous Services Canada, 2018[35]). Like Ontario’s Indigenous Economic Development Fund, the ABED programme is delivered on behalf of the Government of Canada by Aboriginal Financial Institutions and is an example of Canada’s use of a third-party delivery mechanism whereby autonomous Indigenous organisations are leveraged to support the delivery of national programming. Third-party delivery mechanisms may be something worth exploring for Sweden. Organisations like Ávki could serve as delivery agents for programmes to support Sami businesses, and giving them this role would both help those services better reach the target population and also would strengthen Ávki itself, providing them with more stable funding.

Sources: Community Futures Canada (2018[34])Community Futures Canada, (accessed on 10 April 2018); Indigenous Services Canada (2018[35]), Aboriginal Business and Entrepreneurship Development (accessed on 10 April 2018).

Developing a sustainable Sami-led tourism industry

The tourism industry has been identified as a growth opportunity in northern Sweden. There is a great deal of potential to develop this industry further – particularly among Sami entrepreneurs. Tourism to the northern regions tends to be activity-based and there are efforts to increase year-round tourism. Being a large region, the transportation system, including infrastructure, needs to support tourism and priority areas for investment should be identified. Regional governments are taking a great interest in how they can support tourism efforts together with local governments and key stakeholders, the Sami among them. For example, the region of Norrbotten is investing in Swedish Lapland in tourism in order to strengthen work in this area with Sami entrepreneurs.

There are relatively few Sami businesses in tourism at the moment, though there are efforts to build this industry and increase the visibility and engagement of the Sami within. For example, the organisation Visit Sapmi has provided a certification system called “Sapmi experience” where one can learn about establishing a sustainable tourism company. This certification system helps people to find a tourism complement that works with reindeer herding. Visit Sapmi is currently not active due to a lack of funding. Efforts such as these need greater permanence and should be connected to the work of the Swedish Tourism Board. Moreover, the Sami Parliament could take a stronger role in promoting Sami tourism activities. There is a need to better link Sami tourism with broader efforts.

There are debates within the Sami community about how to protect cultural heritage; some activities like tourism are perceived by some members as detracting from these efforts. There are barriers to community-based tourism including a lack of know-how about carrying out such activities. Mentorship support and acceptance from the older generation to get commercial Sami activities up and running like in tourism is needed. Stronger engagement between Sami organisations and national and regional tourism efforts is needed. Groups like Visit Sapmi serve a critical function in their regard – however, their funding is precarious and they are not structured as robust long-term organisations.

Part of building a sustainable tourism industry in northern Sweden requires addressing land use conflicts. The value of inclusive models is demonstrated by the experience in the Laponia United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site – which includes 4 national parks and a number of nature reserves covering about 10 000 km². Within Laponia, tourist activities can take place in areas where reindeer graze and cause them stress. In other cases, tourism companies have fished without permits. Sami representatives are part of Laponia’s board and there is strong awareness among the Laponia’s management about the nature of Sami activities alongside efforts at ongoing meaningful engagement. The park has encouraged dialogue about land use issues and Laponia is providing information to tourist companies on the rules of conduct; this will be provided each year in order to lessen conflicts. This is useful on a number of fronts. It helps tourism operators develop effective practices and also lessens the burden upon samebyar to work individually with tourism operators to develop common solutions to using the space.

The CABs should provide better guidance to tourism operators about regulatory compliance issues prior to their engagement with Sami. At present, there are no guidelines at the level of the county board for dog sledding activities and how they should work with reindeer herders to avoid conflicts. The CABs are aware of reindeer migration routes and could help to inform businesses of how best to operate. More generally, there is a need for awareness building and cultural training for tourism operations. The National Union of the Swedish Saami People (SSR) has developed a Sami sustainability management plan and conducted a pilot project which included mapping in order to promote sustainable tourism. This was further developed into an action plan for tourism including best practices for how reindeer herders can work with tourism operators.

Policy options to develop a more sustainable Sami-led tourism industry are:

  • Provide a sustainable financing solution for Sami-led efforts related to certification, raising awareness and capacity building for tourism operators.

  • The northern counties together with local destination companies collaborate with the Sami Parliament, regional tourism organisations, regional and local destination companies such as Swedish Lapland and Visit Sapmi to ensure visibility for Sami tourism assets in local and regional promotional material. It is noted that Visit Sapmi no longer operational due to a lack of funding.

  • For the CABs to develop and promote guidance regarding how tourism operators should engage with reindeer herders and monitor compliance in relation to it (including providing information about reindeer migration timing and routes).18

Investments in Sami culture and education are investments in Sami economic development

Sami economic development is linked to Sami culture. Organisations such as the Sami Duodji Foundation (Sameslöjdstiftelsen Sámi Duodji, est. 1994) – a Swedish foundation aimed at promoting Sami crafts works for the promotion of joint ventures and that manages the use of the “Duodji brand” in Sweden, a handmade jewellery brand, and products of Sami craftsmen such as clothing, gear, household goods and fishing gear. The brand may be used for both traditionally-made Sami and other craftsmanship developed in traditional materials and methods. The foundation handles the annual Asa Kitok scholarship and publishes the weekly Duodjiforum magazine, distributed as an attachment to the magazine Samefolk. It has been supported by the Swedish Parliament; it received state funds which are channelled via the Sami Parliament. Another example of how cultural institutions serve multiple roles is the Tráhppie cafe in Västerbottens, which was founded by the Såhkie Umeå Sami Association in 2012. The cafe and cultural centre provide a meeting space, celebrate and promote Sami food, act as a music venue for Sami artists and sell duodji.

Northern regional development strategies all mention the importance of Sami culture as a key asset. This culture requires protections. One of the ongoing issues to address is how to protect Indigenous methods, techniques and products – their intellectual and cultural capital. Sami handcrafters on the Swedish side hold the duodji brand (which is owned by the Sami cultural organisation). Individuals who wish to have their products included under the Sami duodji brand need to submit them to the group to review in order to ensure that they are produced with authentic traditional techniques and materials in order to guarantee their quality and authenticity as a Sami duodji product. While consumers who are knowledgeable can seek out this brand in order to ensure that they have purchased an authentic product, this does not address the mass replication and use of Sami designs and technologies by non-Sami firms. There are ongoing efforts by groups such as Sami Duodji Foundation to secure intellectual copyrights and there is a growing need to address this. The Sami Duodji Foundation seeks to build the case for this and to potentially pursue litigation against cultural appropriation. These issues are common to many Indigenous peoples. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous peoples (2007) provides a broad recognition of Indigenous intellectual property and stipulates that, in conjunction with Indigenous peoples, states should take effective measures to recognise and protect the exercise of these rights (Rimmer, 2015[36]). At present, Sami organisations are under-resourced to pursue these matters.

Box 2.10. Enhancing Indigenous Intellectual Property (IP) rights

Many Indigenous technologies are based on tacit knowledge that has been handed down orally across generations. Because they are not the result of scientific discovery or have not been scientifically tested, they may not be valued or recognised as legitimate in areas such as health or natural resource management. Traditional Indigenous technologies are also not the property of the individual inventor. As a result, Indigenous technologies can be appropriated by other actors (entrepreneurs and corporations).

Indigenous forms of technological innovation challenge our traditional rule frameworks and programmes that are designed to incentivise and support innovation. These frameworks can be problematic when valuing Indigenous innovations by: focusing only on formal innovation systems where science-based research and development activity is a prerequisite for support; focusing support only on innovations that have the potential for rapid growth (gazelles); requiring that an innovation be novel in a national or international context before it can be supported; establishing high minimum funding levels and complex application procedures that can be difficult for individuals or small firms to deal with; and concentrating efforts to promote innovation in urban areas.

Indigenous Intellectual Property (IP) rights have been increasing source of controversy, discussion and policy responses in recent years. This includes the need to develop legal instruments regarding the use and protection of traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions, and biological material. International negotiations on protection for traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions are currently taking place inter alia in the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Committee on Intellectual Property, Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore. Beyond the need for improved legal acknowledgement and protections within international and national legal frameworks, nation states and non-government organisations can also institute programmes related to the certification of Indigenous products and services to better protect Indigenous entrepreneurs.

There are relevantly few institutions that promote Sami culture in Sweden in comparison to, for example, Norway. In Sweden there are 3 organisations in the cultural sector for Sami while in Norway there are at least 30; Norway provides NOK 150 million to the Sami cultural sector whereas Sweden provides SEK 18 million. Swedish Sami working in the cultural sector note that there is a “brain drain” from Sweden to Norway of gifted and well-educated Sami. From a Sami and arctic point of view, the creative sector has great value (including intrinsic value) and there are successful Sami artists gaining international recognition. For example, the highly successful and award-winning 2016 film Sami Blood (Sameblod) – a Swedish coming-of-age drama about Sami identity and discrimination in Sweden – has raised awareness about Sami relations in Sweden and worldwide. This film was financed by the Swedish Film Institute, the Danish Film Institute, the International Sami Film Institute, Eurimages, Norwegian film funds, other smaller funds. It is also a co-production with Swedish Television.

Sami organisations that support the cultural sector are highly reliant on project funding and volunteer efforts. It is very difficult to build robust cultural institutions with these constraints. The precarious nature of funding in this sector means that employees of Sami cultural institutions often have limited job security and tend to supplement this income with duodji.

Policy options to develop stronger Sami cultural institutions to support economic development efforts are:

  • Work with the Sami Duodji Foundation to develop a strategy to raise awareness about the Duodji mark in Sweden, particularly with the tourism sector.

  • Undertake an audit of access to cultural institutions in northern Sweden for Sami people, and identify options for sustainable funding related to their community and economic development functions.


[5] Anaya, J. (2011), Human Rights Council Eighteenth Session; Promotion and protection of all human rights: the situation of the Sami people in the Sápmi region of Norway, Sweden and Finland, (accessed on 08 April 2018).

[34] Community Futures Canada (2018), Community Futures Canada, (accessed on 10 April 2018).

[22] European Commission (2018), INTERREG III A - Finland / Sweden / Norway / Russia - Regional Policy, (accessed on 26 March 2018).

[24] European Commission (2018), INTERREG III A - Sweden/ Norway - Regional Policy, (accessed on 26 March 2018).

[20] European Commission (2018), Interreg V-A - Sweden-Finland-Norway (Nord) - Regional Policy, (accessed on 26 March 2018).

[23] European Commission (2018), Objective 1 programme for Södra Skogslän - Regional Policy, (accessed on 26 March 2018).

[21] European Commission (2018), Operational Programme 'North' - Regional Policy, (accessed on 26 March 2018).

[12] European Commission (2018), Smart Specialisation Platform,

[14] European Commission (2014), Factsheet on 2014-2020 Rural Development Programme for Sweden, (accessed on 29 March 2018).

[8] European Structural and Investments Funds (2018), ESIF 2014-2020 Finances Planned Details - Data, (accessed on 13 April 2018).

[18] Gower Lewis, D. (2003), The Saami and Sápmiland as an Example of the Application of Indigenous Rights within the European Union, Lund University, Faculty of Law, (accessed on 22 March 2018).

[6] Hagsgård, M. (2016), Renskötselrätten och de Allmänna Intressena av Samisk Kultur och Renskötsel i Nationalparker och Naturreservat - En Rapport till Naturvårdsverket [Reindeer husbandry and the general interests of Sami culture and reindeer husbandry in National Parks], Rättsutredning, Stockholm,,%20Marie%20B.%20Ha (accessed on 27 February 2018).

[26] Härjedalen, R. (2014), Innovativt & Attraktivt: Regional Utvecklingsstrategi 2014–30 [Innovative & Attractive: Regional Development Strategy 2014-2030], (accessed on 30 March 2018).

[33] Hoffman, D. et al. (2016), Access to Capital and Credit in Native Communities, Native Nations Institute, (accessed on 05 April 2018).

[35] Indigenous Services Canada (2018), Aboriginal Business and Entrepreneurship Development, (accessed on 10 April 2018).

[17] Kulturdepartementet (2017), Konsultation i Frågor som Rör det Samiska Folket [Consultation with Sami people], Kulturdepartementet Regeringskansliet, Stockholm, (accessed on 20 March 2018).

[32] Kulturdepartementet (2017), Nästa Steg? Förslag för en Stärkt Minoritetspolitik [Next steps? Proposals for a strengthened minority policy], (accessed on 15 March 2018).

[27] Län Norrbotten (2017), Regional Utvecklingsstrategi för Hållbar Framtid i Norrbotten 2020 [Regional Development Strategy for a Sustainable Future in Norrbotten 2020], (accessed on 30 March 2018).

[3] Lawrence, R. and U. Mörkenstam (2016), “Indigenous self-determination through a government agency? The impossible task of the Swedish Sámediggi”, International Journal on Minority and Group Rights, Vol. 23/1, pp. 105-127,

[11] OECD (2018), “Sweden”, in OECD Tourism Trends and Policies 2018, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[7] OECD (2017), OECD Territorial Reviews: Northern Sparsely Populated Areas, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[10] OECD (2017), OECD Territorial Reviews: Sweden 2017: Monitoring Progress in Multi-level Governance and Rural Policy, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[9] Regingskansliet (2015), En Nationell Strategi för Hållbar Regional Tillväxt och Attraktions Kraft 2015-2020 [A National Strategy for Sustainable Regional Growth and Attraction 2015-2020], (accessed on 15 March 2018).

[28] Region Västerbottens (2014), RUS 2014–2020 Regional Utvecklingsstrategi för Västerbottens [RUS 2014-2020 Regional Development Strategy for Västerbotten], (accessed on 30 March 2018).

[16] Riksdag (2018), En Sammanhållen Politik för Sveriges Landsbygder – För ett Sverige som Håller Ihop [A coherent policy for Sweden's lands: For a cohesive Sweden], (accessed on 20 March 2018).

[36] Rimmer, M. (2015), Indigenous Intellectual Property: A Handbook of Contemporary Research, Edward Elgar Publishing, (accessed on 11 April 2018).

[31] Såhkie (2018), Såhkie Umeå Sami Association, (accessed on 11 April 2018).

[19] Samer (2018), The Sami and the EU, (accessed on 22 March 2018).

[15] Sametinget (2018), 2018 Questionnaire for Linking Indigenous People with Regional Development in Sweden.

[4] Sametinget (2018), Budgetunderlag 2018-2020 [Budget 2018-2020], (accessed on 26 March 2018).

[29] Sametinget (2018), Näringspolitik [Economic policy], (accessed on 28 February 2018).

[13] Sametinget (2015), Sametinget Handlingsplan för Landsbygdsprogrammet [Sami action plan for rural development], (accessed on 15 March 2018).

[25] Sametinget Kulturdepartementet (2018), Angående Förvaltningsverktyg för Förekomst av Stora Rovdjur Baserat på en Toleransnivå för Rennäringen.

[1] Sveriges Riksdag (2018), Ett Enhetligt Regionalt Utvecklingsansvar, (accessed on 6 July 2018).

[2] Sveriges Riksdag (2018), Ett Enhetligt Regionalt Utvecklingsansvar, Konstitutionsutskottets Betänkande 2017/18:KU46 [A Uniform regional development responsibility, Constitutional committee report 2017/18: KU46], (accessed on 6 July 2018).

[30] Swedish Equality Ombudsman (2008), Discrimination of the Sami – The Rights of the Sami from a Discrimation Perspective, Ombudsmannen mot Etnisk Diskriminering, Stockholm, (accessed on 27 February 2018).


← 1. The national rural policy is specified through three sub-targets. The first is sustainable growth: in other words, the ability of the rural areas to make use of the conditions for enterprise and employment is long-term sustainable, while achieving the environmental goals. The rural areas contribute to a positive development of Sweden's economy. The second is a circular, bio-based and fossil-free economy as well as sustainable use of natural resources; rural areas should contribute to strengthening Sweden's competitiveness in a development towards a circular, bio-based and fossil-free economy and to the sustainable use of natural resources as well as fulfilment of relevant environmental quality objectives. The third is to have attractive habitats in Sweden's rural areas and equal opportunities for people to work, reside and live in rural areas.

← 2. In Canada the indigenous affairs portfolio is led by two dedicated ministers - the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs and the Minister of Indigenous Services.

← 3. The Sami School Board is an administrative agency for public Sami schools (compulsory schools up until Grade 6) and their affiliated activities, which are governed by the Sami School Ordinance (Sameskolförordning, 1995:205). Sami pupils are entitled to be taught in their native language if the native language of one or both parents or guardians is not Swedish. However, a municipality is only obliged to arrange mother tongue teaching in Sami if a suitable teacher is available and the pupil has a basic knowledge of Sami. The rules in the Upper Secondary School Ordinance are the same as those in the rules as in the Compulsory School Ordinance. The only difference is that an upper secondary school pupil must have good knowledge rather than basic knowledge in Sami to be entitled to teaching in the Sami languages. The Sami children are allowed to attend a Sami school for the six first grades. Teaching there must be in both Sami and Swedish and the Sami subject must be taught in all grades. There are five Sami schools which are run by the Sami School Board – an administrative agency for public Sami schools and their affiliated activities – which are governed by the Sami School Ordinance.

← 4. Certain administrative tasks were transferred from County Administrative Boards and the Ministry of Agriculture to the Sami Parliament in 2007 (see Bill 2005/2006:86 on increasing Sami influence [Ett ökat samiskt inflytande]). Tasks transferred from the Agriculture Board and the CABs to the Sami Parliament for the co-ordination of reindeer administration include: funds, administrating and registering renmärken (reindeer marks) and keeping them on a register, responsibility for appeals of decisions made by the annual meeting in the samebyar and decisions concerning membership, borders of the samebyar, maintenance of reindeer fences along the Swedish/Norwegian border, decisions regarding funds from hydroelectric exploitation (Bygdemedel).

← 5. There are exceptions to this (e.g. migrant integration services) but generally Sweden aims to deliver high-quality services to all citizens.

← 6. The Board of Agriculture is the managing authority.

← 7. The Sami partnership is composed of: The Sami National Association (SSR); Renägarförbundet; Sámi Duodji; the Sami Training Centre; Sáminuorra – Sami Riksungdomsorganisation; Visit Sapmi; Slow Food Sapmi; Umeå University – Cesam; SLU research department; Swedish Federation of Swedish Sami.

← 8. Own calculations based on projects funded in the 2014-20 RDP programming period to date (to 2018). The average total project financing for all RDP programme measures excluding funds managed by the Sami Parliament was SEK 2 405 551, while for Sami projects this stood at SEK 571 363.

← 9. Renvallar are pastured fields that traditionally have been used for milking or as a protection against predators during summertime. Due to the grazing intensity of the soil, the vegetation here consists of a specific beet-dependent flora worth conserving and maintaining.

← 10. Loss of reindeer varies between years and counties. Estimated loss of reindeer varies between years, counties and samebyar. In their annual reports for 2017, the 5 counties concerned estimate loss of reindeer in the range of 7%-40 %, however some samebyar have not estimated their losses (source: Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation, Division for Fisheries, Game Management and Reindeer husbandry).

← 11. In 6 counties, responsibilities for regional development falls to Regional Co-operation Bodies; in 13 counties the County Councils are in charge; in 1 municipality (with the responsibility of a county council), in 1 county the County Administrative Boards take care of these functions. Since the beginning of 2017, 4 more counties will assume responsibility for regional development, increasing the number of counties responsible for regional development to 14. A reform will result in all County Councils taking responsibility for regional development from 1st January 2019 with one exception of a municipality (with the responsibility of a county council).

← 12. Region Jämtland-Härjedalen was formed 1 January 2015 and was formerly known as Jämtland County Council (and is still formally in the constitution a County Council despite the change of its official name, as all regions are). The region is responsible for healthcare and regional development. Norrbotten County Council was transformed into a region on 1 January 2017; it has four different areas of activity: healthcare and dental care, regional development, culture and education, and county engineering and services. Region Västerbotten is a Regional Co-operation Body with regional development responsibility in Västerbotten County. It was formed 1 January 2008 by the county's 15 municipalities and the county council of Västerbotten.

← 13. There will be one exception, on the Island of Gotland where there is only one municipality and no County Council. That municipality does also have the responsibility of the County Council (and does already have the responsibility of regional development).

← 14. Spatial planning is not a competency of the regional level; however, it has direct impacts on the capacity for these regions to achieve their population growth and economic development objectives.

← 15. There are political differences in terms of whether different Sámi languages are recognised as languages (as in Finland by law) or dialects (as in Sweden, with varying practice). There are, depending on the nature and terms of division, ten or more Sami languages; nine of the languages are at present living languages and the largest six of the languages have independent literary.

← 16. Note that municipalities have an unconditional veto right in regard of new wind power plants.

← 17. In 2014 changes were made to the regulation of newspapers subsidies, where newspapers published in national minority languages would need to have 750 paying subscribers instead of 1 500 (which is the case for all other newspapers). This regulation will be prolonged to 2023 pending approval by the European Commission (the regulation is now valid until the end of 2019). Apart from this, two new forms of subsidy will be in place by January 2019 (if approved by the European Commission): one is an innovation and development subsidy which supports technical innovations in the newspaper branch, the other is a subsidy for geographical areas with low or no journalistic presence. Both these new subsidy schemes could potentially have positive consequences for national minorities. The new schemes also have a lower threshold of 750 subscribers instead of the usual 1 500.

← 18. At present there is no authority that supervises or provides guidance on the prohibition to “scare and disturb” reindeers which is included in the Reindeer Husbandry Act (RNL 93-94). Presently the reindeer herder reports the matter to the police in the event of a disturbance. If the prosecutor decides to take the matter to court, the reindeer herder then has to witness.

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