Karolina Sevä – Sámi Entrepreneur in Jokkmokk

Karolina Sevä is a Sámi entrepreneur living in Jokkmokk. She works with duodji, traditional Sámi handicraft. We followed her a day out in the forest where she collects bark from the sallow tree. The bark is to be used when tanning reindeer leather. The leather is later used for creating duodji. 

It’s a warm summer day, the first of July, when we visit Karolina Sevä in Jokkmokk. Karolina is originally from Kiruna but lives in Jokkmokk with her family. She works with duodji, traditional Sámi handicraft, and we were invited to join her in the forest while she was collecting bark from the sallow tree. 

She easily finds the suitable terrain where sallow grows and she chooses the thinnest trees. She asks the sallow for permission for her intentions. The allowance is given and, with a gentle hand, she cuts down the ones she needs. Afterwards, she sends a silent thank you to the trees. She tells us that it is best to gather bark in the beginning of summer, when the trees have sap. At that time it is easy to peel of the bark that is later dried for storage. When it’s time for tanning the hide, she needs to mill the bark before she boils it with water and some salt. The water from the bark contains tannic acid and is perfect for its purpose. The process doesn’t only give a beautiful color to the leather, but also makes it soft and sustainable for generations to come. It is an old sámi traditional knowledge, that she has been gifted from her áhkku, grandmother, and will in turn give to her daughters when they get old enough. And so the knowledge is passed forward and kept safe for generations.

The bark that is used can be gathered from different species. A duojar can also mix bark from different trees which changes the properties and color in the leather. However, Karolina’s familybond to the sallow is strong and outruns generations. In her grandmothers instructions on how to tan the leather (something she in turn learned from the generations before her), sallow is essential. The ways of tanning leather are individual, just like other family traditions. 

Karolina says that the Sámi way of life, is to only take what is needed, and never more. And to gather with caution and respect for the nature. ”In that way this whole process is circular, ecological, local and sustainable.”

Tanning their own leather is a part of the duodji tradition for the Sámi people and the process is sustainable and circular already from the reindeer. When the reindeer is slaughtered they make sure to use everything, extremely little is wasted. The hides are either dried or dehaired and then used as rawhides or tan to soften as leather for sewing and creating clothes or tools. The meat and intestines are cooked and eaten, the antlers are used for duodji such as knives and other tools. 

Karolina brings forth a tanned reindeer leather, sisti as it is called in Northern Sámi, that she already has completed the whole process with. She has dehaired the skin, collected and boiled the bark, tanned the leather in the bark water and then softened it, all by hand. With the finished result in front of us, we can’t doubt the quality which is brought by hours of work. The leather is soft and smooth and has a lovely scent of bark. Karolina says that there is a big difference between a leather that is treated by hand or by machine. The difference is obvious in the whole product: the smell, touch and sustainability. This particular leather she work into gáfeseahkat – bags to store coffee in. The coffee bag is a product that the Sámi have used for generations, and that is still used today on a daily basis.

The sustainability is lifelong. The reindeer leather is teared and colored darker naturally with time and use. Everything is biodegradable and free of toxins, consisting only of natural materials. This connected with the fact that the Sámi only take what is needed from nature, makes it very difficult to find historical traces of the Sámi out in the forest and mountains. The Sámi way of living in symbiosis with the nature, is shown in the most sustainable way even while creating beautiful clothes or bags.

Blog text by,
Leila Nutti, Project Manager, Strukturum Jokkmokk

Recycling Station and Store in Jokkmokk

Magnus Vannar is the cleaning manager in Jokkmokk municipality who, among other things, works at the recycling station where they recently started a recycling store –Återvinsten / the reconstruction- during the spring.

We visit him at the store on 30 June for a tour at the shop. “The 31 May the store ”Återvinsten” was opened, a recycling store in Jokkmokk located in the same area as the recycling station. Everything at the store is recycled, the sign and even the name, the interior and of course the products.” – Magnus informs us. The response of the people in Jokkmokk has been good and the first week they sold for around 20.000 swedish crowns. All the products would have been thrown away, but they were recovered by the recycling station and have now been given a second chance. The price of the products in store is only a symbolic cost. “The whole idea is to get useful products back on the market so they can continue to be used instead of being discarded. All of the products are classified and checked by the staff before they are approved to be resold at the store. This is to ensure that it is only functional products that are coming back to homes.” Magnus continues.

Magnus´ vision and wish is that more people will shop at second hand stores. Stores that can sell products of good quality. At the same time the customers will get the opportunity to buy something recycled, instead of buying new products all the time. In that way we can reduce our impact on the planet. ”We want to prevent people from buying a new shovel that breaks after one use. Instead customers can visit us and buy a recycled shovel made of old solid metal that has lasted for fifty years and will, for sure, last for another fifty.” Magnus says.

However, Magnus says it hasn’t been easy to start a recycling store that has its foundation at the recycling station because of the limitations set by laws and regulations. But he emphasizes that if you start to see possibilities instead of limitations you can accomplish a lot.

One of Jokkmokk municipalities goal is to be really good with cleaning with possibilities for recycling and circular lifestyle for everyone. 

Thank you Magnus and “Återvinsten” for the lovely visit! 
Follow @AVCJokkmokk on Facebook. 

Blog post by,
Leila Nutti, Project manager, Strukturum Jokkmokk

GRUDE joins Nordic Circular Arena, the network of networks

The Nordic Circular Arena is a digital platform aiming to become “The Go-to place for everything about circular economy in the Nordics”. It was launched on June 15th and is developed and hosted by Nordic Circular Hotspot in collaboration with Nordic Innovation. 

The platform is based on findings from a stakeholder survey Nordic Circular Hotspot carried out in 2019 where the findings were that there was a need of a platform in the Nordics: 

• To share circular innovation, technology and new business ideas 

• For regional knowledge sharing, and capacity building 

• To find companies / people with similar circular challenges as their own 

• For cross-Nordic business collaboration 

• For regional political collaboration 

• Where you can find circular experts 
These findings were used as the base on how to build the platform. Another wish that came along the way was to be able to include other networks working with circularity to make it a network of circular networks. This in order to truly make it a place for everything about circular economy in the Nordics. GRUDE is one of these networks signing on early on. 

The GRUDE project emphasises the rural arctic, and therefore, the GRUDE network will work to create awareness on rural topics and perspectives on Nordic Circular Arena. The goal of our network in the arena is to function as a steppingstone for people working with circular economy in the rural arctic into the global network of Nordic Circular Arena. Here, you can come to seek more knowledge or to get an overview of green initiatives in the region, or even share what they are working on, start a debate or get input. We believe Nordic Circular Arena is the perfect spot for this!    

The Nordic Circular Arena is free to use and is a co-creation platform where everyone can contribute to post news, events, ideas, discussions and projects regarding circular economy in the region. The Nordic Circular Hotspot wants everyone to help fil the platform with content and start collaborating. This way we can hopefully accelerate the transition to a circular economy in the Nordics! 

The GRUDE network offers several tools to its members:   

• Get in touch! The GRUDE network is a steppingstone into bigger network of Nordic Circular Arena  

• Gather information and knowledge from the whole Nordics on a topic you are working on, or curious of, on the knowledge database available in the Arena  

• Share planned events (webinar, workshops, conferences) in the Nordic Circular Arena to recruit participants  

• Are you in the ideation phase of a project? Use the Forums or News feed to test statements or to start a discussion  

Join the Nordic Circular Arena and GRUDE network here: https://nordiccirculararena.com/topics/25225

Blogtext by:

Elin Bergman, COO Cradlenet/Co-founder & Managing Partner Nordic Circular Hotspot

Kine Jakobsen, SINTEF Nord/GRUDE project

Perspectives on Sustainable Tourism – Local Communities and the Outdoor Etiquette

This blog text is a summary of four inspiring case-presentations heard as a part of a small group discussion in the GRUDE Grennovation Camp in May.

Outdoor Etiquette and Responsible Hiking

Pirjo Rautiainen,
Metsähallitus, Finland

Metsähallitus is a state-owned enterprise that produces environmental services for a diverse customer base; ranging from private individuals to major companies. Finland, as well as Sweden, has “everyman’s rights” or “freedom to roam” which makes it easy for people to enjoy nature. Everyman’s rights have been integrated in the Finnish, as well as, Swedish and Norwegian cultures for decades, but nowadays the nature areas are meeting a new public who are not necessarily familiar with how to behave in nature. In addition, everyman’s rights do not apply everywhere and as Pirjo pointed out, it is hard to know exactly what rules apply to a certain area. The problems of littering, fire-making and stone-piling have become more and more frequent.

Therefore, Metsähallitus has created a “Code of Conduct” for those who visit nature areas in Finland. The purpose has been to make it as simple and concise as possible. The general guidelines are:

  1. Respect nature (ground rule for all outdoor activities)
  2. Use marked trails
  3. Camp only where it is allowed
  4. Light your campfire only where it is allowed
  5. Do not litter

Real Life Encounters as a Way to Enhance Cultural Sustainability

Anna Kuhmunen,
entrepreneur at Silba Siida (Jokkmokk, Sweden)

Anna Kuhmunen is a Sami woman who moved South to Jokkmokk, from Kiruna area. She comes from a reindeer herding family and is married to a reindeer herder. This is why it was a natural choice for her own family to continue the tradition. Anna worked in television for many years but when her children grew older she wanted to show them that it is possible to make a living of the traditional Sami lifestyle.

Anna Kuhmunen works full time as a reindeer herder.

Anna and her family started to welcome visitors to their home and everyday life.  She points out that their goal is not to be like a zoo or an animal park, but to show people the real life with reindeer. To Anna, it is important that the visitors get to see the reality, not a fake setup. Due to climate change, the reindeer can be very sick and worn down when they come home after roaming in the wild. That gives Anna a reason to speak to her visitors about how the climate change is affecting the reindeer herders and their livestock.

Nowadays, Anna and her family get visitors from all over the world and she hopes that more people would dare to show their everyday life for visitors. “No matter how dull you think your life is, there is always someone who finds it exciting and exotic!” As an example, she takes up her friend Sofia who goes ice bathing on a regular basis. Sofia doesn’t see it as something out of the ordinary but many other people do, and Anna says, she is sure that people would like to come along if they got the chance!

Community Engagement 

Ann Eileen Lennert,
Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO)

Ann opened her presentation by stressing the importance of local ownership and community perspective in tourism strategies. “Community engagement is a key, as well as, establishing good frames for long term cooperation and dialogue. It is important to plan when we want to have guests – and when we don’t”.

Similarly in national parks, the importance of guidelines for visitors cannot be emphasized enough. Creating the guidelines requires a clear local perspective on what we want visitors to experience and how they are expected to behave during their visit. In addition, tourism management strategies should take into account community perspectives and ownership. As Taleb Rifai, the former Secretary General of the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization has said: “There is no future for travel and tourism if you are not welcome and embraced by the local community”. From the locals’ point of view, however, there are many factors to consider. For instance, it is not obvious that the residents want to have marked trails in their living area as that might cause disturbance and crowding.

How Tour Companies Are Inspiring Tourists to Do Right?

Anna Martinez,
West Sweden Tourist Board

Because of her Spanish-Swedish background, Anna has observed the consequences of tourism in Sweden from a wide perspective. She has been working in tourism industry for many years and in many different countries. According to Anna, there was not many countries speaking about sustainable tourism 20 years ago. Costa Rica and Australia where among the early countries to raise the question. Today, however, you can even study sustainable tourism on university level.

Many years ago, Spain was facing the same challenges that Sweden is facing today with an increased number of visitors. Anna pointed out that tourist guides have a great responsibility – the guests will believe almost everything a guide tells them, and thus, they have a great power to influence. As a tour company there are many ways to nudge and reward the guests. One good example is to offer bonuses for tourists who arrive by train. Zero waste travel is another challenge, but there are success stories about that as well.

A bigger question that has no easy answer, concerns long-haul travelling. For example, if a nature tourism company in Sweden receives visitors from Dubai, how can their stay in the destination be arranged sustainably and is it even possible to compensate the long journey? Moreover, the terms we use when talking about ethical guidelines and responsible travel may need to be reassessed if have visitors from different cultures. For example, the instruction about leaving no trace in nature can be too ambiguous and needs to be clarified. Therefore, the companies have a great possibility to communicate with their international guests and influence the way they behave during their stay.

The discussion in the group ranged from the future of reindeer herding to the major increase a social media influencers’ visit can make on a popularity of a destination.

Blog text by:
Amanda Mannervik, Strukturum Jokkmokk,
Seija Tuulentie, Natural Resources Institute Finland

Cultural Sustainability in Tourism

Picture: Antti Pietikäinen

“Cultural understanding requires knowing yourself and your culture”

This blog text is a summary of four inspiring case-presentations heard as a part of a small group discussion in the GRUDE Grennovation Camp in May.

The aim of cultural sustainability is to know and appreciate cultural diversity and to strengthen cultural identities. Local cultures and ways of living give tourism destinations their own personal character. Tourists, similar to local people, are more and more interested in sustainable and authentic experiences. Therefore, tourism companies are nowadays required to consider what sustainability means for their business and how they can operate in a responsible and culturally sensitive way. In the European Arctic, specific attention should be given to the indigenous Sami culture because of its vulnerability as a minority culture.

Hilde Bjørkli, Head of Competence and Development in Visit Northern Norway, gave a presentation about the project “Culturally Sensitive Tourism in the Arctic” (ARCTISEN). She talked about cultural sensitivity as a part of cultural sustainability. According to Hilde, it is the guests’ responsibility to behave respectfully towards the local culture. At the same time, the hosts are responsible for creating and facilitating encounters between travelers and the local way of life. Nowadays, tourists are generally well educated and it is high time to shift away from cultural appropriations, assimilation and stereotyping, towards recognition, respect and reciprocity.

Monika Lüthje who is also working in the project ARCTISEN, in the University of Lapland, introduced new, culturally sensitive tourism products. These products are based on local cultures and they promote meaningful interaction between hosts and guests. Culturally sensitive tourism products focus on breaking down stereotypes, enabling reciprocal learning and cultural exchange, as well as, enhance mutual understanding and respect. You can read more about the project ARCTISEN here.

Jose Antonio Gordillo Martorell, Education Project Leader in Norbotten’s Museum, continued with a presentation about Digital Experiences for Sustainable Tourism. Jose Antonio raised a question of how could digital and physical resources be mixed in an efficient way, in order to, create a powerful tourism experience. Could we move towards cross-disciplinary and holistic approach of tourism by, for example, including learning, as well as, sustainable and community building elements to travel business? You can read more about the project here.

Lastly, Sisko Häikiö at Lapland UAS approached the question of how could responsibility communication make a change in consumer behavior in tourism? She presented the VALUE-project which is funded by European Regional Development Fund. The aim of the project is to develop the business in tourism SMEs by supporting growth and competitive advantage, as well as, increasing sustainability expertise. Furthermore, the objective is to support sustainable business and growth of Lapland’s tourism companies by developing digital sustainability communication. To know more about the project you can contact Sisko or her colleague Kati Koivunen on LinkedIn, and check out Visit Levi and Visit Sea Lapland websites.

As a final remark we would like you to reflect upon these open questions: Why do we want to receive tourists in our region? What contributions tourism should have? What kind of tourism do we want to attract, and finally, how do we find the right target groups and develop meaningful experiences for them?

Interesting and current questions of cultural sustainability were addressed in a group session in GRUDE project’s fourth Greennovation Camp in May.

Blog text by,
Grethe Lilleng, SINTEF Nord, Norway
Kine Jakobsen, SINTEF Nord, Norway

Header picture:
Lapin materiaalipankki, Antti Pietikäinen

How to Create an Environmentally Sustainable Tourism Resort?

Tourism has been evaluated to cause up to 8 % of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. The concept of environmental sustainability in tourism raises somewhat contradictory thoughts. Do tourism and ecology even fit into the same sentence? Is it possible to achieve environmental sustainability in tourism? Is the whole idea hypocritical when you think about the carbon footprint of traditional tourism?

In the first place, long journeys are not a necessity. Reducing flying also lowers the CO2 emissions. In addition, our homeland is a very attractive destination to tourists from other continents. So why not for us as well? Lapland is the home for unique nature, peace, northern lights and the midnight sun. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased interest in domestic travel when foreign countries are out of reach. Prior to the coronavirus, Northern tourism services have been aimed specifically for foreign tourists, which has been reflected in both the content and pricing of the services. Domestic tourist attractions may seem too common for the locals, when in reality, they might not be familiar with the potential experiences they offer. Domestic tourism is also associated with the idea of independent activities, which hampers the utilization of services and guided tours.

Challenges for sustainability exist also in travel destinations. For example, tourist resorts in sparsely populated Lapland, have difficulties in organizing the collection and handling of source separated food waste and plastics. Relatively small amounts of waste are generated, and the organization of logistics and treatment for the various waste fractions is progressing slowly. Recycling also requires help from stakeholders in the form of organizing waste management that enables it. For instance, processing of biodegradable waste would be wise to carry out as co-operation of different fields such as households, tourism, and businesses. The cooperation would strengthen operation stability, as well as, likely increase profitability of the processing (e.g. in biogas plants).

The Nordic specialty and privilege, everyman’s rights, enable people to enjoy nature freely. This privilege has unfortunately also been abused: littering serves as an example. First aid for the problem might actually be very simple: making information better available for tourists. But how can, for example, a sled dog business and environmental sustainability be combined? The dogs that enable the husky safaris eat meat and produce nutrient-rich feces throughout the year, not just during the winter season. Entrepreneurs themselves have already been quite active in this matter, although the topic has not yet become a top concern for even the most conscious customers. Composting of dog wastes as a side job is only possible for relatively small amounts of material, so more organized recycling of biodegradable waste is needed, as well as, for example, recycling opportunities for plastics.

There are many factors in environmental sustainability of tourism. Travelling to a destination is one, but not the only step in the journey that causes environmental burden.

The challenges of environmental sustainability were addressed in a group discussion at the GRUDE project’s fourth Greennovation Camp in May.

Blogtext by:
Satu Ervasti, Natural Resources Institute Finland
Sari Nisula, Lapland University of Applied Sciences

International Tourism as an Opportunity and Challenge for Business and Community in the North

This blog text is a summary of one the three Grennovation Camp keynote presentations. Dieter Müller from Umeå University presented an academic perspective on arctic tourism and its future by exploring current global trends which affect travel industry.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, globalization and an economic interest in the arctic resources, as well as, increased media attention were creating a large international appeal to experience the arctic. Travelling companies in the North had learned to utilize the increased international interest in their marketing. Tourism had also become a way of maintaining a certain service level in the rural areas.

The future of arctic tourism after the pandemic, however, seems yet uncertain. Due to global warming the snowy winter season – which has been the main attraction for tourists – is shortening. The general attitude towards international marketing and long-haul flights also seems to be turning more negative. In fact, deglobalization, first caused by the pandemic, may turn into a more permanent trend in the travelling industry as consumers begin to make choices more consciously.

This means that travel companies that are ready to engage in the green shift may find out that it becomes a considerable competition benefit both now and in the future. Another idea worth considering is to find possibilities for creating more flexible and diverse industrial structure where tourism no longer is the only source of income. Moreover, it is important to realize the potential for development in regional and domestic markets. After all, the largest group of travellers generally comes from within the country’s own borders.

Blog text by:
Henna Kukkonen, Lapland University of Applied Sciences

Actions Towards Sustainable Tourism Business

This blog text is a summary of one the three Grennovation Camp keynote presentations. Matti Ala-Outinen from Hawkhill Company, Finland, introduced the actions his family company has taken in efforts to combat the climate change and environmental injustice.

Hawkhill Company’s 9 rental cottages are surrounded by Nuuksio National Park near Helsinki. The company was founded by Matti’s grandparents in the 60’s and today Matti and his siblings are leading the business in the area where they have lived and grown up. Due to decades of family history in the area, sustainability and responsibility are built-in as core values of the company. The current owner’s objective is to preserve the environment as serene and tranquil as it has been in their childhood.

When it comes to fighting the climate change, Matti’s core message is that there is no need to wait for the politicians or the EU to make big decisions. Instead, we can make the change right now. In Hawkhill Company’s case the owners have rewritten their whole business strategy and defined the business as a tool to fight climate injustice and to be forerunners who challenge partners and business competitors for change. The company wants to set an example of an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable, yet flourishing, business.

In practice, the actions towards sustainability have included for example, investing in electric cars and charging points in the cottage resort area, the change to nuclear energy and geothermal warming systems, restoring company owned peatlands and investing in the vitality of the nearby village in different ways. So far, the actions towards sustainable and more transparent travel business have proved to be great competition benefits and keys to growth, even in the midst of a global pandemic.

Blog text by,
Henna Kukkonen, Lapland University of Applied Sciences

Tromsø & Sustainability – Before and After COVID-19

This blog text is a summary of one the three Grennovation Camp keynote presentations. Lone Helle and Inger-Lise Brones from Visit Tromsø-Region AS presented the sustainability development in the largest destination company in Norway, as well as the effect of COVID-19 for the travel industry in Tromsø.

During the past 10 years before the pandemic, tourism in Tromsø had grown fast and travel industry had become the second largest value creator in the area. Event though flourishing tourism had brought economical growth to the region, the increasing number of visitors was also causing problems: busses were blocking the main street in Tromsø and tourists were trespassing people’s back yards or taking pictures of kindergarten children. The challenges were portrayed in the surveys done as a part of the sustainable travelling strategy work in 2018. 38 percent of the residents reported negative experiences related to tourism and 35 percent expressed their worry that tourism might decrease their quality of life in the future.

After two years of work and gathering information from local travel companies, residents and guests, Visit Tromsø in cooperation with Tromsø municipality finished a strategy for the whole travelling industry in the region in 2019. The strategy aimed for increasing awareness of sustainable tourism. This includes, for example, value creation by involving the local people, highlighting the local culture and history, as well as, creating general guidelines for travellers in the area. The persistent work was rewarded in 2019 when Tromsø, as the first city in Norway, received a sustainable destination certificate.

The hit of the global pandemic in Tromsø region can be described as devastating as it meant nearly a full stop for tourism in the area. For example, the income from sold activities in Visit Tromsø dropped from NOK 9 million in 2020 to 100 000 NOK in 2021. On the other hand, the pandemic became a starting point for new cooperation between different stakeholders in the industry. The focuses of the strategy work for the coming years have been defined as green shift, digitalization and destination management which considers, not just individual players’ interests, but the needs of the community as a whole.

Blog text by:
Henna Kukkonen, Lapland University of Applied Sciences

Great Interest in Emissions Free Construction Sites in Northern Norway

15th of April, SINTEF Nord hosted a 3-hour webinar on emissions free construction sites in Northern Norway. Participants from public and private sector joined to discuss the potential for deploying electric machinery in construction projects.

The construction industry is a contributor to both direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions. By making the construction sites emissions free, Norway will be one step closer to achieving their climate goals.

Emissions free construction sites are relatively new for both public developers and the private business sector. However, public sector is sending strong signals that future building and construction sites in Norway will be emission free. Recently, seven municipalities in Norway have joined together and set ambitious climate goals: All municipal building and construction projects must be emissions free by 2025 – and from 2030 all building and construction activities in cities must be emissions free.

The city of Oslo was the first to have an emissions free construction site. At the webinar, one of the central questions discussed was what prerequisites are needed for success with emission free construction sites in Northern Norway? To shed light on this, we listened to regional actors along the entire value chain, that being municipalities, power grid suppliers, contractors and suppliers of equipment and heavy machinery.

What can be learned from Oslo? One of the things mentioned was the establishment of early and good dialogue between the involved parties. This is crucial both with regard to the procurement strategy and the contractor’s role in setting procurement criteria, but also with regard to planning and facilitation of, among other things, power supply at the sites themselves. Energy and power needs should be clarified early and optimized along the way. It was also emphasized that new solutions such as mobile batteries and flexible chargers should be considered.

There is no doubt that an emissions free construction site should be seen as a collaborative project that requires both early planning and optimization along the way. There is also a need to carry out pilot projects – to learn, to try new solutions, to document what works and how to achieve the best possible climate effect with the lowest possible costs. Pilot projects for emissions free construction sites should take place with a lower risk for the contractor and developer through the use of the available incentive tools.

This blog post was originally posted on the SINTEF blog.

Randulf Høyli (SINTEF Nord),
Grethe Lilleng (SINTEF Nord) &
Kristin Fjellheim (SINTEF Community).