Mikhail Pogodaev, the Executive Chair of the Association of World Reindeer Herders has been nominated to be Executive Director of the Northern Forum. Pogodaev is Even and was raised in a reindeer herding family in Topolinoe, in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). Pogodaev has been engaged in cooperation across the north between reindeer herding peoples since he was young, following in the footsteps of his mother, Maria Pogodaeva who played an important role in the early history and establishment of the Association of World Reindeer Herders after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
This is a period of change for the Northern Forum and it is an exciting prospect that an indigenous person from reindeer husbandry could be selected to steer the organization through an exciting, but intensely challenging time in the North generally, and in small rural communities in particular.
Northern Forum is one of the regular observers to the Arctic Council, alongside WRH, and has collaborated with WRH since the early 90s. Northern Forum is currently undergoing some changes, as the previous Executive Director Mr Vladimir Vasiliev has been appointed Minister of Federal Attitudes and External Affairs of the new Sakha Republic Government. Therefore the position of Executive Director of the forum has become vacant, and has been announced earlier. One of the candidates for this position is Dr Mikhail Pogodaev, who as current Chair of WRH is very active in the Arctic cooperation, including in the work of the Arctic Council. We are very pleased that a representative of reindeer herding peoples has been nominated to this position by the Head of Sakha Republic, H.E. Egor Borisov.
In fact, the history of the establishment of the Northern Forum is also closely linked with the history of WRH, while this may be unknown to many people today. Northern Forum has been an arena for very important interregional cooperation across the Arctic regions. There are however some challenges for the organisation, where Northern Forum has experienced some difficult years where some key regions have left this collaboration. But at the same time, there are also a great potential for this cooperation between different Arctic regions. It is good that Alaska and other regions are considering rejoining the Northern Forum, which we interpret as a very good sign for the organization. The existing close cooperation and institutional relations between reindeer herding peoples and their institutions could also be positive for the Northern Forum, for instance connected to the Arctic Council, the University of the Arctic and so on. In this regard, ICR and WRH was honoured to be asked by the Board of Governors of University of the Arctic to construct the 3rd UArctic Institute – the UArctic EALÁT Institute – in 2009. The Council of this Institute has been led by Mikhail Pogodaev since the beginning. As Chair of WRH, Dr Pogodaev has also led the work of WRH in the United Nations, where WRH has an official Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council. This includes experience with different parts of the UN system, including UNEP, UNPFII, UNESCO and GEF.
With his broad experience of international cooperation and his very good relations to other regions, we believe Dr Pogodaev could contribute very strongly to strengthen the Northern Forum, and facilitating the rejoining on equal terms of other regions to this collaboration including from Fennoscandia. His candidacy also represents a great potential for inclusion of indigenous peoples into the international cooperation between different regions of the North, given Mr Pogodaev´s strong relations with organizations of indigenous peoples across the circumpolar north. In this time of international challenges, the collaboration between northern regions and northern peoples are even more important, in our opinion.
Mikhail Pogodaev has been representing WRH in the Arctic Council as Head of Delegation for many years, and has also led Arctic Council projects on behalf of the Russian Federation and Norway, and has also actively participated in different working groups. He has experience of working on this uniqe international forum and he could also strengthen cooperation between Northern Forum and Arctic Council. We believe that there is a potential for synergies between these international organizations, as all decisions that are shaped in the Arctic Council will ultimately have to be implemented on regional/ local levels. At the same time, there would more or less always be needs for better coordination between federal and local authorities, as well as meaningful participation of indigenous peoples in decision making processes.
Therefore, we believe that an appointment of Mikhail Pogodaev to a leading position of the Northern Forum will strengthen the organisation and its links to the Arctic Council, UN, Arctic indigenous peoples and NGOs, and thus cooperation in the Arctic!
Anders Oskal, Executive Director of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry,
Johan Mathis Turi, Secretary General of the Association of World Reindeer Herders
Inger Anita Smuk, Chair of the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry
Svein Msthiesen, Professor of the Institute for Circumpolar Reindeer Husbandry of the University of the Arctic
The Northern Forum secretariat is based in Yakutsk, the capital of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). The Northern Forum was established to improve the quality of life of Northern peoples by providing Northern regional leaders a means to share their knowledge and experience in addressing common challenges and to support sustainable development and the implementation of cooperative socio-economic initiatives among Northern regions and through international fora. The Board also formally manages the Northern Forum Regional Coordinators Committee and the Secretariat. The Chairman of the Board is elected during the General Assembly and can serve two terms. The present Chair is Mr. Egor Borisov, the Acting Head of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia), Russia