Finland, often celebrated for its picturesque landscapes and high standard of living, also grapples with issues of regional inequality. In the northernmost parts of the country, or Finnish Lapland, the indigenous Sámi people are confronted with harsh weather conditions, sparsely populated areas, and limited economic opportunities. Coastal regions, particularly those in the east, face historical shifts in industries like forestry and manufacturing, which have led to unemployment and population decline in some coastal towns. As younger generations seek better opportunities in larger cities, these regions experience an ageing population, which can strain local resources and social services.

Efforts to address these disparities have been ongoing, with initiatives aimed at improving infrastructure, promoting entrepreneurship, and investing in education and innovation. While Finland's marginalised regions contend with various challenges, they remain an integral part of the country's identity and potential.

Hei! MARGISTAR meets Finland at First In-Person Meeting

In May 2023, MARGISTAR members travelled to Finland for their first in-person gathering (and, for some, their first polar summer) in the remote Lappish towns of Inari and Utsjoki. Read on for a short overview of this initial COST Action meeting, the experiences we had, and many of our members’ first introductions to indigenous Sámi culture, politics, and current marginalisation challenges.

Notable Projects

The below organisations actively support research and life in Finnish marginalised regions. MARGISTAR believes in their efforts and invites you to follow these projects online or connect with their representatives within the MARGISTAR consortium.

Siida Sámi Museum and Nature Centre

MARGISTAR Contact: Dr Simo Sarkki, University of Oulu

The Sámi Museum and Nature Centre Siida is located in the town of Inari, Finland, also known as the indigenous Sámi Homeland. Their exhibitions and events offer visitors a window into the north and give insights into the ancient and vibrant Sámi culture and arctic nature.

Sámi Cultural Centre Sajos

MARGISTAR Contact: Dr Simo Sarkki, University of Oulu

In Finland, Sámi culture continues to thrive largely thanks to the Sámi Cultural Centre and Parliament Sajos. The Sámi Parliament is the representative self-governing body of the Sámi people in Finland. Legislated in 1996, the Sámi Parliament was created to implement the rights guaranteed to the Sámi people as an indigenous group. The Parliament falls under the administrative sector of the Finnish Ministry of Justice and is funded by the state. The body, which is the highest political body of the Sámi people in Finland, consists of twenty-one members and four deputies who are elected every four years by the Sámi community.

These Legs Are Made For Walking: How Finnish Reindeer Leg Skins Entered The International Shoe Business

What do reindeer herders in Finnish Lapland and a shoe factory in Mongolia have in common? Karoliina Majuri, a reindeer herder from Ranua, Finland, in 2022 seized a window of opportunity and entered the reindeer leg skin business in partnership with Reindeer Boot, a Mongolian shoe factory.

Meet MARGISTAR's Finnish Members

Prof Juha Hiedanpää

Research Professor at LUKE

Juha is a Research Professor at LUKE, the Natural Resources Institute of Finland, and focuses on land use planning, co-creation, conflict management, natural resource policy, environmental policy, large carnivore policy, ecosystem services, environmental economics, environmental policy, long-term decision-making (PALO project). He is also MARGISTAR's Action Chair.

Dr Mikko Jokinen

Senior Scientist at LUKE

Mikko is a Senior Scientist at LUKE, the Natural Resources Institute of Finland, and specialises in nature use in Lapland, environmental social studies, reconciliation, anthropology, land use in Sami territory in Finland, mining, nature-based tourism.

Dr Simo Sarkki

Environmental Social Scientist at the University of Oulu

Simo is an environmental social scientist and docent of "Anthropology of environmental governance" at the University of Oulu.

Taru Rikkonen

Doctoral Researcher at LUKE

Taru is a doctoral researcher at LUKE, the Natural Resources Institute of Finland, and focuses on rural studies, land use and natural resource governance.