Establishment of an inclusive dialogue process: the Laponia Process

The Laponia Process was an approach to dialogue created and developed by a diversity of stakeholders in the Laponian Area World Heritage property. Since Laponia is a large area which consists of several protected areas, to establish a coordinated management system as a whole has been very challenging since its inscription in the World Heritage List. The County Administrative Board of Norbotten and the Sámi communities and municipalities of Jokkmokk and Gällivare started originally to prepare their conservation programs independently. The Laponia Process started by the initiative of the Governor of Norrbotten in 2005 including all stakeholders in a process of dialogue based on a set of common values, which would lead the parties to agree in crucial issues and the terms in which the Laponian Area should be managed. All decisions were determined to be taken by consensus, and new regulations for the national parks and nature reserves were requested. In 2006, the parties signed a common agreement which they sent to the Government, which contained:

  • A set of common basic values
  • Common intentions for a number of efforts
  • The establishment of a temporary Laponia delegation
  • Preparations for the start of a World Heritage management group with a Sámi majority on the committee.

The political will of the Governor of Norbotten, the Sámi village organizations through the association Midjá Ednam, the interest of the municipalities of Jokkmokk and Gällivare, and the endorsement of the SEPA were essential conditions for starting the process. The initiative originates in the acceptance of the different realities of the parties involved and the strong will to co-create a new management for the Laponian Area. Moreover, there was enough financing for the project and each group participated with the same  economical prerequisites.

To be able to establish an organization based on consensus and develop a new way of management, one needs to listen to people and try to learn why they are thinking and doing like they are (it is norms and values that forms their ideas and practise) but also openly explain why one is thinking and doing in the way one is, because that also depends on the norms and values one has in life. This process takes time, and it is about learning new knowledge from each other and accept it. This is also a process one cannot do in the office, one needs to go out and meet people in their ordinary life regularly. It cannot be rushed or think it can be a quick fix. The Laponia Process took six years until all stakeholders involved could agree upon a common organization and management plan. 

To do a process like the Laponia Process – you need to have time, financing, and the “right” people involved. Listen to each other. Time to take home tricky questions and discuss them with other representatives for the stakeholders, before decisions are made.