Database on Arctic Doctoral and Post-doctoral Projects on Law


Database on Arctic Doctoral and Post-doctoral Projects on Law


ProjectThe evolving relationship between the Sámi People and the European Union and its effects on the EU Environmental Law and Policy

This research project aims to understand if, and to what extent, the development of the relationship between the Sámi and the European institutions influences the European environmental laws and policies.

The Sámi are the only Indigenous People of the European Union. The relationship between the Sámi and the European institutions is developing, as shown by the project “Filling the EU-Sápmi knowledge gaps”, aimed at building partnerships and reinforcing the representation of the Sámi People in the European institutions.

Through a multidisciplinary approach, I will analyse the European environmental instruments and the outcomes of the projects implemented between the two parties, while studying the Sámi cosmovision and legal tradition to assess their emergence in the EU environmental laws and policies.

In several parts of the world, the affirmation of Indigenous Peoples as political actors has resulted in the adoption of a biocentric approach in constitutions and environmental laws. The Rights of Nature, in this context, demonstrate the inclusion of the Indigenous cosmovisions in such legal systems and the attempt to redefine the relationship between humans and nature through a decolonial approach.

The inclusion of the Sámi People in the European green transition would demonstrate the coherence of the European Union with its principles and the commitment to involve the Sámi People in the Arctic decision-making. 

Also, it would show the attention of the European institutions to the impact of the green transition on Indigenous Peoples and local communities. In addition to that, it would enrich the discourse on the environmental crisis with different views and, where the Rights of Nature were adopted, it would avoid the westernization of a set of concepts that, in other parts of the world, find their philosophical roots and nourishment in the Indigenous cultures and legal traditions. My research project will observe this phenomenon while it is unfolding, thus promoting the contribution of academia to this process.

KeywordsSámi People - European Union - Rights of Indigenous Peoples - Arctic - Green transition - European Environmental Law - European Environmental Policy - Rights of Nature
RegionsArctic region
Start year2022
End year2026
ContactAlessandra Cafà
PositionPh.D. candidate
OrganizationUniversity of Lapland
DepartmentDepartment of Law
Added19.9.2022 15.24.42