Norway’s Human Rights Record: Not a Fjordgone Conclusion

9 December 2015

As the president of the Sami parliament of Norway, Aili Keskitalo, spoke at the High Level Segment of COP, ECO was dismayed to learn that the Norwegian Environmental Agency just doomed a world famous fjord by approving the annual dumping of two million tons of waste from a planned copper mine in the Repparfjord. This mine will open in Sapmi, the region of Norway’s indigenous people. Both the Sami parliament and environmental organisations are fighting the plans, as the mining waste will be deposited in spawning waters of cod and other fish stocks crucial to coastal fisheries.

Much ink has already been spilled in ECO about Norway and its lack of support for human rights in the text. ECO notices an unsettling echo of Norway’s harmful attitude on the international stage in its domestic treatment of indigenous communities.

Yet more harm may be done from the waste dumping at Repparfjord. Pollution from the copper mine will breach allowed limits for heavy metals and constitute a toxic cocktail of various contaminants. Microscopic particles spreading through the water will also harm the threatened Atlantic salmon in what is classified as a ‘National Salmon Fjord’.

Many now argue that the Norwegian Environment Agency has abandoned its role as an environmental regulator. The Agency is giving the green light to one of the most environmentally harmful industrial projects in Norwegian history, despite professional objections and warnings, on the grounds that the social benefits outweigh the negative consequences.

Unfortunately, Norway is doing more to damage its own natural heritage. In April, the Norwegian government gave permission to dump millions of tons of mining waste in the Førdefjord, on the west coast of Norway. Today Norway is the only European country—and one of only five countries in the world—that still allows sea dumping of tailings.

Norway continues to position itself as a leader on climate, but its environmental and human rights record leaves much room for improvement.

Norway’s Human Rights Record: Not a Fjordgone Conclusion

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