III World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples
Helsinki, December 11-13, 2000
Final report of the section on Ecology and Health Care:
It is most gratifying to be able to note that the Finno-Ugric peoples are beginning to realize the importance of solving problems dealing with ecology, health care and ecological education as a great responsibility as to the preservation of the Finno-Ugric heritage and of its passing on to future generations.
More than 70 representatives of different peoples took part in the work of this section. 19 speeches, most of the lecturers were from Russia and Estonia, revealed not only a sincere and radiant love of nature and their own small motherland, but also a troubled concern for the state of the natural environment, decrease of nativity and life expectance, growth of morbidity and as a result a decrease in their population.
The following main problems were discussed in the section: the influence of the natural environment on the world outlook and life of the Finno-Ugric peoples; the ways and forms of solving contradictions between the industrial exploitation of the dwelling areas of the indigenous peoples and their traditional life style; environmental pollution and the need for complex ecological monitoring in the dwelling areas of the Finno-Ugric peoples; the health condition of indigenous peoples and the reasons for its deterioration.
In the speeches the close interconnection between these problems was stressed, as well as the role of making progressive-minded political decisions based on the understanding of the importance of ecological, economical and social issues and their direct influence on the environment and health of the population. The decisions made must take into consideration the specific features of each people and attach special importance to the needs of the indigenous population and the environment in which they live.
In all the dwelling areas of Finno-Ugric peoples in Russia the health condition of the population is characterized by negative tendencies. The unfavourable development of demographic processes (decrease in nativity and growth of child mortality, decrease of the average life expectance), growth of morbidity, deterioration of the physical and mental development of the population leads to a decrease of the present and future vital capacity of some Finno-Ugric peoples. The positive experience of Finland and Hungary in solving some ecological and demographic problems would be of great help to Russia, Estonia and other countries.
The ecological well-being and preservation of the most important elements of the historically established tenor of life of the Finno-Ugric peoples during the 21st century will to a great extent depend on the successful solution of the problem of rational use, protection and renewal of natural resources. In a broad sense this means uniting of the economical, social, ecological and health care problems into one whole.
The section deems necessary in the interest of a sustainable development of the Finno-Ugric regions:
- to base the strategy of exploitation of natural resources and siting of industrial facilities on preliminary ethnic and ecological division into districts, with the aim of solving such priority tasks as the preservation and development of unique population groups and maintenance of the quality of the natural environment in a state that does not endanger the life and health of the population;
- to provide for the development of scientific research, science-consuming production and new technologies, including present day trends of biotechnology dealing with the processing of renewable raw-material, which will allow to solve the problem of complex and little waste creating use of biological resources, to provide new jobs and a competitive production for the food stuff and agricultural industries and medicine;
- to carry out ethnographic and ethno-botanic research on the use of natural resources in popular medicine and in the study of the customs of indigenous Finno-Ugric peoples in the past and in the future, as well as to take notice of special development of new types of medical preparations and food additives improving the quality of life owing to the correction of the adaptive reactions of the organism in the conditions of the North;
- to develop norms of antropogenic transformation of taiga and tundra landscapes for zones and regions with restriction of industrial exploitation of territories in the areas of traditional trades of the indigenous population with due regard for the ecological and social importance of forest and tundra ecosystems;
With the aim of organizing and carrying out work in connection with the above problems the section recommends the following to the Consultative Committee of Finno-Ugric Peoples:
- creation of a Work group on ecological, health care and educational problems under the auspices of the Consultative Committee consisting of representatives of interested national organizations of the Finno-Ugric community;
- consideration of the issue of creating of a common information space of the Finno-Ugric community on ecological, health and educational issues, using traditional (periodical publication of a newspaper and magazine) and electronic technologies and means;
- organization of an ecological charity foundation in support of citizens’ initiatives in the field of environmental protection in the dwelling areas of the Finno-Ugric peoples;
- organization in the year 2002 of an international conference of the Finno-Ugric peoples with the aim of development of a work strategy and programmes on problems of environmental protection, health of the population and education within the framework of preparation of the IV World congress of Finno-Ugric peoples.
Chairman Anatoli Taskaev, Republic of Komi, Russia
Deputy Chairman Mikhail Iakuntsev, Mordovian Republic, Russia
Secretary Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, Finland
1. To recognise the right of the Finno-Ugric peoples to health and a favourable living environment.
2. To realise the significance of a clean and viable environment for the preservation of the cultures of all the Finno-Ugric peoples, especially those who lead a traditional way of life.
3. To take measures to support the sustainable relationship with nature (living links to nature) which is inherent to Finno-Ugric peoples and to pay particular attention to this while planning ecological education.
4. To underline the role of non-governmental organisations in supporting this typical Finno-Ugric sustainable relationship with nature and in transmitting these habits to future generations.
5. In co-operation with organisations at different levels (international, state-wide, local), to initiate a systematic study of the state of health of the Finno-Ugric peoples and the health risks to these populations at both the personal, and at the societal levels; to begin to research the state of the environment in the terrritories inhabited by these peoples, and the relationship between the quality of the environment and the state of health of the population.
6. To exert influence on the administrative organs of the territories inhabited by the Finno-Ugric peoples; to disseminate information on the results of studies on the state of the environment and health of the population, with the aim of giving more stability to current administrative-legislative policy in the ecological, social, and cultural affairs of these regions.
7. While undertaking the study of the state of health of the Finno-Ugric peoples, to recognise the pressing risks to the health of the population at the personal level, including that of mental illness. Of particular importance is the investigation of the factors contributing and leading to suicide and the search for ways to minimise this risk.
8. To recognise the rights of all the Finno-Ugric peoples, especially those living on the territory of the Russian Federation, to play a role in deciding how to use the natural resources of their territories – these peoples must have their representatives in the management of those enterprises exploiting forest, mineral, and energy resouces – to ensure that the indigenous peoples receive their share of the profits from the exploitation of local wealth, to guarantee the rights of these peoples to hunt and fish the traditional territories without additional fees.