Who benefits? How interest-convergence shapes benefit-sharing and indigenous rights to sustainable livelihoods in Russia

Maria S. Tysiachniouk*, Laura A. Henry, Svetlana A. Tulaeva, Leah S. Horowitz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The paper examines interactions of oil companies and reindeer herders in the tundra of the Russian Arctic. We focus on governance arrangements that have an impact on the sustainability of oil production and reindeer herding. We analyze a shift in benefit-sharing arrangements between oil companies and Indigenous Nenets reindeer herders in Nenets Autonomous Okrug (NAO), Russia, as an evolution of the herders’ rights, defined as the intertwined co-production of legal processes, ideologies, and power relations. Semi-structured interviews, participant observation, and document analysis demonstrate that in NAO, benefit-sharing shifted from paternalism (dependent on herders’ negotiation skills) to company-centered social responsibility (formalized compensation rules). This shift was enabled by the adoption of a formal methodology for calculating income lost due to extractive projects and facilitated by the regional government’s efforts to develop reindeer-herding. While laws per se did not change, herders’ ability to access compensation and markets increased. This paper shows that even when ideologies of indigeneity are not influential, the use of existing laws and convergence of the government’s and Indigenous groups’ economic interests may shift legal processes and power relations toward greater rights for Indigenous groups.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9025
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Volume12
Issue number21
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020

Keywords

  • Arctic
  • Benefit-sharing
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Indigenous reindeer herders’ rights
  • Sustainability
  • Triple-helix model: power-law-indigeneity

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