Case study: Nenets AO

The character of relations between companies, authorities and indigenous people depends (often very effectively) on individual agreements among the participating parties.

The Nenets Autonomous Okrug (NAO) is an administrative unit of the Russian Federation in the European northwest of Russia between Arkhangelsk and the Ural mountains, mostly above the Arctic Circle. The main indigenous people of the region are the European Nenets. Komi form another important group. The Komi are recognised as indigenous in the Nenets Okrug, but not in the Russian Federation in general since they number more than the federal limit of 50,000.

In general, we can say that the NAO, with its stable indigenous livelihood (both herding and fishing) and its diverse oil industry history, is an example of coexistence with rather few officially binding regulations and laws, and a lot of freedom of negotiation among the interested parties. This more ‘neoliberal approach’ has led to a greater gap between winners and losers of industrial development on both sides. However, on the other hand, we also found that in some cases – even without official reference or codification
– international best practices such as meaningful consultation, FPIC and grievance mechanisms are in effect being implemented in the NAO.