Nuuk, Greenland

University of Greenland
Nuuk, Greenland

The University of Greenland is Greenland's only university. It is located in the capital city of Nuuk. Most courses are taught in Danish and a few in Greenlandic.The university had an enrollment of approximately 150 students in 2007, almost all local inhabitants. It has around fourteen academic staff and five technical-administrative employees. The modest student population is due in part to the government's policy allowing students a free university education anywhere in Europe or North America, with most Greenlandic students going to school in Denmark. Wikipedia.

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Olsen A.-S.H.,University of Greenland | Hansen A.M.,University of Aalborg
Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal | Year: 2014

Oil exploration presently takes place offshore NW of Greenland. The recent entry of the oil industry in this sparsely populated area carries the potential for radical and unpredictable societal change. To ensure local adaptation, Public participation (PP) is implemented as a legal requirement in environmental impact assessment of offshore oil exploration. However, NGOs and associations, industry and individuals in Greenland express general frustration of how PP is conducted. This paper presents an analysis of stakeholders' PP perceptions and their implications in Greenland. It is found that differences in PP purpose perceptions among stakeholders cause disagreement on what is considered good performance. Furthermore, the stakeholders disagree on the desired level of engagement. While NGOs emphasise a need for PP to influence decision-making, the public seems to accept a role as passive recipients of information about decisions already made. This leads to a discussion about the need for a more specific PP guideline based on dialogue among stakeholders, with emphasis on the cultural barriers related to power structures and communication. © 2014 © 2014 IAIA.

News Article | April 20, 2016

The houses of Narsaq gleam in a cheerful riot of blues, reds and yellows. The crayon-coloured town spills across a hill that separates barren mountains from a fjord filled with icebergs. But up close, grimmer details come into focus; the paint on many homes is peeling, and few signs of life stir in the narrow streets. Established as a trading post in 1830, Narsaq long served as a hub of Greenland's fishing industry — the backbone of its economy. But in the past few decades, modernization has moved much of the fishing offshore, and many jobs in Narsaq have disappeared. The town's 1,500 residents have been struggling to find a way forward. The same could be said of Greenland at large. Part of the kingdom of Denmark since 1814, Greenland has transformed over the past century from a society based on subsistence hunting and fishing to one built around an industrial economy and a Nordic-style welfare system. But that rapid development has stalled, leaving communities such as Narsaq to grapple with economic stagnation and high rates of unemployment. At the same time, Greenland has sought to overcome its economic and political dependence on Denmark. “I don't know any people — any country — who don't want self-determination, who don't want independence in the world,” says Hjalmar Dahl, president of the Greenlandic branch of the Inuit Circumpolar Council. Some 80% of Greenland's population is Inuit. Over the past 35 years, Greenland has gained increasing control over its internal affairs — it was granted self rule in 2009 — but it continues to receive Danish subsidies that account for roughly one-third of its gross domestic product (GDP). To gain true independence, it will have to generate almost US$1 billion in additional revenues — all from a population of just 56,000 people on an island with only 150 kilometres of roads and an ice sheet about 3 times the size of Texas. But Greenlandic leaders see promise in places like Narsaq. Geological studies of the rugged peaks outside town have identified valuable deposits of rare-earth metals, uranium and zinc; a major mine is approaching the final stages of obtaining a permit. These are just some of many such deposits that have attracted the attention of international mining companies, and which proponents say could usher in a new era of prosperity. Researchers and some residents have challenged the idea that Greenland can mine its way to independence. A bitter debate has erupted over the social and environmental impacts that mining will have on one of the last pristine parts of the planet. Now, leaders are looking for opportunities — and investors — to expand other industries such as tourism and agriculture, as well as ways to optimize Greenland's vast fishing sector. The government must juggle these goals while contending with climate change, which threatens traditional ways of life and potentially bolsters new ones. Whatever route Greenland chooses to follow, researchers say that it needs to start paving the way now. Even if the island forgoes full political independence, Danish subsidies will remain fixed at 2009 levels, adjusted for inflation, and the funds will not help to cover the rising costs of Greenland's ageing population or to sustain small towns like Narsaq. “It is a very urgent problem because Greenland already runs at a deficit,” says Minik Rosing, a geologist at the University of Copenhagen who is well known in Greenland for his work on the island's future. Unless something changes, he says, “everything points toward the situation getting worse rather than better”. Narsaq's name means 'plain' in Kalaallisut, the official language of Greenland, probably because the town occupies the flattest piece of land in sight. Mountains rise on all sides, their summits dulled by millions of years of glacial erosion. The inland ice sheet lurks just over the horizon, leaving only a thin ribbon of ice-free terrain. But what little exposed land there is happens to be rich in minerals (see 'Mineral futures'). The crust here is ancient — up to 3.8 billion years old, in places — and has seen many cycles of volcanism and rifting. These brought metal-rich fluids close to the surface, where they formed deposits. The island also has substantial offshore oil and gas resources that could come into play if fuel prices rise or exploration costs drop. Interest in the minerals has grown over the past decade, thanks to a confluence of forces. Greenland gained the right to manage and profit from its mineral deposits in 2009, just as the global appetite for many metals started rising. Politicians quickly pointed to mining as the best, and perhaps only, way to offset Danish subsidies and make statehood possible. At the moment, many have their eye on the Kvanefjeld deposit near Narsaq, a contender to host Greenland's first major mine. The resource there is “potentially huge”, says Kathryn Goodenough, a geologist with the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh. She works with EURARE, an initiative to develop Europe's rare-earth potential that brings together researchers and mining companies such as Greenland Minerals and Energy (GME), the Australian company behind the Kvanefjeld project. GME has been exploring here since 2007 and has studied core samples from hundreds of holes drilled into the nearby mountains over the years. “It's like Swiss cheese up there,” says Ib Laursen, a company representative based in Narsaq. GME has estimated that the rocks above the town hold approximately 11 million tonnes of rare-earth oxides and that Kvanefjeld is one of the largest rare-earth deposits outside China. Another company is seeking to develop the Kringlerne deposit across the fjord, which it calls a world-class reserve of rare earths and other metals. Until mining starts, it is not clear whether these deposits will prove as extraordinary as the companies contend, says Rosing. But the geologist, who grew up on a reindeer farm outside the Greenlandic capital, Nuuk, is optimistic about the future of the island's mining industry. “Greenland is exceptional, it is large,” he says. “I think with enough effort, there will be definitely something happening.” Like many Narsaq residents, Mariane Paviasen desperately hopes that the mining boom doesn't start at Kvanefjeld. She works for Air Greenland, greeting the handful of helicopter flights that touch down on Narsaq's blustery landing pad. Her house, at the top of a narrow road on the far side of the town, is bright and inviting on a sunny day in September. Some oppose the mine because it would bring an influx of foreign workers, but Paviasen is most worried about the uranium in the deposit, which GME plans to extract and sell along with the rare-earth elements. It's what first brought Narsaq to the attention of scientists, including Niels Bohr, who visited in 1957 as part of Denmark's investigations into atomic energy. The country later banned all nuclear activity, including uranium mining, and Paviasen wishes that Greenland had upheld the tradition. “I think it is very dangerous stuff — the most dangerous stuff in the world,” she says. That's why, in late 2014, she helped to found a citizens' group called Urani Naamik, or No to Uranium. GME's current plans call for an open-pit mine on top of the plateau, about 10 kilometres from town. Paviasen's group has highlighted the potential risks from uranium to human and environmental health, through water pollution and dust exposure. “My husband and my sons and my father — they like to go out and catch some food,” Paviasen says. But she wouldn't eat it if mining began. Others, including environmental organizations in Denmark, have cited the dangers of the radioactive thorium in the deposits, which currently has little commercial value, and of fluorine-containing minerals that can acidify water. Such concerns have fuelled a heated dispute over how to balance the economic benefits of exploiting Greenland's natural resources with the environmental risks. GME insists that Kvanefjeld can be mined safely. The company says that it is considering ways to contain the thorium, and that it will lock up fluorine by converting it into a marketable mineral. “That's a part of the demand from the government — to use best practices,” Laursen says. Studies have found1 that modern techniques for managing tailings can minimize the contamination risk, at least in the short term. The technical details of GME's plans, however, won't be revealed until the Environmental Impact Assessment report comes out later this year. Economic forces may be the biggest barrier to Greenland's mineral plans: the prices of rare earths and other metals have slumped after reaching all-time highs in 2011. “The simple reality is, it doesn't look good,” says Tim Boersma, a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, who co-authored a 2014 report2 on Greenland's mining potential. Greenland would need about 24 major mines operating simultaneously to replace the Danish subsidy, according to a 2014 joint report3 by the University of Copenhagen and the University of Greenland in Nuuk that assessed how the island's mineral resources might shape its future. Given what is known about the deposits, that would be a tall order even in good economic times, says Rosing, who chaired the committee that wrote the report. “The dream that mining could be a quick fix for the economy — that's not going to happen,” he says. As the results of the report have sunk in, talk of political independence has dwindled. Many Greenlanders realize that the process will take time, and Rosing says that some young people have started to question the benefits of completely severing ties with Denmark. In their view, he says, “a nation of 56,000 people is maybe not the best way of ensuring that individuals in Greenland can shape their own future”. Disappointments in the mining sector have spurred discussion about diversifying the strategy for economic self-sufficiency. Rosing suggests that Greenland should devise other ways to profit from what makes it unique. He is exploring the possibility of marketing rock flour — the fine powder created by glacial erosion — as a source of nutrients and neutralizing agents for tropical soils. And he says that Greenland should court industries that would benefit from its cold climate, such as computer-server farms, which use enormous amounts of energy for cooling. Greenland has begun harnessing its torrents of glacial melt water to produce renewable energy. The island has 5 hydropower plants, and government estimates suggest that it has enough untapped potential to produce 800,000 gigawatt hours of energy per year — more than the total used by the United Kingdom and France combined. The aluminium producer Alcoa, based in New York City, has considered building a smelter to capitalize on the cheap energy and, in 2010, Greenland's national energy company launched a pilot project using hydropower to produce clean-burning hydrogen fuel. For the moment, however, those options are largely prospects for the future. Today, about 40% of Greenland's workers are employed by the public sector and 90% of its export economy revolves around fishing, particularly for northern shrimp (Pandalus borealis) and Greenland halibut (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides). Although catches remain good, west Greenland's shrimp stocks have declined over the past decade, perhaps influenced by climate change. According to Helle Siegstad, director of fish and shellfish at the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources in Nuuk, the culprit could be Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), a predator that could benefit from warming near Greenland and has started to reappear after being overfished. Another factor behind the shrimp's decline might be that climate change has caused a mismatch between their hatching time and the blooms of phytoplankton that they eat4. But higher water temperatures have also lured new species north, such as Atlantic mackerel, Atlantic herring and even some bluefin tuna5, says Brian MacKenzie, a marine ecologist at the Technical University of Denmark in Kongens Lyngby. In recent years, temperatures off the coast of east Greenland have become warm enough for tuna, MacKenzie says. “It's basically a whole new habitat.” Siegstad says that the fishing fleet has been quick to pounce on these opportunities, and she is optimistic that changes in marine ecosystems will ultimately benefit Greenland's fishing industry. But even so, she worries about the island's overwhelming dependence on this variable, uncontrollable resource. “We are so sensitive,” she says. “I hope we will have something else.” Thirty minutes by boat from Narsaq, Kalista Poulsen and Agathe Devisme share 10 hectares of land with 300 head of sheep. Compared with the surrounding tundra, their grassy farm is lush. Purple wildflowers and Angelica archangelica — a popular medicinal herb — line their carefully manicured fields. The couple is part of Greenland's budding agricultural industry — one of several small sectors of the economy that the island's leaders are trying to expand. Agriculture currently accounts for less than 1% of Greenland's GDP, but that figure could grow thanks to climate change, which has boosted temperatures in the south by almost 2 °C over the past few decades. Modelling work6 by Jens Christensen and others at the Danish Meteorological Institute in Copenhagen suggests that if the world warms according to some of the most dramatic projections, the length of the growing season in southern Greenland will more than double. But the climate is likely to become more variable, too. Already, a string of dry summers has forced farmers to import extra supplies of hay from abroad, supplementing the feed that they grow to get the animals through the long, brutal winter. This has left them wondering whether climate change will help or hurt them, says Devisme. “For the moment, it's more, kind of, disturbing.” To supplement their farming income, Devisme also runs a small bed and breakfast, where visitors come to relax or to fish for Arctic char in the stream behind the fields. Many Greenlanders see the island's nascent tourism industry as a welcome alternative to exploitative activities such as the mining at Kvanefjeld, which Devisme says poses a threat to her businesses. In 2013, the government counted roughly 35,000 visitors, who contributed around 3% of GDP. Greenland hopes to ramp up adventure tourism, such as hiking and kayaking, and boost cruise-ship traffic — a pattern that has succeeded in Iceland. The consulting firm Ramboll, based in Orestad, Denmark, has projected that the tourism industry could more than double by 2025, although this would require strong investment in infrastructure such as hotels and airports, as well as increased marketing and international cooperation. But, if Greenland is to benefit from these industries, its people must have the skills to work in them. Developing the island's human capital may be the key to Greenland's success, according to a 2013 report7 by the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies. Today, although many Greenlanders possess a wealth of informal knowledge, only 35% of students go beyond compulsory school, which they finish at age 15 or 16. The government aims to boost the number continuing with their training, and the plan starts with strengthening elementary education. The residents of Narsaq are doing their part. Here, late on a Sunday afternoon, workers bustle around a fenced-off construction site in the centre of town. A crane swings overhead, hoisting wooden beams onto a tower of scaffolding, where crews are renovating the red-panelled school. It will soon boast a wall of windows, giving Narsaq's children a grand view of the mineral-rich mountains, the ice-choked fjord and their own small town — as it lurches forward into Greenland's uncertain future.

Moller Jorgensen A.,University of Greenland
Policy and Internet | Year: 2016

By offering new and alternative possibilities for political participation the Internet challenges established and conventional democratic practices and positions. The article explores how legislators and public administration employees at national and municipality levels in Greenland address these possibilities and challenges when they envision eDemocracy. Drawing on Actor-Network Theory and the works of Foucault, the article argues that eDemocratic visions are conditioned by discourses that are continuously shaped by power strategies, ongoing events, and the associations among a wide variety of human and nonhuman actors. The article argues for a two-step approach to understand the process by which eDemocracy is constructed. First, by tracing the associations among the actors that contribute to the construction, and second by analyzing the power relations that make certain visions of eDemocratic more likely or needed than others. The article concludes that eDemocracy as envisioned by Greenlandic legislators and public administration employees involves the citizenry to a greater degree than conventional practices, but also implies unequal power relations among citizens, legislative bodies, and the public administration. © 2016 Policy Studies Organization.

Hovelsrud G.K.,Nordland Research Institute | Poppel B.,University of Greenland | Van Oort B.,CICERO Center for International Climate and Environmental Research | Reist J.D.,University of Winnipeg
Ambio | Year: 2011

Changes in sea ice, snow cover, lake and river ice, and permafrost will affect economy, infrastructure, health, and indigenous and non-indigenous livelihoods, culture, and identity. Local residents are resilient and highly adaptive, but the rate and magnitude of change challenges the current adaptive capacity. Cryospheric changes create both challenges and opportunities, and occur along local, regional, and international dimensions. Such changes will provide better access to the Arctic and its resources thereby increasing human activities such as shipping and tourism. Cryospheric changes pose a number of challenges for international governance, human rights, safety, and search and rescue efforts. In addition to the direct effects of a changing cryosphere, human society is affected by indirect factors, including industrial developments, globalization, and societal changes, which contribute to shaping vulnerability and adaptation options. Combined with non-cryospheric drivers of change, this will result in multifaceted and cascading effects within and beyond the Arctic. © Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2012.

Rink E.,Montana State University | Montgomery-Andersen R.,University of Greenland | Anastario M.,Research Triangle Institute International
International Journal of STD and AIDS | Year: 2015

The purpose of this study was to implement a sexual health behavioural intervention in Greenland in order to reduce sexually transmitted infection rates among a population of Greenland youth. This behavioural intervention was called Inuulluataarneq (Having the Good Life). Inuulluataarneq’s objects included: (1) increase Greenlandic youth’s overall knowledge about sexually transmitted infections and sexual health; (2) increase parent/guardian-youth communication about topics related to sexually transmitted infections and sex; and (3) increase consistent condom use among Greenlandic youth. We hypothesised that increased awareness of sexually transmitted infections and sexual health as well as increased communication between parents/guardians and their adolescent children would influence sexual risk behaviour and reduce sexually transmitted infections among our sample population, with a focus on urine samples of chlamydia infection. Results indicate that the influence of having a parent/guardian to speak with about topics related to sex, including the consequences of pregnancy, are key protective factors in reducing sexually transmitted infections among Greenlandic youth. Inuulluataarneq demonstrates that intensive short-term education and skill-building delivered by a trained community member is an effective sexually transmitted infection prevention intervention method among young Inuit populations who live in small isolated Arctic communities. © The Author(s) 2014.

Nuttall M.,University of Greenland
Nordia Geographical Publications | Year: 2012

The development of oil, gas and mineral resources is a stated aim of the Government of Greenland. Since the introduction of Self-Rule in 2009, which has given Greenlanders greater autonomy within the Kingdom of Denmark, the exploration for and exploitation of non-renewable resources has been a cornerstone of government policy. A number of mineral exploration and mining development licences have been granted to international companies and exploratory work for oil has continued off west Greenland and will take place in coming years in northwest Greenland and off the east coast. While energy companies and Greenlandic politicians and business leaders remain optimistic that discoveries of commercially-viable oil will be made, mining activities and energy development plans have provoked political and social debates within Greenland about the nature of such development, the absence of appropriate public consultation and regulatory processes, concerns about the impacts of extractive industries on traditional hunting and fishing activities, rights of participation, social and economic benefit agreements, skills and education, and the shortcomings of social and environmental impact assessments. This article discusses this debate with reference to the Isua Iron Ore Project. Located at Isukasia some 150 km northeast of Greenland's capital Nuuk, this project has been implemented by London Mining and is currently under review by the Greenlandic authorities.

Bjerregaard P.,University of Southern Denmark | Bjerregaard P.,University of Greenland | Larsen C.V.L.,University of Southern Denmark
International Journal of Circumpolar Health | Year: 2015

Background. Suicides remain a major public health problem in Greenland. Their increase coincides with the modernization since 1950. Serious suicidal thoughts are reported by a significant proportion of participants in countrywide surveys. Objective. To analyze the time trend by region of suicides and suicidal thoughts among the Inuit in Greenland. Design. Data included the Greenland registry of causes of death for 1970-2011 and 2 cross-sectional health surveys carried out in 1993-1994 and 2005-2010 with 1,580 and 3,102 Inuit participants, respectively. Results. Suicide rates were higher among men than women while the prevalence of suicidal thoughts was higher among women. Suicide rates for men and women together increased from 1960 to 1980 and have remained around 100 per 100,000 person-years since then. The regional pattern of time trend for suicide rates varied with an early peak in the capital, a continued increase to very high rates in remote East and North Greenland and a slow increase in villages relative to towns on the West Coast. Suicidal thoughts followed the regional pattern for completed suicides. Especially for women there was a noticeable increasing trend in the villages. The relative risk for suicide was highest among those who reported suicidal thoughts, but most suicides happened outside this high-risk group. Conclusion. Suicide rates and the prevalence of suicidal thoughts remain high in Greenland but different regional trends point towards an increased marginalization between towns on the central West Coast, villages and East and North Greenland. Different temporal patterns call for different regional strategies of prevention. © 2015 Peter Bjerregaard and Christina Viskum Lytken Larsen.

Singh K.,University of Ottawa | Bjerregaard P.,University of Greenland | Chan H.M.,University of Ottawa
International journal of circumpolar health | Year: 2014

RESULTS: Of 559 citations, 60 studies were relevant. The studies fell under the following categories: paediatric (n=18), reproductive health (n=18), obstetrics and gynaecology (n=9), cardiology (n=7), bone health (n=2), oncology (n=2), endocrinology (n=2) and other (n=2). All studies, except one from Arctic Finland, were either from Nunavik or Greenland. Most studies assessed polychlorinated biphenyls (n=43) and organochlorine pesticides (n=29). Fewer studies examined heavy metals, perfluorinated compounds, or polybrominated diphenyl ethers. Details of study results for each health category are provided.CONCLUSIONS: It is difficult to make conclusive statements about the effects of environmental contaminants on health due to mixed results, small number of studies and studies being restricted to a small number of regions. Meta-analytical synthesis of the evidence should be considered for priority contaminants and health outcomes. The following research gaps should be addressed in future studies: association of contaminants and health in other Arctic regions (i.e. Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Nunavut, Nunatsiavut, Alaska, European North and Russian North); assessment of contaminants on chronic diseases; inclusion of clinical endpoints in assessments; and assessment of the emerging contaminants of perfluorinated compounds and polybrominated diphenyl ethers.BACKGROUND: Since the 1990s, research has been carried out to monitor environmental contaminants and their effects on human health in the Arctic. Although evidence shows that Arctic indigenous peoples are exposed to higher levels of contaminants and do worse on several dimensions of health compared with other populations, the contribution of such exposures on adverse outcomes is unclear.OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this review is to provide a synopsis of the published epidemiological literature that has examined association between environmental contaminants and health outcomes in Arctic indigenous populations.DESIGN: A literature search was conducted in OVID Medline (1946-January 2014) using search terms that combined concepts of contaminant and indigenous populations in the Arctic. No language or date restrictions were applied. The reference lists of review articles were hand-searched.

Wilson P.,University of Greenland
Global Society | Year: 2015

In light of the planned 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, it is timely to consider afresh the global security landscape and the UK's place within it. What does “security” mean in this context, and what challenges does the UK face? Following a discussion of the meaning of “security”, the article will identify three broad themes from which security challenges for the UK emerge. These are: (1) cyberspace and the digital age; (2) change and the current international system; and (3) inequality within the UK. By examining recent developments in each of these areas, it will be argued that there are good reasons for these challenges to remain important in thinking about British security over the medium to longer term. © 2015 University of Kent.

After Fridtj of Nansen (1861-1930) crossed the Greenland icecap, he spent the winter in Nuuk and impressed the Greenlanders not only by demonstrating his skill and daring in kayaking, but also by his openness to Greenlandic food, culture, and traditions. Later on, when Danes and Norwegians came into conflict over Greenland, Greenlanders supported the Danish colonial power against Norway, while at the same criticizing the Danes for not paying enough respect to Greenlanders during the process. Articles from the national Greenlandic newspapers Atuagagdliutit and Avangnâmiok demonstrate that Greenlanders were open-minded towards Norwegians but critical towards Danes. They fully supported the latter as a colonial power against Norway, while never refraining from the idea that Greenland remained their ethnic national territory, even though for the time being it was colonized by the Danes. The author concludes that Greenlandic agency found in these newspapers is very relevant when negotiating today's discourse on colonial Greenlanders.

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