Arctic News Roundup: 19-25 April

Spring arriving in Reykjavík [Photo by Mingming Shi]

by Mingming Shi

1) The London-based Council on Geostrategy published a paper by Professor Klaus Dodds on the release of Britain’s newest Integrated Review statement, which included issues relating to the Polar Regions, in March of this year. As Prof Dodds explained, Britain maintains considerable interests both in the Arctic Ocean, including in regards to regional cooperation with NATO as well as specific economic and environmental concerns. The UK is also active in Antarctica as a scientific actor and as a supporter of the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS). At both poles, Britain is also seeking to improve diplomatic relations with key regional governments. As the paper noted, the security situation in the Polar Regions continues to become more complex.

2) Both local and international media outlets have been reporting on the uncertain future of the Kuannersuit (Kvanefjeld) mining project in Southern Greenland, especially in light of the newly-elected Greenlandic government which has been openly opposed to the project. The Greenlandic news service KNR, as well as the online publication Mining, revealed that Australia’s Greenland Minerals (ASX: GGG), the major stakeholder behind the project, is quite concerned about the possible halting of the project, and has been actively seeking a dialogue with the Government of Greenland, along with other legislative actors, in the hopes of reaching a compromise.

3) As RÚV reported, Icelanders celebrated a one-day holiday observing the ‘First Day of Summer’ (Sumardagurinn fyrsti in Icelandic) on the 22nd of this month. Even though the average temperatures in the country are usually still below 12°C, with wind, rain and even snow sometimes seen on this day, the holiday is nonetheless widely regarded as a seasonal turning point in the country, and a time to anticipate warmer and milder days ahead.

4) Also from RÚV, it was reported that Iceland is ranked 16th globally in terms of freedom of the press, according to new World Press Freedom Index data compiled by the NGO Reporters Without Borders. This ranking, while high considering that 180 countries were listed in the Index, was nevertheless below all four of the other Nordic countries, (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden; Norway placed first on the list). The organisation pointed out that Icelandic media have occasionally had poor relations with the government, and that since the 2008 financial crisis (kreppa), news outlets in the country have been more vulnerable to pressure from some firms and lobbying organisations.

5) A webinar entitled ‘The Tip of the Iceberg – What a Changing Climate in the Arctic Means for the Nuclear Superpowers’ hosted by Norges Fredslag / the Norwegian Peace Association, will take place on 27th April. Two regional experts, Rasmus Gjedssø Bertelsen (University of Tromsø) and Thomas Nilsen (Independent Barents Observer) will give their insights on nuclear superpower policies relevant to Arctic affairs.