Arctic News Roundup: 13-19 September

[Photo by Marc Lanteigne]

by Mingming Shi

1) The Journal of the North Atlantic and Arctic (JONAA) published an article on polar bears in the high north, with a focus on the Svalbard archipelago in Norway. The piece explains why and how polar bears can be dangerous to humans, and describes the regulations and legal protections of the species, as well as providing practical safety suggestions for travellers when visiting locations where the bears are present. 

2) According to Reuters, Greenland is in the process of preparing regulations against uranium mining on the island, which means the Kvanefjeld (Kuannersuit), a large-scale uranium and rare earths mining project planned in southern Greenland may be unable to proceed. However, some local inhabitants are concerned that this decision might curtail future income from mining. Australian firm Greenland Minerals, the primary backer of the Kvanefjeld initiative, has also expressed determination to defend their interests in the project.

3) As the Canadian news service Eye on the Arctic has written, 19 September marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Arctic Council. The Council was founded in 1996, specialising in scientific and research cooperation among the eight Arctic states and detailing the rights of Indigenous communities, while also excluding military and other hard security issues within the organisation.

4) The United States continues to deepen its economic engagement with Greenland, including with a new aid deal for Nuuk designed to bolster Greenland’s education, mining, and tourism sectors. As Reuters reports, the package, worth approximately US$10 million, is the latest in a series of initiatives undertaken by Washington to raise its diplomatic presence in Greenland, especially due to concerns about future security trends in the Arctic. The US Air Force maintains a base at Thule in northern Greenland.

5) This autumn, as explained in High North News, will be especially busy for elections in Arctic states, as Canada, Iceland and Russia are soon holding votes, and Norway completed its election earlier in September with a victory for the Labour Party (Arbeiderpartiet) under Jonas Gahr Støre. Labour is currently in the process of building a new government coalition, which is expected to move the country’s politics, to some degree, leftwards. Among the major topics in the Norwegian election were the future of the country’s petroleum industry, compliance with global environmental regulations, and relations with the European Union.