Arctic News Roundup: 27 September – 3 October

[Photo by Marc Lanteigne]

by Mingming Shi

1) According to the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Arctic Office, a United Kingdom-based organisation, Harland Huset, Britain’s Arctic station located in Svalbard, Norway, celebrated its thirtieth anniversary this week. This facility, opened in 1991 on Ny-Ålesund, is the only research site overseen the UK in the Arctic, and has been successfully undertaking various scientific research tasks, including monitoring local climate change.

2) The New York Times published an essay on the difficult choices facing Greenland regarding its nascent mining industry. The island has been at the centre of growing global demands for rare earths and other strategic metals and minerals, but at the same time many in Greenland have expressed worries about the environmental impact of a massive increase in mining activity. The town of Narsaq, which is the closest town to the now-cancelled Kuannersuit (Kvanefjeld) uranium and rare earths project, was profiled in the report as an example of local opposition to extractive industries.

3) As reported in the High North News, three Scandinavian countries, namely Denmark, Sweden and Norway, have signed an agreement strengthening their defence communication and cooperation, in order to cope with emerging security issues in the Nordic region. Denmark and Norway are members of NATO, but Sweden is not. However, Stockholm has begun to more directly align its security interests towards its Nordic neighbours.

4) Also from High North News, it was reported that despite ongoing frigid relations between the United States and Russia, direct investment from American companies in Russia during 2020 surpassed US$2 billion, according to surveys undertaken by the American Chamber of Commerce and the consulting group Ernst & Young. These numbers reflect the fact that Russia is still seen as a potentially lucrative investment area.

5) As the Greenlandic news organisation KNR detailed, Múte B. Egede, the Prime Minister of Greenland, has also taken on the portfolio of foreign affairs. This change took place after the previous foreign minister, Pele Broberg, stepped down from that post after making controversial comments on the future for the nation to the Danish newspaper Berlingske. During that interview, Broberg suggested that only ethnic Inuit peoples in Greenland and their descendants should be permitted to vote in a future referendum on independence, touching off public criticism.