Focus on Nordic and Arctic Issues
We have seen a growing emphasis on the Arctic and Nordic area in the last quarter of 2014. On September 24th the Brookings Institution held a discussion on “Natural Resource Development in Greenland with Greenland’s Premier Aleqa Hammond. The Premier’s talk was followed by a panel discussion focused on a new Brookings report, “The Greenland Gold Rush: Promise and Pitfalls of Greenland’s Energy and Mineral Resources.” The authors Kevin Foley and Tim Boersma were joined by University of Copenhagen Professor Minik Rosing in emphasizing the challenges that Greenland may have reaching its goals for economic development, but also the potential.
The Premier was in Washington to open the Greenland diplomatic representation office at the Embassy of Denmark headed by Inuuteq Hold Olsen.
As the United States is poised to take over the presidency of the Arctic Council, I was pleased to take part in a panel discussion at the Center for American Policy on “Helping the Arctic Council find Its True North”. I was joined by Admiral Robert J. Papp Jr., U.S. Special Representative for the Arctic and several others. We discussed some of the issues the US will emphasize during its two year tenure as president.
The United States will take over the role from Canada in April 2015 and will concentrate on the following agenda: ocean governance, climate change, and economic and living conditions of people living in the Arctic regions. The Hill reported that, in fact, climate change – both mitigation and adaptation – will be the main focus for Secretary Kerry and President Obama.
We will hear more about these Arctic issues as 2015 begins. The Danish Presidency of the Nordic Council will also open in 2015. Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt declared on October 28th at a meeting of the Nordic Council that Denmark has formulated a program in cooperation with Greenland and the Faroe Islands. The program will concentrate on growth, welfare, value and the Arctic. The Prime Minister said that “growth is crucial … to develop the Region’s position as a leader especially in green solutions, energy and climate.” She also emphasized the Nordic brand and used the example of the New Nordic Food culture as an example of Nordic values and branding. In terms of welfare, she looks for knowledge sharing to improve health.
On Arctic issues, the Nordic Council under the Danish Presidency will also focus on climate issues and will be an excellent partner for the work of the Arctic Council under the leadership of the United States.