Arctic Circle Assembly The future of Greenland: A dialogue. Speech by Minister for Industry, Labour, Trade and Foreign Affairs, Mr. Vittus Qujaukitsoq

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1 Inuussutissarsiornermut, Suliffeqarnermut, Niuernermut Nunanullu Allanut Naalakkersuisoq Minister of Industry, Labour, Trade and Foreign Affairs Arctic Circle Assembly The future of Greenland: A dialogue Speech by Minister for Industry, Labour, Trade and Foreign Affairs, Mr. Vittus Qujaukitsoq Harpa, Iceland October 16 th 2015 Ministers, Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like today to present to you, and hopefully also have a dialogue with you, on some of the important challenges we face in the Arctic, but also to present to you my Governments thoughts on some of the opportunities that we together share in the Arctic. THE LIVING RESOURCES OF GREENLAND The principle of sustainability in particular environmental sustainability - has always been a part of Greenlandic culture and identity. In a modern context this means, that the management of living resources from fish to seals and whales is conducted in full accordance with scientific advice as well as taking into account the traditional knowledge of our hunters and fishermen. 90% of Greenland s exports come from the sea. This is why we are entirely reliant on maintaining a balanced and reliable management of our resources. The hunting of marine mammals and seals is a vital component of everyday life and culture in Greenland as it has been for thousands of years. It is a traditional and legitimate way of life that is based on the principle of sustainable use of living resources. The Greenlandic fisheries industry supplies the international market with seafood products, such as shrimps, halibut, cod, redfish, mackerel and capelin and with changes in the climate the occurrence of other species are increasing. However, tariff rates and other trade barriers remain an obstacle to increased trade with some of Greenland s main trading partners. My Government is working to develop our relationships with our closest trading partners in order to provide better conditions for increased trade. In order to better sustainably exploit the vast natural resources in our waters, we are working to further strengthen our independent fisheries advisory research centre. 1

2 By improving the exploitation of our fisheries resources and securing better market access, we will create new growth and jobs in the fisheries sector so that our businesses and society will benefit from the opportunities and the resources. ACHIEVEMENT OF A SELF-SUSTAINING ECONOMY In Greenland we are working to achieve a more self-sustaining economy in order to increase our self-determination. To achieve this we need to adapt our resource management and production so that the degree of processing of fisheries products in Greenland is increased. In this area, Iceland is a world leader, and an inspiration also for Greenlandic policymaking. We also have to focus on new markets and better exploit existing markets. Domestically we are working to create a more efficient labour market, and most importantly we need overall to improve the level of education in Greenland. THE IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATION In a country half the size of the European Union, with a population of less than 60,000 people, the most important resource we have in Greenland is our human resource. Each and every one of us represents important and irreplaceable value - through our abilities, our knowledge of our past, and our dedication to create results for our common future. The most important long-term strategy to contribute to Greenland s development into a more self-sustaining economy is to achieve a well-educated and well-trained population. Education and science open up new worlds, innovation, ideas and development. The Greenlandic Government has a firm objective for our youth to pursue education and study both in Greenland and overseas. THE OPPORTUNITIES IN TOURISM An important area for Greenland to develop is our tourism sector. To have a successful tourism sector, it is key that we over the coming years improve access to Greenland. This is 2

3 why my Government is committed to strengthening the country's infrastructure by focusing on construction of new runways and extending existing runways. The construction of the new port in Nuuk and extension of the port in Kangerlussuaq are other important initiatives, because the improvement of port conditions also opens up for increased cruise ship tourism in Greenland. INVESTMENTS AND GOOD COOPERATION With new opportunities and potentials in the Arctic, we experience an increased global interest in our region and we are grasping new possibilities for intensifying international cooperation within areas of on- and offshore mineral extraction, infrastructure investment, scientific research, trade and shipping. My Government recognizes the need for maintaining and developing partnerships to promote trade and investments and securing a sustainable development for our people. As governments we need to cooperate to create sound international governance, whether it is close to our home in the Arctic or on the broader global scene. THE NEED FOR DEVELOPMENT As we all know the Arctic is becoming a global hotspot, with temperatures inceasing twice as fast as in the rest of the world. Climate change poses a serious challenge to our way of life. However, it is important to note that the challenges we face in some areas, can be turned into opportunities. The increased accessibility of the rich resources both living resources and mineral resources also brings about new opportunities for development. This wealth has to be managed in a way where we are actively empowered to make decisions for the benefit of our population. The Arctic is a global crossroad between commercial and environmental challenges and opportunities: It holds substantial natural resources in a particularly pristine and vulnerable environment. This is about the balance between resource utilization and conservation, and between industrial and environmental interests in the Arctic. How do we utilize the possibilities opening up to us to secure a sustainable growth for our communities, in an environmentally responsible way? 3

4 The fishermen and hunters in the Arctic experience increased difficulties sustaining their traditional lifestyle as the ice recedes and the snow cover disappears. This makes transportation on ice more challenging, as hunters and fishermen depend on the ice to travel on. Climate change is truly threatening the livelihoods of the Arctic hunters and fishermen. For Greenland this means that we have to utilize our non-renewable resources while we continue to protect the environment and the sustainably of hunting and fisheries. Our marine mammals and our fish will remain our most important source for food and economy for many generations to come. ADAPTING THE ECOMOMY TURNING CHALLENGES INTO OPPORTUNITIES To ensure a sustainable economy, while facing new and radical change to our traditional way of life and our unique Arctic biodiversity, Greenland and our economy are adapting. Greenland is exploring new opportunities; within tourism, agriculture, energy, in mineral and resource extraction and in industrial development based on hydropower. New deposits of minerals, rare earths and gems are becoming more accessible as the ice sheet recedes. This forms the basis of a new mining industry for Greenland. Other potentials in extractive industries such as oil and gas also become increasingly accessible due to the reduction of sea ice. Climate change is improving conditions for agriculture in the South west of Greenland, which will experience longer summers and winters will be less severe. Today sheep herding and domestic potato production, are growing in importance in this region of Greenland. In Greenland we have invested intensively in renewable energy for more than a decade. We have further vast potentials for hydropower plants, and with the opening of the 5th hydropower plant in Ilulissat last year, we have now reached a goal we set back in 2009: 70% percent of our national electricity supply is covered by renewable energy. And we can do even more. It is my Government s priority to advance these new opportunities without compromising the traditional way of life and culture in Greenland. 4

5 CLOSING Let us continue to openly explore the common interests and challenges of the Arctic region in order to facilitate an increased cooperation between all international Arctic stakeholders. Finally, in closing, I would like here today to acknowledge President Grimsson for his outstanding accomplishment. In just two years he has managed to put in more ways than any other world leader the Arctic on the global map. This forum has achieved what no other regular gathering has succeded before it, in bringing together all the relevant stakeholders from the Arctic as well as from partners outside the Arctic. President Grimsson has taken the Arctic Circle and Iceland to the world, with thematic meetings recently held in Alaska and next month in Singapore. Greenland wants to continue to play an important part in the Arctic Circle. Greenland has agreed to host an Arctic Circle meeting, which will take place in Nuuk on 18 to 19 May I look forward to seeing many of you in Greenland in Thank you. 5

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