News - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Greenland Foreign Minister Discusses Climate Challenges and Problem-Solving with Arctic Initiative

    Author:
  • Shelby Grebbin
| Sep. 16, 2019

Ane Lone Bagger, Minister of Education, Culture, Church, and Foreign Affairs, Greenland, speaks on “Greenland in a Changing Arctic” during an Arctic Initiative seminar moderated by Halla Hrund Logadóttir, Co-Founder and Co-Director, Arctic Initiative.

Ane Lone Bagger, Minister of Education, Culture, Church, and Foreign Affairs, Greenland, speaks on “Greenland in a Changing Arctic” during an Arctic Initiative seminar moderated by Halla Hrund Logadóttir, Co-Founder and Co-Director, Arctic Initiative.

The rich cultural and environmental beauty of Greenland, the world’s largest island, has long been anchored by monumental glaciers and impenetrable sheaths of sea ice. Yet as climate change melts the ice the indigenous nation must grapple with advancing its goals of independence, preserving local culture, expanding its industrial presence, and navigating warmer waters. 

The natural viability of the island has not gone unnoticed historically or in present political discourse. In response to President Donald Trump’s proposal to purchase the strategically-located nation, Greenland’s Foreign Minister Ane Lone Bagger told Reuters: “We are open for business, but we’re not for sale.”

The Minister of Education, Culture, Church, and Foreign Affairs visited Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs on Wednesday to discuss how the exchange of knowledge and problem-solving between the Center and Greenlanders can lead to solutions to issues of environmental degradation and change. 

“As a minister responsible for education I find education to be the key when we talk about Greenland’s present and future development,” she said. “In a modern and globalized world it is imperative that we continually accrue knowledge and skills.”

The discussion was hosted by The Arctic Initiative, a joint project of the Environment and Natural Resources Program and the Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program at the Belfer Center. The Arctic Initiative convenes policy makers, scientists, and politicians to conduct research and initiate new climate policies and promotes education on Arctic issues.

In the spring, Harvard Kennedy School students participating in the Arctic Initiative course; IGA-671M Policy and Social Innovation for the Changing Arctic, will visit Greenland to conduct research and collaborate with local experts to craft solutions to challenges ranging from foreign policy to climate strategy.

“The focus on Greenland today is extremely timely,” Halla Hrund Logadóttir, co-founder and co-director of the Arctic Initiative, who teaches the course said. “Greenland is the world’s biggest island with about 57,000 inhabitants, mostly indigenous, and it is a place on our planet being hit extremely hard by climate change, with multiple social and cultural consequences.” 

Along with the challenges melting sea ice has caused for Greenlanders are opportunities for investment; shifting glacial formations have opened the way for easier access to oil and minerals and warmer ocean temperatures have attracted new species of fish. 

Yet melting glaciers off of Greenland’s shores directly impact sea-level rise for the rest of the planet. 

“We all know that the changes in the Arctic are much more severe than the rest of the world, not so much because [Greenlanders] cause it, but more as a recipient of the effects of increased carbon dioxide emissions,” the minister said. She said she wants to harness the knowledge of Greenland’s local experts to make it a hub for scientific research about climate change and sea-level rise. 

“We need...more researchers who are more respectful of the local communities, because not all of the researchers make use of the local communities.”

Logadóttir said she looks forward to facilitating students’ collaboration with local researchers on solutions that hopefully contribute to effective policies. 

“It’s amazing to see how different it is to learn something from a book or to learn something from reality,” she said. 

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Grebbin, Shelby. “Greenland Foreign Minister Discusses Climate Challenges and Problem-Solving with Arctic Initiative .” News, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, September 16, 2019.

The Author

Shelby Grebbin

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