Analysis & Opinions - ArcticToday

Why Greenland Needs to Plan for Future Climate-driven Immigration Now

  • Elizabeth Vincent
| Aug. 27, 2020

A history of colonialism means the nation will need to carefully integrating newcomers in ways that preserve its cultural heritage.

As the climate changes, patterns of human migration will change with it. As discussed in the recent book "Migration in The Arctic: The Past, Present, and Future" edited by Satu Uusiautti and Nafisa Yeasmin, the Arctic has already seen and will see an influx of people moving in as space and economic opportunities open over the next several years. This is a result of increased economic opportunities due to climate change. Greenland's melting ice sheet is exposing previously inaccessible natural resources, and it is likely to receive a significant portion of this migration. As a country with an 89 percent Indigenous population and a history of colonialism, Greenland must anticipate the challenges and opportunities migration will bring and proactively protect its cultural agency through implementation of a robust immigration policy.

Immigration brings potential for new ideas, innovation, and economic growth. Along with these benefits can come the real or perceived perception that the immigrants are taking jobs away from locals and are taking over the locals' space. When new groups come into an area, there are inevitable shifts in the culture of the area. Often, this can be a benefit to everyone in the community. However, when Indigenous communities have experienced permanent influxes of outsiders, inclusion policies have often failed to respect traditional culture and avoid injustices against existing Indigenous. There are precious few examples of countries where there has been nationwide respect for Indigenous cultures.

Greenland must develop a comprehensive plan for how it will integrate people who will come looking for jobs — either by choice or necessity — as their old homes become uninhabitable. In other countries with large immigrant populations, there are sometimes problems integrating immigrants into communities linguistically and in spreading out the immigration to smaller towns as well as bigger cities....

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Vincent, Elizabeth.“Why Greenland Needs to Plan for Future Climate-driven Immigration Now.” ArcticToday, August 27, 2020.

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