Published on November 4, 2021
While the world’s leaders meet this week at COP26 in Glasgow to discuss how to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement, life goes on in Greenland, the epicenter of temperature rise and home of the fast-melting Greenland ice sheet.
But something has changed: Greenland has decided to join the Paris Agreement. This is yet another step taken by Naalakkersuisut, The Government of Greenland, to actively participate in curbing the climate crisis, and to promote a sustainable, green transition in Greenland.
Mette Frederiksen, Prime Minister of Denmark & Mute Bourup Egede, Prime Minister of Greenland at COP26. Photo by the Government of Greenland
As Greenland is at the forefront of climate change, with a threefold temperature rise compared to the global average, the impacts this has cannot be overlooked. Sustainability is not another buzzword in Greenland and climate change is not something that will be gone overnight. On the contrary, the cost is too high if Greenland does not actively take decisions on this matter. Signing the Paris Agreement follows other similar initiatives by the Government of Greenland, for example putting a halt on oil and gas exploration. Greenland is the first Arctic nation to declare such an intention.
“It matters that Greenland has joined the Paris Agreement. For the tourism industry, the Government of Greenland is signalling to us that they support the sustainable tourism actions that were already underway by the industry’s own initiative. A sustainable approach is how we want to grow tourism business in Greenland.” says Hjörtur Smarason, Managing Director at Visit Greenland.
Besides committing to be more sustainable, a unique opportunity for Greenland lies in educating, both local and international public, about climate change impacts. One of these educational opportunities opened in July 2021 in the midst of the corona crisis: the new Ilulissat Icefjord Centre (the town’s name means icebergs in Greenlandic).
“The Greenlandic people have always had a deep connection with the ice. They have lived alongside the stark reality of climate change for a long time. Therefore, it is fitting that the Ilulissat Icefjord Centre pays homage not only to the ice but to how the Greenlanders have survived and adapted to the changing world. It is a chance for the world to learn about climate change first hand,” explains Elisabeth Momme, leader of the Ilulissat Icefjord Centre.
“The Greenlandic peoples’ innovative skills, in terms of adapting to livelihood alterations could serve as a great inspiration globally. Tourism development is one way that Greenlanders adapt to the altered hunting patterns due to the increasing temperatures and the lack of sea-ice, and sustainability is the keyword in that development”, says Hjörtur Smarason.
For more information:
Hjörtur Smarason – Tourism and Sustainability questions
Managing Director – Visit Greenland
Mobile: +45 22 80 14 16 / +299 27 99 98
Leader of the Icefjord Centre in Ilulissat
Mobile: +299 555588