Greenland seeks a clearer role in Nordic cooperation

19.06.2012
What needs to be in place to establish a better dialogue between the autonomous areas and the Nordic countries on research? Participants came out in force for a discussion of this topic hosted by NordForsk at the University of Greenland on Monday June 11. Researchers, politicians and officials from the Danish ministry responsible for Greenland were represented in the audience and on the panel.

Representatives from the Åland University of Applied Sciences, the Faroese Research Council and the University of Greenland presented the key research-related priorities and objectives. Guðrún Nordal, chair of the NordForsk board, discussed the Nordic strategic priorities and activities that are relevant for the three autonomous areas.

The panel discussion that followed addressed how the autonomous areas can be better integrated into Nordic cooperation. What do the representatives from Greenland believe are the key research priorities?

Researchers from the university said they would like Greenland’s research resources to be more directly involved in Nordic cooperation activities. They would also like to see greater focus on cross-disciplinary research, especially through integration of the social science disciplines in order to shed light on the socio-cultural conditions in the Arctic communities. The role of local populations in Arctic research has been debated in many forums in recent years, including at the concluding conference of the International Polar Year (IPY) this spring. Several debate participants emphasised that the research activity would be more inclusive and democratic if the local populations in the Arctic region were included as a source and “co-researcher”. In addition, researchers could draw on crucial knowledge found among the local population.

Another topic of discussion was the recruitment of and access to competent lecturers. While research and teaching activity are well integrated on Greenland, funding mechanisms such as the Nordplus Programme in particular have made it even easier to attract guest lecturers to the University of Greenland. There was also a discussion about how the funding announcements and application process were organised and how the various models of research funding were administered in the autonomous areas.

In summary, Ms Nordal said the meeting was an important first step in the direction of closer cooperation between the autonomous areas and the rest of the Nordic region. The meeting made it clear that expanded cooperation with Greenland is widely needed, not least in the context of strengthening Arctic-related research activities.

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