Wednesday 18. April 2018

UW representative participates in a seminar on the future development of the Disko Bay/Greenland

UW director Peter Weiss recently returned from a seminar funded through the Nordic Council of Ministers on Sustainable Adaptation to Climate Change and Globalisation in Disko Bay, West Greenland. The seminar comes at a good time; UW recently launched a new master's programme in Coastal Communities and Regional Development and the topics of the seminar in Greenland were closely aligned with the scope of the new masters programme.

During the two day seminar in Ilulissat, Disko Bay, both local inhabitants and scientists and practitioners from Greenland, Denmark, and the other Nordic countries identified future research needs in Greenland that will enable a knowledge-based sustainable adaptation to Climate Change and Globalisation. Through a scenario-approach the seminar developed new questions of relevance to research aimed at providing solutions to concrete opportunities and challenges in community development in a relatively small but typical Greenland community 

It was important for the local community to discuss their most urgent items with scientists. Similarly, the scientists established an internationally strong inter-disciplinary group of Nordic scientists and representatives of scientific networks and programmes.

For the University Centre of the Westfjords, the contact to Greenlandic, Danish and Scandinavian network comes at the right time, when UW builds up, in cooperation with University of Akureyri, the new Master's programme in Coastal Communities and Regional Development. But it is also amazing to see how similar and still how different the situation is in Ilulissat compared to Ísafjörður, two towns with similar number of inhabitants. Of course, it helps not to compare to Iceland as a whole, but to, what Westfjords tourism advertisement calls "the other Iceland". Fisheries and tourism, cruise ships, coastal fisheries, quota ownership, modernisation and social change, all these are topics predominant in both Disko Bay and the Westfjords. However, as population growth in general is high in Greenland, outmigration is not the big topic. In Greenland, however, the portion of the population with minimum education is by far much higher than in the countryside in Iceland and has been identified as one of the major hinders for efficient development.

The stakeholders invited to the seminar included ca. 20 representatives of the local municipality, the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources (Pinngortitaleriffik), the University of Greenland (Ilisimatusarfik), the local fishing industry, the local tourist industry, the local educational institutions, the local UNESCO World Heritage Site, Greenland media, the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science, the Nordic Council of Ministers, The International Arctic Science Committee, the Nordic Investment Bank, as well as some researchers and practitioners from the Nordic countries.

The seminar was held in Ilulissat at the big Ice Fjord Ilulissat Kangerlua, the biggest icefjord in Greenland and – apart from the Antarctica, the most productive in the world. The community of approximately 4.000 inhabitants masters one third of annual tourists to Greenland. The setting of this seminar was indeed scenic and even better that there is a direct flight between Reykjavík and Ilulissat.


Peter Weiss, director of the University Centre of the Westfjords, together with Joan Nymand Larsen from the Stefansson Arctic Institute and professor at University of Akureyri, the other participant from Iceland, with Ilulissat Kangerlua in the background.
Peter Weiss, director of the University Centre of the Westfjords, together with Joan Nymand Larsen from the Stefansson Arctic Institute and professor at University of Akureyri, the other participant from Iceland, with Ilulissat Kangerlua in the background.
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