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July 27, 2008 / Mridul

Greenland Seeks Independence, Control Of Natural Resources

Sun over the mountains in Greenland

Sun over the mountains in Greenland

Energy crisis and melting ice has opened up new opportunities for the countries near the North Pole. But one region is caught in the midst of this new energy tug-of-war. Greenland, which is a part of Denmark, is planning to demand more autonomy and eventually independence from the Dutch rule. The decision is gathering momentum as the ice of the polar caps melts which would uncover possibly millions of tonnes of metal ores, precious stones and billions of barrels of untapped oil reserves.

Russia, Canada and United States of America are among the so-called ‘energy vultures’ hovering over these vast reserves of natural resources. Each, in its own way, is trying to cement its right over the island’s resources. US and Canada sent ships to survey the offshore reserves while Russia, in a more dramatic show of strength, planted a Russian flag on the ocean floor near the North Pole (possibly worried about losing the race for new energy).

In the middle of all this, Greenland will be holding a referendum in November this year which, if passed, would give more powers to the local government. The Greenlandic Prime Minister has also indicated that the island would pitch for complete independence and might declare independence as early as June 2009.

Although the call for independence for the Dutch had been echoing for decades now but have now found the new, and quite ironic, support of the melting ice. Even as the melting ice caps reshape the island’s geography and its inhabitants’ lifestyle, it also gives them an ‘economic free-pass’ which would help them survive once they completely detach themselves from Denmark which currently is responsible for 40% of the total GDP of Greenland.

But the people of Greenland, who are hoping to utilize these resources to support their economy, must also get ready for unwanted offers from countries which are looking at their resources with greedy intentions. Once independent, Greenland would surely get scores of ‘trade offers’ and energy pacts which would be directed not towards the development of the people but getting hands at its untapped natural resources.

As the world endures the energy crisis countries with energy alternatives are trying to capitalize on every opportunity to sell their products and earn windfall profits; these include Indonesia and Brazil which are blindly pitching for biofuels as the solution to mankind’s ever growing energy demand. Recently Indonesia signed a pact with its neighbor, Papua New Guinea, to use its land for production of biofuels crops. It must be noted that Papua New Guinea is facing depletion of its rain forests at record levels and it might reduce by as much as 53% by 2020.

Although the people of Greenland wish to gain full independence, the difficulties that it would have to face cannot be neglected. The Greenlandic government must take decisions wisely in order to maintain its right over its own natural reserves.

Photo Credit: Whimsical Chris (Creative Commons)


Leave a Comment
  1. pacer521 / Aug 29 2008 7:56 pm

    wow, possibly the most well thought out post I have ever read. As far as your writing — perfect. As a ski buff, I found this trying to find a trip to Greenland and videos, but this totally captivated me.

    This is so much different than any other stories, and I think its great that you found it and reported on it.

    Well, you got a reader, I’ll tell you that much!


  2. Mridul Chadha / Aug 29 2008 8:37 pm

    Thanks pacer521.

    Everybody from the politicians to the scientists are talking about the vast reserves of oil and minerals beneath Greenland but no one seems interested in the rights and future of the native people of Greenland.

    It is a very important issue and must be discussed before any country lays hands on those untouched reserves.

  3. Sidney W. Chambless / Nov 5 2009 4:25 am

    Who will the Greenlander government “appoint” to oversee/control the development, utilization, exploitation, etc. of their publically owned natural resources? Is there any hope this will be handled in the best interests of its’ citizens? Or, will this be special/self interest “business as usual”- which has predominated worldwide for a long time (regardless of your country of origin)?

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