Commitment to Greenland with far-reatching importance

an article by Klaus Nygaard,
director of Greenland Institute of Natural Resources

Commitment to Greenland with far-reatching importance

The Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation’s commitment to Greenland stretches back more than 20 years. It has developed from support to dissemination and knowledge gathering, ranging from nature research projects to large construction projects. The support has had decisive importance for the continued development of Greenland’s modern society taking place in close interaction with nature. The wild, animate resources are the actual lifeblood of Greenland’s society in both a socio-economic and cultural context; however, population growth, technological development and climate change put nature under pressure. This requires a large and precise knowledge base to be able to maintain a sustainable balance.

With the Foundation’s financing of the construction of Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, the foundation was laid in place to enable Greenland to take over and develop responsibility for the scientific studying and monitoring of Greenland’s nature. This has led to a large increase in the number of scientific activities which have had decisive importance for the development of the management of the natural environment in Greenland, for an increased awareness of nature in Greenland’s society and for Greenland’s international commitment to nature.

The main building of Greenland Institute of Natural Resources was inaugurated in 1998. The approx. 2,000 m2 building contains laboratories, offices and facilities for more than 40 employees and is of a high architectural and functional quality. With the very good framework in place, the Nature Institute has quickly developed into a leading success as a workplace in Greenland, and this has been of importance to the commitment and amount of work carried out on Greenland’s nature. With financing from the Foundation, a 850 m2 annex was already added to the Institute in the year 2000. This contains apartments and rooms for visiting researchers and partners. In this manner the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources has been able to attract leading researchers and strengthen its international profile.
To sustain important research in interplay between man, the ecological system and the climate in Greenland, the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources established a professorship in 2005 with financiering from the Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation. The professorship has resulted in a significant professional research boost, both in terms of quality and quantity. The professorship has quickly enabled Greenland to become part of the knowledge gathering concerning the global climate changes that especially impact on the Arctic regions. The impact of climate change on the ice cap and on ocean currents close to Greenland have global significance and attract very extensive international research. The excellent facilities for Greenland Institute of Natural Resources represent a major asset for Greenland in this area. This point of departure together with commitment and cooperation entail that the precious knowledge gathered via international research is made applicable to Greenland’s understanding and management of its nature.
The Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation has for a number of years supported the establishment of facilities for a large-scale nature and climate monitoring programme at Zackenberg/Daneborg in the High Arctic North-East Greenland. From 2007 a similar programme has been established in the Low Arctic West Greenland at Nuuk and once again the Foundation has been supportive with financing of facilities such as a research station, a number of smaller vessels and technical equipment. The two monitoring programmes are closely connected and make up an unique asset for the understanding of the impact and effect of climate change on the Arctic region.
Greenland’s nature is also challenged by increased development of raw materials and increased shipping due to the melting sea ice. This has led to a major increase in the number of environmental research projects. This area of responsibility currently lies with the Danish state, but with the introduction of Greenland’s self-government in 2009, increased responsibility will be passed to Greenland. Based upon the expected development within the areas of climate and environment during the next few years an extension of the Nature Institute was inaugurated in 2011 with financing provided by the Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation. The 850 m2 extension with laboratories and offices provides space for a further 25 employees. With this the required physical settings are ensured so that the gathering of knowledge about Greenland’s nature can encompass all aspects of utilisation and protection.
The rapid increase in activity at the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources has led to a need for space for equipment and vessels; the Foundation has most recently provided support for the construction of a 350 m2 boat house, workshop and storage space for technical equipment, which were inaugurated in 2012 at the harbour in Nuuk. Further support was provided for a new working boat to be used from 2013 in the coastal areas. In this manner good continuity is established between the professional and logistical conditions.

Running through the whole development from the first nature projects until the present day, where Greenland has an internationally recognised research centre in the shape of Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, is the fact that the Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation has always been very willing to listen to Greenland’s own wishes and capability. This thereby ensures broad support for long-standing commitments and for the operation of the many facilities. These circumstances themselves ensure long-standing benefit from the Foundation´s support of Greenland’s society and the Arctic nature.

Another important factor has been the Foundation ’s support of activities connected with information provision, including a number of publications for use by the educational system in Greenland. The Foundation has also provided support for an architectural competition for a University park as a neighbour to the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources. Greenland has established the University park in 2008, thereby opening up for new opportunities for interdisciplinary research cooperation between social science and natural science. The self-governing Greenland of the future is in this way well prepared for a knowledge based development.