Naalakkersuisoq Vivian Motzfelt tale til ICC
What are countries doing for inuit and the Arctic, bemærk talen kun er på grønlandsk og engelsk
Inoqatikka, Ministers, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am honored to represent the Government of Greenland at the Inuit Circumpolar Council’s 13th General Assembly. With this intervention, I would like to bring greetings from the Premier of the Government of Greenland, Mr. Kim Kielsen - who unfortunately is unable to be here today.
I feel privileged to be able to take part in the ICC assembly, particularly this year - where ICC is celebrating 40 years of advocacy for Inuit rights and international co-operation. Pilluaritsi, Pilluarta – congratulations to all of us with this important milestone.
I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of the Government of Greenland, to thank the first President of ICC – Hans Pavia Rosing. Hans Pavia was a significant political figure in Greenland and has served both as Minister and also represented the Greenland people in the Danish Parliament for 14 years - and as you all know Hans Pavia has contributed to the work of Inuit through decades. We received the news that Hans Pavia had passed away with regret and sadness – and we are deeply thankful for all the work his has done.
We honor his memory and extend our heartfelt condolences to his family.
I would like to congratulate Alaska on taking on the chairmanship for 2018 to 2022. It is an important task to take on. Representing Inuit in a time where all eyes are on the Arctic.
With increasing attention on the Arctic – and expectations from the inhabitants of the Arctic – the theme of this assembly; “Inuit - The Arctic WE Want” is very timely. Inuit themselves must form the present and the future of the Arctic.
In my presentation today, I will present what the Government of Greenland is doing for the Inuit and the Arctic at three different levels; locally, regionally and globally.
Locally the current coalition parties have decided to focus our work on improving the living conditions of the Greenland population. All people should have equal rights and access to development, why we need to support the most vulnerable in our society. Our Government is therefore working on reforms to improve the conditions for our children, families with children, the elders, disabled people, the sick, early retirees and students.
All inhabitants of the Arctic, and all Inuit, should have the possibilities of sustaining a good life. That is the point of departure and the most prominent goal for our Government.
The right to development entails development and progression in our own language and on our own lands. This includes having the right and possibilities to live off our own resources. It is a focus area for the coalition parties that our country has to be more self-sufficient and economically self-sustaining. This applies to human resources, energy supply, water supply, food, livestock farming, agriculture and vegetable production, just to name a few.
And the right to development entails development and progression in our own language and on our own lands.
As we are balancing traditional livelihoods with being part of the modern world, we are increasingly facing vulnerable economies due to climatic changes and global market price fluctuations - and living costs are high in the Arctic. This is why securing our peoples for generations to come by diversifying the economy based on our resources, as to create economic development - and thereby lowering living expenses are priorities of the Government of Greenland. As I am sure it is for many of you sitting here today.
This brings me to my second point; what the Government of Greenland is doing for the Inuit and the Arctic regionally.
Regionally, we share many of the same challenges and we even share some of the same resources. Unfortunately, the fact is that despite Alaska, Arctic Canada and Greenland’s geographical closeness and proximity, our shared heritage and the close cooperation between our respective capitals, there continues to be very little cooperation and economic exchange between Inuit in Greenland and the rest of North America and vice versa, this mainly due to the lack of a proper infrastructure..
Traditionally across the ice between Aujuittuq/Grise Fiord and Qaanaaq, there used to be frequent travels and trading. We have friends and relations across the region because of these historical links. But today – ufortunately – there are limited trading links between Greenland and the rest of North America.
Greenland is taking the first steps to change this now.
The Greenlandic shipping company, Royal Arctic Line, has concluded an ambitious joint venture agreement with Iceland’s shipping company Eimskip, which combined with our major container-port construction in Nuuk, which was completed last year, will enable Greenland’s shipping links to go both East to Iceland and to the main ports in Europe - as well as to the West, towards our fellow Inuit neighbours - in Canada and the United States.
In the Arctic, many of our primary barriers are physical. Once, our container-port in Nuuk and the joint venture agreement between Royal Arctic Line and Eimskip is fully implemented, Greenland will be physically linked to North America for trade in goods at a level never experienced before.
Further, our Government is also finalizing the steps to radically upgrade Greenland’s airport infrastructure. This will allow Greenland to trade, travel and develop with our fellow Inuit.
Similarly, with the upgrade of our airport infrastructure over the coming years, it is only a matter of time, before we will have the ability to re-establish air links to Canada or the United States. The sooner this happens, the better. It is our hope that other regional governments within the Inuit homelands will also be interested and work to establishing these necessary connections.
There is a vast potential for increased cooperation between Inuit across the Arctic, not only within economic development, trade, tourism and travel, but also within other areas such as education, language and culture. Through better collaboration, and by exchanging best practices and innovative solutions to the common issues we all face, we can advance each other.
These are some of the steps that the Government of Greenland is taking regionally to strengthen opportunities for Inuit - to strengthen our region. Greenland remains very open for increased cooperation with our Inuit relatives in the North American Arctic and welcomes innovative ideas of how this can be achieved.
Our Government is also actively participating in different regional cooperation forums in the Arctic – right from the North American Arctic Leaders Summit where political leaders from Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Greenland discuss common interest and challenges to one of the most important ones - being the Arctic Council. In close cooperation with ICC, government representatives make an important effort to secure and ensure that the voice of the Arctic Council, should be the voice of the people of the Arctic.
The Arctic Council is developing a new strategic plan from 2019 and our Government invites ICC to work even closer with us to make sure that the priorities of our peoples are at the center of this strategy.
Furthermore, in May this year, we were pleased to announce that the Government of Greenland, together with Denmark, and Canada established a joint task force to make further progress on the outstanding boundary issues in the waters between Canada and Greenland. The establishment of the joint task force is a breakthrough in our common efforts to resolve the question of sovereignty of Tartupaluk Island and other issues. The task force is a product of the strong cooperation between neighbors and our countries are able to show a way forward on peaceful, and ever closer, cooperation between our countries.
We must, however, also actively relate to the fact that cooperation in the Arctic has become a global matter. This brings me to my third, and last, point; what the Government of Greenland is doing for Inuit and the Arctic globally.
How can the increasing attention that the Arctic is attracting internationally, be transformed into real economic development across our region? The increased attention does not mean that we can merely wait for others to provide us with exactly what our societies need. We must actively participate to benefit from the international community. We know best what our societies need - and development in the Arctic region needs to be with and for the Arctic peoples.
That is why the Government of Greenland prioritizes cooperation with key global stakeholders. To make sure that we see, eye to eye, with the international community on the perspectives on the future of the Arctic, we need to talk more with each other. This is why we have maintained a Greenland representation for the EU in Bruxelles for almost three decades – and also why in 2014, Greenland opened its diplomatic Representation to the United States in Washington D.C. In 2015 our Representative also became accredited to Canada. Later this year, our Government will open a Greenland Representation in Iceland. Iceland is a key partner in fisheries, transportation and tourism. By opening permanent representations with our global partners, we will make sure that we are in the forefront of our own development.
It is also the ambition of our Government to open a Greenland Representation in China in the near future. We experience our Asian partners playing an ever more active economic role on the global scene - and we must make sure that the activities of our Asian counterparts are for the benefit of our people, as we have to with any other partner.
The Government of Greenland also engages in international cooperation on various topics – including the rights of indigenous peoples. Just last week, the Government was represented at the 11th session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Geneva. At the session we once again underlined the importance of indigenous peoples’ participation in decision-making processes, and the obligation to consult indigenous peoples, in order to obtain free, prior and informed consent before the adoption and implementation of legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.
In all international cooperation our Government has the outset that our global partners can bring needed change to our economy and development, but it needs to be on our terms and based on our priorities.
I hope this provided you with an idea of the actions of the Government of Greenland at a local, regional and global level – for the Inuit and the Inuit homeland of the Arctic.
I look forward to our further discussion on how we can strengthen our relationship and cooperation. I believe ICC has proved itself as a very important institution for the coherence among the Inuit. The Inuit nation has for more than 40 years worked together in ICC, and we still need this very important corporation – but as to maintain momentum, we have to discuss new objectives for our future cooperation…
• should we focus more on economic cooperation?
• Or environmental issues?
• More cooperation on language and culture?
• Inuit solutions to the problems of our communities?
The Government of Greenland strongly encourages direct west to east and east to west cooperation between Inuit territories, companies, people’s and other stakeholders. We look forward to hearing your perspectives on concrete actions in this regard.
I will later today provide a country report for Greenland under the title: “The state of Inuit Nunaat - political developments. What is the future we want?” Here I will go further into detail about our current political directions and our visions for the future.