Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 235

235 Arctic Yearbook 2014 same time, extractive industries will impact both the natural environment and the human environment. Depending on the activities planned – type, size, timing and content of project – “impacts can be reversible or irreversible, they can be short or long term and even permanent” (Hansen 2013: 8). There is an aura of distrust in that lack of government transparency in the decision-making process, particularly with regard to BMP linked with the powerful influence of private companies will marginalize local interests. She suggests that there seems to be a fear that “the private sector will set the agenda, not protect local values, and not secure positive development” (Hansen 2013: 11). Indeed, the process of public participation is fraught with challenges. Whether deemed inconvenient, unintentional, or a process in need of further development, the desire for economic independence may be infringing upon the democratic values of Greenlanders. A cornerstone of democratic freedom is the right to participate in public affairs. The values of participatory democracy requires open communications, argument and the right to demand that ones views are given due consideration, whether supportive or unfavorable. Understood as a host of freedoms, Amartya Sen, the Nobel prize winning economist notes, “Political and civil rights, especially those related to the guaranteeing of open discussion, debate, criticism, and dissent, are central to the processes of generating informed and reflected choices” (Sen 1999: 153). Democratic values expressed as political freedoms, socio-economic participation and transparency guarantees, will each gain strength from the existence of the others when realized (Sen 1999: 38). However, the enticement of prosperity may give rise to the demise of civil rights freedoms (Sen 1999: 149). In this regard Hansen (2013) suggests that community members may initially tolerate the negative impacts of an extractive industrial project, attracted by the prospect of employment, however, over time the consequences of development may cause societal divisions. NGOs – Calling Authorities to Task As pointed out by Erdal (2013) Greenland’s “large-scale resource extraction is fundamental to statebuilding,” which to a large extent has played out through the forging of diplomatic ties with China, and to a lesser degree significant exchanges with South Korea. Indeed, Nutall (2012: 25) argues that the path toward independence is an expression of nation-building and state-formation” built on the presumption of lucrative subsurface resource extraction. If realized Greenland would be the first independent Inuit state. This presents a double truth. On the one hand, Greenland would simply become a developing nation, but it would also be an indigenous nation bestowed with the legal rights afforded by UNDRIP. Where public participation is fundamental to democratic state-building, it is also closely associated with the international legal norm of ‘free, prior, and informed consent’ enshrined in UNDRIP. With these conditions, the path toward independence should take place with consideration for Sen’s argument that public engagement is a primary condition of democracy that should exist alongside economic development, and with the precondition of ‘free, prior and informed consent.’ This is not to suggest that Greenland is absent of public discussion, but as I am asserting here there is reason to challenge the extent to which government is fulfilling its social obligation of free and Greenlandic Independence