GREENLAND: ENGAGING LOCAL WORKFORCE
PLANNING FLEXIBLE SETTLEMENTS
Kåre Hendriksen, Birgitte Hoffmann & Ulrik Jørgensen
The key question of the paper is how to plan and organize mining projects in Greenland in ways that involve local workforce and
develop business as well as settlement potentials. The paper outlines a concept of flexible settlements with the aim to build a socioeconomic sustainable future for Greenland.
A major contemporary challenge for Greenland is its economic deficit and dependency on state support from Denmark, to
maintain its living standard. The evolving decoupling between existing settlements and the main export industry based on marine
living resources re-enforced by new mineral extraction based on a workforce that is working temporarily at the mining sites poses a
threat to employment in Greenland. At the same time, attracting mineral resource based industries is key to overcome the
economic challenges. Mining companies envisage potentials for a fast extraction of the resources using immigrant and migrant
labourers that work intensively while living in temporary quarters. The historic experiences of Greenland tell that a different,
slower exploitation of mineral resources may contribute to social improvements and competence-building thereby providing longterm improvements for the Greenlandic society. This point to a need for plans and the organisation of mineral exploitations that
operate based on coupling local settlements and resources with mining and other forms of activities. This demands new perspectives
on the content of social impact assessments as well as new criteria for the planning of settlements and infrastructures.
The natural mineral and energy resources in Greenland have been researched in detail by Danish
state institutions like the Danish Geological Surveys (GEUS) and the former Greenland Technical
Kåre Hendriksen is Associate Professor at the Arctic Technology Centre, Department of Civil Engineering,
Technical University of Denmark. Birgitte Hoffmann is Associate Professor and Ulrik Jørgensen is Professor
at the Department of Development and Planning, Aalborg University.