Arctic Yearbook 2014
Organization (GTO) for many years. This implies that the hitherto rather scarce exploitation of raw
materials and hydropower energy in Greenland is a result of high costs, accessibility, and global
market conditions for exploitation, more than a lack of knowledge about their potentials. The
increasing global resource shortages of certain raw materials and consequent expectations of price
increases is a major explanation for the increased international interest in some of Greenland’s
mineral potentials. This is also reflected in the global geopolitical considerations towards the Arctic
region resulting from changing climate conditions.
From a Greenlandic perspective the global interests in the countries’ resources are highly welcomed.
Currently, the Danish government contributes almost half of Greenland’s government budget (577
million Danish Kr. out of 1.261 million in 2011) (Statistics Greenland 2013) and approximately one
third of the disposable gross national income. At the same time, Greenland has the same
demographic challenges as a number of other Arctic areas, with increased life expectancy, a declining
birth rate which is down to 1.8, and migration from Greenland, which together result in an increased
dependency ratio, with consequent growth in public spending. Public spending is also challenged by
expectations of increased welfare, education and health, while export incomes are declining, overall
resulting in an expected increase in public finance deficits.
The political desire in Greenland for increased political and economic autonomy creates an
obviously untenable situation. Over the past decades, the value of mineral exports has been quite
modest, while fish and shellfish account for approx. 85% of exports. In recent years a massive
political desire has emphasized the need to expand the export incomes to more areas than just living
marine resources and this has resulted in the development of new business areas based on the
exploitation of mineral resources.
This article explores in section 2 the historic policies of centralization supporting the growth of cities
and the reduction in settlements based on subsistence fishing and hunting, but also an increase in
the economic dependency of Greenland. This provides H