Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 261

261 Arctic Yearbook 2014   Asymmetries and Adaptive Capacity In economic theory on agency, emphasis is put on the distribution of knowledge between economic agents including the eventual regulators of economic exchanges. While typified ideal economic models at large build on the idea of distributed and available knowledge, more sociological based approaches emphasize the unequal – or asymmetrical – distribution of knowledge making providing the involved economic and regulatory agents with very different capacities to negotiate and intervene. Typically, producers have a much larger knowledge of the technologies and market conditions of relevance for the products produced. In contrast, the knowledge of environmental conditions resides with regulatory authorities and not least local people. Experiences concerning social structures also reside within the local communities. Besides the uneven distribution of knowledge and experiences a big challenge is whether these different forms of knowledge are at all made relevant and useful for e.g. negotiations of what could be called the ‘social license to operate’ when it comes to large- scale projects with potential large social and environmental impacts. This also emphasizes the importance of the interplay between the periphery and political and economic centres that may create new challenges for the local population that they may have limited capacity to handle (Keskiltalo et al. 2011; Keskitalo & Kulyasova 2009). Not only is the local knowledge of importance, but the ability of the local population to organize and respond to policies and knowledge derived from the outside, be it the central government or impacts from large-scale projects and economic globalization. The local community draws on its experience, sometimes defined as ‘social capital’, and its ability to form collective action and respond to the different adaptation arenas at play (Hovelsrud & Smith 2010). When it comes to mining activities and the political and regulatory actions needed, such experience is lacking in Greenland. This requires the administration to build rather independent competence units dependent on knowledge and principles brought in from the outside, but lacking the local competences for building a countering perspective. This asymmetric knowledge originates from the limited capacity of the administration when it comes to understanding the detailed technical and market-based conditions for mining. This is contrasted by the involved companies that typically operate globally and have a lot of established knowledge and skills and also have access to international networks of knowledge institutions, consultants, etc. The argument from the Greenland central administration has generally been that it was possible to include and use expertise from international legal advisors and consultant companies who were working with similar problems on a global scale. This is a necessary and fundamentally sound strategy as international experience and references are crucial for regulators in this field. It does not however remove the need for basic competence in asking the right questions and being able to assess the advice and solutions proposed. This to avoid the government receiving the same advice from the same experts that provide advice to the mining industry. The expert strategy also does not secure the societal capacity for handling the meeting and exchange of different forms of knowledge Mineral Exploitation & Development in Greenland