The Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) Greenland is joining the Arctic Economic Council (AEC), an international independent business organisation representing companies and Indigenous organisations from across the Arctic region.

“We are joining the AEC to ensure the wellbeing of the Arctic Peoples and sustainable economic development in the region. Our code of ethics is in line with the principles of the AEC, and we see the organisation as a guide for sustainable and responsible investments and development in the region”, says Kuupik V Kleist from ICC Greenland.

The ICC is one of the Permanent Participants of the Arctic Council – and, therefore, also in the Arctic Economic Council since it was established in 2014.

“I am very happy to have ICC Greenland as a member. This strengthens our representation in Greenland and our work to develop Indigenous businesses across the region. Instead of thinking North-South collaboration, we have to think more across the Arctic. A good example is what ICC Greenland is doing with the International Inuit Business Organisation (IIBA)”, says Mads Qvist Frederiksen, Director of the AEC.

The IIBA main purpose is to work for, that a more substantial part of the generated economy in the Arctic, gets invested in initiatives aiming at economic growth and better living conditions for the people in the communities.

A more diversified Greenlandic economy 

“Greenland, like other Arctic communities, is in an urgent need for diversifying its economic activities. We are almost completely dependent on the export of fish, which makes the economy fragile and pushes the limits of resources. Greenland must diversify its economic activities so to ease the pressure on the fish stocks. Harvesting natural resources is a moving target; when nature and the world market economy speaks, one has to obey”, says Kuupik V Kleist.

The Arctic is known as a region exporting fish, energy and raw materials. Mining represents a big potential for economic growth in Greenland.

“Considering the fragile Arctic environment, there is scepticism towards mining minerals with radioactive content. While the recently inaugurated Government is strictly against uranium mining, it needs to make it very clear for international investors: the Government is not against mining activities in general”, says Kuupik V Kleist.

Responsible resource development
The AEC has working groups on issues like the blue economy, infrastructure and investment as well as responsible resource development, maritime transportation and connectivity. They develop different approaches for companies towards sustainability, envisioning the balance between economic, environmental and societal considerations.

“The AEC has together with the World Economic Forum developed the Arctic Investment Protocol, which is a set of guidelines for companies operating in the Arctic . Nonetheless, we still have a continuous task to promote the Arctic as a favourable place to do business. Since the recent government election in Greenland, we have seen some investors getting cold feet about recent developments in mining,” says Mads Qvist Frederiksen.

Over the years, Greenland has been in need of substantial infrastructure investments. There, housing renovation and construction of new residential facilities is equally important as the development of new air- and seaports. The lack of sufficient infrastructure is a common challenge for many Arctic communities.

“We are hopeful that the AEC will continue to be a constructive partner for the countries and communities involved, and that the Council continues to advocate for much needed economic development in the Arctic in general, and specifically for the Indigenous Peoples who live there”, says Kuupik V Kleist.

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