Remote villages in Greenland under threat

greenland-flag1The future of Greenland’s remote settlements has come under scrutiny after the Democratic Party’s Palle Chritiansen questioned the feasibility of villages with fewer than 100 residents.

Sermitsiaq reports that Christiansen’s query has raised a difficult question for authorities, more so given his own change of direction as to whether the government can justify ongoing financial support to remote towns. In his new role as Finance Minister Christiansen has voiced his support of the government policy of providing assistance to the settlements, contradicting earlier claims in the lead up to the election that relocation to larger towns should be implemented for villages of fewer than 100 people. Christiansen and his Democratic colleagues were invited to join a coalition government after the socialist IA party swept to victory in the spring elections.

Seemingly forced to adhere to government policy since obtaining seats in the cabinet, Christiansen’s personal views are still that smaller villages should be effectively eliminated with the financial subsidies provided to them better spent elsewhere. “At a time when we’re building up an increasingly autonomous country, we can’t afford to have taboos,” he told reporters recently. “Self-rule has its price, and we need to look at the way we live.”

A study has been initiated to determine the potential for development in regional Greenland, with the findings being used to assist the government to make what Christiansen calls “realistic decisions”. “This will be a tool to help ensure that we make the most of the potential sources of development there are out there,” he claimed.

However, the author of a study on living standards in Arctic areas, Birger Poppel, warned against making any premature conclusions over the viability of smaller settlements. Poppel suggested that existing evidence pointed to similar levels of public funding for villages as that for towns and cities. According to Poppel the real difference is in how the resources are spent.