On December 8, Denmark and South Korea announced they had just signed an agreement that is to help both become wiser about how global warming is affecting the polar regions. As with countless such agreements finalised during the pandemic, the deal was sealed during an awkward on-line signing ceremony in which neither of the parties were in each other’s presence. They were at least invited to take part.
Lacking entirely was a representative from Greenland, where much of the research can be expected to take place, and which, according to Jesper Pedersen (above right), the Danish science minister, is to be one of the direct beneficiaries of its conclusions. Though later it turned out that this was the lesser of two gaffes the Danes made. Greenland had not been invited because it had not been involved in the discussions that led to its creation, Mr Pedersen admitted after being called out on the matter.
Greenland, he said, had been informed about the deal while it was in the making, but it was not included in the talks since the outcome was intended only as a rough guideline for how South Korea and Denmark can benefit from each other’s work in the Arctic and the Antarctic. Greenland’s research community has been invited to take part in previous Danish-Korean science projects in Greenland, and he expected its scientists would be asked to take part in any projects that came about as a result of the new partnership.
Further pressed on the matter, however, he was forced to admit last week that Greenland should have been involved; that it had not revealed the need to come up with guidelines for how much input Nuuk should have on future Danish science agreements.
Mr Pedersen’s admissions can be chalked up to the persistent questioning of Aaja Chemnitz Larsen (pictured above), a Greenlandic member of the Danish legislature. Greenland, she said, welcomes foreign research being conducted on its territory, but, should Denmark again find itself uncertain about how much involvement it wants, she suggested a rule of thumb: ask.
“Don’t use Greenland as a platform for making deals with other countries until you’ve checked with the key players first,” she told sermitsiaq.ag, a news outlet. That might remove at least some of the awkwardness of future signing ceremonies.
Kevin McGwin, PolarJournal
Featured image: Capricorn 4049 / Neige Calonne
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