Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 233

233 Arctic Yearbook 2014 rapid subsurface resource development “will not necessarily benefit Greenland’s economy in the long run” (To the benefit of Greenland 2014: 9). At the same time it will create change but not preserve society as it is today. Indeed, “an independent self-sustaining Greenlandic economy based on mineral resources contains an intrinsic dilemma,” states the report (To the benefit of Greenland 2014: 23). “Extracting sufficient mineral resources to Greenland’s independence within 20 to 30 years would require such extensive foreign investment and massive inflow of foreign labour that there is a real risk that the current Greenlandic population would become a minority in Greenland” (To the benefit of Greenland 2014: 23). The intention of the report is to drive a much-needed “serious” debate amongst Greenlanders as to the kind of society that the population desires in the future. Shadian (2014), for instance, argues that Greenland is at a crossroads negotiating through the muddy waters of decolonization. Shadian remarks: The Self-Rule Greenlandic government has often remarked that it de facto takes into account the indigenous rights of its Inuit by virtue of being a democratically elected government. At the same time, there are others in Greenland who believe the government is not thoroughly consulting with its Inuit. ICC [President] Aqquluk Lynge has made this argument a number of times since the passage of Self-Rule. (Shadian 2014: 204). Indeed, as many others have found, To the benefit of Greenland report suggests that the decisionmaking process is beleaguered by perceptions that processes related to resource development lack transparency, which would benefit by improved governance through an independent environmental impact authority. Since the physical environment impacts the human environment, civil society needs to engage in informed dialogue with industry and decision-makers at the earliest stages of a proposed development project (Hansen 2013). A 2012 study conducted by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (2012) on the asymmetrical relationship between extractive corporations and indigenous peoples concurs, exemplified by the numerous cases of developing economies ravaged by the existence of subsurface resource extraction. “These projects inevitably affect indigenous peoples by reducing their traditional management systems’” the report notes, “thereby undermining their economic, cultural and spiritual life and threatening their very existence.” The well-being of indigenous peoples depends on the policies and practices of States and international institutions. Although the concept of consultation is now the norm, “ambiguity remains” (United Nations 2012: 5). Participatory Democracy In 2008, only months in advance of the enactment of the Greenland Self-Government Act, Mark Nutall wrote “concern has been expressed in Greenland about the lack of public consultation and hearing processes, land-use conflicts, and the absence of legislation dealing with industrial development projects” (Nuttall 2008). Subsequently, Nuttall’s 2012 exposé of the Isua iron mine suggests that the process of informed public consent is on a serious decline since 2008. Although the London Mining large-scale Isua project has gained the support of the Government of Greenland, public support is highly contested. Greenlandic Independence