On 23 November 2009, the Greenlandic Minister for Culture, Education, Research and Church Affairs, Mimi Karlsen, inaugurated the Greenland Climate Research Centre. Unfortunately, the Danish Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, Helge Sander, was unable to attend due to technical problems with Air Greenland’s flight from Denmark
In her inauguration speech, Minister Mimi Karlsen said, ”Naalakkersuisut (the Greenlandic Government) is pleased to be able to inaugurate the Climate Research Centre in Nuuk today. The Climate Research Centre is an international centre for studies of climate changes and their impacts on Arctic ecosystems, societies and infrastructure. The activities of this centre are in line with Naalakkersuisut’s overall goals regarding research in Greenland.
Research should contribute towards improving the quality of life of the population and be actively applied in the societal development. Thus, good research results should contribute to good and sustainable political and administrative decision-making.
The increasing focus on climate change and the associated research, has made the international community zoom in on Greenland and the Arctic.
In the long term, we need to improve basic knowledge of how climate changes affect the Greenlandic society, e.g. in terms of new industrial opportunities, altered patterns of settlement, living conditions, etc. We anticipate that Silap Pissusianik Ilisimatusarfik – the Greenland Climate Research Centre – will establish itself as a centre for research, education, and documentation.
It is important to Naaalakkersuisut that users of the natural resources and researchers cooperate in creating new knowledge of the interaction between the Arctic environment and societies. Naalakkersuisut hopes that the centre will contribute towards creating greater insight and knowledge within the international community with respect to climate changes and their consequences for the local, regional, and global communities.
The idea of establishing an Arctic climate research centre was formed following a meeting between the Danish Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, Helge Sander, and the Greenlandic minister then in office. Subsequently, a Danish/Greenlandic group was set up, along with committees in Greenland and Denmark. The Climate Research Centre was established on 1 May 2009 with Professor Søren Rysgaard as Head of Centre.”
Søren Rysgaard then expressed his thanks for the establishment of the Centre and stated his vision for the Centre: ”The Greenland Climate Research Centre will be a leading international centre for studies on the impact of climate change on Arctic systems and societies”.
He continued: ”We hope and believe that the new centre can be instrumental in providing new research into climate and society and that it will contribute towards close integration of research within Danish and Greenlandic institutions. It is important that we stand together and maintain a long-term perspective.
The ongoing climate changes can be expected to continue for more that 5 years, so now is the time to sow the seeds of future developments. We realize that we must demonstrate our capabilities first, and we will! We have a highly enthusiastic and skilled team here. Through the past 4-5 years, we have shown that it is possible to conduct high-quality internationally recognized research from Greenland,” said Søren Rysgaard.
“Furthermore, the interest from Danish and Greenlandic institutions has been great, and during that period we have succeeded in launching and completing 35 projects based on external funding constituting an amount similar in size to the one that has now been granted to the new Climate Research Centre. The Centre’s fields of activity will be climate, technology, and society. Future challenges and new opportunities. Not only relating to climate, but also basic scientific knowledge, which will be valuable in the future development in Greenland.
Another important purpose of the Centre will be to make polar research known among young people. We plan to start up 10 PhD students as early as next year. Master and PhD courses have been held in Greenland, and it is now possible for Greenlandic students to take courses abroad.”