Last month, Oceans North Kalaallit Nunaat was established in Greenland as a new “fond” — or charitable organization — with the aim of building and disseminating knowledge about the marine environment and coastal areas in collaboration with Indigenous Peoples in the Arctic.

The organization, based in Nuuk, gets its name from “Land of the Kalaallit” which is what Inuit call Greenland.

“We are excited to launch what will be one of Greenland’s first fonds devoted to environmental issues,” says Søren Stach Nielsen, executive director of Oceans North Kalaallit Nunaat.

The chair of the board of Oceans North Kalaallit Nunaat is Jens Immanuelsen, formerly Greenland’s Naalakkersuisoq for Hunting, Fisheries and Agriculture. The other four board members include two representatives from Greenland and two from Canada:

  • Sara Olsvig, PhD Fellow at Ilisimatusarfik/University of Greenland, and chair of the Human Rights Council of Greenland
  • Birger Poppel, project chief emeritus at Ilinniarfissuaq/Institute of Learning – Ilisimatusarfik/University of Greenland
  • Louie Porta, executive director of Oceans North
  • Hilu Tagoona, chair of the Oceans North board, and member of MiningWatch Canada

The Greenlandic organization is a partner to Oceans North. As the parent organization, Oceans North has worked on projects in Greenland since 2011 in collaboration with several local stakeholders. In 2015, Oceans North hired its first staff person in Greenland, and established an office in Nuuk in 2020.

“After working in Greenland for a decade, we are pleased to support an independent Oceans North Kalaallit Nunaat to continue advocating for protection of marine habitat and a sustainable future,” says Christopher Debicki, vice-president for policy development for Oceans North.

The new organization takes over the management of the many collaborations and projects that Oceans North has initiated so far, including:

  • Further development of the Pisuna project regarding knowledge and observations of fishers and hunters of local living resources;
  • Cooperation with ICC-Greenland regarding implementation of the Pikialasorsuaq Commission’s recommendations;
  • Participation in the CAPARDUS (Capacity-building in Arctic Standardisation Development) project which increases Greenlandic capacity to develop standards within new technology and data that support sustainable development;
  • Participation in the Future Arctic Lives project on influences of climate change and adaptation opportunities for traditional hunters and small-scale fishers.

Søren Stach Nielsen is executive director of Oceans North Kalaallit Nunaat.

Stach Nielsen has previously served in Greenland’s government in a variety of roles, including as Deputy Minister of the Environment.

“I began working with Oceans North because sustainable use of marine living resources is one of its pillars, including collaboration with local coastal communities and not the least – the users of the land. This approach appeals to me,” says Stach Nielsen.

“Among family, friends, and colleagues, I am used to discussing many topics. I am accustomed to debates that occasionally require “a high ceiling” because you do not always agree, but at the same time this type of dialogue can easily take place with a smile on your face afterwards. What is important to me is that we can provide room and space for other considerations in each case, but always with the shared intention that we want a sustainable utilization.

At Oceans North Kalaallit Nunaat, I have found what interests me, namely the sustainable use of marine living resources, that local engagement and involvement is an essential prerequisite for working with marine living resources and that there is plenty of room for dialogue and debate on the way to a common understanding of sustainability.”

Parnuna Egede Dahl is a consultant with Oceans North Kalaallit Nunaat.



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