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About the Arctic Oil & Gas Research Centre

The Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre was opened at Ilisimatusarfik (the University of Greenland) on 16th March 2016. The Centre´s directors are Professor Anne Merrild Hansen and Professor Rachael Lorna Johnstone. It operates within the Institute of Social Sciences, Economics and Journalism at Ilisimatusarfik.  

The Centre aims to examine the social and economic impacts of oil and gas activities in the Arctic with an emphasis on Greenland; to establish a Greenland-based network of experts in the field; and to provide relevant and practical insights that can assist local communities, NGOs and decision-makers as they select, plan, design and develop projects. The Centre will disseminate its research findings widely, both through traditional peer-reviewed publications and through a website with information, in popular science format, in English, Greenlandic and Danish on the Centre’s activities and core findings. 


The directors´ salaries are initially funded through a three-year grant from the Mineral Licence and Safety Authority (MLSA) which is administered through Ilisimatusarfik. Companies holding exclusive licences for exploration for and exploitation of hydrocarbons in Greenland make payments to the MLSA in light of agreements regarding capacity building in their respective licenses. 

The directors and researchers work entirely independently of the MLSA and the oil companies. The MLSA and oil companies do not direct the research agenda or approve any research findings. The researchers are also seeking additional external funding from competitive grant bodies to facilitate expansion of the Centre´s activities.

Organisation of the Centre

The directors of the Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre steer the research agenda, manage and coordinate the centre´s activities, fundraise to support projects, and develop the strategy of the centre in consultation with the Centre´s members. They will reach out to non-academic stakeholders and seek their contributions to the research activities. These include representatives from industry, community representatives, NGOs, government and others in the policy realm. The directors also supervise graduate theses, teach students, and contribute to curriculum development at Ilisimatusarfik.

Members of the centre are recruited from Ilisimatusarfik and closely associated institutions in Greenland. Members of the centre will range from doctoral students to well-established scholars. The members meet regularly with the directors, contribute to the strategic planning of the centre and identification of research priorities, cooperate on research projects and funding applications, and assist in organisation and participation in the centre's symposia and other activities.

Associate researchers and associate institutions are affiliated to the Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre. They are selected on the basis of their contribution to relevant research from around the Arctic and beyond. They will contribute actively to the centre´s activities, for example, cooperating in specific research projects, funding applications, symposia, conferences and joint publications or edited collections. They may also be involved in co-supervision of graduate students or delivery of teaching. Associate institutions may contribute to co-financing of research projects and activities that support the centre.

An international network of experts on Arctic Oil and Gas will be fostered by the Centre. It will include interested researchers working on the economic and social implications of hydrocarbon activities in the Arctic. The network will include researchers at all levels, from graduate students onwards. It will be interdisciplinary, seeking researchers in a wide range of academic fields, including: economics; political science; social anthropology; law; international relations; and critical geography. 

Objectives, priorities & activities

An Inclusive Research Agenda

The Centre will draw together local community members, governments, oil and gas companies, NGOs, and academics to learn from one another, establish commonalities, and discuss the premises for achieving a joint vision on how to integrate local perspectives into development decisions, planning and benefit sharing. Decisions as to key research focus areas will be reached following consultation and research questions will be developed in dialogue with stakeholders to identify issues of the most pressing concern. The researchers will travel around Greenland to meet with different communities. They will hold meetings with invited stakeholders as well as open fora to ensure that all concerned persons can present their views. Symposia will be open to any interested parties; briefing notes and working papers will be published on an open access basis and key findings will be published in Greenlandic, Danish and English.

Supervision, Teaching and Curriculum Development at Ilisimatusarfik

The Research Centre will contribute to the academic development of the next generation of Greenlandic thinkers and leaders. The directors will personally supervise doctoral and masters students and will teach courses in sociology, international law and oil and gas governance. The directors will also be involved in curriculum development at Ilisimatusarfik.


The Centre will prepare, develop and deliver research projects related to Arctic oil and gas. They will organise and host symposia, open to the public, on their findings and participate in international conferences to disseminate their research and promote the centre more widely. Dissemination of research findings will be tailored to meet the different needs of different groups, with academic publications complemented with briefing notes in non-academic language in Greenlandic, Danish and English, and oral presentations to non-specialist audiences. Working papers and briefing notes will be published on an open-access basis to facilitate the widest possible access.

The Research Centre will deliver an annual report with a summary of each year’s key activities, results and accounts. In Fall 2018, a comprehensive report of the first three years of the Centre’s activities will be published and presented in Greenland and elsewhere.

Utility of Results

The Research Centre will produce practical recommendations for best practices. Local communities and NGOs, as well as other stakeholders, can use the research findings to promote and protect their core interests, for example, through effective participation in environmental and social impact assessment processes. Those with the power and responsibility to make strategic decisions regarding oil and gas activities, especially in government, are expected to apply the findings as they establish regulatory frameworks for sustainable development. Decision-makers in participating oil and gas firms are expected to use the findings to select, plan, design and deliver their projects in an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable manner. The educational and theses supervision activities of the Research Centre’s directors will help prepare the next generation of leaders in Greenland to steer economic development and governance in a sustainable and ethically responsible manner.


Arctic Governance in a Changing World

This comprehensive text explains the relationship between the Arctic and the wider world through ...

Open publication
In the Shadow of the Mountain: Assessing early impacts on community development from two mining prospects in South Greenland

The study presented in this paper explored how people in South Greenland perceive their future pr ...

Open publication
Health and well-being

Residents across the Baffin Bay/Davis Strait (BBDS) region have experienced common challenges in ...

Open publication
Non-living resources

Commodity prices, together with extraction prices and technology development – not climate change ...

Open publication
Summary of adaptation options for the BBDS region

The following sections summarize the main adaptation options from this report, consider and conso ...

Open publication
Improving Public Participation in Greenland Extractive Industries

This contribution is based on a seminar and workshop on public participation processes related to ...

Open publication
Little Fish, Big Pond: Icelandic Interests and Influence in Arctic Governance

On pretty much any measure of international comparison, Iceland is a little fish. Nevertheless, i ...

Open publication
北極評議会を通じた環境ガバナンス (Environmental Governance through the Arctic Council)
Open publication
The Future of Hydrocarbon Development in Greenland: Perspectives from Residents of the North Slope of Alaska

Although Greenland has pursued hydrocarbon development over the last four decades, no viable rese ...

Open publication
Petroleum as a challenge to arctic societies: Ontological security and the oil- driven ‘push to the north’

This paper uses the 2014–2015 plunge in oil prices as a linchpin for understanding how petroleum ...

Open publication
Arcticness insights

Climate change and globalisation are opening up the Arctic for exploitation by the world – or so ...

Open publication
Imagining the future: Local perceptions of Arctic extractive projects that didn’t happen

External imaginings of the future Arctic range from protected wilder- ness to booming oil and gas ...

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How three key factors are driving and challenging implementation of renewable energy systems in remote Arctic communities

Challenges related to access and supply of fossil fuel generated energy in Arctic communities, to ...

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Indigenous Rights in the Marine Arctic

Global energy problems will remain a challenge in the coming decades. The impact of climate chang ...

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Why cumulative impacts assessments of hydrocarbon activities in the Arctic fail to meet their purpose

The Arctic Region is characterised by vulnerable ecosystems and residing indigenous people, depen ...

Open publication
Environmental Governance through the Arctic Council: the Arctic Council as Initiator of Norms of International Environmental Law
Open publication
Benchmarking af miljøvurderingslovgivning for olieaktiviteter i Grønland - Bilagsrapport 1 - Opsamling fra Workshop 1
Open publication
Benchmarking af miljøvurderingslovgivning for olieaktiviteter i Grønland - Bilagsrapport 1 - Opsamling fra Workshop 2
Open publication
Traditional Knowledge and Industrial Development

There is currently a growing interest in industrial initiatives and development in the general Gr ...

Open publication
Offshore oil exploration and impact assessment in Greenland

According to the United States Geological Survey, the Greenland basin is estimated to contain 17 ...

Open publication
Environmental Governance through the Arctic Council: the Arctic Council as Initiator of Norms of International Environmental Law

Explores the role of the Arctic Council in developing environmental law in the Arctic Region.

Open publication
Little Italy: Seeking a Niche in International Arctic Relations

In December 2015, The Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation publishe ...

Open publication
The Principle of ‘Full Reparation’ for Environmental Damage and Very Small States

Given the magnitude of the risks associated with commercial activities in the Arctic arising as a ...

Open publication

May 2019

Download the final report on activities 2016 - 2018 by the Arctic Oil & Gas Research Centre at Ilisimatusarfik.


January 2019

Anne and Rachael‘s comparative study of the impacts of mining developments in South Greenland has just been accepted for publication in The Extractive Industries in Society. The paper, entitled, “In the Shadow of the Mountain: Assessing early impacts on community development from two mining prospects in South Greenland,” is based on fieldwork undertaken in Qaqortoq, Narsaq, at a farm near Narsarsuaq and in Nuuk. Anne and Rachael found that the mining projects, even though they are still in the exploration phase, have already had great impact on local expectations for future development and on decision-making and planning in people’s daily lives and thereby the development of the communities. Further, although located relatively close together in the same region, there are significant differences between the towns and their relations to the neighbouring mining projects. There is both support and opposition towards the projects, which triggers division between individuals, between groups and between the towns. However, all agree on a need for more transparent processes and for timelines to inform people of when they can expect decisions to be made and activities to take place. 

The paper will be published later this year. 

Anne and Rachael wholeheartedly thank all the participants who contributed to this research through interviews.


Rachael has just published Arctic Governance in a Changing World with co-author Mary Durfee, professor emerita at Michigan Tech University. This new book explores the Arctic and its relationship with the wider world, through the lenses of international relations, international law and economics. It is available in hardback, paperback or for immediate download in electronic format. You can order it directly from the publishers or from other well-known online retailers. Ilisimatusarfik library should have a copy soon too which you can borrow free of charge.


December 2018

Rachael gave the keynote speech at a panel on Sustainability in Resource Development: The case of Greenland at the fourth international symposium of the Polar Cooperation and Research Centre, Kobe University, Japan in December 2018. At the conference, Rachael explained how the evolution of international law on colonial and indigenous peoples, in particular evolving rights to sovereignty over natural resources, shaped the changing relationship between Greenland and the rest of the realm. She explored competing interpretations of the Self Government Act and the extent and limits of the Greenland government’s competences regarding extractive industries. She explained the controversies regarding the security implications of mining and export of uranium from Greenland and the practical compromise reached between Greenland and the Kingdom of Denmark on this subject. University of Greenland masters student Tukumminnguaq Nykjaer Olsen also gave a paper at the conference.  

On the 11th December, Rachael gave a paper at the Danish Institute of International Affairs as part of its seminar: Sovereignty: Iceland and Greenland in a historical perspective. Rachael discussed the legal history of Greenland to illustrate that sovereignty has always been “shared and layered” between the Kingdom of Denmark and the Greenlanders. Recordings of all the presentations and the discussion from the seminar are available at the above link. The seminar was also live-streamed to the auditorium of the University of Greenland. 

Rachael taught on the PhD Seminar on Natural resources and human rights: impacts, conflicts, benefits, stakeholders and governance held at Copenhagen Business School in December 2018. Sixteen students participated in the course, coming from Greenland, other European countries, Africa, Latin America, North America and Asia. They were approaching economic development and extractive industries from different perspectives, including law, political science, business studies, and geology. The teachers were from similarly diverse backgrounds. The teachers and students discussed pressing issues concerning social and environmental impacts, free prior and informed consent, corporate social responsibility, indigenous knowledge, labour standards, human rights, international investment standards, and public participation. The students presented their research projects in brief at the beginning of the seminar. Towards the end, they presented them once more, demonstrating how they would use their new knowledge as they developed their research. The course was organised by Professor Karin Buhmann under the U Arctic Thematic Network on Arctic Sustainable Development and Social Responsibility.


October 2018

The UN Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes referred to the work of Anne and Rachael in his report of his mission to Denmark and Greenland that he submitted to the UN Human Right Council. The Special Rapporteur drew on their book chapter, “Improving Public Participation in Greenland Extractive Industries” in 5 Current Developments in Arctic Law 29-33 (2017) for his reflections on some of the challenges of ensuring access to information and meaningful participation. Anne and Rachael’s chapter is based on the proceedings of the seminar and workshop held by the Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre at Ilisimatusarfik in October 2017. Videos of all the seminar presentations are available on the Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre website. The Special Rapporteur also referred to research by fellow Ilisimatusarfik scholar Maria Ackrén.

The Special Rapporteur said:
“Authorities underscored their commitment to ensure prior and informed consent by those affected in mining projects and the evolution of the norms regulating the licensing seem to reflect this position. Yet challenges remain for ensuring wide access to information and meaningful participation. The Special Rapporteur was informed that the time allowed for pre-consultations was not realistic considering the special complexities of ensuring meaningful participation of communities living in remote locations. Difficulties also reportedly exist in the translation of documents often containing complex technical information to Greenlandic and in informing all concerned communities. Some recent assessments also revealed issues such as the lack of systematic evaluations of the former and present extractive projects and to the challenges in creating spaces for participation in an atmosphere where people feel comfortable to talk about issues that may be sensitive to them (as the acceptance of mining projects can often divide communities). Another assessment also indicated that public participation in the decision making process is still impaired by the lack of public access to the draft EIA report. A comparison between two different mining licensing processes revealed that capacity concerns affect especially projects of greater scale.“

The full report of the Special Rapporteur is available from the Human Rights Council website as document number: A/HRC/39/48/Add.2.

Anne and Rachael’s chapter is available, free to download, from 5 Current Developments in Arctic Law.




Rachael gave a presentation at the 11th Polar Law Symposium in Tromsø on the topic "Applying FPIC Where Indigeneity is Contested: the Case of Greenland." In her paper, she discussed the applicability of the principle of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) in Greenland in respect of extractive industries. FPIC was promised in respect of extractive industries for indigenous peoples in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007 (UNDRIP). Since then, both states and the UN human rights treaty bodies have increasingly referred to FPIC in the constructive dialogue, sometimes as a procedural obligation and at other times as a necessary outcome, before extractive industries can be considered lawful. As such, FPIC is an emerging principle of international law.

However, both the Danish and Greenland governments have taken the view that the 2009 Self-Government Act constitutes full implementation of UNDRIP, including the principle of FPIC, because decisions are taken by the Self-Government in Nuuk on most matters, including on natural resource development. Therefore, difficult questions arise as to whether the Greenlanders (or groups of them) enjoy rights as an indigenous people, against whom they would hold such rights and whether FPIC is one of those rights. In her presentation, Rachael tackled these questions before considering what, if it is accepted as a guiding principle, FPIC might look like in Greenland.

At the Symposium, Rachael also moderated the plenary discussion session "An Exchange of Views on the History and Future of Polar Law" with Professors Donald Rothwell and Erik J Molenaar.


September 2018

Rachael has just published a chapter with Hjalti Ómar Ágústsson entitled “Little Fish, Big Pond: Icelandic Interests and Influence in Arctic Governance” in an anthology of reflections on Iceland‘s place in international affairs, No-one is an Island: an Icelandic Perspective, edited by Giorgio Baruchello, Kristín Margrét Jóhannsdóttir, Jakob Þór Kristjánsson and Skafti Ingimarsson. 

Rachael and Hjalti’s chapter explores Iceland‘s relationships with other actors in the Arctic, both through and outside of the Arctic Council. They examine in particular relations with Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Professor Gestur Hovgaard, Institute of Social Science, Economics & Journalism, also has a chapter in the collection, co-written with Grétar Thór Eythórsson, on the West Nordic Region and the Arctic. These two chapters, both in content and authorship, epitomise the increasing links between Greenland and Iceland.


July 2018

Professor Anne Merrild visits Northwest Greenland during the coming days.

Anne, from Ilisimatusarfik's Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre, has gotten the opportunity to travel with Arctic Command's ship Knud Rasmussen in Northern Greenland during the next 12 days. Anne will visit settlements and villages in the area and talk with people about their attitudes to the extractive industry and visions for the area's future development.

Anne will be in Qaanaaq from 27 - 29 July, and in Ilulissat 29 - 30 July.


Rachael and Anne from the centre have previously visited South and East Greenland in 2017, and Maniitsoq in May 2018.


June 2018

At the end of May, Anne and Rachael traveled to Maniitsoq to continue their fieldwork on social attitudes towards extractive and other developments around Greenland. Intending to stay only two days, the storm meant that they stayed for six. They were warmly welcomed by the friendly community and made the most of their time to meet with local people and learn about developments in the area, including mining, hydro-electric, tourism and fisheries. Maniitsoq is home to Royal Greenland‘s pioneering Nutaaq® cod processing system and the project manager showed Anne and Rachael around the facility.

They were unable to travel onwards as planned to Sisimiut and Ilulissat but intend to make another trip later this year.

Below are some photos of Maniitsoq. A briefing note will follow shortly.

All photos copyright Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre - please contact to request any republication


May 2018

Professorerne Anne Merrild og Rachael Johnstone besøger Maniitsoq, Sisimiut og Ilulissat i maj 2018

Rachael og Anne fra Ilisimatusarfiks Forskningscenter for Arktisk Olie og Gas rejser i denne måned til Maniitsoq, Sisimiut og Ilulissat for at diskutere holdninger til udvindingsindustrien og visioner for Grønlands fremtid. 

De vil mødes med borgere og repræsentanter for kommunen og erhvervslivet, herunder turisme, fiskeindustri og iværksætteri.

Rachael og Anne vil være i Maniitsoq fra 29. - 31. maj og i Sisimiut fra 31. maj til 2. juni og i Ilulissat fra 2. til 4. juni.

De har tidligere besøgt Syd- og Østgrønland i 2017 og vil følge op på denne tur med et besøg i Nordgrønland i august.

Hvis du gerne vil mødes med Rachael og Anne under deres besøg, bedes du kontakte dem på: Rachael: og Anne:


December 2017

Nordic workshop on Artic EIAs held in Santa Claus’ hometown

On December 11-12, 2017, Rovaniemi, the official hometown of Santa Claus in Finland, set the stage for a Nordic workshop for different actors working with Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in the Arctic. 

With lots of snow and Christmas decorations as background, about 60 participants met to discuss “Tomorrow’s Arctic EIA: Nordic possibilities and perspectives to Environmental Impact Assessments in the Arctic”. The representatives from Greenland (Kingdom of Denmark), Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, USA, Portugal, and Germany shared good practices and cases from the Nordic countries. The aim of the workshop was to contribute with good practice recommendations for EIA and public participation in the Arctic, and create a network of Arctic EIA actors – whether it be authorities, project developers, consultants, indigenous and local communities, NGOs, academics and other stakeholders. During the workshop, they identified several key issues and themes to be emphasized in the recommendations, and in particular; 

  • Participatory approaches, including different formats to improve public participation
  • Meaningful engagement of indigenous peoples, from consultation to partnerships
  • Cumulative impacts, integrating assessment of multiple projects and stressors

The workshop was sponsored by the Nordic Council of Ministers, and a full report is aimed for release by the end of January. It is part of a series of regional workshops: the first one held in Utqiaġvik (Barrow), Alaska on November 27-29, 2017; and the next one planned in Yellowknife, Canada on April 24-26, 2018. Input from all regional workshops and from an online questionnaire will be synthesized into “Good Practice Recommendations for Environmental Impact Assessment and Public Participation in the Arctic (Arctic EIA)”, a project under the auspices of the Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG) of the Arctic Council. The Arctic EIA project is led by the Ministry of the Environment of Finland, and co-led by the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, and the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canadaas well as the Gwich’in Council International.

Parnuna Egede is part of the Editorial Group of the Arctic EIA project as a representative of the Inuit Circumpolar Council in her capacity as a PhD Fellow from Aalborg University and the University of Greenland, as she works on the utilization of indigenous knowledge in Arctic EIAs.

All photos copyright Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre - please contact to request any republication


November 2017

Five Proposals for Improved Practice on Public Participation related to Extractive Industries in Greenland

Anne and Rachael have just published Five Proposals for Improved Practice on Public Participation related to Extractive Industries in Greenland. Briefing Note #8 is based on a workshop held on October 18th 2017 with experts from international and Greenland-based experts on deliberative democracy and extractive industries. The briefing note is available in GreenlandicDanish and English.

Briefing notes from the Public Participation in Arctic Extractives Industry Seminar 

Briefing notes have also been published based on the presentations from the public seminar held on October 17th. These are currently available in English and will be translated to Greenland and Danish over the next couple of weeks.


October 2017

Public Participation in Arctic Extractive Industries, Seminar at Ilisimatusarfik, 17th October 2017

On Tuesday 17th October 2017, the Arctic Oil & Gas Research Centre organised a one-day intensive seminar that explored the status of public participation in extractive industry decision-making in the Arctic, and looked for ways to improve the quality of the experience and the results for all stakeholders.

Three panels of experts examined in turn: resource development in Greenland; the international law regarding participation; and participation in practice.

The seminar brought together experts from Greenland, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Scotland, England and Brazil. 

All photos copyright Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre - please contact to request any republication


Arctic Circle Assembly

Equitable Arctic Development of Natural Resources, Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre Breakout Session, Arctic Circle Assembly, 13th October 2017.

All photos copyright Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre - please contact to request any republication


September 2017

Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre to hold panel at Arctic Circle, Reykjavík, October 13

The Centre will be hosting a breakout session at the Arctic Circle Assembly in Harpa Conference Centre, Reykjavík on October 13th at 2100-2200. The session examines governance of oil and gas activities in the Arctic with a view to promoting equitable hydrocarbon development under the control of Arctic inhabitants and to their benefit with particular emphasis on indigenous peoples. Professor Indra Øverland, from NUPI will present the results of a recent research project comparing and ranking corporate processes to ensure indigenous rights in Arctic extractive industries. Professors Anne Merrild Hansen and Rachael Johnstone, directors of the Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre follow with an analysis of the experiences and views of Greenlanders from South and East Greenland, examining whether there are significant differences in priorities between those who live close to mining projects and those who live hundreds of kilometres away. Eduardo Pereira, from Externado University, Colombia, completes the panel with an examination of the position of non-operators in Arctic oil and gas joint ventures, seeking to improve the balance between rights, responsibilities and benefits which will in turn improve the attractiveness of investment.  The panel is chaired by Anita Parlow, of the Wilson Centre, in Washington DC. 

Please click here for speaker biographies and paper abstracts. 

Wine and soft drinks will be served to participants. 

The full conference programme for the 5th Arctic Circle Assembly is available here.


Parnuna Egede explains Greenland‘s position on the new Minimata Convention on Mercury

Parnuna Egede, PhD fellow at Ilisimatusarfik and member of the Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre, explained the Minimata Convention on Mercury and discusses Greenland‘s controversial decision not to become a party at this time to the High North News. The Convention came into force in August 2016.

Mercury is a long range transboundary pollutant that bioaccumluates in the Arctic. This means that its use and disposal elsewhere in the World has serious health impacts for Northern people, especially Inuit, as it becomes ever more concentrated in the food chain. Health impacts include learning difficulties and behavioural difficulties.  

The Inuit Circumpolar Council was instrumental in raising the alarm and pushing for the Minamata Convention that aims to phase out mercury mining and the use of mercury in gold-mining and manufacturing.

However, despite the impacts of mercury on Inuit, Egede believes that the Greenlandic government has decided to prioritise social issues at this time.

The full article can be read on the High North News website.


August 2017

Anne and Rachael in Nuuk and Tasiilaq, East Greenland

Anne and Rachael were in Nuuk from 14th – 19th August where they participated in the EIT Raw Materials 3rd ArcHub meeting on 16th and 17th August. Anne delivered a paper examining conflicts around uranium mining, with case studies from Narsaq and Saskatoon.  

Anne and Rachael then travelled to Tasiilaq to talk to representatives of the local community. Continuing the themes of their trip to South Greenland in May, Anne and Rachael met people working in tourism, education, waste management and healthcare sectors as well as local politicians and others to hear different perspectives on economic development and extractive industries.

A briefing note from the trip will be published soon.

All photos copyright Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre - please contact to request any republication


May 2017

Rachael interviewed for Nuuk TV news on the rights of indigenous peoples and the UN system

Ilisamatusarfik graduate Nina-Vivi Andersen interviewed Rachael for Nuuk TV news. Nina-Vivi asked for Rachael‘s expert opinion on the communication by the former Minister of Industry, Labour, Trade, Energy and Foreign Affairs to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the UN Special Rapportuer on the Issue of Human Rights Obligations relating to the Enjoyment of a Safe, Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment and the Special Rapporteur on the Implications for Human Rights of Environmentally Sound Management and Disposal of Hazardous Substances and Wastes. The communication was later withdrawn by the minister‘s successor. The communication pertains to the responsibility to clean up toxic pollution from American military sites in Northern Greenland. 

Rachael told Nuuk TV news that although when Americans were granted permission to construct and operate their bases, there was no consultation with the Greenlandic people, this was not wrongful at the time because in the 1950s and 1960s, there was no duty to consult or to obtain free, prior and informed consent from colonial or indigenous peoples. However, since the lands concerned are still contaminated, there is an ongoing wrongful act and hence a responsibility to restore the lands so that they can returned in safe, clean and usable condition to the indigenous inhabitants. 

Rachael also explained the anyone can make a communication to the Special Rapporteur and there is no requirement for the author to be personally affected or even resident in the region. The UN will keep these confidential to protect those complaining against their governments from repercussions and will contact the government concerned, without necessarily disclosing who made the allegations. However, in this case, the Minister sent the communication in the name of the government and not as a private citizen, which has created political tensions. 

The interview was broadcast on 19 May 2017 and can be viewed here


May 2017

Anne and Rachael to visit South Greenland, May 2017

Anne and Rachael will be traveling to Qaqortoq and Narsaq to discuss attitudes to the extractive industries and visions for the future of Greenland. They will meet community and business representatives from, amongst others, local government, agriculture, the mining industry, Qaqortoq Museum and Narsaq brewery.

Anne and Rachael will be in Qaqortoq from 19th – 22nd May and in Narsaq from 22nd – 25th May.  They will follow up this trip with a visit to Tasiilaq, East Greenland, from 19th – 23rd August.

If you would like to meet with Anne and Rachael during their visits, please email them at: Anne: and Rachael:


May 2017 - continued

We welcome visiting researcher, Sarah Mackie

Doctoral student, Sarah Mackie, will be visiting the Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre in the late Summer/early Fall of 2017. Sarah is a PhD candidate at Newcastle Law School in the United Kingdom. 

Sarah is writing a thesis on the subject of comparative environment law in the Arctic, considering the role of the courts in environmental protection in the Arctic regions of Europe and North America. During her visit to Greenland, Sarah will be concentrating on the environmental protection in Greenland and researching Greenlandic court cases which have considered the environment, in particluar cases relating to oil and gas permitting.  During her PhD, Sarah has held visiting researcher posts at the University of Lapland and Harvard Law School.

Sarah holds a law degree from St John’s College, Cambridge University and an LL.M in Environmental Law from Newcastle University.  Prior to beginning her PhD, Sarah worked as an extern for Trustees for Alaska, an environmental public interest law firm based in Anchorage, Alaska and was Judicial Assistant to the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales.  Sarah is qualified as a solicitor in England and Wales and teaches Public Law and Contract Law at Newcastle Law School.

Rachael and Anne look forward to working with Sarah and sharing research on means to promote and ensure socially responsible, sustainable and equitable development in the Arctic.

Sarah is keen to meet with representatives from the Greenlandic legal community and with anyone who has experience of environmental law in the Greenlandic courts.

Sarah can be contacted by email at:


March 2017

Download our "Annual Report 2016".


February 2017

Rachael Discusses Indigenous Rights at Tufts University

Rachael joined the Fletcher Arctic VI Conference at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Boston on 17th and 18th of February. She took part in a panel on Legal Implications in the Arcticalongside distinguished scholars Timo Koivurova, Suzanne Lalonde and Oran Young. Rachael‘s paper examined how the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) may clash with indigenous rights to hunt the polar bear and the narwhal in the Arctic. 

Download Rachael's presentation here.


January 2017

Rachael gives expert evidence to the High North Inquiry of the UK Parliament’s Scottish Affairs Committee

On 25th January 2017, Rachael gave expert evidence to the UK House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee on 25th January 2017. The Committee is conducting an inquiry into Scotland‘s relations with the High North, examining the potential contributions Scotland can make in light of the rapid changes facing the region.

Rachael submitted written evidence in the Fall and was invited to the first oral evidence session of the inquiry where she answered questions put by Members of the House of Commons with a view to helping the Committee prioritise topics for further investigation.

A transcript of the session as well as Rachael’s written evidence to the Committee is available from the inquiry website.  Rachael is the first scholar to have written about contemporary links between Scotland and the Arctic States in an article published in the Arctic Yearbook in 2012. 


October 2016

On 7th October 2016, The Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre held a Breakout Session at the 4th Arctic Circle Assembly to discuss the Social Impacts of Oil And Gas Activities In The Arctic – Challenges And Benefits.

Unfortunately, Anne Merrild, who had organised the session and planned to speak on Social Impact Assessment in Oil and Gas Development: Community Experiences from Greenland and Alaska, was stuck in Greenland owing to bad weather.

Rachael hosted the session, introduced the Centre, and introduced the four excellent speakers who presented as follows:

  • Anita L. Parlow, Fulbright-MFA Arctic Scholar at the University of Akureyri and National Energy Authority: Toward an Arctic Standard in the New North: Projected Considerations by Iceland and Norway in the Jan Mayen Offshore
  • Brigt Dale, Senior Researcher, Nordland Research Institute, Norway: The Post-Petroleum Perspective: Is There Security to be Found Beyond the Oil Ontology?
  • Natalya Novikova, Researcher, Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Russian Academy of Sciences: Anthropological expert review in Russia: Goals of researchers and expectations of indigenous peoples
  • Emma Wilson, Associate, Scott Polar Research Institute, Cambridge University: Ethics and practice: implementing international social performance standards in Arctic extractive industry contexts

Around fifty people attended the session and a lively discussion followed each paper. 

On 8th October 2016, Rachael delivered two additional papers:


May 2016

Rachael presented the Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre at the Arctic Circle Forum meeting in Nuuk on Wednesday 18th May. She used the opportunty to explain the objectives of the Centre and to encourage interested parties to come forward with comments and proposals for the research agenda.



Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre has got its own beautiful logo - designed by a talented Greenlandic graphic artist, Ivalu Risager.

The logo is inspired by Ilisimatusarfik’s logo featuring the women‘s boats. The line below the boats in the Ilisimatusarfik logo is referenced in the logo of the Centre. The waterline from the Ilisimatusarfik logo is then taken to reflect the silhouettes of the traditional Inuit dolls and the iceberg. The dolls symbolise the contemporary view of nature derived from traditional Inuit culture and places humans in the centre.

Oil can be found under the seas and in the mountains so the reflection of the iceberg and the Inuit dolls are seen to drip, like oil.

The choice of blue colour for the iceberg indicates the Arctic focus for the research centre. 


April 2016

Anne Merrild Hansen is currently in Fairbanks Alaska, where she will be staying for the next six weeks as a visiting scholar at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). The purpose of the trip is for Anne to do fieldwork and work with experts from UAF to learn about the Alaskan experiences from oil and gas exploration and the impact on the small coastal community on Alaska's north coast, where oil extraction has taken place since 1976. Anne will, as a part of her trip, visit the towns of Barrow and Deadhorse and the village of Kaktovik.

The trip is funded by a grant from the US Fulbright Arctic Initiative, which aims to promote new research and knowledge sharing in the Arctic. Anne will prepare a briefing note on the results from the trip when she returns to Nuuk in August.


International LLM Opportunity for Established Oil and Gas Professionals

The North Sea Energy Law Programme is an advanced programme for practitioners from both public and private sector covering all aspects of energy law, offered by the Universities of Gronigen, Oslo, Aberdeen and Copenhagen.

Drawing on the expertise of the leading academics in centres of excellence located in the region that has seen perhaps the highest degree of innovation in energy law, it offers participants both the fundamental knowledge and the conceptual tools to deal with whatever challenges this exciting area of practice raises.

This unique programme is structured to accommodate busy professionals through concentrated periods of teaching. Each of the four courses is taught in a different centre in an intensive two-week block. The language of instruction is English.

The two-year programme starts every September and will last until June two years later. For more information, see the NSELP home page


March 2016

Anne and Rachael met selected stakeholders to refine the research priorities of the Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre, identify the most important areas for research, discuss opportunities for cooperation, and plan teaching at Ilisimatusarfik. Anne and Rachael met representatives from Ilisimatusarfik, the Greenland Institute for Natural Resources, the Mineral Licence and Safety Authority, Nunaoil, and WWF.

The Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre was formally launched at Ilisimatusarfik, Greenland on 16th March 2016. Tine Pars, Rector of Ilisimatusarfik introduced the Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre and the two directors, Anne and Rachael. Anne explained the objectives, priorities and planned activities of the centre. The directors then each delivered a presentation in which Rachael discussed the importance of the legal framework in managing hydrocarbon activities and Anne explained the essential criteria for an effective environmental and social impact assessment process. Over fifty people attended the launch and participated in a lively discussion where they talked about their hopes and expectations for the Centre. Participants came from Ilisimatusarfik; the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources; Niuernermik Ilinniarfik (the Business College); the Ministry of Industry, Labour and Trade; the Mineral Licence and Safety Authority; the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS); the Greenland Business Association; Greenland Business; S.I.K. (the Labour Association of Greeland); Nunaoil; WWF; and Transparency International Greenland.

Briefing notes

All photos copyright Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre - please contact to request any republication


Fieldwork in Ittoqqortoormiit, October 2019


Anna-Sofie Hurup Skjervedal’s PhD defence, 29 August 2018


Fieldwork in Northern Greenland, July 2018


Fieldwork in Maniitsoq, June 2018


Public Participation in Arctic Extractive Industries, at Ilisimatusarfik, 17th October 2017


Arctic Circle Assembly

Equitable Arctic Development of Natural Resources, Arctic Oil and Gas Research Centre Breakout Session, Arctic Circle Assembly, 13th October 2017. 


Nuuk & Tasiilaq, East Greenland

Anne and Rachael were in Nuuk and Tasiilaq, East Greenland, August 2017.


Fieldwork in South Greenland

For more information about the research trip to South Greenland, see the Briefing Note