Table of Contents

Handbook of the Politics of the Arctic

Handbook of the Politics of the Arctic

Edited by Leif Christian Jensen and Geir Hønneland

The Arctic has again become one of the leading issues on the international foreign policy agenda, in a manner unseen since the Cold War. Drawing on the perspectives of geo-politics and international law, this Handbook offers fresh insights and perspectives on the most pressing issues, grouped under the headings of political ascendancy, climate and environmental issues, resources and energy, and the response and policies of affected countries.

Chapter 1: Energy as a developmental strategy: creating knowledge-based energy sectors in Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland

Rasmus Gjedssø Bertelsen, Jens Christian Justinussen and Coco Smits

Subjects: environment, environmental law, environmental politics and policy, law - academic, environmental law, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, international politics


Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland share a history as overseas autonomies of the Kingdom of Denmark. It is relevant to compare their constitutional, political and socio-economic trajectories, since there are processes of learning and spill-over between these three microstates. Although only Iceland is fully independent, we refer to them as ‘microstates’ in this chapter, because that term highlights a central aspect of these societies: how they face the challenge of being very small societies located on the periphery. The three societies differ in size: Iceland has a population of about 310 000; the Faroe Islands, 48 000; and Greenland, 56 000. Some Icelandic commentators object to the label of ‘microstate’ for the island, but it is precisely Iceland’s socio-economic success despite its very small population and remote location that is of interest here. Iceland is in a different position than the other Nordic countries that are typical small states. In this chapter, we examine the role of energy as a developmental strategy for these societies: historically, today and in the future. We enquire into the role of knowledge, competences and human capital for an environmental, socially and culturally sustainable use of energy resources for development. All three societies have been working determinedly to increase their political and fiscal independence, to diversify very narrow economic bases and to ensure human development and economic growth. And, as we will see in this chapter, energy continues to play a key role in these endeavours.