dcsimg Greenland: A land of opportunities - Ramboll Group

Greenland: A land of opportunities

Greenland is experiencing major changes due to increased political independence and climate change, which is leading to new opportunities within tourism, transport, agriculture, oil and natural resource extraction.


Companies are eager to extract natural resources; large oil companies drill for oil and new shipping routes and cruise ships increase shipping traffic through Greenlandic waters. Greenland is experiencing major changes as it develops driven by global climate change, internal demographic challenges and new natural resources becoming available, which all create new opportunities. 

"During the coming years, Greenland will open up to tourism, transport, agriculture, oil and natural resource extraction. The arctic area is sensitive to human activity and we have to act carefully to create sustainable solutions," says Lars Ostenfeld Riemann, Director of buildings at Ramboll.

Architechtural visions

Architecture is one way to influence the development of Greenland. At the exhibition 'Possible Greenland' at the 13th International Architecture Biennale in Venice, Danish and Greenlandic architects, engineers, planners and ethnologists created four specific suggestions on how to think differently about airports, harbours and infrastructure and put forward suggestions for new types of dwelling. 

This has resulted in a proposal for a new combined 'super harbour' and international airport outside the capital of Greenland, Nuuk, as well as a sustainable type of dwelling with a new arctic architectural style, based on Greenlandic values and traditions, and a Greenlandic city that is designed to embrace the world without losing its identity. Ramboll has acted as the technical consultant on each of these scenarios. 

Danclimb in Greenland

A transport hub

"The most obvious scenario is the idea of turning Greenland into a hub for flights, shipping and cruises. Nuuk is situated ideally relative to China, Europe and North America making it an obvious transport hub in a similar way to Reykjavik in Iceland, which serves as a centre for transatlantic air traffic and Rotterdam serves as a hub for containerships," says Lars Ostenfeld Riemann. 

Huge opportunities within natural resources 

Natural resource extraction is another area that represents a huge opportunity. Currently, Greenland experiences unprecedented interest from international companies looking to extract minerals and oil in the subsoil. This creates challenges, as Greenland wants to ensure that the development will not harm society and the natural environment.

For the past 25 years, Ramboll has acted as a local consultant on buildings, transport and utility infrastructure, energy and environment, including official approval, environmental impact assessments and social effects.

Building a bridge between society and projects

When delivering our consultancy services, Ramboll experts from several Scandinavian countries collaborate. Thorkild Feldthusen Jensen, Director of Ramboll's environment division and deputy chairman for the board of directors in Ramboll in Greenland, explains:

"As a community consultant, we build a bridge between society and projects. It is our responsibility to deliver successful projects and to advise large international companies about the harsh working conditions and the overriding need for the natural environment and society to go unharmed. In order to solve the complex mining operations, we use our 25 years of experience in Greenland, and draw on experts from Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland including our knowledge about the dilemmas that arise and solutions that are reached when working in one of the most vulnerable countries in the world."  

See the video about professional climbers from DanClimb reopening a mine in Maarmorilik in Greenland.



Three challenges to achieve a sustainable development in Greenland

1. The vulnerable arctic environment is slow to recover

"The dilemma when providing advice about Greenland is to manage and control the environmental, social and financial consequences to keep the development of the mining sector at a level that best benefits the Greenlandic society. The arctic environment takes a long time to recover, which is why it is essential to evaluate the environmental consequences and after-effects of large projects."

Thorkild Feldthusen Jensen, Director of Environment in Ramboll in Denmark and deputy chairman for the board of directors in Ramboll in Greenland.

2. The development is to benefit the Greenlandic society

"The natural resource sector must be developed in a manner that best benefits the Greenlandic society. The people of Greenland must be guaranteed the highest possible competitive share of the profits from extraction, just as we ensure that our activities incorporate local insight and knowledge, one aim being to use local labour and local companies as much as possible"

Jørn Skov Nielsen, Minister for Industry and labour, the Government of Greenland

3. Important to maintain the Greenlandic identity and cultural heritage

"There is considerable evidence that thousands of jobs will be created in the coming decade in Greenland. However, the Greenlandic population does not possess the right skills and skilled labour, which therefore has to be imported from the rest of the world. At the same time, many of the young people from Greenland are expected to migrate to Denmark. It will be a challenge to control the flow of migrants and to handle the future social balance."

Lars Ostenfeld Riemann, Director of Buildings at Ramboll.

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Rambøll Grønland




More information

Sustainable Arctic Development brochure
Sustainable Arctic Development brochure
The Arctic is experiencing unprecedented interest from international companies looking to extract minerals, gems and oil, which is fuelling the economic and social development of countries straddling the region.
Sustainable Arctic Development brochure (online PDF reader)


Executive Director, Buildings
T+45 5161 6897
Thorkild Feldthusen Jensen
Thorkild Feldthusen Jensen
Director, Environment & Health
T+45 5161 8302