What would you do if you were Greenland?

What would you do if you were Greenland?

It's not often that an election in a remote island of 56,000 people can reverberate across the globe like this, but trust us: it's been a wild few months in Greenland.


Earlier this year, the government collapsed over a proposal to grant a Chinese-backed mining company the rights to develop what would be one of the world's largest uranium and rare earths mines.

Supporters of the project, including the government coalition, envisioned a windfall of much-needed income and jobs. But the opposition saw a future of uranium dust and pollution blighting Greenland's pristine Arctic landscapes.

Protests erupted. Death threats flew. And the coalition government collapsed, triggering fresh elections in which opponents of the mine — the leftwing pro-independence Inuit Ataqatigiit party — have just won the most seats.

The party will now take power amid a maelstrom of economic and political challenges. And they'll do so at a time when the island nation is already in the crosshairs of some of the world's biggest geopolitical rivalries.

What's the back story?

For one thing, Greenland wants more independence. For more than 40 years, it has enjoyed autonomy from its former colonial masters in Denmark, but it's still a territory within the Danish kingdom. Most Greenlanders, including the Inuit Ataqatigiit party itself, want to be independent some day. But to do that, they need a self-sufficient economy. Right now, Greenland depends on cash from Denmark for almost half of its budget. The rest comes largely from fishing exports.

Mining is a huge opportunity. Greenland sits atop some of the world's largest reserves of rare earths, the metals that are used in everything from cell phones to fighter jets. Given the global scramble for those resources -- and the growing rivalry between the US and China over their production -- developing and selling them on the global market could be a ticket to boom town, particularly for such a small population. (Just ask the nearby Nordics of Norway, where oil discoveries in the late 1960s helped to quintuple per capita GDP in just ten years.)

Climate change is opening up more possibilities. Global warming has upended many of Greenland's traditional hunting and fishing practices, but it is also making the place more, well, green. Rising temperatures are making it easier to mine for resources and build infrastructure as once-frozen areas become easier to reach.

But all of this forces Greenlanders to answer a tough question. Are they willing to risk despoiling their environment in order to help realize their independence? (Just to be clear, if you've seen what Greenland's environment looks like, you can understand why this is such a big deal.)

There is a geopolitical angle here too. Remember when former US president Donald Trump offered to buy Greenland back in 2019? It was a moment of slapstick politics with real significance, because there is, in fact, a wider global tussle for influence in Greenland. It's partly about gaining preferential access to those mineral resources. But it's also about the battle for control over lucrative new Arctic shipping lanes that are opening up as the polar ice cap recedes — an Arctic route from Asia to Europe would cut export times in half, and would quickly become one of the world's most important economic arteries, right in Greenland's back yard.

The US-China rivalry is of course part of this. The United States government, which has an airbase in Greenland, but not a consulate, has eyed China's increased presence on the island — including via the mining project — with heightened suspicion. As the US-China rivalry deepens, Greenland could find itself drawn ever deeper into that conflict.

Can Nuuk's new leaders skillfully play that rivalry off in order to get what they want in terms of economic development and independence? We are about to find out.

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Watch to learn how Eni is helping youth to develop agricultural knowledge and skills.

Iranians head to the polls on Friday to vote for president, and it appears a foregone conclusion that hardliner Ebrahim Raisi, the nation's top judge, will win.

Outsiders, and many Iranians, roll their eyes at the predictability of this vote. Iran's Guardian Council, a dozen clerics and judges who answer only to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has cleared the field for Raisi by ruling all of his credible challengers ineligible. The fix is in, and Iranians are now preparing for a moment when anti-reform conservatives, those who oppose social change inside Iran and deeper engagement with the West, will for the first time ever control the country's presidency, parliament, courts, and much of the media.

But simmering beneath the cynicism and predictability of this event is a deepening anxiety over Iran's future as it enters a potentially momentous period in the Islamic Republic's 42-year history. The Supreme Leader, in power for 32 years, is now 82 years old. Very few people know the true state of his health. Even if he outlives Raisi's presidency, which could last four or eight years, preparations for a historic, uncertain, and potentially dangerous leadership transition will intensify soon.

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After Biden's first visit, do his European allies feel that America is back?

I think they do. Wasn't particularly surprising, we've heard that message before. But now it was, sort of more concrete issues. I'm not certain there was, sort of major, major, major progress. But there was the beginning of a dialogue on trade and technology issues with Europe, clearly on security issues with NATO, and quite a number of other issues with G7, and general satisfaction with the outcome of the meeting with Putin. So, altogether good.

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Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for the Eurasia Group, shares updates on recent policy developments:

With the Supreme Court's recent decision, is the Affordable Care Act here to stay?

Yes, this was the Court's third ruling on the Affordable Care Act upholding its constitutionality. This challenge was brought by Republican attorneys general who argued that the repeal of the individual mandate tax undermined the court's previous justification for allowing the law to stand. They were unsuccessful, yet again. And the political salience of the Affordable Care Act has really diminished in the last several years, with Republicans moving on to fight other issues and the Court signaling very strongly they don't want to get involved in overturning this piece of legislation. The Affordable Care Act will be here at least until Congress wants to legislate on it again.

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3: China has launched three astronauts into orbit in its first space mission since 2016. The astronauts will spend three months aboard the country's new space station, demonstrating China's resolve to become a space power following successful earlier missions to collect soil samples on the Moon and land a wheeled robot on Mars.

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