Denmark promotes Arctic awareness in China

By Chen Boyuan
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, May 9, 2016
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The Danish Cultural Center in Beijing, China is simultaneously staging two exhibitions, namely, "The Weather Diaries" and "Our Arctic Future," both aimed at improving people's awareness of the Arctic in the context of global warming and environmental degradation.

Eric Messerschmidt, director of the Danish Cultural Center, discusses the two exhibitions entitled "The Weather Diaries" and "Our Arctic Future" at the Danish Cultural Center in Beijing, China on May 6, 2016. [Photo by Chen Boyuan /] 

"The Weather Diaries" exhibits the creativity of the fashion scenes in Iceland, the Danish Faroe Islands and Greenland. The three places are common in their isolation from the rest of the world, limited resources and wild, unpredictable weather, which all in all, breed a roughness, fearlessness and a desire to create.

In comparison, "Our Arctic Future" consists of photos taken in the Arctic region, including the habitats of the Inuit, melting ice and its impacts on shipping lanes, as well as booming Arctic tourism.

The director of the Danish Cultural Center, Eric Messerschmidt, summarized on Friday that the relevance between the two exhibitions is the "important but fragile Arctic cultures, which are undergoing tremendous changes" owing to a series of factors.

Messerschmidt emphasized that in the Arctic region, unlike the Antarctic, there is a permanent residence of around 50,000 people from different countries, and their rights to live should be respected and protected.

"We are talking about the people who live so isolated, outside what we call the mainstream. The exhibitions show that these people have the right to and deserve global attention," he said.

In the big picture, raising Arctic awareness would not only benefit Denmark among other countries around the Arctic Circle, but also all other countries. For example, the northern part of China is close enough to the Arctic region to be affected by the climate change in the Arctic, according to Lars Bo Larsen, the deputy head of the mission of the Royal Danish Embassy in China.

He noted that the Arctic Council, which was established in 1996 by countries with Arctic territory, is central in dealing with social developments, climate issues and sovereign issues between the Arctic coastal nations.

"The council welcomes the engagement of relevant global actors, including China. This is why we welcome China in becoming a permanent observer and seek to integrate China even more in these issues," Larsen said.

The Arctic Council consists of eight Arctic countries, namely Canada, Denmark (also representing the dependencies of Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States. In 2013, the council added China, among another 11 countries, to be permanent observers.

Larsen said that China has spent some time "observing what's going on to discover the best way to get involved," so that the country can seize the chance to get itself better integrated.

Even so, Larsen believes that China has a lot to offer in a number of "technical issues," such as search and rescue for ships as well as handling environmental issues and climate change.

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