On April 3, 2023, Martina Hirayama, State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation, welcomed Aqqaluaq B. Egede, Greenland’s Minister for Natural Resources and Justice, to Switzerland. Switzerland and Greenland have cooperated closely in research for many years, particularly in the field of polar research.
The talks between State Secretary Martina Hirayama and Minister Aqqaluaq B. Egede focused on strengthening research cooperation between Switzerland and Greenland. The meeting took place on the fringes of a trip to Switzerland by a Greenlandic delegation to discuss risk management in the Swiss Alps. The Greenlandic delegation also exchanged views with representatives of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN).
Switzerland and Greenland have maintained close and meaningful relations in research cooperation, particularly in polar research, for many years. In this regard, the work and dedication should be mentioned of ETH professor Konrad Steffen, who initiated this close cooperation by founding a permanent polar research centre, known as Swiss Camp, in Greenland. In 2020 he suffered a fatal accident on an expedition to Greenland, falling into a glacier crevasse near the Swiss Camp base.
Building on the Greenland delegation’s visit to Switzerland, the Swiss Polar Institute and the Greenland Research Council are organising a scientific exchange forum in Greenland in mid-April. The intention is for the two institutions to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to further strengthen cooperation in the field of polar research. There are plans to hold a Swissnex event in Nuuk during this time.
Research cooperation between Switzerland and Greenland is promoted through a range of instruments, in particular those of the Swiss Polar Institute. The latter is receiving financial support from the federal government as a research institution of national importance between 2021 and 2024. In addition, since 2018 the Swiss National Science Foundation has funded around 20 projects in which researchers from Switzerland and Greenland work together.