Applied Economics of Arctic Natural Resources

Course content

The course is taught in Nuuk, Greenland, and provides an introduction to natural resource economics in the Arctic. Renewable biological resources such as fish and game are emphasized but the course also includes nonrenewable (mineral) resources. In the Arctic, climate change improves access to resources and has spurred increasing international political and economic interest in the region. This challenges the traditional uses and increases the need for understanding uses and trade-offs occurring as a consequence of economic activity. Specifically, the course covers the topics:

  • Modelling and evaluation of trends in living natural resources as a basis for informed decisions on extraction, including for migratory stocks. Monitoring and assessment, including community monitoring.
  • Fundamentals of economic optimal exploitation of renewable natural resources, basic economic principles, time preferences, maximization of economic yield, sustainable yield, economic return, stock vs yield management, resource rent, impact of uncertainty (e.g. fluctuations in populations and in access to resource use, weather and sea ice cover, effects of climate change).
  • Introduction to nonrenewable resources (mining), including optimal path extraction and option value in relation to resource extraction decisions.
  • Common pool resources and principles of regulation (command and control, economic optimal regulation); international and national regulation, including international management agreements; property rights; optimal fleet composition.
  • Positive and negative externalities (e.g. pollution, biodiversity conservation, tourism, aesthetic values) and how they affect optimal extraction and possibilities of joint production.
  • Societal issues - putting regulation into a wider sustainable management context. Regional purposes of regulation, distributional aspects of use and regulation, small-scale vs industrial scale fisheries.

All the theory above will be introduced through cases from the Arctic and its use will be visualized and discussed in relation to relevant enterprises and current policy implementation. In particular focus will be on its use as tools in the decision-making of enterprises and in contemporary regulation and management of natural resources.

Learning outcome

The course will provide students with a thorough understanding of economic reasoning and knowledge of how to apply economics as a decision-making tool in the utilization and management of marine and terrestrial natural resources, including fisheries, hunting and mining, and other uses of land and sea, such as agriculture and tourism.

After the course the student is expected to be able to:


  • Identify and classify different types of natural resources, possibilities and limitations of extraction, possibilities of regulation.
  • Identify and understand links between ecological processes and the economics of extraction of renewable natural resources, the importance of risk and uncertainty for valuation and decision making, and the importance of positive and negative externalities.
  • Understand the economic values of different uses of natural resources, welfare and private economic aspects, and possible conflicts or synergies between uses and users.



  • Assess the economics of particular uses of natural resources and identify externalities, including the aspect of risk and uncertainty and the possibilities of optimal extraction.
  • Apply and analyze the economics of theoretical and practical models for natural resource management and regulation.
  • Apply appropriate theory and methods to economic valuation in a natural resource context and understand and reflect critically on economic analyses of natural resources.



  • Explain and discuss the main principles of natural resource economics and the relevance, reliability and validity of different natural resource economic methods.
  • Apply principles and procedures of natural resource economics to management decisions and policy development.
  • Take into account the demands of society when applying bio-economic models, analysing natural resource use, assessing externalities, and proposing approaches to regulation and management. 

In the first 1-2 weeks of the course students prepare for the intensive part of the course by reading basic literature. This is followed by 2-3 weeks of intensive face-to-face teaching with lecturers from Copenhagen and guest lecturers from institutions, authorities and enterprises in Nuuk. Cases used in lectures and exercises include contemporary and historical cases from Greenland and other parts of the Arctic. Finally, the last week of the course is spent on preparation of a course assignment.

In the intensive core part of the course, lectures and theoretical exercises alternate, and a typical day includes lectures and smaller exercises in the morning followed by more comprehensive exercises in the afternoon. Some exercises are carried out individually, others in groups. During these weeks we will also visit some of the authorities and enterprises in Nuuk involved in natural resource monitoring, management and extraction.

In the last week of the course, students will prepare the written course assignment. Topics for the assignment are announced 7 days before the day of submission. To support the work skype meetings will be held 4-5 days before submission.

The course literature is announced on Absalon. The literature will consist of textbooks, articles and lecture notes. The literature will be decided later, but examples could be:

Field, B. C., 2016. Natural Resource Economics - An Introduction, Third Edition, Waveland Press, Inc., Illinois.

Anderson, L. G., 2002. Fisheries Economics – collected essays, volume I and II, International Library of Environmental Economics and Policy, Ashgate, UK.

Anderson D.A., 2014. Environmental and Natural Resource Management, fourth edition, Routledge, New York.

Perman, R., Ma, Y., Common, M., Maddison, D. & Mcgilvray, J., 2011. Natural Resource and Environmental Economics, 4th Edition, Pearson United Kingdom.

The course is aimed at students from a wide range of scientific backgrounds. However, basic courses in ecology and/or economics are useful, e.g.:
LOJB10225 Indledende økonomi
NBIA04030U Almen Økologi (Økologi)

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.
In the exercises we will use Excel (or similar), so basic spreadsheet skills are useful.

The course is taught in Nuuk, Greenland, and is coordinated with courses taught by Aarhus University. Students must cover costs of travel and accommodation in Nuuk. However, the course is organized in collaboration with Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, which makes it possible to get assistance to find accommodation in Nuuk and apply for funding to cover part of the costs.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester

Throughout the course we will work with case studies in the exercises. While working with the exercises the teacher is available for discussion and individual feedback regarding approaches, results and interpretations. Further feedback is given at class level in plenary discussions.

Type of assessment
Written assignment, 7 days
On the first day topics for the assignment and any associated data are available from 9:00 am. The assignment is submitted to digital exam seven days later at 9.00 am.
All aids allowed
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners
Criteria for exam assessment

See Learning Outcome

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 40
  • Preparation
  • 115
  • Practical exercises
  • 60
  • Exam
  • 60
  • English
  • 275