Under the influence of a rapidly warming climate, abrupt changes have been observed along the coast of Greenland. This commentary is based on a Japanese research project initiated in 2012, in which we examined the recent changes in the coastal environment and their impacts on human society in Qaanaaq, a village in northwestern Greenland. Initially, our research sought to quantify the mass loss of glaciers and its interaction with the ocean in the Qaanaaq region. Over the course of the project in collaboration with local communities, we soon realised that the changes in glaciers and the ocean directly impacted the ~600 residents of Qaanaaq. We observed natural disasters triggered by climate change. Environmental changes are also important for local economy and industry because loss of sea ice may lead to growth in transportation, tourism and mineral resource exploration. In order to share the results of our study with the Qaanaaq community, and to gain understanding of local and traditional knowledge, we organised an annual meeting in the village every summer since 2016. Our experience demonstrates the critical importance of performing a long-term multidisciplinary study, including participation of the local communities to understand the changing environment, and to contribute to a sustainable future in Qaanaaq.