The annual Arctic Circle Assembly began today at Harpa Conference Centre in Reykjavík. The assembly is being held for the fifth time to discuss issues such as climate change, energy, and security in the Arctic.
Arctic Circle is a non-profit and non-partisan organization which is “the largest network of international dialogue and cooperation on the future of the Arctic,” according to its website. Ex-President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson is chairman of the organization, which brings together governments, think tanks, environmental associations, indigenous communities, and other parties to discuss issues facing the Arctic. In an interview with Kjarninn, Ólafur touches on the principles behind the network: “I believed that in order to succeed… we would have to be democratic, the debate would need to be open and between equals, that everyone would have a say.”
This year’s keynote speakers include Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Patricia Espinosa and First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon. His All-Holiness Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I is also one of the conference’s special guests.
Ólafur believes the annual gathering has had a positive effect on Iceland’s international standing. “It’s important for people to look at Iceland as a place in the world where influential people gather together annually and discuss climate change and the development of the Arctic.”
The event’s program can be found here.