All eyes on Iceland

The opening of the Arctic Circle 2015 assembly in Harpa, Reykjavik.

REYKJAVIK: The capital of Iceland stands in the Arctic limelight for the next couple of days, as people from around 50 different countries gather to discuss resources, climate change, security politics and much more at the Arctic Circle assembly.


Even though this is only the third time the Arctic Circle is being held, the conference has already grown into an important arena for discussion of Arctic issues. 

“In only two years we have succeeded in giving the world a new platform for discussion of the Arctic,” Iceland’s President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson said in his welcome address.

Iceland’s President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. Phtoto: Trude Pettersen

The number of participants in Arctic Circle 2015 is said to be nearly 1900, so it is the largest international gathering for discussion of Arctic issues.

Grímsson underlined in his speech that the aim of the Arctic Circle is to be a forum for open and democratic dialogue. The Arctic Circle is non-profit and nonpartisan. Organizations, forums, think tanks, corporations and public associations around the world are invited to hold meetings within the Arctic Circle platform to advance their own missions and the broader goal of increasing collaborative decision-making without surrendering their institutional independence.

In addition to the plenary sessions with speakers like Prince Albert of Monaco Quebec PM Philippe Couillard and French President François Hollande, there are numerous break-out sessions at the Harpa concert hall and at different venues around Reykjavik.

In addition to the annual conference in Reykjavik, the Arctic Circle organizes smaller forums on specific subjects. The first forum was held in Alaska earlier this year, and another will take place in Singapore next month. In 2016 there will be forums in Québec and Greenland.