Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, Former President of Iceland and Chairman of Arctic Circle
Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson was the President of Iceland for twenty years, 1996-2016; elected five times in nationwide elections. He now serves as the Chairman of Arctic Circle, which he founded three years ago with other Arctic partners. The Arctic Circle Assembly held in Iceland every October has become the largest annual international gathering on the Arctic, attended by 2000 participants from 50 countries: heads of states and governments, ministers, members of parliaments, officials, experts, scientists, entrepreneurs, business leaders, indigenous representatives, environmentalists, students, activists and others from the growing international community of partners and participants interested in the future of the Arctic. The Arctic Circle has also organized specialized Forums in other countries; so far, in Alaska, Singapore, Greenland and Quebec.
Prior to becoming President, Grímsson served as Minister of Finance, Member of Parliament, and was the first Professor of Political Science at the University of Iceland. In the 1980s and early 1990s, he was the President of Parliamentarians for Global Action, an international organization of legislators.
For decades, Grímsson has been an active participant in the global climate dialogue and during his Presidency initiated and promoted clean energy projects in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, the United States and the Americas; especially using Icelandic achievements and technologies as a model. Cooperation with Sinopec has led to the largest geothermal projects in the world, building clean energy urban heating systems in a multitude of Chinese cities. He has also worked closely with Abu Dhabi in its clean energy program and is the Chairman of the Jury of the Zayed Future Energy Prize, one of the most distinguished energy prizes in the world. Grímsson serves on the Advisory Board of Sustainable Energy for All, created by the United Nations and the World Bank.
In addition to devoting his post-presidential efforts to the three areas of climate, the Arctic and clean energy, Grímsson is also involved in international cooperation on the oceans and the evolution of sustainable use of marine resources.
He has received many international awards, including the Nehru Award for International Understanding, presented by the President of India; and has lectured at universities in many countries.