President of Iceland, Ambassadors and other experts discuss the Arctic High Seas

Building Common Interests in the Arctic Ocean


Arctic High Seas

The objective of this event is to identify drivers and risks of impacts in the Arctic High Seas from the perspectives of diverse stakeholders in an inclusive manner.

The President of Iceland, Mr. Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, will address the conference. 

Time and place: Thursday October 15th at 9am-12:30pm GMT in Reykjavik University, room V101


Opening Remarks

Dr. Ari Kristinn Jónsson, President of Reykjavik University

Opening Keynote

H.E. Ólafur Ragnar Grimsson, President of Iceland

Setting the Stage

Dr. Bjarni Már Magnusson, Assistant Professor in International Law, School of Law, Reykjavík University. Fulbright Arctic Scholar. 

Interplay of National Interests and Common Interests in the Central Arctic Ocean. 

Dr. Paul Arthur Berkman, Professor of Practice in Science Diplomacy, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. Head of the Arctic Ocean Geopolitics Programme through the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge and a Research Professor through the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management at the University of California Santa Barbara. 

Balancing National Interests and Common Interests in the Arctic Ocean. 

Inclusive Panels
High-level representatives of the Arctic states, with inclusion of non-Arctic states and indigenous peoples, discuss matters of the Arctic high seas. Points for discussion include: drivers of change, risks from human activities, international engagement, common interests, cooperation and prevention of conflicts.

Confirmed participants in panel:

  • US Ambassador to Iceland, H.E. Mr. Robert Cushman Barber
  • Russian Ambassador to Iceland, H.E. Mr Anton Vsevolodovich Vasiliev
  • Chinese Ambassador to Iceland, H.E. Mr Weidong Zhang
  • Norwegian Ambassador to Iceland, H.E. Ms Cecilie Landsverk
  • Mr. Tero Vauraste, President and Chief Executive Officer, Arctia Shipping, Co Vice-Chair of Arctic Economic Council, Finland
  • Árni Þór Sigurðsson, Ambassador, Senior Arctic Official, Iceland
  • Kai Holst Andersen, Deputy Minister from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Greenland

Facilitated Dialogue with Audience

To identify diverse stakeholder perspectives on risks and drivers of change in the Arctic High Seas.

For thousands of years, the Arctic Ocean has been covered by sea-ice perennially. Today, more than 50% of the Arctic Ocean is open water during the summer, creating opportunities and risks that highlight the urgent responsibility of our generation to develop sustainable infrastructure that balances economic prosperity, environmental protection and social equity for the welfare of all involved in this globally relevant region.  

International attention also is intensifying with regard to the Arctic High Seas (defined by law of the sea as the water-column zone above the sea floor seaward of the Exclusive Economic Zones, beyond sovereign jurisdictions of the surrounding coastal states). Stewardship is emerging to prevent unregulated fisheries, address impacts for increased shipping and consider area-protection strategies in the Arctic High Seas. The challenge for this international space is to balance national interests and common interests in an inclusive manner. Consequently, our responses for the Arctic High Seas will resonate into the future as a precedent for humankind on a global scale.