Building Common Interests in the Arctic Ocean


Thursday October 6th, 9am-12:00 pm GMT in Reykjavik University, Room V102

The objective of this event is to build common interests in the Arctic Ocean, considering drivers and risks of impacts in the Arctic High Seas from the perspectives of diverse stakeholders in an inclusive manner.

Lilja Alfreðsdóttir, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade and Mr. Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, former President of Iceland, will address the conference. 

Admission is free and the event is open to the public.
Live webcast:


Opening Remarks

  • Dr. Ari Kristinn Jónsson, President of Reykjavik University

Opening Keynote

  • H.E. Ms. Lilja Alfreðsdóttir, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade
  • H.E. Mr. Ólafur Ragnar Grimsson, former President of Iceland

Setting the Stage

  • Prof. Paul Arthur Berkman, Professor of Practice in Science Diplomacy, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, United States. Director, Arctic Futures Initiative, International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis, Austria. Coordinator Pan-Arctic Options through the Belmont Forum.

Inclusive Panels

  • High-level representatives of the Arctic states, with inclusion of non-Arctic states and indigenous peoples, building common interests regarding the Arctic high seas. Points for discussion include: drivers of change, such as diminishing sea-ice and climate changes; risks from human activities, such as fisheries and shipping; international engagement involving protected areas and interplay among institutions in relation to law of the sea; and strategies that promote cooperation and prevent conflict to ensure peace and stability in the Arctic Ocean.


Confirmed participants in two panel sessions:

  • H.E. Mr. Robert Cushman Barber, United States Ambassador to Iceland
  • H.E. Mr. Herbert Beck, German Ambassador to Iceland
  • H.E. Mr. Hannu Halinen, Former Finnish Ambassador to the Artic, Finland
  • H.E. Mr. Bosse Hedberg, Swedish Ambassador to Iceland
  • H.E. Ms. Cecilie Landsverk, Norwegian Ambassador to Iceland
  • H.E. Mr. Philippe O'Quin, French Ambassador to Iceland
  • H.E. Mr. Michael Nevin, British Ambassador to Iceland
  • Mr. Inuuteq Holm Olsen, Minister Plenipotentiary, Greenland
  • Mr. Bob Paquin, Head of Canadian International Arctic Centre 
  • Mr. Jóhann Sigurjónsson, Special Envoy on Ocean Affairs, Ministry for Foreign Affairs
  • H.E. Mr. Anton Vsevolodovich Vasiliev, Russian Ambassador to Iceland 
  • H.E. Mr. Weidong Zhang, Chinese Ambassador to Iceland


Facilitated Dialogue with Audience

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). 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.



  • Ms. Þórdís Ingadóttir, Associate Professor in International Law, Reykjavík University.