Arctic Circle plans Arctic center in Iceland | Polarjournal
The planned complex “Nordurslod”, which means “The North Path”, is to be built in Iceland’s capital, making the island an Arctic center. The initiator of the project, the Arctic Circle, thus wants to strengthen its roots to the island and take advantage of Iceland. The Icelandic government supports the project, which is only on paper yet. Image: Rizma Feros, courtesy of Arctic Circle.

Almost as fast as Arctic sea ice is shrinking, global interest in the northern region is growing. More and more countries, institutions, organizations and people are following events and developments in the Arctic and want to help shape it. In doing so, they pursue very different goals, some of which are diametrically opposed. The Arctic Circle, which is the largest non-political network of Arctic stakeholders, now wants to create a space with a large-scale project where the different representatives can physically come together and put Arctic development on one path, the North Path, in an open dialogue.

Nordurslod, the North Path, will be the name of the planned center and will be located in the middle of Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, close to the University of Reykjavik, the Cultural Center, the Askja Research Center for Natural Sciences and the Old Town. The site also contains an important bird sanctuary nearby for Iceland and Reykjavik, but this is not to be disturbed by the construction of the center. The headquarters of two large biotech companies and a university innovation center are also located in the immediate vicinity. “In a highly symbolic way Nordurslod will thus be surrounded by diverse entities; Arctic wildlife, innovation, science, enterprises, knowledge, culture and global cooperation. In short, a perfect site.” explains Arctic Circle in a post. An architectural competition is to be announced at this year’s meeting in Reykjavik.

With the planned center, the Arctic Circle not only wants to create for itself a new headquarters adapted to today’s situation, but above all to provide a center of excellence where a wide variety of Arctic stakeholders can gather. As a first step, the center is to consist of a building of about 20,000 – 30,000 square meters, which will also house offices, conference halls and other facilities for various international partners and meetings. These can be organizations, societies, companies, and institutions, collectively “a community inspired by the dedication to a sustainable future; a world of climate stability and clean energy, open dialogue and the empowerment of indigenous communities,” as Arctic Circle explains. Premises should be available for both temporary and long-term rental to ensure the greatest possible degree of flexibility. The construction, which will be built according to the most modern and sustainable standards, will be only a first step and wants still to be important in the future, especially beyond 2050, when, according to the current state of knowledge, the Arctic could be practically ice-free in summer, to be able to support the development of the Arctic and its inhabitants in any direction.

With the new center, the Arctic Circle wants to adapt the vision of its founder and initiator, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, to the new situation. The former president of Iceland had founded the forum in 2013, while still in office, with various Arctic partners, with the aim of creating a network in which the challenges facing the Arctic and the global climate (and thus the Earth as a whole) would be addressed in an open, honest and transparent dialogue involving all stakeholders. In doing so, the Arctic Circle used international meetings, forums, mission councils, and other platforms to bring the various stakeholders together. However, as interest in climate and especially the Arctic evolves and grows, and new communications become available, the Arctic Circle sees the need for a new model of engagement.

It is a new model of a dynamic non-governmental/governmental interaction where the added contribution of diverse international partners and civil society are welcomed and encouraged.

Arctic Circle Communication

Inspired by places like Silicon Valles for the IT industry or Geneva as a neutral political and social center, a center for the Arctic and the climate is now to be built in Iceland. The country is a natural fit because of its geopolitical location and leadership in innovation in sustainable energy and technology, Arctic Circle explains. The Icelandic government supports the center, but it will be run by a private entity. Its Board is elected by the Arctic Circle, the Icelandic government and the Icelandic universities, supplemented by a Board of international partners from various fields. “It is a new model of a dynamic non-governmental/governmental interaction where the added contribution of diverse international partners and civil society are welcomed and encouraged,” says Arctic Circle.

Dr Michael Wenger, PolarJournal

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