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Arctic Initiative Contributes to Arctic Circle Assembly 2021

Innovation at the Arctic Circle Assembly

Featured in the Fall 2021 Newsletter »

Arctic residents, students, policymakers, academics, and business leaders convened in Reykjavík, Iceland, for the 2021 Arctic Circle Assembly from Thursday, October 14 to Saturday, October 17. The Arctic Circle Assembly serves as the largest international gathering in the Arctic. This year, the Assembly drew more than 1,300 attendees following guidance issued by local public health authorities.  

The Belfer Center’s Arctic Initiative delegation included Co-Founder and Senior Fellow Halla Hrund Logadóttir, who serves also as the Director-General of Iceland’s National Energy Authority, Arctic Initiative Faculty Associate Jennifer Spence, Interim Research Manager Daniel Bicknell, and IGA 671M Course Assistant Sunaina Pamudurthy, a student at Harvard Kennedy School.  

The Arctic Initiative organized two sessions at this year’s Assembly: 1) Arctic Innovation Lab: 10 Ideas for a Better Arctic, and 2) Policy and Action on Plastic in the Arctic: Innovations to Tackle Plastic Pollution with The Wilson Center’s Polar Institute. The Policy and Action on Plastic in the Arctic Ocean report is available here.  

The Arctic Innovation Lab—co-led by the Arctic Initiative since 2017—featured 10 student innovators from a range of countries. The Arctic Innovation Lab aims to facilitate an ongoing dialogue between generations to speed up knowledge transition and build capacity for the future of the Arctic. This year, the ten students, including three from the Harvard Kennedy School, proposed wide-ranging innovations to address challenges facing the Arctic. 

  1. “Bridging the gap with the Arctic through gamification” by Méroé Mountou, Joint Nordic Master's Programme in Environmental Law, Class of 2022, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Uppsala University (Sweden) and the University of Eastern Finland 
  2. “Save Icelandic Corals! (no, really)” by Darya Chernikhova, Master’s Environment and Natural Resources, Class of 2023, University of Iceland 
  3. “Adapt Alaska 2026” by Gemma Holt, Master in Public Policy & Master in Urban Planning, Class of 2023, Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Graduate School of Design  
  4. “Floating Offshore Wind-to-Hydrogen: A Green Opportunity for the Arctic” by Philipp G. Rombach, MA in Transatlantic Affairs, Class of 2023, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University 
  5. “Iinriurtuk Elitnaurvik” by Stacey Kangipneq Lucason, BA in Philosophy, Class of 2017, Young Arctic Leaders in Research and Policy program at ARCTICenter, University of Northern Iowa 
  6. “The World’s First Participatory Mining Code” by Samuel Gant, MPA/MBA, Class of 2022, Harvard Kennedy School and Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth 
  7. “From Waste to Watts: Arctic Biomass Generation” by Noah Montana Christy, MSc Sustainable Energy, Class of 2023, Iceland School of Energy at Reykjavík University 
  8. “Fashioning the New Arctic” by Varvara Korkina Williams, Master of Arts, Class of 2021, University of Northern Iowa 
  9.   “Combined Maritime Force for Arctic Fisheries Protection: An Opportunity and an Obligation” by Raffaele Giarnella, Master of Arts, Class of 2022, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University  
  10.   “Technology: The strongest ally of the Arctic Indigenous?” by Sunaina Pamudurthy, Master in Public Policy, Class of 2022, Harvard Kennedy School 

Two innovators from last year’s virtual Innovation Lab developed their pitches into publications. Allison Agsten released Reforming the Arctic Narrative, and Ulla Hemminki-Reijonen wrote Reinventing Climate Change Education with Halla Hrund Logadóttir.

The Policy and Action on Plastic in the Arctic session showcased the plastic innovation work that the Arctic Initiative advanced in collaboration with The Wilson Center and the Icelandic Chairship of the Arctic Council. Logadóttir moderated the session, and she was joined by Magnús Jóhannesson, Arctic Council designated Special Coordinator on Plastics and Marine Litter, Government of Iceland, Marisol Maddox, Arctic Analyst, Polar Institute, Wilson Center, USA, and Melissa Nacke, Environmental Specialist, AECO - Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators, Norway 

In addition to these two sessions, Logadóttir served as the chair for The Future of E-Fuels in the Arctic, moderator of Emerging Arctic Security Concerns – Greenland and Iceland, and speaker at Aviation and Sustainability in the Arctic: The Industry’s Contribution. Jennifer Spence served as a speaker at Arctic Cities Crisis Management: Lessons from COVID 19 and A Carbon Neutral Arctic: How Micro-Projects are Leading the Way, and as a panelist at The Arctic Council: Snapshot of a Success Story

See interviews below with Arctic Initiative participants Halla Hrund Logadottir, Sunaina Pamudurthy, Daniel Bicknell, and Jennifer Spence:

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Bicknell , Daniel. “Arctic Initiative Contributes to Arctic Circle Assembly 2021.” News, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, October 25, 2021.

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