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 the Arctic Circle, which he founded in 2013 with various Arctic partners. The Arctic Circle Assembly held in Iceland every October is the largest annual international gathering on the Arctic, attended by 2000 participants from 50 countries: heads of states and governments, officials, experts, scientists, business leaders, indigenous representatives, environmentalists, students, and others. The Arctic Circle has also organized Forums in Alaska, Singapore, Greenland, Québec and Washington, D.C.
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 actively participated 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 serves as Chairman of the Jury of the Zayed Future Energy Prize. Grímsson serves on the Advisory Board of Sustainable Energy for All, created by the United Nations and the World Bank.
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.