Over the past twenty years, Akureyri has also steadily grown as a national and international centre for northern and Arctic issues. There are several institutions and initiatives permanently based in Akureyri committed to research, education, innovation and monitoring, or other activities relevant to the Arctic region. These include the University of Akureyri (UNAK); Stefansson Arctic Institute; the Polar Law Institute; Secretariats of two Arctic Council Working Groups, Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) and Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF); the Tourism Research Centre; the University of Akureyri Research Centre (RHA); the Centre for Gender Equality; and the Icelandic Arctic Cooperation Network (IACN).
Working on a range of Arctic issues – climate change, community well-being, fisheries, gender, international law, political science, tourism, and biodiversity, to name a few – these institutions and initiatives are the basis of an Arctic hub, providing for a dynamic and supporting environment for scholars and students alike. The latest addition to this Arctic community is the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) Secretariat, hosted by Iceland from the beginning of 2017.
The University of Akureyri offers a Polar Law Master’s program that covers legal regimes, politics and cultural, economic, and environmental processes applicable to the Arctic and the Antarctic. This twoyear interdisciplinary program is relevant for students with varying backgrounds, providing opportunities to graduates with a diploma, LLM in Polar Law or an MA. It is also a part of the more recent West Nordic Studies, a cooperative Master’s program with the University of the Faroe Islands, the University of Greenland, Nord University in Bodø, Norway, and the University of Iceland. Further, UNAK has a longstanding relationship with UArctic providing courses in several programs dealing with social, cultural and economic development in the Arctic.
The town of Akureyri is significantly invested in Arctic issues. It has been a long-standing member of the regional Northern Forum in addition to participating in international venues and promoting sustainable development in the Arctic. Akureyri also continues to be an excellent location for conferences and meetings big and small, with previous successes such as the International Congress of Arctic Social Sciences (ICASS), the Northern Research Forum Assembly, and Gender Equality in the Arctic, Polar Law Symposium and the China-Nordic Arctic Cooperation Symposium. In 2020, the IASC Arctic Science Summit Week (ASSW) will also be hosted in Akureyri by the Icelandic Centre for Research (RANNÍS) and the University of Akureyri.