Stefansson Arctic Institute


The Stefansson Arctic Institute (SAI) is an independent institute of the Icelandic Ministry for the Environment with a focus on the human dimension of sustainable development in the Arctic region. It is located in Akureyri in Northern Iceland and bears the name of arctic explorer and anthropologist Vilhjálmur Stefánsson (1879-1962). The staff at the Stefansson Arctic Institute includes researchers with a broad interdisciplinary social science and humanities research background and experience of leading and participating in international projects. The Institute has a small but growing library emphasizing arctic science and issues of development.

The role of SAI is to:

·  be a forum for co-operation with regards to multi-disciplinary research
·  promote sustainable development in northern areas
·  strengthen Icelandic participation in international endeavors in this field
·  facilitate and co-ordinate Arctic research in Iceland
·  gather and disseminate information regarding northern issues
·  advise the Government and co-operate with others internationally
·  provide facilities for scholars who pursue research relevant to the SAI's agenda

 The Legacy of Vilhjalmur Stefansson

The institute actively carries the legacy of the arctic explorer and anthropologist Vilhjalmur Stefansson in numerous ways. The website includes detailed information about his life, and information on a travelling exhibition - featuring a selection of Stefansson photographs, recordings, publications, diaries, maps and many other arctic items. It is currently in Qaqortoq in Greenland and will travel next to Rovaniemi and Canada.

Arctic Human Development Report I and II

Arctic human deveopment reportThe Arctic Human Development Report is the first comprehensive assessment of human well being covering the entire Arctic region. Mandated under the Arctic Council’s 2002 Ministerial Declaration as a “priority project” designed to provide a “comprehensive knowledge base” for the work of the Council’s Sustainable Development Programme, the AHDR was a centerpiece of the Icelandic Chairmanship of the Arctic Council during 2002-2004. It was coordinated by a secretariat based at the Stefansson Arctic Institute. The report contains 11 substantive chapters, an introduction, a conclusion and a Summary of Major Findings and is based on contributions from some 90 scientists.

In 2014 a second report was released The Arctic Human Development Report II. The purpose of the AHDR-II project – Arctic Human Development Report II: Regional Processes and Global Linkages – is to move the study of human development in the Arctic beyond the AHDR I baseline, to provide the second assessment and synthesis report on the state of human development in the Arctic, and to contribute to our increased knowledge and understanding of the consequences and interplay of physical and social global change processes for human living conditions and adaptability in the Arctic, and to strengthen the competence and international leadership role in human dimension scientific assessments and research. The expected project was completed in 2014, ten years after the launch of the first AHDR in 2004.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC

arctic social indicatorsJoan Nymand Larsen was one of two Coordinating Lead Authors of Chapter 28, Polar Regions, of the Working Group II contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). The volume was released in 2014.

Arctic Social Indicators I and II

The Arctic Social Indicators (ASI) project was a project following up on the activities of the Arctic Human Development Reports. The goal was to device Arctic social indicators which will help facilitate the tracking and monitoring of human development in the Arctic over time.

Other projects

Fishernet – Fishing Cultural Heritage Network (a collaborative project of fishing nations in Europe), The Friendly Arctic Exhibition about Vilhjalmur Stefansson and The Arctic Governance Project.

The Stefansson Arctic Institute is an associated centre of and holds a seat in the Council of the University of the Arctic. The Institute has co-hosted two of the Council’s meetings, has helped launch and currently participates in a number of University of the Arctic programs and projects, and has significant roles in delivering on-site Bachelor of Circumpolar Studies courses and polar law courses at the University of Akureyri.

The Stefansson Arctic Institute is one of two centers in Iceland for coordination of activity of NABO – the North Atlantic Biocultural Organization. The Stefansson Arctic Institute, the University of Akureyri and the University of Akureyri Research Centre share the work of the secretariat for the Northern Research Forum. The Stefansson Arctic Institute is the location of the United Nations Association of Iceland section in the North of Iceland. 


The website is


Name: Níels Einarsson

Job title: Director

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Telephone: +354 460-8981





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