Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson

PopTech 2011

Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson is the fifth President of the Republic of Iceland. He has served as president since 1996, running unopposed in 2000 and 2008. An outspoken advocate of renewable energy and the need for international cooperation on the issue of global climate change, Grímsson initiated a Global Roundtable on Climate Change with senior executives from the private sector and leaders of international governmental and non-governmental organizations. He strongly advocates for the use of geothermal energy, which is renewable, economically viable, and a reliable resource.

In 1965, Grímsson earned his BA degree in Economics and Political Science at the University of Manchester, where he completed his PhD in Political Science in 1970, becoming the first Icelander to earn a doctorate in this discipline. Early in his career, Grímsson began playing a role in public affairs in Iceland. From 1966-1971, he directed radio and television programs, which were an innovation in mass media in Iceland and drew a great deal of public attention. He has held numerous governmental positions, was the editor of the newspaper Þjóðviljinn from 1983 to 1985, and was elected Leader of the People’s Alliance from 1987-1995. From 1988-1991, he was the Minister of Finance. He was Chairman of the Icelandic Social Science Association in 1975; a member of the board of Landsvirkjun, the leading power company of Iceland from 1983 to 1988; and a Vice-Chairman of the Icelandic Security Commission from 1979 to 1991. Among the many international awards he has received is the Indira Gandhi Peace Prize, bestowed to him on behalf of PGA (Parliamentarians for Global Action). From 1984-1989, he was a member of the committee of the Peace Initiative of Six Heads of State and was awarded honorary doctorates by the universities of Ås (Norway) in 1997 and Manchester in 2001. Grímsson is the author of a large number of academic articles that have appeared in both Icelandic and overseas periodicals.