In One Generation: Iceland's President Receives ACSF Award for Moving Country to Renewable Energy

The Atkinson Center presented the first Atkinson Center Award for Global Leadership in Sustainable Development to five-term president of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. Under Grímsson’s leadership, Iceland has transitioned to a renewable energy economy and become a global model for sustainable economic development and green industry. ACSF honored Grímsson and the people of Iceland at a dinner and award ceremony on November 21. Before the ceremony, Grímsson gave a public lecture, "Iceland's Clean Energy Economy: A Roadmap to Sustainability and Good Business."

Among other stops on campus during his late November visit, President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson visited the Cornell Energy Institute for a roundtable with Cornell faculty and students to discuss ongoing collaborations on geothermal research.

Geothermal expert Jefferson Tester, director of the Cornell Energy Institute and former Atkinson Center faculty director of energy, has known Grímsson for a decade and collaborates with Icelandic geothermal researchers. Tester said Iceland offers an instructive example of “how we might transform our own energy systems here at Cornell and in New York as a model for the rest of the country.” Cornell’s Climate Action Plan includes a commitment to explore geothermal energy at Cornell as one of the university’s sustainable energy sources.

“The intent of this Atkinson Center award is to recognize and support true leadership in global sustainability,” said Frank DiSalvo, ACSF director. “Iceland’s people and president have managed in a single generation to move from a fossil-fuel economy to one powered by clean energy. This is the kind of leadership by example the world needs to move forward to a thriving, sustainable future.”

Grímsson’s visit was sponsored by the Einaudi Center, the Cornell Energy Institute, the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future and the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs.