Speakers and moderators


The programme included renowned keynote speakers from around the world.

Dr. Ari Jónsson

Dr. Ari Jonsson is the president of Reykjavik University; a private non-profit university in Iceland that focuses on education, research and industry collaboration in the fields of technology, business and law. The university is the largest technical university in Iceland.

Dr. Jonsson completed a doctoral degree in Computer Science from Stanford University in 1997, with focus on artificial intelligence and autonomous decision- making. He then joined NASA Ames Research Center as a research scientist, working on the development of automated technology to improve the efficiency and reliability of spacecraft operations. During his tenure at NASA, he contributed to a number of missions and projects, including the Deep Space One experimental spacecraft, the Mars exploration rovers Spirit and Opportunity, as well as the operations of the International Space Station.
In 2007, Dr. Jonsson moved to Reykjavik University as the Dean of the School of Computer Science. In January 2010, he became the President of the university and has served in that role since then.
Dr. Jonsson is active in policy development and has served for six years on the Icelandic Science and Technology Policy Council, which is chaired by the Prime Minister. Dr. Jonsson also contributes to the innovation and entrepreneurship environment in Iceland. He is the Chairman of the Board for two startup companies and serves on the board of a few other companies as well.

Dr. Bryan Alexander

Bryan Alexander is a futurist, researcher, writer, speaker, consultant, and teacher, working in the field of how technology transforms education. He completed his English language and literature PhD at the University of Michigan in 1997, with a dissertation on doppelgangers in Romantic-era fiction and poetry.

Then Bryan taught literature, writing, multimedia, and information technology studies at Centenary College of Louisiana.  There he also pioneered multi-campus interdisciplinary classes, while organizing an information literacy initiative.

From 2002 to 2014 Bryan worked with the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE), a non-profit working to help small colleges and universities best integrate digital technologies.  With NITLE he held several roles, including co-director of a regional education and technology center, director of emerging technologies, and senior fellow.  Over those years Bryan helped develop and support the nonprofit, grew peer networks, consulted, and conducted a sustained research agenda.

In 2013 Bryan launched a business, Bryan Alexander Consulting, LLC.  Through BAC he consults throughout higher education in the United States and abroad.

Dr. Brynhildur Davíðsdóttir

Dr. Davíðsdóttir is a Professor of Environment and Natural Resources within the Department of Economics and Department of Environment and Life Sciences at University of Iceland. Dr. Davíðsdóttir has extensive teaching, research and consulting experience in interdisciplinary inquiry of the environment and natural resources.  The main focus of her research is on analyzing transitions to a low-carbon economy, climate mitigation and adaptation, green and blue growth and sustainability indicators in various contexts.

Currently Dr. Davíðsdóttir is involved in two Nordic centers of excellence, NORD-STAR which focuses on climate adaptation and mitigation assessments for the Nordic countries, ARCPATH that focuses on opportunities, challenges and actions towards sustainable development of the Arctic, in addition to Greenmar that focuses on green growth in the marine sector. She also is involved in one Icelandic center of Excellence (GEORG) that focuses on geothermal development in addition to lead the Icelandic team in the IEA/NER project Nordic Energy Technology Perspectives.

Dr. Davidsdottir is involved in various Government initiatives and supports the Icelandic government in issues linked to climate change and the bio-based economy.  She also sits on the board of several companies in Iceland and is for example the Chairman of the board of Reykjavik Energy.

Prof. Dr. Christine Lang

Christine Lang is an entrepreneur in biotechnology. She acts as a consultant for the German government for bioeconomy topics and co-chairs the German Bioeconomy Council. She is an Associate Professor for Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Technical University Berlin. In 2001, Ms. Lang founded the company Organobalance GmbH and established it as an R&D facility to develop novel microbial active ingredients and strains for food, feed, personal care and pharma applications. She is the company’s CEO. In 2010, Ms. Lang founded Organobalance Medical AG where she serves as CSO, and which brings patented active substances for innovative products for cosmetics, food and health to the market.

Lene Lange, Professor, Ph.D.

Lene Lange reached research director level positions in both industry and academia; acquired hereby extensive experience from all parts of the knowledge-value-chain: research, technology, innovation, patenting, product development, knowledge management, business models, and commercialization; own research group, incl publishing and active international research collaboration, throughout the career. For the last three years back in research full time.

After PhD and post doc positions at University of Copenhagen, Institute of Genetics, employed as scientist in DANIDA Research Institute (1978-86). The major part of the career, 1987-2007, in R&D positions in private industry (Novo, Novo Nordisk, Novozymes A/S) finishing in top research career position (Director of Research, in Molecular Biotechnology, Novozymes R&D). From 2007 back in academia, first as Head of Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen; later as Dean of Research and Professor in Biotechnology at Aalborg University, Denmark. Campus director, AAU Cph 2009-2013. Director of Research, Aalborg University 2012-2014. Professor,  Center for BioProcess Engineering, Dept. of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, Technical University of Denmark 2015-


Ásdís Ólafsdóttir

Communications Officer at EFTA Surveillance Authority.

Topic: Voices of a new generation

Ásmundur Guðjónsson

Director for Nordic Atlantic Cooperation – NORA

Topic: Bioeconomy projects under Denmark, Finland and Norway chairmanship of the Nordic Council of Ministers.

Dagfinn Høybråten

Dagfinn Høybråten is the Secretary General of the Nordic Council of Ministers since March 4th 2013. Mr. Høybråten is the former leader of the Christian Democratic Party (2004 – 2011) and member of the Norwegian parliament between 2005 and 2013. He served as the Minister of Health and Care Services of Norway from 1997 – 2000 and again from 2001 – 2004. From 2007 – 2008 he was the president of the Nordic Council.

Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson

Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture since April 2016
Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade 2013 – 2016

Haraldur Hugsson

Project Manager at Icelandic Startups, B.A. Economics

Topic: Voices of a new generation

Dr. Hörður G. Kristinsson

Dr. Kristinsson is the Chief Science and Innovation Officer of Matis, and is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the the University of Florida and Courtesy Professor at the University of Iceland. He was previously an Associate Professor in Food Chemistry at the University of Florida. He has a PhD in Food Biochemistry, an MS degree in Fisheries Science/Food Science and an MBA. He combines over 20 years of practical experience of working in the marine products industry with extensive commercial and research expertise in the production of various products and ingredients. He is the holder of six patents and has published over 100 peer-reviewed papers, book chapters and books. He has led numerous research and development projects connected to marine biotechnology, marine foods and bioactive ingredients, funded by governmental grants and the industry in the USA, Europe and Iceland, and currently manages several major national and international research and development projects. Dr. Kristinsson has been involved in several successful company start-ups in marine bioprocessing, most recently the company Marinox he co-founded, which processes bioactive compounds from marine algae and consumer products containing them. Dr. Kristinsson is the chair of the Nordic Bioeconomy Panel and was an appointed expert member of the first European Bioeconomy Panel from 2013-2015.

Liisa Saarenmaa

Ministry for Agriculture and Forestry, Finland

Topic: Bioeconomy projects under Denmark, Finland and Norway chairmanship of the Nordic Council of Ministers.


Annie Bersagel 

Annie Bersagel is an advisor in responsible investments at KLP Kapitalforvaltning AS. Bersagel engages in dialogue with and, in the most serious cases, recommends divestment from, portfolio companies based on their compliance with UN Global Compact norms. She holds a J.D. from Stanford Law School, M.Phil. in peace and conflict studies from the University of Oslo and B.A. in economics from Wake Forest University.  Prior to coming to KLP, she worked at the International Law and Policy Institute and at McKinsey and Company, both in Oslo. She is a US citizen and a member of the California Bar Association.

Ásdís Hlökk Theodórsdóttir

Ásdís Hlökk Theodórsdóttir is the Director of the Icelandic National Planning Agency. Ásdís Hlökk has M.Phil degree in Environmental Planning from Reading University. She has worked in the field of spatial planning, urban design and environmental assessment for over two decades – as a consultant, teacher and researcher and public official. Her work has spanned local and national-level planning, urban and rural planning and environmental assessment of plans and projects. Since 2013, she has led the Icelandic National Planning Agency.

David Christian Finger

Assistant Professor at Reykjavík University, Iceland 2014 –
Water resources Expert at Icelandic Met Office, Reykjavik 2014 – 2015
Research and teaching position at University of Zurich, Switzerland 2013 – 2014
Freelance environmental consultant and lecturer 2013 – 2014
Sabbatical at the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland 2013
Teaching and research assistant at University of Bern, Switzerland 2011 – 2013
Postdoc at Swiss Federal institute of Technology (ETHZ), Switzerland 2009 – 2011
SNF-Research fellowship (UC Davis), California, USA 2007
Postdoc at (Eawag), Kastanienbaum, Switzerland 2006 – 2007
Ph.D. at EAWAG, Kastanienbaum awarded by ETH jury with the Otto Jaag prize 2002 – 2006
Diploma (equivalent to a Master of Science degree) in environmental sciences, (ETH Zurich), Switzerland 2002

Guðmundur Halldórsson

Guðmundur Halldórsson is research Coordinator at the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland, Gunnarsholti.
Guest professor at the Agricultural University of Iceland, 2011-
Research coordinator, Soil Conservation Service of Iceland 2011-
Head of Department of Research and Development, Soil Conservation Service of Iceland, 2007-2011.
Senior scientist at Icelandic Forest Research 1991-2006, main field of research forest insects and forest ecology.
Project leader of the Nordic project “ ERMOND – Ecosystem resilience for mitigation of natural disasters (funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers); 2014-2016.y.

Hallstein Havåg

Hallstein Havåg is Master of Science in Energy and Environmental Engineering from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. He worked for seven years in Alstom, most recently as a group manager in Mechanical and Project Engineering. He has also worked as sales manager in Alstom Environmental Control Systems in charge of Middle East and as proposal manager, with projects in amongst others, Latin America and the Middle East. Havåg is part of Bellona’s management and takes the position as Head of science and projects. He is operationally in charge of project and programme management as well as internal coordination and professional development.

Ingunn Gunnarsdóttir

Ingunn works as an advisor on the consumer team which is part of the department for sustainability within the Environment Agency of Iceland. Her main projects include promoting a circular economy through increased recycling and reuse of resources, fighting food waste, and working with the Nordic Ecolabel „the Swan“. Ingunn has an M.P.A. degree in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University in New York and a B.A. degree in Earth and Environmental Science from Furman University in South Carolina.

Dr. Jannes Stolte

Dr. Jannes Stolte has more than 20-year experience in fundamental and applied research in the area of watershed management and soil hydrology. His interest has been focused on land-hydrology interactions at different spatial, temporal and climate scales, with special attention to soil physical processes and soil degradation. The focus of his research on flood risk is to identify local measures for reducing peak flow, and mitigating the effects of a changing climate. He participated in a number of international projects, both as researcher and coordinator, in Asia, Europe, South-America and the Pacific region. He is working as a senior scientist at NIBIO, dealing with soil and water related research with focus on water and sediment pathways in small catchments in Norway. He has coordinated the NORKLIMA funded ExFlood project, with focus on reducing peak discharge to decrease flood risk in Norway. He is leading WP2 from the EU-funded RECARE project, looking at the soil degradation at the European scale and their impacts on soil functions and ecosystem services. He has been working at Alterra, Wageningen, Netherlands from 1989 – 2007, where after he started to work at NIBIO, Norway. From January 2012, Jannes is heading the department for Soil and Land use, Environment and Natural resources division, with a total of 17 researchers and research assistants.

Ólafur Arnalds

Olafur Arnalds has a Ph.D. degree in Soil Science from Texas A&M University.  He is a professor at the Agricultural University of Iceland since 2005 (dean until 2012). He has participated in numerous international research and policy programs related to soil and environmental sciences (e.g. EU COST, and Nordic networks).  He served 3 years on the board of the Icelandic Research Fund.  His research focus has been soils of volcanic areas, genesis and properties of Icelandic soils, ecological restoration and carbon sequestration. He is the author of the Icelandic soil map and „The Soils of Iceland“. His program on “Soil Erosion in Iceland” earned the Nordic Nature and Environmental Award in 1998.  He has devoted effort on aeolian processes in Icelandic deserts and has quantified mapped dust production from Icelandic dust sources. OA has emphasized outreach programs and development of educational materials in addition to scientific publications.  See www.moldin.net for CV and publications.

Dr. Sigrún Karlsdóttir

Dr. Sigrún Karlsdóttir dir. of natural hazards Icelandic Meteorological Office- Biography.
Sigrún Karlsdóttir has worked at the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) since 2000. Until 2004 she worked as a forecaster and from 2004 to 2008 as the leader of the forecasting division. Since 2009 she is the director of natural hazards and co-ordinator of projects on risk assessments of natural hazards e.g. avalanche, volcanoes, floods and storm surge conducted by the IMO on behalf of the Icelandic government. Dr. Karlsdóttir is co-ordinator of national and international partnership in relation to natural hazards, with several years of experience, including high impact events such as the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010, Grímsvötn 2011 and Bárðarbunga/Holuhraun in 2014-2015.


Stefán Gíslason

Stefán Gíslason is a senior environmental consultant and the founder and owner of Environice consulting in Borgarnes, Iceland. Stefán is a biologist with an MSc-degree in Environmental Management and Policy from Lund University, Sweden. He has a long and extensive experience from a wide variety of projects for the Nordic Council of Ministers, both as an expert on sustainability and as a coordinator of various working groups and programs related to waste management, sustainable consumption and production, the Nordic Swan, etc. He is the author and co-author of quite a few Nordic reports, mainly on sustainability certification, ecolabelling and on the end-of-use management of plastic and textiles. In Iceland he has mainly been working for the public sector, both on the local and the national level, including the development of the latest national waste management plan for Iceland as well as The Icelandic Parliament’s report on green economy. He has been actively involved in several initiatives to increase public awareness for sustainability, such as through being a regular columnist for the Icelandic state radio (RÚV). He is also an experienced facilitator of public meetings and the current chairman of the steering committee for The Icelandic Master Plan for Nature Protection and Energy utilization.

Thora Arnorsdottir

Thora Arnorsdottir is a renowned national media personality and documentary film producer. Currently, Thora is a senior editor at the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. During the week she is Editor-in-Chief of the main current affairs TV program on INBS and on weekends she hosts Iceland’s most popular TV Quiz show. Thora is founder and owner of Hugveitan, a documentary production company that has created films including ´Outlaws: The Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Society in India´ (2009) and ´At the Bottom of the Fiord: The Last Farmers in Ísafjardardjup´ (2013). Thora was elected as a Yale World Fellow in 2014,  she has been a lecturer at the University of Iceland on International Relations and holds degrees in Philosophy and International Economics and Development from Universities in Iceland, Italy and Washington.