Nov. 10, 2014

Iceland President Ólafur Grímsson to visit Nov. 20-22

Olafur Grimsson
Grímsson

The president of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, has a packed agenda for his visit to campus Nov. 20-22. He will deliver a public lecture on and receive an award for Iceland’s sustainable energy and economic policies, tour Cornell University Library’s Icelandic literature collection, visit Icelandic horses being studied at the College of Veterinary Medicine and discuss ongoing collaborations with Cornell researchers on geothermal research.

Grímsson, who was elected for a record fifth presidential term in 2012, will deliver the lecture, “Iceland’s Clean Energy Economy – A Roadmap to Sustainability and Good Business,” Friday, Nov. 21, at 4 p.m. in Schwartz Auditorium, Rockefeller Hall. The lecture is part of the Mario Einaudi Center for International Study’s Foreign Policy Distinguished Speaker Series.

Free required tickets are available at the Einaudi Center, 170 Uris Hall; due to security precautions, those attending may be searched and bags will not be allowed in the auditorium. The lecture also will be live streamed on CornellCast.

Under Grímsson’s leadership, Iceland has become a global leader in sustainability through its innovative uses of geothermal and hydro energy, and sustainable practices related to indoor farming, fisheries, waste management and green economics. Grímsson and the people of Iceland will be presented with the first-ever Atkinson Center Award for Global Leadership in Sustainable Development for promoting the use of renewable energy worldwide while reducing its own reliance on fossil fuels.

Grímsson will meet with faculty in the College of Engineering and the Cornell Energy Institute, including Jeff Tester ’66, M.S. ’67, the Croll Professor of Sustainable Energy Systems in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and director of the Cornell Energy Institute, who has known Grímsson for some 10 years and is currently working with Icelandic researchers on geothermal research.

The hope is that Cornell might use Iceland’s example to learn “how we might transform our own energy systems here at Cornell and in New York as a model for the rest of the country, and we look forward to sharing our expertise of geothermal technology with our Icelandic colleagues,” Tester said. Cornell’s Climate Action Plan includes a commitment to explore geothermal energy at Cornell as one of the university’s sustainable energy sources.

At Cornell University Library, Grímsson will tour the Fiske Icelandic Collection, the largest repository in North America for the study of Icelandic and Old Norse literature and civilization. He also will visit 45 native Icelandic horses housed at the College of Veterinary Medicine. The horses evolved in isolation and without exposure to many pathogens for close to a millennium, making them unusually vulnerable to such diseases as equine herpesvirus or insect-induced allergies. Interestingly, Icelandic foals born outside of Iceland are up to 15 times less likely than their parents to develop allergies. Bettina Wagner, equine immunologist at the College of Veterinary Medicine, has collaborated with colleagues here and in Iceland to better understand the horses’ unusual immune systems.

Also during his visit, Grímsson will meet with Cornell President David Skorton, students in the fields of foreign policy and earth energy systems, and Icelandic students at Cornell.

Grímsson’s visit is 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.