Rules of Procedure of the NRF at the University of Akureyri

1. The beginning of the NRF

1.1 Dr. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, the former President of Iceland, launched the idea of the Northern Research Forum (NRF) in September 1998 at the University of Lapland in northern Finland. Subsequently, the University of Lapland prepared a feasibility study regarding this initiative.

1.2 The Northern Research Forum began its work in Iceland in October 1999 with the formation of a steering committee and a secretariat. The first assembly was held in Akureyri, Iceland, from 4th to 6th November 2000.

1.3 The University of Akureyri (UNAK) hosted the NRF Secretariat since its creation, at first jointly with the Stefansson Arctic Institute, and as an independent Secretariat from 2007 onwards.

2. Defining the NRF at UNAK

2.1 The Steering Committee of the NRF and the University Council of UNAK decided on the 17th of August 2017 in favour of redefining the NRF as a coordinating unit for Arctic research and dialogue titled the Northern Research Forum at the University of Akureyri.

2.2 The NRF at UNAK will continue the original mission of the former NRF as an international platform for an effective dialogue between members of the research community and a wide range of stakeholders from civil society, politics, business, and local communities.

2.3 The NRF will coordinate various Arctic activities in Iceland and internationally, both within and outside of UNAK.

2.4 Based at UNAK, the NRF will be a part of the University and operated from there, in line with the University’s agenda.

2.5 The NRF’s Rules of Procedure govern the three different institutional elements: The Council, the Honorary Board, and the Secretariat.


3. Council

The Council is the policy and decision-making body for NRF activities

3.1 The NRF at UNAK has a Council of seven members, appointed by the University Council for terms of three years at a time. They each serve in their personal capacity.

  • 3.1.1 The University Council appoints the Chair by nomination from the Rector.
  • 3.1.2 Each of the Deans of the three Schools of UNAK nominate one member.
  • 3.1.3 The Icelandic Arctic Cooperation Network nominates one member of the national Arctic community.
  • 3.1.4 The University of the Arctic (UArctic) Council Executive Committee nominates two members of the international Arctic community.

3.2 The overall direction of the Forum is governed by the NRF Council. The Council works in accordance with international academic values as put forward by the Magna Carta declaration and by the principles of the University of Akureyri. The NRF strives to increase interdisciplinary knowledge and collaboration in the Arctic and to improve the livelihoods of Arctic communities.

  • 3.2.1 The Council develops the vision, policies, and priorities to manage the daily operations of the NRF.
  • 3.2.2 The Council develops plans and facilitates the coordination of logistics and operations for NRF programmes, projects, and activities.

3.3 The NRF Council shall meet at least once every year.

  • 3.3.1 Special Council meetings can be called by the Chair based on a request from any Council member.

3.4 The NRF Council operates by consensus decision-making. If consensus is not reached, then adoption of a motion requires a simple majority.

3.5 Where conflicts of interest exist, NRF Council members should disclose any conflicts and the other NRF Council members shall determine whether an individual Council member(s) can fairly participate in decision making on the issue(s) before the Council.

4. Honorary board

The Honorary Board serves in an advisory capacity to the NRF Council and helps increase the NRF’s visibility, prestige, influence, and reach.

4.1. The Honorary Board consists of individuals who serve in their personal capacities.

4.2. The Honorary Board is a self-perpetuating body that solicits new members as appropriate.

4.3. The members of the Board bear no legal or political responsibility, either individually or collectively, for the activities of the NRF or for the actions of its Council.

5. Secretariat

The day-to-day affairs of the Forum are conducted by the NRF Secretariat.

5.1. The Secretariat is provided by the University of Akureyri Research Centre (UARC), an independent centre within the University of Akureyri.

5.2. UNAK agrees to and signs a contract with UARC to assume the responsibility of the operation and financial management of the Secretariat.

5.3. The Secretariat is authorised to handle the financial affairs of the NRF, receive funds from a variety of sources earmarked for NRF activities, and expend funds for activities authorised by the NRF Council.

5.4. The NRF Secretariat operates under the laws of Iceland and as an administrative body associated with a university.

6. Activities

6.1 Main activities of the NRF may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Overseeing and implementing the NRF Fellows Program;
  • Administering UNAK’s bilateral or multilateral Arctic cooperation activities, including the Nansen professorship;
  • Aiding NRF Fellows in supporting the work of the Arctic Council working groups;
  • Writing grant applications;
  • Supporting the presence of UNAK participants at the Arctic Circle Conference;
  • Convening regular consultation meetings between researchers and specialists in Arctic matters affiliated with UNAK, as well as receiving visitors, organising visits, and being UNAK’s contact in Arctic matters;
  • Facilitating and promoting UNAK’s participation in the UArctic network.

7. Fellows program

7.1. The NRF coordinates a fellows program that supports Arctic research and other Arctic-related activities that are carried out at UNAK. The Fellows are committed to the NRF and give visibility to the NRF and its activities, at the University of Akureyri and in the international science community.

7.2. The NRF Fellows Program consists of three categories.

  • 7.2.1. Honorary Fellows are experienced and respected state and local government practitioners, as well as distinguished international civil society, business, academic, and indigenous leaders, both from Iceland and abroad.
  • 7.2.2. Senior Fellows are senior researchers and scholars, both from Iceland and abroad, whose publications have made a significant contribution to Arctic-related research and methodology.
  • 7.2.3. Research Fellows are master’s and doctoral students, predoctoral researchers, and postdoctoral researchers (generally those who have received their degree within the past five years). Priority may be given to students of UNAK, or UNAK affiliates.

7.3. The NRF Council formulates the nature of the fellowship and reviews the program biannually.

7.4. Fellow nominations may be proposed by any Council member, or any three previously elected Fellows.

  • 7.4.1. The Council will form a Fellowship Committee of two Council members plus the Chair to review Fellow nominations.
  • 7.4.2. Honorary Fellows are accepted by invitation but the NRF Council may decide, with agreement from the Chair, to select new Senior and Research Fellows by an open application process.
  • 7.4.3. On the basis of the Fellowship Committee recommendation(s), the Council will decide which candidates to accept.

7.5. Membership as a Fellow does not exclude membership to the Council or vice versa.

  • 7.5.1. Current members of the Council can be nominated by the Chair, and are accepted by unanimous endorsement from the Council.
  • 7.5.2. Current members of the Council shall be excluded from any direct financial benefit deriving from the NRF Fellows Program.

7.6. The NRF Council sets the rules and criteria for allocating funds associated with the Fellows Program.

  • 7.6.1. For special rules for the allocation of the NRF Fellows Travel Fund, see section 8.

8. NRF fellows travel funds

The NRF Fellows Travel Fund has the role of promoting Arctic research and scientific inquiry on behalf of the University.

8.1. The NRF Council manages the NRF Fellows Travel Fund and allocates grants in accordance with rules decided upon by the University Council. The University of Akureyri (UNAK) Council agrees to supply funds to the NRF Fellows Travel Fund and decides each year on the amount to be provided to the Fund. Funds may be used to support costs of conference registration and travel costs. Expenditures must be in line with the UNAK Travel Policy.

8.2. The University Council can specify other avenues of raising money and receiving monetary contributions from individuals, institutes and companies for the Fund. The NRF Council is not authorised to accept contributions or gifts for the Fund that are subject to stipulations without the prior approval of the University Council.

8.3. The NRF Council is in charge of the finances of the Fund on behalf of the University Council and decides on allocations in accordance with the relevant University Council rules. The NRF Council may set rules of procedure for Fund allocation, which must be approved by the University Council. Accounting services are provided by the university administration of UNAK.

8.4. The NRF Council provides the University Council with a written report on its work once a year.

9. Financial provisions

9.1 The income of the NRF shall consist of:

  • Funding from the University itself;
  • Domestic and foreign research grants;
  • Other funding as approved by the University Council.

9.2 The auditing of the NRF finances is handled under the established procedures of the University of Akureyri.

10. Modification of Rules of Procedure

10.1. Amendments to the Rules of Procedure may be made by the NRF Council at any meeting, upon the affirmative vote of four (4) once a year.