Meet the Icelandic Chairmanship Team

Einar Gunnarsson

Ambassador Arctic Affairs
Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials

Ambassador Gunnarsson has been working with MFA's Arctic Affairs Division since August 2018 preparing for Iceland's Chairmanship of the Arctic Council from 2019 until 2021. Prior to that he served as Iceland's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York from 2015 where he amongst other responsibilities chaired the Third Committee of the General Assembly during its 72nd session.

Mr. Gunnarsson was the Permanent Secretary of State in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs for five years from 2009 until 2014 dealing with the aftermath of the economic crisis in 2008. These were tumultuous times for Iceland's foreign relations marked with difficult disputes with two neighbouring countries and at that time the highly contested question on the future relationship of Iceland with the European Union. Before serving as Permanent Secretary of State Mr. Gunnarsson held various positions in the Icelandic Foreign Service such as Director of International Trade Negotiations, Director of Personnel, Deputy Permanent Representative to the International Organizations in Geneva, Counsellor at the Mission of Iceland to the European Union in Brussels, Counsellor in the External Trade Department in the Ministry and Legal Advisor in the Defense Department in the Ministry.

After finishing his law studies from the University of Iceland in 1992 Mr. Gunnarsson worked as a lawyer and a District Court Advocate at a private law firm in Reykjavik until he joined the Foreign Service in 1996.

Tel: +354 545 9915 Mail:

Bryndís Kjartansdóttir

Senior Arctic Official for Iceland
Director of Arctic Affairs

Read the interview that Bryndís gave upon becoming Iceland‘s Senior Arctic Official here

Foreign Ministry Career
- 2018 – MFA, Senior Arctic Official
- 2016 – 2017 Embassy of Iceland, Stockholm, Deputy Chief of Mission
- 2013 – 2016 MFA, EEA Affairs, Director
- 2009 – 2013 MFA, Iceland‘s Accession Negotiations with the European Union, Member of Chief Negotiating Committee (resp. EEA Chapters)
- 2009 – 2010 MFA, Iceland Export Services, Director
- 2006 – 2009 Embassy of Iceland, Copenhagen, Deputy Chief of Mission
- 2002 – 2004 MFA, Arctic Council Secretariat, Executive Secretary
- 2002 – 2005 MFA, Dept. for environment and natural resources
- 2000 – 2002 Embassy of Iceland, Paris, First Secretary (resp. UNESCO)
- 1999 – 2000 MFA, Directorate for Trade and External Relations, First Secretary

Tel: +354 545 8973 Mail:

Contact the Icelandic Chairmanship Team

Aðalheiður Inga Þorsteinsdóttir

Aðalheiður Inga Þorsteinsdóttir

Counsellor, Arctic Affairs; Deputy SAO & SDWG Head of Delegation

+(354) 545-7971

Sólrún Svandal

Sólrún Svandal

Senior Adviser, Arctic Affairs

+354 545 7331

Magnús Jóhannesson

Magnús Jóhannesson

Special Adviser for Arctic Affairs

+354 545 9965

 Jóna Sólveig Elínardóttir

Jóna Sólveig Elínardóttir

Senior Adviser, Arctic Affairs

+354 545 7985

Iris Dager

Iris Dager

Temporary Officer

+354 545 7421

Stefán Skjaldarson

Stefán Skjaldarson

Ambassador; Chair of the Arctic Council SDWG

+354 545 9933



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Icelandic Chairmanship News

  • Towards an international symposium on plastics in the Arctic

    In April 2020, the Icelandic government and the Nordic Council of Ministers will host an International Symposium on the Threat of Plastics to the Arctic and Sub-Arctic Marine Environment. The aim of the symposium is to gather the best available knowledge on plastics in the Arctic and to find solutions for tackling the issue. Registration is already possible and the call for abstracts will open on 1 July 2019.

  • First meeting during Iceland's Arctic Council Chairmanship

    On 18-19 June 2019, Arctic Council delegates gathered in Reykjanesbær, Iceland, for the first Senior Arctic Officials’ executive meeting during the Chairmanship of Iceland (2019-2021). Amongst other things, the Senior Arctic Officials, joined by the Permanent Participants and representatives of the Council’s Working Groups, discussed initiatives falling under Iceland’s priority themes.

  • Arctic Council Ministers meet, pass Chairmanship from Finland to Iceland, Arctic States conclude Arctic Council Ministerial meeting by signing a joint statement

    At the 11th Arctic Council Ministerial meeting in Rovaniemi, Finland, Ministers of the eight Arctic States, leaders from the six indigenous Permanent Participant organizations and the Chairs of the six Working Groups of the Arctic Council met to mark the passing of the Chairmanship from Finland to Iceland. In the Rovaniemi Joint Ministerial Statement, the Arctic States reaffirmed the Council’s commitment to maintain the Arctic as a region of peace, stability and constructive cooperation. Additionally, Finland’s Foreign Minister Timo Soini released a Chair’s statement, summarizing the Council’s achievements and giving guidance for the next two years. The International Maritime Organization was accredited as a new Observer.