Most of the Arctic, like most of the world, is commonly owned. With ownership comes the obligation to manage our resources for the benefit of the total. To do that, we must understand the reality, the richness, and the responsibility of the North.

– Governor Walter J. Hickel, Founder

Hickel Day of the Arctic and ROA Award


The Institute of the North established the Robert O. Anderson Sustainable Arctic Award to recognize an individual or organization based in Alaska, or around the circumpolar North, in recognition of their long-time achievements balancing development of Arctic resources with respect for the environment and benefit to communities and peoples of the North.

Awardees have been selected by a nominating committee that reviews:

  • Active development of a resource in the Arctic

  • Social license and community support

  • Environmental sensitivity

  • Innovative solutions that have brought community economic development and or addressed crucial environmental challenges

  • Respect for culture and local/traditional knowledge

  • Term of service

As the former chairman and CEO of Atlantic Richfield (ARCO), it was Mr. Anderson’s insistence on drilling one more exploratory well in 1967 that led to the discovery of Prudhoe Bay, still the largest oil field yet found in North America. Mr. Anderson was also a former chairman of the Aspen Institute and warned of global warming caused by fossil-fuel consumption in the 1980s, and more than once advocated higher taxes on his industry.


The Institute of the North honored Anderson in 2001 with the creation and presentation of the Robert O. Anderson Sustainable Arctic Award for his vision and commitment to sustainable development within a framework of the Arctic environment. Succeeding recipients have included Dr. Vincent Ostrom and U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens; the Honourable Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, President of Iceland; and in 2011, Jacob Adams.

Vincent Ostrom, honored in 2003, is known for his leadership in the drafting of the only natural resources title among all 50 state constitutions. The section (Title VIII) encouraged the development of the state’s natural resources, specifically addressing lands, water, minerals, fish, wildlife and timber. It mandated that Alaska’s lands shall be “public domain” and the resources therein are to be managed as a “public trust.”

Sen. Ted Stevens was honored in 2004 with the award for his lifetime of work in the field.  “There is no one who has done more to bring sustainability to Alaska’s Arctic region than Ted Stevens,” said Hickel during the award banquet. “The work he is doing to provide infrastructure while understanding the uniqueness of the Arctic will be one of his greatest accomplishments.”

Iceland’s President, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, received the fourth Robert O. Anderson Sustainable Arctic Award during the Arctic Energy Summit Technology Conference banquet in October 2007 in Anchorage, Alaska. In presenting the award, Walter J. Hickel, former U.S. Secretary of the Interior, twice governor of Alaska and founder of the Institute of the North, noted the President’s vision for “The New North,” and for his commitment to alternative energy.

In 2011 Jacob Adams was the fifth recipient--recognized for his many contributions to development in Alaska, Arctic policy as a lifelong Barrow resident, his work through the North Slope Borough and his longtime leadership at Arctic Slope Regional Corporation.

The 2012 award was presented to Red Dog Mine, honoring an innovative operating agreement between NANA, a Native corporation owned by the Iñupiat people of Northwest Alaska, and Teck Alaska, Inc. (Teck), a U.S. subsidiary of Teck Resources Limited. The 1982 agreement is based on a strong foundation upon which they have built the future of a mine, a region and a state.

In 2013, the Award was presented to CH2MHill. CH2M Hill has long history of environmental stewardship, social equity, and economic progress; CH2M HILL's professionals apply sustainability principles to practically every design, construction, and operations challenge clients face, possessing both the culture and the talent to deliver lasting results for complex, multi-disciplinary, long-term projects. As a leader in the industry and one of the first engineering and construction companies to publish a sustainability report in 2005, CH2M HILL continues a tradition of excellence and transparency in reporting on internal operations related to sustainability. 

In 2014, the Award was presented to Alaska Clean Seas. Alaska Clean Seas (ACS), as a world class spill response organization, has consistently demonstrated the ability to achieve the highest environmental and safety standards, and, in order to ensure the highest levels of oil spill response both in the Arctic and around the world, coordinates with other top level organizations to collaborate and share arctic and cold weather response capabilities.