From 2002-2015, the NRF organized biennial open meetings at which members of the research community and representatives of a wide range of other northern stakeholders can meet and exchange ideas. The first Open Assembly took place in Akureyri, Iceland in November 2000, the second in Veliky Novgorod, Russia in September 2002 and the third in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories in Canada in September 2004. The fourth Open Assembly was held in Oulu, Tornio, Haparanda and Luleĺ in Sweden and Finland, October 5-8, 2006, the Fifth NRF Open Assembly was held in Anchorage, Alaska, 24th -27th September 2008 and the sixth NRF Open Assembly was held in Hveragerđi, Iceland 4th - 6th of September 2011. The Seventh NRF open assembly was held in Akureyri on the 22nd - 23rd of August 2013 in cooperation with the project ENECON, the eight Open Assembly took place in Reykjavík October 14th-15th 2015 in cooperation with the third annual Trans Arctic Agenda seminar.
From 2016, the NRF has contributed substantially to the Arctic Circle conferences in Reykjavík, Iceland.
From an Open Meeting to an Open Assembly
The Steering Committee of the NRF has decided that the biennial NRF meeting will be called an Open Assembly instead of an Open Meeting and consequently all the NRF meetings after the 4th Open Meeting in Oulu / Luleĺ in 2006 will be called Open Assemblies, starting with the 5th NRF Open Assembly in Anchorage, Alaska in 2008.
In the early-21st century, the Circumpolar North has faced rapid and significant environmental, geoeconomic and geopolitical changes, drawing global attention. The current stable political situation in the region and natural and cultural diversities are not given nor determined. Therefore, there is a growing need for both open discussion and dialogue based on expertise between all active actors and stakeholders, and more interactive stages, forums and networks with deeper discussion and representation. The NRF Open Assemblies are the venue for such dialogue, giving Arctic / Northern stakeholder's opportunity to address and discuss those issues that arise.