Iceland is fully committed to implementing Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development both nationally and internationally. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been integrated into government policy on social, economic and environmental affairs, with a particular emphasis on building a peaceful and just society, free from fear and violence.
Domestically, the Government aims to identify and better serve marginalized groups in society and to build partnerships to address the large environmental footprint of modern lifestyle. Iceland is still a net contributor to climate change, but heads for carbon-neutrality at the latest in 2040.
Internationally, Iceland shares its expertise in gender equality, land restoration and the use of sustainable natural marine and energy resources through its international cooperation contributing to global progress on SDGs 5, 7, 13, 14 and 15. The promotion of human rights for all, including LGBTI persons, is a cornerstone in Iceland’s foreign policy and its international development cooperation – in line with Agenda 2030 and the Government’s domestic priorities. In particular, Iceland has been a vocal champion of gender equality and the empowerment of women, a key driver for the achievement of the SDGs.
An inter-ministerial working group leads the work of the Icelandic government towards implementing the SDGs. It has mapped Iceland's position for all 169 targets and specified 65 priority targets that will guide the authorities in implementing the goals in the coming years. Data has been gathered for 70 of the indicators for the SDGs which are based on a defined methodology, but more work remains to strengthen the statistical foundation of the SDGs in Iceland.
The SDGs serve as guiding principles in Iceland's development cooperation, as the government’s main goal in development work is to reduce poverty and hunger and to promote general welfare based on gender equality, human rights and sustainable development. New initiatives aim to build public-private partnerships in international development cooperation, as the SDGs will not be met unless the private sector is a part of the solution.
Strong emphasis has been placed on integrating the SDGs into the Government's five-year fiscal strategy. Linking SDG targets directly to specific government policy objectives offers an opportunity to map the means of implementation of specific targets, estimate funding allocation for the SDGs at any given time and anticipate potential synergies and trade-offs. Additionally, efforts are being made to actively involve local authorities in their important role in implementing the 2030 Agenda.
The government acknowledges that implementing the SDGs will require a concerted effort by many different stakeholders. Therefore, the government has focused on consultation and co-operation on the implementation of the goals, both internationally as well as nationally. The Icelandic Youth Council for the SDGs gives young people a platform to express their voice to policy makers. Children have the right to have their views heard and child participation is crucial for the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
Iceland’s VNR report was made available in the government’s electronic consultation portal to invite the opinions of various parties. This feedback was taken into account in writing the final report. Further and more effective consultations with various stakeholders is planned on a regular basis.
Iceland is a Nordic welfare state with a relatively high standard of living. For ten consecutive years, Iceland has been ranked both the world's most peaceful country and the one with the greatest gender equality.
Despite real success in many areas, Iceland still faces a variety of challenges and has a way to go before achieving some of the SDG targets. The VNR report attempts to give a clear picture of Iceland's main challenges for each of the 17 goals, with the aim of identifying marginalised groups, such as immigrants and persons with disabilities, in order to leave no groups or individuals behind. Climate change is one of the major challenges in Iceland as well as responsible consumption and production.
The VNR sets out the next phase of Iceland's implementation of the SDGs, including the ambitious Government Action Plan on Climate Change, which is an example of a coordinated policy laid out by seven ministers in consultation with various stakeholders.
|Sustainable Consumption & Production Patterns||CSD-18; CSD-19;|
|Waste Management||CSD-18; CSD-19;|
|Desertification, Drought, and Land||CSD-16; CSD-17;|
|Atmosphere/Air Pollution||CSD-14; CSD-15;|
|Industrial Development||CSD-14; CSD-15;|
|Country Profile 2002|
|Pre-WSSD National Report|
|Full Report||CSD-18; CSD-19;|
|Input towards the Secretary-General Report "Climate Change & It's Possible Security Implications" (GA-64)|
|Input on the possibility of convening a high-level event on sustainable development|
|2007 Indicators Profile|
An act on the emission of greenhouse gases was passed by the Icelandic legislature in 2007 to create conditions for Icelandic authorities to comply with international obligations in limiting emissions of greenhouse gases. Source: UNCSD Secretariat (2010) Questionnaire for the Member States on Experiences, Success Factors, Risks and Challenges with Regard to Objective and Themes of UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) The Act establishes the national system for the estimation of greenhouse gas emissions by sources and removals by sinks, a national registry, emission permits and the...[more]
Measurements show rapid acidification in the ocean around Iceland, posing a serious threat to the marine environment. Iceland is committed to the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions in line with its commitments under the Paris Agreement, the only effective action to slow down and halt ocean acidification. The Icelandic government launched work on a new climate mitigation action plan on 5 May 2017, with the signing of a declaration by the Prime Minister and five other ministers. Iceland commits to produce an updated climate mitigation strategy by the end of 2017, aimed at ensuring that Ic...[more]
In the early 1990s, Iceland was among leading nations in the development of formal fisheries management policy and long term harvest control rules,with emphasis on the conservation and sustainable use of the economically important Icelandic cod stock which at the time required urgent management attention. Based on the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct and the 1995 UN Fish stocks Agreement, Iceland has in recent years implemented formal fisheries management plans, including precautionary long term harvest control rules, for some of its most important fish stocks, including cod, saithe, haddock, redf...[more]
A deposit system for end-of-life vehicles came into force in 2003. Source: UNCSD Secretariat (2010) Questionnaire for the Member States on Experiences, Success Factors, Risks and Challenges with Regard to Objective and Themes of UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) The vehicle must be formally de-registered at a testing station or vehicle registration office before the fee is no longer charged. For vehicles exempt from the vehicle registration fee this fee has not to be paid.
Equal pay for women and men for work of equal value is central to realizing gender equality and women's economic empowerment, reducing poverty and is beneficial to promote economic growth. EPIC aims to accelerate progress towards SDG target 8.5 by leveraging expertise across a diverse range of stakeholders through concrete actions on the ground and in workplaces.
The excise tax on petroleum has been calculated in two steps since 2006. Source: UNCSD Secretariat (2010) Questionnaire for the Member States on Experiences, Success Factors, Risks and Challenges with Regard to Objective and Themes of UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) The excise tax on petroleum has been calculated in two steps since 2006 : the general excise tax is ISK 9.28 pr. liter, while the special excise tax is ISK 32.95/liter (ISK 34.92 if the petroleum contains lead). Therefore the overall excise tax on petroleum is ISK 42.23 (ISK 44.20 should the petroleum contain lead)...[more]
The Icelandic government's policy on Green Public Procurement (GPP) aims to promote environmental protection and advance sustainable development in the society. Source: UNCSD Secretariat (2010) Questionnaire for the Member States on Experiences, Success Factors, Risks and Challenges with Regard to Objective and Themes of UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) The Icelandic government's policy on Green Public Procurement (GPP) became effective in 2009. The overall objective of the policy is to promote environmental protection and advance sustainable development in the society. The s...[more]
A system of hazardous waste fees on the sales of various products was introduced in 1997 to finance the collection, recycling and treatment of toxic waste. Source: Government of Iceland The government policy regarding hazardous waste is aimed at ensuring that hazardous waste will not enter and pollute the environment. This policy is reflected by the main objective of a specific secondary legislation on hazardous waste, which was passed in 1999. The legislation commands that generation of hazardous waste shall be prevented as much as possible, and that re-use and recovery of hazardous waste tha...[more]
Iceland commits to reduce marine litter in its waters over the next three years. The aim is to reduce the use and increase recycling and appropriate treatment of all plastics, especially single-use items and used fishing gear. Focus will be on the prevention of marine litter entering the ocean from land-based and sea-based sources. To this end we will work to enhance knowledge of microplastics and their effects on the marine biota and humans and the identify measures to reduce discharge to the marine environment. Monitoring marine litter on Icelands coastline will be strengthened, as the basi...[more]
A new Climate Change Strategy, adopted in 2007, sets forth a long-term vision for the reduction of net emissions of greenhouse gases by 50-75% until the year 2050, using 1990 emissions figures as a baseline. Source: UNCSD Secretariat (2010) Questionnaire for the Member States on Experiences, Success Factors, Risks and Challenges with Regard to Objective and Themes of UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) "In 2007, the Icelandic government adopted a new Climate Change Strategy, the third of its kind. It is conceived as a framework for action and government involvement in climate cha...[more]
The IHO capacity building programme seeks to assess and advise on how countries can best meet their international obligations and serve their own best interests by providing appropriate hydrographic and nautical charting services. Such services directly support safety of navigation, safety of life at sea, efficient sea transportation and the wider use of the seas and oceans in a sustainable way, including the protection of the marine environment, coastal zone management, fishing, marine resource exploration and exploitation, maritime boundary delimitation, maritime defence and security, and o...[more]
Fisheries Management Act, passed in 1990, established the individual transferable quota (ITQ) system for the fisheries. They were subject to vessel catch quotas. Source: Information Centre of the Icelandic Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture In 1990, a comprehensive and uniform Fisheries Management Act was passed by the Icelandic Althing. By this Act, the individual transferable quota (ITQ) system was established for the fisheries and they were subject to vessel catch quotas. The quotas represent shares in the national total allowable catch (TAC). They are permanent, perfectly divisible an...[more]
The Icelandic EEZ is about 754.000 sq.km, whereof some 713.000 sq.km are 100m depth and beyond. For proper future conservation and sustainable utilization of the ocean floor and its marine biota on and above the bottom, it is important to aquire to the extent possible accurate information of the bottom substrate and the bottom biota. Only 12% of the ocean floor within the Icelandic EEZ has been mapped with high resolution equipment for this purposes, i.e. some 88.000 sq.km outside the 100m depth contour and some 2.600 sq.km within 100m. Therefore the Icelandic Marine Research Institute wi...[more]
The regulation on the treatment of waste makes municipalities responsible for collection, handling and treatment of municipal waste, which makes charges vary considerably from one local authority area to another. Source: UNCSD Secretariat (2010) Questionnaire for the Member States on Experiences, Success Factors, Risks and Challenges with Regard to Objective and Themes of UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) In the capital area (serving 62 percent of the population), for example, households and smaller enterprises can bring materials covered by recycling schemes free-of-charge to ...[more]
In Iceland, the first National Waste Management Plan (2004-2016) focuses on the most cost-effective conditions possible with regards to recycling and an obligation on local authorities to produce waste statistics. Source: UNCSD Secretariat (2010) Questionnaire for the Member States on Experiences, Success Factors, Risks and Challenges with Regard to Objective and Themes of UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) Compared to the relatively low population figures, Iceland produces a substantial amount of waste and the amounts are increasing. Statistics show that the total amount of wast...[more]
The Icelandic Government has opted not to introduce taxes on landfill and incineration at present and has instead implemented a system of recycling fees through legislation passed in 2002. Source: UNCSD Secretariat (2010) Questionnaire for the Member States on Experiences, Success Factors, Risks and Challenges with Regard to Objective and Themes of UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) The underlying rationale for this decision is the position that landfill and incineration taxes may increase overall costs in the management of waste without achieving the targets of improved waste r...[more]
The Icelandic National Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities aims to evaluate the threat posed by different types of marine pollution. Source: Ministry for the Environment, Iceland "The Icelandic National Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities is in form and scope based on a Global Programme of Action approved by 114 states in Washington in 1995. The structure of the NPA and its approach to the issue follows that of the GPA. The NPA aims to evaluate the threat posed by different types of...[more]
The Soil Conservation Plan (2003-2014) sets goals for mitigation of land degradation and decertification, revegetation of eroded land, and attaining sustainable land use. Source: The Icelandic Government The parliament of Iceland launched a comprehensive programme, giving the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland an operational framework for the period 2003-2014. This programme sets goals for mitigation of land degradation and decertification, revegetation of eroded land, and attaining sustainable land use. The main tools for the programme's achievements were described, and financing improved ...[more]
"Welfare for the Future" is an example of strategic framework on a national level and is the perspective of the Icelandic Government on Sustainable Development in Iceland to the year 2020. Source: Ministry for the Environment, Iceland Agenda 21 encourages countries of the world to prepare a national sustainable development strategy. At the UN General Assembly Special Session in 1997, countries were encouraged to complete such strategies before the 10th anniversary of the Rio Conference in 2002. The Icelandic government has been working on such a strategy. The first comprehensive policy of Ice...[more]