Iceland’s environmental sustainability: Status and government involvement

Lára Jóhannsdóttir, Brynhildur Davíðsdóttir, Snjólfur Ólafsson


Environmental sustainability aims at protecting the natural capital so that future generations are not at disadvantage when in comes to utilizing natural resources. The purpose of this study was to get the view of experts on how environmental sustainable Iceland is and what are the strengths, weaknesses and improvement opportunities. Data were collected through focus-group interviews with experts in the fields of biodiversity, energy, water, land-use planning, waste, ocean and beaches, and atmosphere. Additionally, masters students participated in a focus-group interview. The results show that although the experts were asked to discuss various environmental sustainability themes, similar discussion on administrative issues took place in all of the focus-groups. The topics discussed included government strategy, measurement and control, law and regulations, economic instruments, government administration, politics, planning, stakeholders, research and collaboration. The discussion in the focus-groups centred more on administrative weaknesses and need for improvements, rather than governance strengths related to environmental sustainability issues. It can therefore be assumed that there is work to be done when it comes to administrative aspects of environmental sustainability in Iceland.


Focus-group research; environmental sustainability; administration; improvements; policy.

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