This report is the third OECD review of Iceland’s environmental performance. It
evaluates progress towards sustainable development and green growth, with a focus
on the environmental aspects of Iceland's energy and tourism policies.
“The combination of renewable energy and spectacular natural tourist attractions create opportunities for Iceland to play a pioneering role in the world’s transition to green growth,” said OECD Environment Director Simon Upton, presenting the report in Reykjavik. “Yet these assets must be well-managed and the conflicts fully addressed between these competing uses of land.”
Iceland has a very small, open economy, built on plentiful and cheap renewable energy, aluminium industry, tourism and fishing. Its 324,000 people enjoy a high standard of living and a good environment, with excellent water quality, low air pollution and easy access to uncontaminated nature.
The deep recession sparked by the 2008 financial crisis reduced some pressures on the environment, but also affected the resources available for environmental programmes and related infrastructure investment. At the same time, it spurred interest in the transition towards a greener economy.
The natural environment is a key asset for Iceland’s recovery: it provides abundant hydro and geothermal energy reserves, as well as the pristine wilderness and spectacular landscapes that attract thousands of tourists every year.