Iceland’s new Coalition Government: “A national park will be established in the central highland region of the country”

Good news to the end of the year are coming from our member in Iceland, Arni Finnsson, Head of the Iceland Nature Conservation Association (INCA): In their collaboration Agreement the new Coalition Government of the Progressive Party, the Independence Party and the The Green Movement commit to “establish a national park  in the central highland region of the country”. And further: “this will be done in consultation with a committee composed of members of all political parties, the Ministry for the Environment and Natural Resources, the local authorities, nature-conservation and outdoor-life associations and other players. The possibility of establishing national parks in other regions will also be examined.”

This provides a promising outlook for the coming year and will become a success story, where the Iceland Nature Conservation Association since many years played the key role. But also, in a coalition with another major NGO, Landvernd joined on the Highlands national park campaign, generously supported by Lilja Pálmadóttir, the chair of Pálmi Jónsson’s Nature Conservation Fund, who provided the necessary funding. Later on many other NGOs and the tourism industry joined this coalition.. We profiled this as an LT&C-Initiative and found out during a related workshop attached to the LT&C-Annual Meeting in Iceland earlier this year, that the campaign was supported by Iceland’s entire tourism industry. This will be the first case, where an LT&C-Initiative will result in an LT&C-Example, where tourism supported the establishment of a new national park.

Other interesting news: Guðmundur Ingi Guðbrandsson, the former CEO at Landvernd – Icelandic Environment Association – took office as Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources on November 30 2017 for the Left-Green Party.

In the Agreement of the new Icelandic Coalition Government the goals for development of tourism are also outlined. Sustainability will be the guiding principle is stated there. And further: “From the point of view of environmental protection and regional economic activity, it is drivable that the flow of tourists to Iceland should be dispersed more evenly across the country. Regional marketing authorities must be given support. Priority will be given to identify capacity limits as regards the natural environment, the local community and the economy”. – May be Iceland can become also an example others, which have to cope with “overtourism”, can learn from. Certainly the support from tourism for the establishment of the new Highland national park will become an example others should look at.