Statement by Eggert Benedikt Guðmundsson,
Special Envoy for Sustainable Development
High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Developmen
18 July 2023, General debate
The SDG Summit in September may mark the mid-point of the time that we have to implement the Sustainable Development Goals. But we are nowhere near halfway there yet, in terms of reaching the Goals. In fact we are even regressing on some of the targets. During the four years since the last SDG Summit, humanity has had to face incredible challenges – from COVID and climate change to conflicts. Many of these challenges are human made. We have no other option than to meet them, and to rapidly accelerate implementation of the SDGs; to work even harder than we thought. We know what to do.
This year, Iceland presents its second Voluntary National Review. In the true democratic, multi-stakeholder spirit of Agenda 2030, in addition to the government assessment; the report includes chapters written several stakeholders. While progress is being made in many areas, the report demonstrates clearly how far we still must go to reach the targets of 2030.
An important aspect of the work on the SDGs is the effect our work has on other countries - the spillover effects. Iceland is dedicated to analyzing and discussing the various spillover effects and the importance that governments address them in their policy-making and actions. Our Prime Minister mandated aspecial report on the topic, outlining the challenges and tasks at hand.
To accelerate our progress towards the SDGs, a new cooperation platform, Sustainable Iceland, was established last year. Its purpose is to formulate a national strategy and action plan for sustainable development and coordinate the work of the government with various stakeholders.
In addition to the SDG indicators, 40 wellbeing indicators have been established, monitoring the quality of life in Iceland and wellbeing by looking at factors beyond traditional economic measures such as GDP.
The strategy work has two phases. First, we have compiled a status report, explaining the work in progress within the government and with the various stakeholders of the society. It also describes the progress already made. Furthermore, it outlines the challenges we must address in the coming years, at home and through international cooperation.
The second phase is to develop an action plan for the years 2024 through 2030. This action plan will outline the priorities and focus areas of our work on the SDGs. These will emphasize gender equality, which is the SDG with the slowest global progress to date. On the domestic level, the need to reduce carbon emissions is a top priority. Our electrical energy and energy for house heating come exclusively from green sources, i.e. hydro and geothermal. Now we must complete the energy transition in transport on land, at sea, in the air, where more careful utilization of energy plays a crucial role and we also must reduce our emission through implementing the circular economy, continue to support research and innovation in green solutions and nature-based solution.
The backbone of Sustainable Iceland is the National Sustainability Council. Its members include all ministers of the government, representatives from each party of the parliament, municipalities, the business sector, social partners and civil society organizations.
Madame / Mr. Chair,
Iceland remains fully committed to the SDGs and to implementing the 2030 Agenda nationally and through international cooperation. Our Prime Minister, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, will participate in the SDG summit in September, which will be a milestone event. The Icelandic government remains optimistic that the momentum being built here at the HLPF will accelerate dramatically the progress we all have to make towards the SDGs for 2030.