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Icelandic society 2035–2040 Economic, environmental, regional, and demographic developments

The Committee for the Future, appointed by the Prime Minister, has published a report on Icelandic society in 2035-2040. The publication is the first report by the committee and addresses economic, environmental, regional and demographic developments and challenges of the Icelandic society over the next 15–20 years.

Icelandic society 2035–2040 Economic, environmental, regional, and demographic developments

Main conclusions and recommendations of the Committee are as follows:

  • The feasibility of a more flexible education system should be analysed, in particular if core education and continuing education should be merged into a single flexible educational system.
  • The need for human resources and skills must be analysed on a regular basis.
  • Legislation needs to keep abreast of developments in the labour market and the gig economy, so that individuals’ rights are protected without compromising innovation.
  • Government revenue generation must be subject to continuous review in light of changed tax bases, increased globalisation, and changes in the labour market.
  • Economic diversity and sustainable resource utilisation are key elements to ensure stability in the long run.
  • The impact of automation on rural areas and on fragile communities must be explored.
  • Changes in the age distribution of the population and changes in cross border migration create societal challenges that need to be addressed.

The report states that the Future Committee considers it important for the government to take these proposals into consideration as minor changes in the present may prevent major changes in the future. The report further states that any changes ahead can lead to different scenarios in the future depending on how society will react to them. The report identifies which external driving forces are likely to have a significant impact on the development of Iceland in the coming decades, both with positive and negative consequences. Government action will have a great influence on how society will develop.

Major changes can be expected in the coming decades. Scenarios indicate that 2040 is likely to see an increase in tourist arrivals despite a temporary decline in 2019. Immigration is also likely to increase. Icelandic software production will strengthen, and there will be more food production in greenhouses. It is expected that there will be far more rapid changes in the market and a significant increase in the number of small businesses, self-employed persons and teleworkers can be expected. An increase in the use of sustainable energy can be expected to slow down and the country's oldest energy resources are even exhausting. Along with climate change, fishing may decline by as much as a third in 2040.

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