During the week of April 29th until May 3rd the embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Oslo has organised a ‘pop-up embassy’ in Iceland. This means the offices have been moved to Reykjavik and the embassy has set up shop as if there would have been a Dutch embassy in Iceland. During that week, consular services were provided for, political bilateral meetings were initiated, but also, and at the same time, several cultural and sport related activities are being were organized as well. The main event during the week was the round table on circular economy. The overall goal was to strengthen the bilateral relations between Iceland and the Netherlands and create a solid and fruitful basis for further collaboration.
Iceland has 360.000 inhabitants of which 2/3 live in Reykjavik. Iceland receives roughly two million short term visitors per year, which is equivalent to 25.000 permanent habitants.
Landfill is still very important (space is not an issue in Iceland) but recycling is growing. Action plans and investments for plastics and organics are being rolled out. Uniformity in Iceland in collection systems still have room for improvement.
All of Icelands energy is renewable and comes roughly 50-50% from hydropower and geothermal initiatives. The drive to go for other renewables is not urgent. In the long term however, due to climate change, Iceland will run out of Glaciers and hydropower. Iceland’s unlimited geothermal resources might play a role in the energy transition of Europe. Could Iceland become a hub for large scale hydrogen production connected by pipes or ships to Rotterdam/mainland Europe? Hydrogen is an energy carrier and building block for chemistry. How can Iceland make its transition to a circular economy?
Mr. Freek van Eijk from Holland Circular Hotspot moderated the programme and set the scene of Circular economy by explaining the concept, the Dutch drive to go Circular and the opportunities it offers for business is various market segments and options for collaboration.
Mrs. Ólöf Örvarsdóttir, Head of Environment and Planning Authority from the City of Reykjavik presented the focus actions of the city. Reykjavik wants to be Carbon-neutral 2040 and has three focus area’s: Transport & energy use, Waste & recycling, Climate change adaptation.
Mrs. Petra de Groene, Director Economic Affairs and Sustainability, City of Rotterdam, and Mrs. Nadia Lopes, Project leader and Circular Economy Advisor, City of Rotterdam, explored the topic of Circular Cities and explained why and how Rotterdam has adopted Circular Economy, both the strategic level and the pragmatic, actionable level on the ground.
Below a brief description of the outcome and discussion points addressed at the different tables:
Table ‘Consumer goods’
Table ‘Construction & Infrastructure’
Table ‘Green sources’
The interest of the Icelanders was huge. A lot more best practices existed than they were aware of, and there was an appetite for exploring the inspirational examples from the Netherlands. Also the idea of a local circular hotspot caught traction. Reykjavik, the national ministry and environment and local industries are investigating if they can set it up. An idea that is very welcome to HCH and fits well in the broader interest in the Nordics to strengthen circular collaboration.
In all it was a great and warm event full with interaction and potential for follow-up.