Annual general meeting, 2017

Annual general meeting, 2017

The 2017 annual general meeting of the Sustainability Initiative was held in the Eskifjörður Cultural Center on May 9, from 14:15 to 18:00.

The Initiative has now been monitoring indicators for 10 years. An assessment of these indicators is to be set forth at the annual meeting, with particular emphasis on social indicators.

The general public has been encouraged to attend and there is no entrance fee.


14:15     OpeningMagnús Þór Ásmundsson, managing director of Alcoa Fjarðaál

14:25     SWOT analysis results on the Sustainability Initiative from the 2016 annual general meeting Freyr 
             Ævarsson, environment programme director of Fljótsdalshérað and a representative on the Supervisory
              Board of the Sustainability Initiative

14:35     Social indicators: International and local assessment of social sustainability - Dr. Guðbjörg Andrea
, director of the Social Science Research Institute, University of Iceland

15:05     Assessing sustainability indicators in East Iceland: Trends and expectations - Dr. Sigrún Birna
Social Science Research Institute, University of Iceland

15:35     Refreshments

16:05     Group work

16:35     Group work conclusions, discussion

16:55     Intriguing results of 2016 monitoring:

  • Land reclamation supported by Landsvirkjun - Dagbjartur Jónsson, Landsvirkjun
  • Greenhouse gas emissions - Guðmundur Sveinsson Kröyer, Alcoa Fjarðaál

17:35     Indicator amendments

17:40     Meeting summaryHjalti Jóhannesson, University of Akureyri Research Institute scientist and a
              representative on the Supervisory Board of the Sustainability Initiative

              Gunnar Jónsson, Fjarðabyggð municipal secretary, is chairing the meeting,

               with adjournment planned no later than 18:00.


The meeting is being chaired by Gunnar Jónsson, Fjarðabyggð municipal secretary.

Over 50 people are participating in this annual meeting and deciding on a submitted amendment to Indicator 2.28, as well as taking an active part in group work which will discuss the Sustainability Initiative's future vision and development.

Magnús Þór Ásmundsson opened the meeting. Amongst other things, he noted that the Sustainability Initiative was originally launched on the basis of considerable foresight. Not surprisingly, opinions had been mixed when the construction projects occurred, and the controversy actually led to the founding of the Initiative, even if the awareness of sustainability and social responsibility had at that time not become as common as nowadays. Thus the Initiative originally grew out of foresight. Magnús added that the Initiative was probably not well enough known and that opportunities remained for a greater analysis of Initiative data. Finally, regular reviews of the Initiative are necessary, so that thought is given to ways of improving and exploiting it.  

Freyr Ævarsson looked back over the principal conclusions of SWOT analysis at the Initiative's 2016 annual general meeting. For instance, SWOT had pointed to scientific knowledge and data collection as strengths of the Sustainability Initiative, whereas its weaknesses are its limited visibility, how little the data is processed and how unclear the user group remains. Limited participation in the Initiative by the community, as well as stagnation of the indicators, may threaten the Initiative. On the other hand opportunities may also exist, such as for increased cooperation and for greater interpretation and utilization of the data. 

Guðbjörg Andrea Jónsdóttir delivered a lecture [in Icelandic] on "Social indicators: International and local assessment of social sustainability". In part, she treated the methodology behind selecting, introducing and applying sustainability indicators. Briefly covering the history of the idea of sustainability, she described how it had developed and appeared in the UN sustainable development goals, EU policy and the policies of individual countries such as Iceland. She presented varying examples of currently used sustainability metrics and described social indicators that have been used by the Ministry of Welfare for several years in order to obtain information that can assist in formulating government policy. Furthermore, she expressed the question of whether and how Sustainability Initiative indicators are linked to policy formulation, both in regional municipalities and in the two companies sponsoring the Initiative. 

Sigrún Birna Sigurðardóttir spoke [in Icelandic] on the topic of "Assessing sustainability indicators in East Iceland: Trends and expectations". She discussed the results of a questionnaire and an interview study on the Sustainability Initiative. These were qualitative interviews, carried out with representatives of the companies, institutions, municipalities and social organizations that, in consultation with the clients, were selected as being involved in the East Iceland Sustainability Initiative. Among other things, the interviews revealed general satisfaction with the procedures of the Initiative, which is felt to be professional and carried out with integrity. The Initiative products and their value are generally considered to be positive and to be suitable for a range of applications. Nevertheless, little is known about practical utilization by third parties. An Internet survey shows that the Sustainability Initiative is not very well known in Central East Iceland, even if it is better known there than in other regions of the country. Most of those who do know about the Initiative, on the other hand, believe that continuing it is important. In addition, Sigrún aired some questions on potential further developments of the Initiative.

Guðmundur Sveinsson Kröyer discussed the greenhouse gas emissions of Alcoa Fjarðaál (Environmental Indicator 2.13), referring also to a broader picture. He spoke briefly on Alcoa Fjarðaál's sources of greenhouse gases, explaining the role of each source in total emissions from the smelter. Moreover, he went over the total greenhouse gas emissions of both the Icelandic aluminum industry and the country as a whole. The Icelandic aluminum industry, he noted, has belonged to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) since 2013. Finally, he described the objectives of Alcoa Fjarðaál and its measures towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions and participating in actions which support carbon sequestration.  

Dagbjartur Jónsson reported on land reclamation sponsored by Landsvirkjun. He covered projects that are under the Norður-Hérað Land Improvement Fund and the Fljótsdalshreppur Land Improvement Fund, as well as Landsvirkjun's own revegetation program by Hálslón reservoir and in the Hraun area. Dagbjartur explained the main land reclamation measures, particularly in the highlands, showing maps and photographs of reclamation zones as well as figures on the fertilizer tonnes and hectare numbers involved. 

In closing, a very short summary of the meeting was presented by Hjalti Jóhannesson, who for instance commented that the meeting had proved interesting and had brought up many important issues. Hjalti felt the meeting's conclusion is that the Sustainability Initiative is a worthwhile program which has a huge data collection and a diverse assortment of utilization potentials, though the program can of course be improved even more. 

The meeting's group work addressed the following issues:

  • What social indicators are important for East Iceland society?
  • The relationship of the Sustainability Initiative to policy formulation in the sponsoring companies and to policy formulation in East Iceland communities
  • Do the sustainability indicators reflect the challenges facing East Iceland municipalities?
  • Advantages and disadvantages of further growth or changes in the Initiative
  • The Initiative's hinterland and target groups 

The Supervisory Board of the Sustainability Initiative will apply the group work conclusions as it reviews and develops the program.