North Iceland Municipality Develops Multicultural Policy

One fourth of Skútustaðahreppur municipality’s residents are foreign citizens, RÚV reports, compared to around 13% in Iceland’s overall population. It’s a recent demographic development driven by the tourism industry. The municipality has been preparing a special multicultural policy to better welcome and integrate its newest residents.

Skútustaðahreppur contains Mývatn lake, one of the most visited sites in North Iceland. The stream of tourists to the region has led to a population boom in recent years. “Over 40% since 2013, which is a little bit refreshing but has been a bit of a strain on our infrastructure,” says Þorsteinn Gunnarsson, the municipality’s mayor, who says the increase can largely be explained by tourism. “Foreign labour is the basis. We are in the unusual position that a quarter of the population here are foreign residents and therefore it’s very important to welcome them into our community,” Þorsteinn stated.

The municipality’s new multicultural policy has been in preparation for almost a year, and addresses issues such as local services to residents and how Skútustaðahreppur schools can support students of foreign origin. The policy also explores how the municipality can provide a good quality of life for all its residents.

Skútustaðahreppur is not the only Icelandic municipality working to better address the needs of its foreign residents. The neighbouring municipality of Norðurþing employs a multicultural representative in a part-time position. The municipalities of Norðurþing, Skútustaðahreppur, and Þingeyjarsveit are all considering creating a full-time position in the field.

Reykjavík Receives Environmental Innovation Grant

Reykjavík pond

The City of Reykjavík and Reykjavík Energy have received an ISK 160 million ($1.3m/€1.2m) grant from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Technological Development Programme. The grant is used toward carbon offsetting and energy exchange projects in cities.

Two European cities, Espoo in Finland and Leipzig in Germany, have the role of developing carbon offsetting and energy exchange solutions, while five other European cities, including Reykjavík, test-run the solutions in a variety of environments.

The project focuses on energy exchange in transport, and the development of smart and energy-friendly infrastructure. The project also touches on the transformation of cities through the interaction between authorities, administrations, and stakeholders, while the involvement of the public is another key element. The grant is distributed over a five-year period.

What Iceland Has to Do to Qualify for European Championships

Gylfi Sigurðsson football Icelandic national team

Chances for the Icelandic men’s national football team to qualify for the UEFA European Championships next year appear quite slim. In order to make it to the 2020 tournament, the team needs to win their upcoming matches against Turkey and Moldova, as well as see favourable outcomes from other matches in Group H.  The team lost 0-1 to France last Friday, however it won 2-0 against Andorra yesterday evening.

The Icelandic men’s national football team stands in third place in their group so far with 15 points overall. Turkey and France stand in first and second with 19 points each. Iceland would need to win both its upcoming matches to ensure qualification, which would additionally depend on Turkey losing its match against Andorra. Since Andorra has only won a single match in the qualifiers so far, that result is unlikely.

Icelandic football fans still have reason to hope, however, thanks to the UEFA Nations League, which offers Iceland a secondary route to qualify for the tournament.

Trout Spawning in Þingvellir Draws Hundreds

Brown trout Þingvellir

A crowd of 500 gathered at Þingvellir National Park last weekend to watch the brown trout’s annual spawning ritual, mbl.is reports. Every October and into early November, the lower end of Öxará river fills up with giant brown trout who swim up from the depths of the lake to spawn.

By far the largest of all Icelandic fish species, the brown trout endemic to Þingvallavatn lake can grow to 110cm (43in), though most do not grow over one metre. Biologist Jóhannes Sturlaugsson, who has studied the species for over two decades, was on site to educate visitors on the trout.

Read more: The Brown Trout of Þingvallavatn