Plans to reorganize ten agencies in environment, energy, and climate into three were announced today by the government.
The plans were first discussed yesterday at a meeting where Minister of the Environment, Energy, and Climate Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarsson. He highlighted the need to have fewer, stronger agencies to streamline regulations, while also highlighting the benefits of institutional knowledge that will allow employees to work in and move between what were previously different agencies.
Under the new organization, environmental regulations in Iceland will be split between the Nature Conservation and Heritage Foundation, the Institute for Environmental Sciences, and the Climate Agency.
Under the new schema, the Nature Conservation and Heritage Foundation would combine Vatnajökull National Park, Þingvellir National Park, and the Nature Conservation Department of the Environmental Agency. The new Institute for Environmental Sciences will bring together the Meteorological Office, the Icelandic Institute of Natural History, the Icelandic Land Survey, Iceland GeoSurvey, and the Natural Research Centre at Mývatn. The new Climate Agency will then comprise of the National Energy Authority and all departments of the Environmental Agency outside of Nature Conservation.
The new structure will hopefully bring greater flexibility to energy and environmental policy in Iceland, with projects now more easily transferred between formerly separate agencies.
While final details of the new structure have not yet been decided, minister Guðlaugur also announced that they will prioritize job creation in rural areas, and involve the municipalities as much as possible in the decision-making process.
In the announcement, the minister stated: “the main goal is to strengthen the institutions of the ministry to deal with the enormous challenges that await us as a society, where climate issues are at the top of the list. With the new institutional structure, the aim is to increase efficiency and reduce waste resulting from redundancy and lack of cooperation. There is also great scope for increasing the number of jobs in rural areas, and creating more desirable workplaces.”
The reorganization will affect approximately 600 employees in various agencies, some 61% of which are in the capital region.