Report: Iceland’s Media System “Increasingly Less Viable”

Iceland’s ranking has fallen in the World Press Freedom Index, which just published its annual ranking for 2021. Iceland fell by one spot, from 15th to 16th place, and has fallen slowly but steadily since it was ranked 10th in 2017. An Index statement says the climate for journalists has been worsening in Iceland and cites funding as the main issue facing the country’s media.

“Despite the declared aim for Iceland to become the Eldorado of investigative journalism and online media with the adoption of the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative (IMMI) in June 2010, the climate for journalists has been worsening for years because relations between politicians and media have soured,” a statement from the Index reads. “The 2008 economic crisis had a big impact on the media, undermining their economic viability and ability to resist pressure from lobbies, while at the same time reviving public trust in the media and their role as a pillar of democracy. After the crisis, two leading national dailies were acquired by two major fishing and industrial companies, posing a problem of conflicts of interest.”

Read More: Broken News

While the statement commends Icelandic legislation, which protects journalists and freedom of expression, it stated that “a lack of funding continues to be the main problem for the media.” Iceland’s government is discussing a new law on funding independent media companies.

The full statement on Iceland’s media can be read here.

Iceland Ranks #1 on Raising a Family Index

Iceland flag national team

Iceland finds itself at the top of another ‘Best Of’ list—this time, “The Raising a Family Index,” compiled by US-based ‘nomadic family’ and travel bloggers Asher & Lyric.

Using statistics from 30 international sources and indexes on safety, happiness, cost of living, health, education, and time, the Raising a Family Index (RF) ranked 35 countries within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and determined that Iceland is currently the best country in which to raise a family. Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Luxembourg rounded out the top five.

Iceland ranked highest in the RF’s safety index, boasting a homicide rate of .73 per 100,000 people (or, 37 murders in the past 20 years) as compared to 34.1 in Mexico and 6.12 in the US. It also scored well in the categories of ‘law and order’ (“Gallup’s global gauge of people’s sense of personal security”), human rights, and number of school shootings (there haven’t been any). The country ranked 3rd overall on the happiness index, after Denmark and Luxembourg, and 4th on the cost index, with only 5% of household income going toward net child care costs, .18% private spending on education, and $788 per capita out of pocket spending on healthcare.

Iceland’s lowest grade on the RF Index came in the category of education, where it received a B-.

Mexico and the United States received the lowest rankings in the index—the only two countries to receive ‘F’ grades overall. The index is largely focused on the challenges faced by families in the US and focuses its analysis on what its key findings ‘mean for American families,’ but does include short analyses of the five countries that fared the best and worst in each of its subcategories.

See the full Raising a Family Index here.

Iceland Ranked Most Peaceful Country Yearly Since 2008

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Iceland is the most peaceful country in the world, according to the 2019 Global Peace Index. The country has held onto the title since the first Global Peace Index launched 13 years ago. Iceland is also the only Nordic country that is more peaceful now than it was in 2008.

“Not a single deterioration was recorded in Iceland’s peacefulness over the last year,” reports Visions of Humanity. “In fact, 78% of Iceland’s indicators showed no change, and 22% improved. The falling homicide rate, the increase in funding to UN peacekeeping, and the decrease in the number of external conflicts are the most significant improvements over the last year.”

The article points out, however, that Iceland is “not immune to conflict and instability. However, the strong institutions, attitudes, and structures of peace that Iceland maintains has bolstered the country’s resilience against small internal shocks.”

Another far-flung island nation takes second place on the 2019 index: New Zealand. Portugal, Austria, and Denmark round out the top five most peaceful nations. The index is carried out by the Institute for Economics and Peace, an independent, non-profit think tank.

Iceland Drops in World Press Freedom Rankings

Iceland is ranked 14th in Reporters Without Borders’ 2019 World Press Freedom Index. Kjarninn reports that this ranking is notably lower than the country’s Nordic neighbours and that Iceland has fallen four places in the rankings in the last two years.

Norway takes first place in this year’s rankings, followed by Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Denmark. The top ten rankings are rounded out by Switzerland (6), New Zealand (7), Jamaica (8), Belgium (9), and Costa Rica (10).

The worst scoring countries in this year’s rankings were Vietnam (176), China (177), Eritrea (178), North Korea (179), and Turkmenistan (180).

“This small island nation ambitiously aspires to become the El Dorado of investigative journalism and online media,” reads Iceland’s single paragraph ranking explanation. But in spite of resolutions such as the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, which is aimed, among other things, at protecting journalistic sources, increasing transparency, and solidifying media independence, Iceland has continued to slowly slip in the rankings.

“Though the constitution guarantees ‘absolute’ freedom of expression,” concludes the report, “the situation of journalists has worsened since 2012 because relations between politicians and media have soured.”

See the full rankings here.

Reykjavík Ranks Third in Sustainable Destinations Worldwide

Reykjavík has come in third place on the Global Destination Sustainability, or GDS, Index, turisti.is reports. Nordic cities make up the top six spots on the Index, starting with Gothenburg, which achieved a 94% overall score, and Copenhagen, which received 90%. Reykjavík was close behind with an overall score of 89%. Oslo (86%) and Uppsala & Helsinki (84%) rounded out the top five spots.

The GDS-Index is self-described as “a collaborative business initiative” which, according to local conference organiser Meet in Reykjavík, seeks “to show potential customers the importance of sustainability at conferences and meetings held in the respective cities. The index explores the environmental policy of the cities themselves, as well as the environmental initiatives of companies that provide conference and meeting services, which in the case of Reykjavík are the members of Meet in Reykjavík (Reykjavík Convention Bureau).” The GDS-Index ranks cities based on four criteria: Environmental Performance, Social Performance, Supplier Performance, and CVB, or Convention Bureau Performance.

Reykjavík’s lowest ranking was 79%, for Social Performance. It scored highest, on the other hand, in CVB performance, which achieved a 91%. In the scoring breakdown, the Index credits this high ranking to renewable energy usage: “Given Iceland being a Pioneer in Geothermal energy with 100% of Reykjavik’s electricity and heat from renewable sources, 70% of Meet in Reykjavík employees use renewable sourced or fuel-efficient transportation. The team also recycles waste as well as sometimes spend their lunch time swimming in the North Atlantic Ocean winter and summer in Ylströndin which has received the blue flag. All profits from recycled material from the office will be donated to the Breast Cancer charity.”

Reykjavík also scored high in Supplier Performance (90%) and Environmental Performance (86%). The latter score was earned based on its aforementioned renewable energy sources, as well as the low amount of waste it sends to landfills, and how many hectares of green area it offers per 100,000 people (2,700).

“The City of Reykjavik won the Nordic Nature and Environment Prize 2014 and was awarded the Greenest city in the world by Green City Times,” writes the Index about Reykjavík’s Environmental Performance score. “The President of Iceland and the people of Iceland were presented with the first-ever Atkinson Center Award for Global Leadership in Sustainable Development for promoting the use of renewable energy while reducing its own reliance on fossil fuels…Currently there are no taxes on importation of electric cars and there is free parking in Reykjavik, resulting in substantial increase in ownership of electric cars. There has been an increase by 700% in ownership of electric cars since the first electric charger station was opened in 2014, bringing the market share of pure battery electric vehicles to 2,74%.”

This year’s ranking for Reykjavík is the same as last year, although its overall score has actually gone up. That is to say that in 2017, Reykjavík was ranked #3 on the GDS-Index, but had a lower score of 82%.

See the full Top 20 Rankings for 2018 and  country breakdown on the GDS-Index website here.

Iceland 24th in Global Competitiveness

Iceland ranks 24th in this year’s Global Competitiveness Report published by the World Economic Forum. RÚV reports that Iceland has risen four spots in the ranking since last year.

The Global Competitiveness Index defines national competitiveness as “as the set of institutions, policies and factors that determine the level of [a country’s] productivity. 140 countries are ranked. In the 2018 report, the United States ranks first in competitiveness with a score of 85.6. It’s followed by Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, and Japan. Iceland scored 74.5, just barely beating out Malaysia, closed out the top twenty-five at 74.4. Burundi (37.5), Angola, Haiti, Yemen, and Chad (35.5) were ranked the lowest in this year’s report.

Rankings were determined based on a variety of factors, or subcategories, in “pillar” areas such as “Enabling Environment,” “Human Capital,” “Markets,” and “Innovative Ecosystem.” Iceland’s highest ranking came in the subcategory of Macroeconomic Stability, where it achieved a perfect 100 and, as such, ranked #1. It also scored highly in ICT (Internet and Communication Technology) Adoption (Rank 7, Score 83), Skills (Rank 9, Score 83), and Health (Rank 10, Score 98). Its lowest rankings were in the subcategories of Market Size (Rank 131, Score 31), Product Market (Rank 43, Score 61), and Financial System (Rank 36, Score 69).

See the full rankings and country-by-country analysis here.