The Left-Green Movement is a radical left wing party, with emphasis on equality and sustainability. The principles of the Left-Green Movement are built on four grounding pillars: environmental protection, feminism, peace and freedom on a global scale and social justice. The Left-Greens are now a powerhouse within the government, with three Ministers and nine MPs in parliament.
Education for everyone
Education is the way of society to systematically cultivate the knowledge, skills, competencies and attitudes that strengthen each individual’s ability and opportunities to become a critical, active and competent participant in an equal and democratic community. Good education is the foundation of a powerful, democratic society where those in power are restrained by a transparent and well educated society in whole, whether in environmental, financial, political, media or other fields.
Education is a prerequisite for development and innovation. The future of Icelanders living in harmony with nature is based on the nation’s wealth of knowledge and businesses built on ingenuity and sustainability. It is important to enable new generations to create their own opportunities in the technologically advanced society we live in. A strong educational system for everyone, at all levels of education, should be the grounding pillar of the Icelandic society. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is to be respected and followed on all levels of education.
The educational system is to be commonly owned by all Icelanders and financed by the commonwealth. Free education on all school levels is the key to providing education to all people equally. The educational system houses a lively community of students, their families and the educational staff. All students’ needs are to be met according to the individual needs and maturity of each student within the school system. This applies to all people, regardless of their origin, gender, economical status or any other societal factors. Students should have a possibility to actively take part in molding their learning environment in a democratic way, on all educational levels.
School libraries serve multiple functions in primary school and in further education. It is vital to make sure libraries are, also in the future, an inseparable part of education. Art education is an important part of learning and sparking creativity and it should be part of curriculum in all primary and further education for children of all ages.
It is vital to value jobs within the educational system at merit and ensure the collective bargaining reflects the value of education for the society in whole.
Students in secondary education and in universities are to enjoy equal rights to people on the labour market, when it comes to sick days, lunch break and other general rights.
School work must be carried out according to the National Curriculum Guide, which assumes that certain basic elements are integrated into all education in pre-, primary and secondary schools: literacy, democracy, human rights, equality, sustainability, creativity, health and welfare. At the same time, we need to ensure further continuity between school levels.
Preschool is the first school level in Iceland. The aim is to organize free preschools as a mandatory part of municipalities services for their citizens. Preschools should be first and foremost organized by municipalities rather than private organizations and never for profit.
The ideology of the preschool should be at the forefront and the main focus on the child’s development. In order to achieve those goals it is vital to increase the number of educated preschool teachers. The government should strive to increase the number of those who attend studies in this field and to see to it that the collective bargaining for preschool staff reflects the importance of preschools in our society.
Each preschool should have the flexibility to develop its own preschool culture. At the same time, it is important that Icelandic preschools offer equal opportunities for all children. It is vital for schools to have professional and pedagogic independence, so teachers and other professional staff can flourish in their work.
Excellent elementary school
The role of elementary school in a modern society is to foster the comprehensive development of children and their well being as well as to offer them a meaningful, good level of education, both literary and in arts and crafts, while enhancing their capability to acquire knowledge and skills. The elementary school has to be inclusive. All children have the right to appropriate education in their social environment to support normal development within age groups. In order for it to be so, we need a wide range of methods for the various challenges and circumstances. Schools should have equal access to new technology to support teaching efforts in a fastly moving and developing society. The evaluation and grading of students must be based on a broad foundation and be an integral part of quality control within the schools and their teaching standards, instead of concentrating on an external evaluation. National screening tests and standardized scales need to be revised to reflect both individualized learning and the main curriculum.
Compulsory schooling is unique in that it is the only institution in society, where all children of a certain age come together regardless of different social and cultural backgrounds. It is very important to maintain the cultural and social diversity within school communities and use that opportunity to break down stereotypes and prejudice in the society in whole and to prepare children to enjoy our multicultural communities.
The school staff should be given scope to formulate the principles, curriculums and emphases of their schools in cooperation with students, parents and other guardians. Students should be active participants in all school activities and get to influence shaping them in a democratic way.
All students have the right to learn their mother tongue, and this also applies to immigrants and their children, who need to be taught both in their mother tongue and in Icelandic. We should not either forget children who have sign language as their mother tongue. Teaching languages should always be done in a way that suits the child’s needs and level of maturity. It is also important to build afterschool programs on the basis of dignity and respect, directed by educated professionals where both children and staff can flourish. We should integrate art studies, sports and social activities in municipalities run after school programs. All children in all the corners of Iceland should receive the same grants for other leisure activities outside schools and those grants from municipalities should also be increased. This is also very important for the integration and inclusion of young immigrants. All students should always have easy access to study and career counseling and mental health services.
Diverse secondary schools
The role of the secondary schools is to provide students comprehensive and sustainable education that can prepare them for various university studies, further vocational studies or the labour market. Secondary school should be open to all, so that students can start their secondary studies at any age, study at a pace and length that suits their needs.
In order to be able to offer equal opportunities for all students, the material used in teaching should be free of charge in all secondary schools (theoretical and vocational education) as the aim has been in elementary schools. Students in rural areas should have equal access to secondary schools, whether it be theoretical, vocational or arts oriented education. We should put special emphasis on improving access to immigrants in education on secondary level. We need to offer a wider range of courses in icelandic language for those who are learning icelandic as a second or third language and also add possibilities to teach in other languages than in icelandic. It is important to offer all students in secondary schools access to an efficient school health care system with health, mentalhealth and vocational support available across the board. Secondary schools should be publicly owned and financed and free for everyone.
Universities and research
University studies should promote critical thinking and individual development of each student. Society and communities within should encourage as many as possible to engage in university studies as it is always for the benefit of the society as a whole. There should be no fees or charges related to attending university, which can hinder equal inclusion of all students in higher education.
Increased university education and focus on research and innovation go hand in hand with increased prosperity in communities. In order to diminish drop out rates and steer students in their studies, we should reinforce educational and vocational counseling within universities rather than to restrict the number of students on individual study programs.
Basic research is the cornerstone of innovation and knowledge industries. Labour policy in harmony with nature and environment builds on promoting knowledge and research rather than using nature’s resources, that is why we have to invest in research and innovation now more than ever. Universities need funding to tend to research as well as teaching. Funds for research, outside the university’s research grants program, are to be allocated from competitive funds with peer review based evaluation. Taxation perks should be used to support businesses in knowledge and innovative industries.
Efficient Icelandic Student Loan Fund
When it comes to the Icelandic Student Loan Fund (ISLF), The Left Green Movement emphasizes that a greater amount of students get funded in their studies, when satisfactory educational progress is demonstrated. Special attention must be paid to the social role of ISLF, so that young parents, single parents and people with lower income levels have the same possibilities to education as others. Student loans are often a heavy burden to young families upon completion of their studies. Turning part of the student loans to student grants reduces the burden of young families in paying back their loans, just when they are starting to build their lives. This will move us closer to the student grant system in use in our neighboring nordic countries, with an exceptional track record in education, research and science.
Fresh further education
People who have not completed primary or secondary education must have a real chance of being able to complete it later in life. It is therefore necessary to ensure good access to such education and to ensure equal opportunities for all. The cost of returning to finish education should be covered by the government and municipalities.
We must ensure that all immigrants have access to Icelandic language education free of charge, as well as other educational opportunities and further education. It is vital for our society and people in it, that everyone can make full use of their experience, education and knowhow. At the same time, we should increase possibilities for mother tongue teaching and interpretation services to meet the needs of different language communities in Iceland.
The foundations of Lifelong learning centers, throughout Iceland, need to be supported more, so that learning in your area at an adult age is a real option and accessible for everyone, regardless of where you live.
We need to ensure cultural activities are available across the country and that everyone has the possibility to participate in arts and culture on their own terms. The strength of Icelandic cultural life is based on widespread participation in creative work in all cultural sectors. Access to culture and arts is an important foundation of our society. All children should have access to cultural events, regardless of their families financial status. The public sector’s support towards all cultural work, arts and museums is essential. It is important to ensure free public access to museums run by the state and municipalities and to strengthen their role in education, research and innovation.
Culture and arts are not just important in themselves, they are also economically important. Numerous jobs within the creative sectors turn out hundreds of billions of ISK every year. That is why the creative, cultural and arts sectors are an important part of the Icelandic industrial policy. Artists should get a fair pay for their work and that is why we need to strengthen the public wages fund set up for artists and ensure that public bodies, museums and the media lead the way and pay artists fair wages for their work.
Homegrown and healthy
It has never been as important as now to implement the government’s ambitious food policy. The goal of the food policy is dual: all food manufacture on sea and on land will be carbon neutral by 2040 and promote better public health. We can reach these goals by using principles of circular economy. Circular economy is based on utilizing resources wisely and reducing and reusing waste so that streamlining and profitability also leads to reducing the burden on the earth’s resources. The current production and consumption of food is unsustainable, based on linear economy, where items are manufactured, used and discarded. At the moment, mankind uses the resources of the earth at the rate where more than two earths would be needed to support the current level of consumption. Therefore, circular economy is a prerequisite for reducing emissions in food production, consumption and handling waste.
Consumption of healthy foods should be increased at the expense of unhealthy foods. The consumption of unsustainably produced meat must also be reduced. Manufacturing organic fertilizer from biological waste could make the bulk of domestic agricultural production organic. At the same time, emissions must be reduced in transportation of food. At the moment we are importing food items that could be produced domestically, with a reduced carbon footprint.
It is important that the government systematically supports those manufacturers and farmers who produce foods that have a positive impact on nature and public health. It is as important as informing the public of the importance of choosing healthy and environmentally friendly food. In this way we can improve productivity and profitability in food production in Iceland, achieve goals regarding public health and climate crisis and ensure food safety in Iceland.
Broader food production
Fisheries and agriculture are the basis for potent food production in Iceland. The task of the next few decades is to produce enough food in Iceland to feed the nation, while at the same time contributing to the food manufacturers becoming carbon neutral – like society at large. Iceland’s greatest contribution to global food safety is the sustainable utilization of marine and other natural resources, be it fishing, agriculture or aquaculture. Vegetable production needs to be considerably increased domestically to decrease the amount of vegetables imported airways to Iceland.
Today we throw away one third of the food we produce. In the circular economy of the future, food waste must be reduced with the right incentives at all stages of production, distribution and consumption.
Healthy food is a health issue
Diet is one of the main reasons behind various lifestyle diseases. In order for the public to make informed decisions and consider the consequences of their consumption on their health and the environment, information must be clear and accessible, wherever the food is consumed. Information on carbon footprint and on health effects of the product needs to be provided on food packaging.
Importance of organic farming
We need to move to large-scale production of organic foods in Iceland, as organic farming is in harmony with nature and utilizes resources well. One of the main objectives of organic farming is to protect and maintain biodiversity in nature. Manufacturing organic fertilizer from biological waste could help make the bulk of domestic agricultural production organic.
HEALTHCARE FOR EVERYONE
Access to free public healthcare
Healthy environment and easy access to healthcare are among the most important rights of individuals in a society. It is the benefit of every community to promote good public health and care for those who lose health. The Left Green Movement emphasizes an efficient health and welfare service funded by the government and operated on a public basis.
Public health care system provides a possibility to get a good overview of the health care system in whole, to optimize the utilization of resources and also ensures equality of patients within the system and standard quality of services provided. The Left Green Movement is against privatization of health care, no private company should be able to profit from public health care.
Access to clean water, clean air and unspoiled nature are all part of the well being of individuals and the nation in whole. When assessing health services and the purchasing of such services, environmental aspects should always be taken to consideration.
Public health care should service everyone equally, regardless to their financial status, where they live or any other differentiating factor. Users of any health care services should be included in planning the service.
It is important that the government’s Health Policy until year 2030 is to be followed and fully funded. The Left Green Movement believes it is imperative to turn away from privatization and contracting in the private sector in order to prevent a dual system from being established, where financially strong individuals can buy health care that is not available for those who cannot afford it. Individuals’ and families’ spending on medicines and medical services is still higher in Iceland than in the other Nordic countries. It is important to reduce health care spending as a percentage of household income, abolish patient fees and lower cost of medication for patients. First step is to make sure all health care to children under 18 is free of charge, including dental services and mental health services.
Efficient public health centers and hospital services
Efficient health centers, diverse specialist services, education, prevention and excellent hospitals are the cornerstones of good public health care. Strong health care needs to be ensured for all of Iceland, so that the public can rely on good basic health services close to their home. Higher and secondary level education in health services should be strengthened, especially with the needs of health centers in mind. Work in a health center should be a sought-after position within the health care sector in Iceland.
The organization of the health care services needs to be changed so that all services in public health centers are free of charge with an optional referral system similar as known in other Nordic countries. At the same time, the health centers need to promote and introduce interdisciplinary services in collaboration with the social services in their municipalities. Prevention, mental health services and dentistry should be available within public health centers.
All mental health services must be guided by the philosophy of recovery and public mental health services should be greatly increased. The rights of the mentally ill must be safeguarded as well as work against prejudice on mental illness should be in the forefront. A long-term, nationwide mental health policy must be drawn and implemented.
We need to secure ambitious rehabilitation therapy for addicts and housing solutions for those who have completed rehabilitation in order to help them take part in their community and support their healing process. Peripheral groups, such as the homeless and addicts, should be offered damage decreasing services, general health services and housing.
Prisoners’ rights and access to good facilities must be ensured, as well as prisoners’ access to education, rehabilitation, mental health services and general health services. Emphasis in prisons should be placed on the prisoners getting better, not punishment. Mental health services should be greatly enhanced. Instead of imprisonment, community service should be strengthened as an option for punishment. Prisoners should have a real possibility to enjoy a meaningful relationship with their family members while incarcerated, especially for the benefit of their children.
Welfare for all
Community of social justice is founded on a robust welfare policy that guarantees people’s rights to decent living standards, social rights and dignity.
The Left-Green Movement believes it is imperative that the community is looked at comprehensively, whether it is good and affordable housing, free school meals for children and young people or free dental services. Disabled people, the elderly and the unemployed, who are dependent on the welfare system for their livelihood, should have the opportunity to live a meaningful life and contribute to society. Easy access to assistive technology is a prerequisite for people with disabilities to be socially active.
The Left-Green Movement wants to shorten the working week. First steps towards a shorter working week have already been taken by the city of Reykjavík led by the Left-Greens. Research shows that shortening the work week enhances profitability and quality of life. By shortening the work week we can make our society more family friendly, when families have more time to spend together.
The Left-Green Movement takes a stand on the struggle of people with disabilities when it comes to access and inclusion. It is long overdue to make a proper action plan for access and inclusion and secure sufficient funding for the long needed improvements.
It is important to improve the services related to receiving immigrants, such as by providing them with information and help with their rights, obligations, employment and housing. It is important to ensure that immigrants and foreign workers are not discriminated against in wages or in any other way. Icelandig language education for immigrants must be offered free of charge as well as education in the mother tongue for children who have Icelandic as a second language. Immigrants should be warmly welcomed, not least those who are fleeing war and poverty in their home country.
A new attitude in energy production
Energy economies over the next few decades should be about carbon offsetting, ie. reducing greenhouse gas emissions everywhere and binding carbon with available measures in soil, vegetation, wetlands and stone.
Long-term energy policy for Iceland is based on the philosophy of sustainable development, where the country’s energy is used to build a green and carbon neutral society. Energy policy needs to identify energy needs of the future; how much energy is needed to achieve set carbon neutrality goals by 2040 through energy exchange in transportation, electrification of ports, development of a greener, sustainable economy and to meet population growth in the coming years. Until such calculations are available, the state and municipalities, owners of the largest energy companies, should not enter into long-term, large-scale energy contracts with major users.
If new power plants are needed in order to build a sustainable and carbon-neutral society, there should be a consensus on how that energy is best generated. Most importantly, it should be done with caution, in smaller steps and taking into consideration the sensitive nature surrounding us, population growth and the needs of green medium sized companies, but not in single big leaps. We also need to aim at better energy efficiency, reduce system losses, improve utilization of existing power plants as well as new technologies and methods of energy generation.
Improved public transportation and the exchange of energy in transport is one of Iceland’s most important steps in meeting the obligations of the Paris Agreement and reaching our own ambitious goals. Energy change means the use of electricity and other environmentally friendly fuels to an increasing extent on cars, engines, boats, ships and aircrafts, as technological advances permit. Emphasis must be placed on innovation and development in the production of domestic fuels and their use.
Sustainability, security and responsibility
The Left-Green Movement has had sustainability as a guiding principle in everything since its establishment, not least when it comes to the utilization and production of hydropower and geothermal energy. Precautions and nature conservation needs to be a top priority in all energy production. Large-scale power plants for the benefit of polluting, power-intensive industries are not in line with a sustainable energy policy. A fair fee must be paid for harnessing nation owned resources and large users must be required to pay a fair market price for the energy they buy as well as all the costs of delivering the used energy.
The Left-Green Movement believes that under these circumstances, and in the light of the Paris Agreement, it is out of the question to allocate more energy to polluting heavy industry, which already uses almost 80% of all electricity produced in Iceland. On the contrary, it is a good time to assess whether it is possible to reduce electricity consumption in heavy industry. It is our goal that energy from renewable energy sources replaces imported fossil fuels, all the while taking needed precautions and prioritizing conservation of our unique nature.
Reasonable energy prices for households and domestic industries
When pricing electricity, households and businesses must be ensured a reasonable price of energy. This goal should be more important than the profit requirements set for public energy companies. We should pay particular attention to reducing the electricity costs of domestic food production, such as growing vegetables, to increase self-sufficiency, sustainability and food security in Iceland. Nevertheless, it is important that in pricing electricity all cost factors are taken into account, including the sacrificial cost for lost natural resources. It must not be forgotten, that nature has value in itself, that is difficult to price in any currency.
Electricity, as well as clean water, central heating and telecommunications, is considered a basic need in our modern society. Basic need, that is not to be operated for profit. The Left-Green Movement finds it important that the nation’s common ownership of land and sea resources be recognized and that the society in whole benefits from their sustainable use. In accessing and utilizing the nation’s energy resources, it is very important to be responsible and focused on operations that profit all the public, not to aim at profiting on the public. Landsvirkjun should continue to be fully publicly owned, as the company has been built up using the nation’s common energy resources.
Sustainable energy in harmony with nature
Sustainability should always be the leading principle in energy generation and nature conservation should be in the foreground of decision making. Protecting the highlands of Iceland is the single most important goal in nature conservation and best reached through a comprehensive plan of establishing a Central Highlands National Park.
Hydropower projects smaller than 10 Megawatts are currently not covered by the framework for the protection and energy efficiency of land areas. This is far too high a criteria, as the power of a power plant is not necessarily at all directly related to the environmental impact caused by it. It is therefore important to review the criteria.
There is a need to look for more sustainable ways of utilising hydropower and to increase research into new energy sources, such as wind, ground source and geothermal energy.
Energy for all Icelanders
Iceland is rich in energy resources. All Icelanders should have access to electricity and adequate security of supply. This concept needs to be harmonized in laws and regulations, and legal provisions need to be laid down for the responsibility of energy companies to meet the energy needs of regular households and other general users. The distribution costs of energy must be fully offset, costs should be paid equally by all users of energy.
The labor market cannot be viewed without context to the society which it is part of. That is why a strong welfare system and a good labor market go hand in hand. Free education for children and free health care are a wage issue, after all. In an exemplary labour market, anyone with health and will to work, can participate and receive fair wages. Workers rights are respected and inequalities between groups are not tolerated.
It is the role of government to create an environment in which a healthy labor market can develop. This is done by creating a legal environment that prevents discrimination and abuse, effective monitoring and consequences for those who violate regulations and laws. It is also done by reducing people’s costs for health care and education, promoting preventive health services, such as physiotherapy and mental health services, which reduces the likelihood of people dropping out of the labour market. A good labour market is flexible, secure and gives people the opportunity to enjoy both work and leisure.
Labour unions are the strongest weapon in the hands of workers to advance and defend their rights. Public sector’s relations with the labour unions should be based on upholding the autonomy of the labour unions as a democratic forum of workers.
Combating inequality in the labor market is a challenge. Inequality lies both in the increased income gap between those who earn the most and those working on minimum wage, but also between genders, age groups and people who come from abroad to work in Iceland.
The struggle of the working class for a fair wage for their work is as urgent today as it was before. The struggle is global and is about reducing inequality and paying the dividends equally to those who really create the dividends.
Respect, diligence and stability
Utilizing natural resources is about respect for the resource, diligence in utilization and stability for those who utilize it. The resources that must be taken to use, should always be used with care, responsibility and in harmony with nature, society and future generations needs. All resources, whether on land or at sea, are to be the perpetual and non-transferable property of the Icelandic people. The people must benefit from all utilization of resources. Utilization shall be based on equal participation, nurture recruitment and be in constant and reciprocal connection with rural development. Any utilization of natural resources should be part of the green circular economy and based on international research, cooperation and innovation and support nature conservation and actions against global warming.
Environmental considerations must always be at the forefront when it comes to utilizing natural resources. When it comes to marine resources, this applies not only to the sustainable use of marine animal stocks, but also to fishing and processing. Ocean acidification is a growing problem that will lead to irreversible changes in the marine ecosystems. It is very important that marine resources are used in the most environmentally friendly way as possible and that the latest technology is used in fishing and processing. Fossil fuels need to be replaced with renewable energy sources and fishing gear used should always be as environmentally friendly as possible. It is very important tho, that the fisheries operate profitably and in a balanced market, so that there is incentive to invest in environmentally friendly solutions.
Though Iceland boasts being one of the most equal countries in the world, there is still a lot of work to do when it comes to sexual minorities rights. The Left-Green Movement wants to ensure the employment security of sexual minorities through legislation so that it is not possible to dismiss people on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, as is the case still today. The Left-Green movement has also protested against surgeries on intersex people, without necessity or consent. It is a clear violation of human rights to carry out surgeries on people, even on very young children, without their informed consent, in order to normalize their gender characteristics, so that they would fit into a certain gender framework. Everyone has the right to be the person he or she is, unrelated to anything else. People should be allowed to define themselves on the basis of their gender identity, sexual orientation, gender characteristics and gender expression, whether they undergo surgery or gender reassignment in order to pursue gender characteristics that are more in line with their gender identity, or not. People should be able to decide for themselves whether to go through a gender reassignment process and they should also always be in full control of the process. A recent law passed in 2019, on the Left-Green Movement’s initiative on sexual autonomy is a step in the right direction on equal human rights for everyone.
We also need to pay more attention to asylum seekers who are also part of sexual minorities, which is a marginal group within a marginal group. They need to be provided with the best possible service and counceling available. The Directorate of Immigration needs to pay special attention to the needs of this group within their processes.
It is also time for the Icelandic common wealth to start supporting the various grass root groups of sexual minorities in Iceland on a greater scale. Today these associations and groups receive only a fraction of the financial support that our neighboring countries contribute to comparable associations.
The Left-Green Movement aims to eradicate all manifestations of gender inequality in our society and thus break up a gender biased system that is detrimental to the status, opportunities and participation of all people equally. By eradicating gender inequality, we will create a better society for all of us, regardless of gender. Policies do not only concern the institutions in our society, but must rather be concerned with the daily life, communications and real freedom of the individuals that make the society.
Gender-based violence is the most serious manifestation of gender inequality. It is not an individual problem but a societal disease that thrives on power disparities and is the greatest threat to the lives and health of women, both in Iceland and elsewhere. Violence and the threat of violence are part of women’s daily lives and have an even greater impact on the lives and status of women belonging to minorities.
Gender-based violence needs to be eliminated completely. To this end, prevention, education, screening, availability of services and the proper treatment of issues related to violence in all areas of society must be strengthened. Furthermore it must be ensured that women always have full authority and freedom to make decisions concerning their own bodies and lives. Attitudes and social systems that lead to gender-based violence need to be eradicated. This requires a concerted effort by the government, the academic community, institutions, grassroot organizations and society as a whole.
Participation and power
Overemphasis on the capitalist economy, the growing power of capital and liberalism are threats to social justice and gender equality in society. Real equality requires radical action on societal grounds. A gendered system of power covers all areas of society, such as politics, business, the media, welfare and culture. It is necessary to take action in all areas to ensure that diverse voices are heard and listened to.
A gender-segregated labor market is bad for society as a whole: for workplace culture, innovation and career development. It plays a part in maintaining standard ideas about the roles of the sexes. There is an urgent need to break stereotypes, promote more diverse role models, value people for their capabilities not gender and eliminate the gender pay gap still persistent in our society and in societies near and far. In a democratic society, decisions should be made by a broad group of people. The structure of the labor market and institutions of power is masculine, which means that a small and homogenous group has too much power.
Education and upbringing
Equality in education is a prerequisite for social justice in any society. A good general education does not only equalize people’s opportunities to participate in our society, but the school system is also one of the most important units in our communities for changing the gender system as it is now and for changing attitudes in generations to come. Standard ideas about girls and boys that children get to know from birth through culture and tradition, arts, media and friends and family maintain the gender system and dualism. Increased emphasis on feminist analysis and critical thinking in the school system can break the vicious circle of stereotypes and empower children to cultivate talents and hobbies regardless of outdated notions of the different roles of sexes.
All education should promote critical thinking towards gender stereotypes, analyze the direct and indirect messages of the gender system and counteract their influence. Special violence preventive education is necessary in elementary schools. The effects of pornography must be addressed and emotions, intimacy and boundaries, consent and prudence in sexual relations must be addressed in schools in all levels of education.
The Left-Green Movement knows that it is important that the voices of all groups in our society have a seat at the table, when important decisions are made. We have to give young people, the generations that will inherit our society, always access to discussions and decision making within the movement. The Left-Green Movement trusts young people.
The battle against catastrophic global warming is the biggest challenge today for politics and society as a whole. We are at a crossroads and need to make all decisions with climate change in mind. Problems related to global warming are no longer separate issues alongside others, but must be integrated into all political policy-making. The Left-Green Movement has reassessed its policies to look at all issues from a climate point of view.
Loss of biodiversity is defined as the second greatest threat to the Earth’s ecosystem. Iceland’s nature and the surrounding sea area are the basis of life in Iceland. Nature must always enjoy the benefit of the doubt. Any decision making concerning interventions in icelandic nature must take into account a holistic view of ecosystems and preserve unique geological monuments, so that the quality of unspoiled nature will be passed onto future generations. More emphasis needs to be placed on the protection of marine biodiversity within Icelandic jurisdiction and in international waters.
Carbon neutral Iceland by year 2040 and carbon sequestration above net emissions
Greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced in accordance with the Paris agreement. Firstly, fossil fuels need to be replaced by renewable energy sources in all sectors of society, including transport, industry, fisheries, agriculture and tourism. Not least by pushing all further plans for polluting, energy-intensive, heavy industry off the table as well as reducing emissions from the existing heavy industry. Secondly, greenhouse gas emissions from land use need to be reduced and carbon sequestration increased by available mitigation measures in soil, vegetation, wetlands and rock. This way Iceland’s carbon neutrality will be achieved by 2040 at the latest and subsequently also carbon sequestration in excess of net emissions.
Iceland should be an advocate of including greenhouse gas emissions from aviation, ships and military in the nations’ emissions accounting. Urban areas need to be planned so that public transport, cycling and walking become viable options of transportation. The Left-Green Movement supports the building of Borgarlína, a comprehensive new public transportation system run by green energy, to strengthen public transport in the capital area.
Sustainable development must be guided by budgetary actions and in the government’s labour policy. Taxes and customs duties must include positive incentives for making environmentally friendly choices. Growing global consumption and waste should be critically reduced and our planet’s raw materials should be utilized sparsely, with more consideration.
Nature conservation and diversity
Nature first – Icelandic nature and wilderness are valuable and need to be protected.
In all nature conservation, special attention must be paid to protecting unique landscapes. The Icelandic landscape is unique in the world and we must be sure not to threaten the wilderness, biological diversity or ecosystems in large scale building projects of any kind. Provisions should be made for the protection of freshwater areas in Iceland and to ensure the nation’s ownership of freshwater springs, which are some of the largest in the world. Iceland is a paradise of geological wonders and governments near and far need to put the protection of geological diversity and individual geological monuments on their agenda. Arctic ecosystems are particularly vulnerable in times of climate change. Iceland should set an example and be at the forefront of nature conservation in the Arctic.
Financial support for nature sciences and research should be increased in order to gather more detailed data on Icelandic nature and biodiversity. We need to map the quality of nature and ensure open access to the results and data. Research on wild animal populations needs to be increased, including on insects, not least in view of the confirmed global decline of insect species. Legislation on the protection and conservation of wild animals needs to be strengthened and whale sanctuaries in Icelandic waters need to be expanded. The central highlands, the highlands of the Westfjords and the surroundings of Breiðafjörður need to be protected and national parks established. Funds need to be secured to launch conservation measures, especially those mentioned in the parliament confirmed Nature conservation framework. The environmental impact of any building projects need to be assessed holistically, so that e.g. impact of factories, power plants or pipelines are assessed in a comprehensive manner, prioritizing biodiversity and nature conservation.
Consumerism and waste
In a circular economy, the emphasis is on using clean raw materials and not wasting them, but utilizing and reusing them as thoroughly as possible. Instead of manufacturing the product, using it and then burying it or burning it, the waste is turned into a resource through reuse and recycling. All product development must be based on sustainable recycling solutions and the government, NGOs, the private sector and individuals must work together to combat waste of raw materials and reduce growing consumption.
On the initiative of the Left-Green Movement, the state and municipalities are joining forces to draw up action plans for reduced packaging use and promotion of recycling and reusing. Special attention will be paid to reducing the use of plastic where ever possible and preventing plastic particles from entering the sea. A major effort is needed by the state and municipalities to complete the modernization of all sewerage systems, improve old and build new sewage treatment plants and improve the surveillance of sewage pollution.
Public participation in all decisions concerning the environment as well as the public’s right to a healthy living environment must be ensured. The public should have a possibility to participate early on in the decision making process. The financial position and legal status of non-governmental organizations in the field of nature and environmental protection must be secured. There is a clear need for improving and increasing education on nature sciences and in sustainability in curriculums at schools and to educate all Icelanders on the importance of natural heritage and conservation. With increased nature literacy, the public is better aware of changes in ecosystems and can take a direct part in monitoring ecosystems around them.
The market economy is consumer driven. The consumer’s behavior on the market is therefore important, both for individuals and for our society in whole. A responsible consumer considers the consequences of their consumption and seeks to harmonize the consequences with environmental and nature protection, sustainability, animal welfare, honesty, good business ethics and fair conditions of workers and others involved in the production, distribution and sale of goods and services. Consumers need a wide range of information and knowledge to be able to make informed consumer decisions for their own benefit and that of the society. This information needs to be available as widely as possible. It is important that the consumers can seek legal assistance in case they feel like their consumers’ rights have been violated, no matter how small the issue.
Power to the people
The Left-Green Movement’s democratic and human rights policy is based on the ideology that each individual has the right to self-determination, freedom of action, to express his or her views without encroaching on the right of others and that everyone is guaranteed equal opportunities to shape both society and their own lives.
Active democracy with equal access for all people requires the participation of everyone, regardless of financial means, health or education. Particular attention must be paid to the empowerment of minorities and those who are in a weaker position in society and to ensure that they receive appropriate assistance. People need to be guaranteed time for democratic participation and that their human rights are at all times respected. Systems of power without public participation have been established in the name of democracy in the past. This development needs to be addressed through a democratic system that prevents inequalities in power and that moves us towards equality and sustainability. In a working system welfare, human rights and democracy are intertwined.
Our task is to make radical democratic reforms and increase the power of the people and their possibility to influence governmental decision making. We have to ensure public access to information and that the right to appeal is directly in the hands of the voters. The Left-Green Movement’s goal is to promote decentralization of power, equality and sustainability both in the local community and globally.
The Left-Green Movement emphasizes that tourism to Iceland should always lead to positive development, for the benefit and prosperity of the society and the economy, and always in harmony with nature. Tourism is a rapidly growing industry that has an effect on all areas of icelandic society and everyday life here. Icelandic nature and unique landscapes, not least the uninhabited wilderness, attract visitors to Iceland. It is therefore in the best interests of the tourism industry to maintain unspoiled nature and thus preserve these precious resources in collaboration with professionals, scientists and scholars.
Fees and income
The country’s income from tourism in whole is high. Nevertheless, that income does not return sufficiently to the public sector and especially to the municipalities. The Left-Green Movement emphasizes that revenue generation from the tourism industry to the public sector should primarily be through taxation of services, but not from fees for nature observation. The public sector should have unchallenged ownership of the main nature conservation areas and the most popular nature destinations of Iceland, as far as possible. People should be guaranteed free access to nature, even if traffic within these areas is managed for the sake of nature conservation.
Transportation and tourism
Transportation is a prerequisite for all tourism; without connections a place will not be a destination for visitors. It is therefore important to look at the transportation system as both a tool to control the amount of visitors and as a key infrastructure for tourism. The role of public transportation throughout the country needs to be strengthened to improve opportunities for tourism and at the same time support a strong and environmentally friendly network of public transportation for the benefit of all Icelanders.
The unique nature and how little it has been transformed for the sake of habitation, is one of the main strengths of Iceland as a travel destination and should be the mainstay of Iceland’s attractions. In order for this to happen, it is necessary to ensure that tourism develops without the sought-after natural areas being irreversibly changed or spoiled. As research is lacking on the impact of tourism on communities, nature should always have the benefit of the doubt, precautionary principles should be respected and responsible resource management practiced. We should also increase research on utilization and protection of icelandic nature with tourism in mind. At the same time, it is important to strengthen the education of those, who are entrusted with the care of national parks, protected areas and other nature attractions visited by tourists. Much larger areas of the country should be protected and especially whole landscapes and ecosystems. The entire Central Highlands should become a national park and thus the core of Iceland’s image globally as well as within Iceland.
Working in tourism
Tourism is about offering services and creating connections with guests and of course about their experience. Safety and good service must be a priority, as tourism jobs require hospitality and professionalism. Therefore, the education of service sectors needs to be restructured and service quality, safety awareness and organization in all areas need to be improved.
It is important to have a well-educated group of guides, who can be spokesmen for nature and interpret it for foreign guests in reference to history of Iceland from the settlement times to the present day. There is a great need to review and improve the education of guides and make sure that tourists attending organized tours have an educated local guide at their use.
Tourism can create a number of good jobs. We need to have a clear policy in marketing Iceland as a destination where nature and the experience of nature are the main attractions. We need to be able to provide tourists better information about travelers safety, conditions in Iceland, nature conservation, history and culture of Iceland. It is also important to continue marketing Iceland as an all-year destination, not just a summer season destination.
Domestic agriculture is a fundamental element in building a sustainable society in Iceland, so that Iceland would be as self-sufficient in food production as the conditions here allow. Domestic agriculture is therefore about increasing the quality of life for all Icelanders and ensuring high living standards for society as a whole. Agriculture is an important part of the nation’s history and cultural heritage and should be cultivated as such. Habitation in sparsely populated areas is intertwined with the existence of agriculture.
The best way to strengthen the rural areas of Iceland is to strengthen innovation in agriculture and thus create value and jobs in various ways throughout the country. Iceland has a lot of resources that should be utilized in a sustainable way. It is long due to increase the share of domestic renewable energy in agricultural production. How we arrange agriculture in the future is an urgent social and environmental issue.
It is important that agriculture and all other land usage develop in harmony with the environment and on the basis of sustainable development in farming methods. Of course at the same time we need to emphasize maintaining high quality living conditions for all livestock. All Icelandic agriculture must meet strict quality requirements. The aim should be to meet the needs and wishes of consumers for more availability of organic agricultural products and to increase government’s support for organic food production.
Education and research
Education and research are the basis of development and innovation in all industries and agriculture is no exception. Icelanders are well positioned in terms of having several strong and capable universities and research institutes working in this field and their work should be supported and developed furthermore in the future.
There is a clear need for a diverse supply of quality vocational education in agriculture and horticulture, as well as a competitive level of university education in the field of agriculture. It is important that agricultural universities in cooperation with other universities work to develop future goals in agriculture when it comes to education and research. We should finance strong basic research but also innovative research in the field of agriculture. We need to increase research especially on sustainable and organic agriculture and within the ongoing national health research, from an agriculture point of view.
We propose increasing education in pre-schools and primary schools on agriculture and food production as part of education on sustainability and green economics.
Land use and animal welfare
Land and soil are resources that icelanders have in abundance relative to population. It is our societal duty to make sure that all land use is sustainable and that arable land is not used for other than agricultural production. Systematic registration of arable land must be carried out as part of measures to protect it. We should start working on a national framework on all land use, among other things with this in mind, as well as emphasizing on grazing management in all of Iceland. Sustainability and nature conservation should be the leading light in all decisions made on land usage.
It is also very important to promote green farming and animal welfare and link it to agricultural subsidies. Animal welfare and environmental laws and regulations should always be based on the latest research, follow ethical standards of today and be in line with what is happening globally. There must be clear provisions on how to deal with violations of animal welfare and animal husbandry rules. We should always have the well being of animals in the forefront.
It is clear that in order to ensure food security in Iceland, the government needs to support local agriculture and food production. It is normal to maintain some production subsidies to meet the needs of the domestic market, but some of them need to be converted into investment subsidies so that farmers can build up and develop their production. The high quality requirement of the subsidies system needs to be strengthened and subsidies should be only granted to those who meet the set quality requirements.
It must be ensured that farmers who use electricity to light greenhouses receive the energy at a price comparable to other large buyers of electricity. Lower electricity prices would give the greenhouse farmers the possibility to increase their market share in the domestic market, and as possible, even in export.
A wholesome food production policy, where adaptation subsidies to organic farmers will be ensured, needs to be established in organic agriculture. The aim should be for the supply of organic grown agricultural products to be in line with the increasing demand. Barriers that prevent farmers from adopting organic farming need to be abolished for example by enabling slaughtering livestock with organic certification in all parts of the country.
Marketing and consumer protection
Origin labeling is important in the marketing of Icelandic agricultural products in Iceland and abroad, but also part of strong consumer protection. It is therefore important to legislate on the origin labeling of agricultural products so that the content is precisely specified by origin and in order to prevent the misuse of such labeling. The regulations must apply to manufacturers, processing plants and retailers, so that the chain is unbroken. Adequate labeling of products and processes, domestic as well as imported, must be ensured, with regard to the use of GMOs in production.
Our priorities are
• A tax system that promotes equality
• Sustainable growth
• A sound and equal financial system
• Economic policy tools to strengthen the welfare state
• Monetary policy that coincides with fiscal policy
• Agreeing in the labor market is based on agreeing on the welfare system
A strong economy is intertwined with a strong welfare system and a clear vision in nature conservation, where resources are used in a sustainable way. The basis of a strong economy is a mixed economy where the wealthiest are taxed in excess of the lowest income groups. This policy has yielded the most prosperity and the most equality. An important basis for this is that the tax system in place is efficient, fair, green, equalizes income and works towards equality in all areas of society.
Fiscal policy and taxation
Fiscal policy is in fact accounting of public consumption and on the other hand accounting of solidarity. These two must be in line with the goals of our society. It is a political decision what the states expenses should be and what the income is made of.
The tax system in whole is based on social and economic objectives. According to more and more scholars, the tax system is by far the most influential tool to increase equality within societies. Equality is not only a matter of social justice, but also an important goal of economic policy. Number of international studies and research show that increased inequality reduces economic growth.
An economic policy that reduces inequality will not only lead to a fairer society, but also to a richer society. Taxes should ensure a strong welfare state and promote equality. A wealth tax and a tiered capital gains tax are an important part of equal taxation.
In order to curb the tax evasion of companies and individuals, tax inspections and tax investigations need to be greatly strengthened. The use of offshore companies in tax havens should be banned or restricted as much as possible. Measures taken in taxation should serve the goals of a strong welfare state, increased equality and other societal goals for instance related to environment and nature, public health and regional policies.
The Public Finance Act
Since the adoption of the Public Finance Act in 2015, it has been criticized both at the Alþingi and by various experts, that the scope for fiscal policy application for sensible economic management and stabilization of fluctuations is too narrow. The fiscal plan should not only look at short-term financial stability. It needs to look at the long term stability and respond to long-term economic and social developments, such as the climate change, need for improved welfare services and the development of infrastructure. The financial rules of the Public Finance Act bind the hands of the government too much and limit their possibilities for long term economic policy making, whether during times of financial growth or recession.
A sound financial system
There has been a clear call for a more cross-political and professional co-operation in the future vision for a sound financial system, before any further decisions are made on the sale of the state-owned banks. The scope of the banking system needs to be discussed. It is necessary to set rules on ownership and ensure that Icelandic financial companies are not owned by offshore companies in tax havens.
The Left-Green Movement emphasizes that the state will continue to own Landsbankinn. The bank’s operations need to be separated into business and investment activities as well as domestic and foreign operations.
The pension fund system needs to be revised with the aim of reducing the cost of superstructure. The required rate of return on a pension fund is now 3,5% on top of indexation, which means that interest rates on mortgages and student loans are never below 5%. This profitability requirement can be reduced. It must be ensured that pension funds also set societal goals for their investments, that among other things, meet environmental considerations.
Economic management and the labor market
It is important to ensure stability in the labor market, but that stability must not be about oppressing people in the lowest income levels and undermining the welfare system. The newly established National Economic Council needs to discuss social stability as much as economic stability. It is clear that the labour unions should have a seat at the table. It is urgent that we should establish a National Economic Institute, an independent institution making long-term national budgetary plans in order to avoid deep recessions in the Icelandic economy.
In order to come to a general consensus on normal wage development in Iceland, targeted measures must be first taken to strengthen both tax inspections and labor inspections. We need to combat wage theft and systematically fight against human trafficking and modern day slavery, the black spots on the icelandic labor market. It is also vital to reduce the wage gap and eliminate the gender pay gap, by all available means.
Peace based on equality
If we would distribute the world’s resources equally, everyone could enjoy decent living conditions, everywhere in the world. Equalizing people’s living conditions requires radical changes in the way we distribute power and quality between and within states, such as between classes, genders, races and so on. Capitalism is neither economically nor environmentally sustainable and leads to concentration of power, wealth and ownership in large international companies as well as large-scale discrimination.
The ever-increasing encroachment on the earth’s resources and the impact of humankind on its climate are leading to displacement, inequality and environmental threats that endanger the ecosystems and humanity itself. This development must be counteracted by all means.
Iceland should not have an army, neither domestic nor foreign. Iceland should be outside any military alliances and reject militarization. War does not solve any problems, although militants claim to be fighting for peace and human rights. In addition, militarization and warfare are a waste of resources and sacrifices human lives. It is important that international actions do not cause death and suffering of innocent civilians. No military exercises should be allowed in Iceland or within our jurisdiction. We should ban trafficking nuclear, biological and chemical weapons in the air, on land and on water under Icelandic jurisdiction. The Icelandic government is to reject military action, push for international peace and disarmament agreements, as well as work against arms manufacturing.
Iceland needs to take global responsibility and help people in need in as many ways as possible, both by receiving more refugees and supporting people in being able to live with dignity elsewhere in the world. It is necessary for Iceland to take responsibility for its privileged position in the international community and do everything in its power to share its wealth with those who need it the most. We must not look away.
Iceland should greatly increase its contribution to development cooperation and side and support poorer nations in the international arena. The main goal of development projects should be to make people self-sufficient on their own terms. Icelandic foreign policy must be based on the view that we prefer international justice, disarmament and peaceful solutions to conflicts. The most sensible way to do this is for Iceland to work for the co-operation of small states in the international arena with peace and sustainability as a guiding principle.
It is important that a vibrant and diverse economy can flourish throughout the country in harmony with nature. The Left-Green Movement emphasizes that everyone should be guaranteed opportunities for suitable employment on decent terms and that there are prerequisites that ensure equal opportunities for all job creation. The Left Green employment policy is based on fair conditions, fair tax system, a strong education system, cooperation, sustainability, equality and social justice. It creates opportunities for progress and employment possibilities throughout the country. The Left Greens stand with workers and their labour unions in the fight for workers rights and better conditions.
Equal opportunities for job creation throughout the country must be ensured through the systematic development of transportation, telecommunications, high-speed internet, educational opportunities, health services and other basic services.
It is important to strengthen and diversify public funds that support and invest in research, innovation and the creative industries. Emphasis should be placed on green incentives and involve universities more in the innovative start-up scene.
The support systems for the Icelancic businesses need to promote and reflect a diverse economy. Democratic dialogue must be established, as widely as possible, about the Icelandic economy with the involvement of the public, grassroots organizations, municipalities, academia and businesses. The main goal of such work should be to promote a diversified economy in harmony with society and natural resources. The country’s natural resources must be safeguarded and it must be ensured that current generations return them to a better condition for the future generations. Those who have income from the utilization of natural resources, including energy resources and marine resources, must pay a fair fee to the people, the owners of the resources.
The climate crisis which the world is facing underlines the importance of ensuring a fair distribution of wealth. In a rich society, everyone can have enough. Our goal is to reduce consumption and waste in all areas. This calls for radical changes in the economy, a different division of qualities and shared responsibility.