Feature of the Week: Making a Difference


Feature of the Week: Making a Difference

Despite being a small country that has recently undergone a financial collapse, Iceland still has the will and ability to contribute to creating a better world. At the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Ásta Andrésdóttir met with María Erla Marelsdóttir, Director General at the Directorate for International Development Cooperation.

Published in the 2012 August-September issue of Iceland Review – IR 03.12.

By Ásta Andrésdóttir. Photos by Páll Stefánsson and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

ethiopia_psThe African Rift Valley. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

Last year marked a milestone in Iceland’s participation in international development cooperation. Forty years had passed since it formally began. Also, 2011 saw the thirtieth anniversary of Iceland’s International Development Agency (ICEIDA) and ten years since the founding of the Icelandic Crisis Response Unit.

And there’s more. In June 2011, the first comprehensive strategy for Iceland’s international development cooperation was approved by Members of Parliament. “It was pleasing to see how universal the support was, crossing all parties. We can make a difference even if we are a small country,” says María Erla. “It was also positive to see how interested and supportive the MPs were when the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Össur Skarphéðinsson, presented his report on foreign affairs at Alþing earlier this year. The Strategy for the years 2011-14 identifies international development cooperation as one of the key pillars of Iceland’s foreign policy.

It builds on the Millennium Development Goals, María Erla explains. “The priority areas in the Strategy are natural resources, human capital, and peace-building-more specifically fisheries and renewable energy, education and health, good governance and reconstruction. Furthermore, in all our undertakings, special emphasis is put on gender equality and environmental concerns.”

Currently, Iceland’s bilateral partner countries are the sub-Saharan African states of Malawi, Mozambique, and Uganda.

You can read the remainder of this article in the 2012 August-September issue of Iceland Review – IR 03.12.Four times a year the print edition of Iceland Review & Atlantica brings you a wealth of articles on all aspects of life in Iceland including Páll Stefánsson’s latest images of the country’s majestic landscape. Click here to subscribe and here to browse through a selection of pages from the current issue.