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Iceland

  • Constitution of Iceland, 19441
  • Constitution of Iceland, 20112

In its Preamble, the 2011 Constitution of Iceland insure the encouragement and ''respect [...][of] the country and its biosphere'', the respect for the earth and all mankind and the responsibility for ''the heritage of generations, [the] country and [...] its nature''. It also states in its 33rd Article that:

''Iceland's nature constitutes the basis for life in the country. All shall respect and protect it. All shall by law be accorded the right to a healthy environment, fresh water, unpolluted air and unspoiled nature. This means that the diversity of life and land must be maintained and nature's objects of value, uninhabited areas, vegetation and soil shall enjoy protection. Earlier damages shall be repaired as possible. The use of natural resources shall be such that their depletion will be minimized in the long term and that the right of nature and coming generations be respected. The right of the public to travel in the country for lawful purposes with respect for nature and the environment shall be ensured by law.''

Article 34th regarding natural resources states:
''Iceland's natural resources that are not private property shall be the joint and perpetual property of the nation. No one can acquire the natural resources, or rights connected thereto, as property or for permanent use and they may not be sold or pledged. Publicly owned natural resources include resources such as marine stocks, other resources of the ocean and its bottom within Iceland's economic zone and the sources of water and water-harnessing rights, the rights to geothermal energy and mining. The public ownership of resources below a certain depth under the earth's surface may be determined by law. In the use of natural resources, sustainable development and public interest shall be used for guidance. The public authorities, along with those using the natural resources, shall be responsible for their protection. The public authorities may, on the basis of law, issue permits for the use of natural resources or other limited public goods, against full payment and for a modest period of time in each instance. Such permits shall be issued on an equal-opportunity basis and it shall never lead to a right of ownership or irrevocable control of the natural resources.''

Article 35 last states that ''the public authorities shall inform the public on the state of the environment and nature and the impact of construction thereon. The public authorities and others shall provide information on an imminent danger to nature, such as environmental pollution. The law shall secure the right of the public to have the opportunity to participate in the preparation of decisions that have an impact on the environment and nature as well as the possibility to seek independent verdicts thereon. In taking decisions regarding Iceland's nature and environment, the public authorities shall base their decisions on the main principles of environmental law.''

The 1971 Nature Conservation Act aims to ''encourage the intercourse of Man and Nature in such a way that life or land be not needlessly wasted, nor sea, fresh water or air polluted. The Act shall ensure as far as possible the course of natural processes according to their own laws, and the protection of exceptional and historical aspects of Icelandic nature. The Act shall enhance the nation's access to and familiarity with Nature.''

The 1989 Regulation on Environmental Pollution Control makes provision to reduce and prevent pollution of the outer environment, which is defined as being all land, water, and air, outdoors, and outside workplaces.

For further information about environmental protection and legislation in Iceland and to consult the environmental impact assessments, please access the Ministry of Environment's official website.





1. The previous Constitution of Iceland, 1944 with its amendments until 1999, is available on the World Intellectual Property Organization's database..
2. A translation of the current Constitution of Iceland, 2011, can be accessed here..