The UN Sustainable Development Goals consist of 17 objectives and 169 targets, as well as 232 indicators. Most of the 169 targets are applicable to Iceland, but to varying degrees. It soon became clear that in order to achieve measurable results in the implementation of the targets in Iceland, they had to be prioritised in order to improve efficiency and oversight in policy formulation and planning. It should be mentioned, however, that the priority targets do not exclude work on implementing other targets. The aim is to implement all the targets that apply to Iceland, and a good number of them have already been implemented. In those cases, emphasis will be placed on doing even better and, at the same time, sharing Iceland’s experience and expertise with other nations of the world.
The first steps taken to prioritise the targets were to evaluate what data existed in Iceland on each indicator and its quality. It was important that the data be internationally comparable and that the related indicators be clearly defined. In July 2017, the Institute for Sustainability Studies (ISS) at the University of Iceland was entrusted with evaluating the data collection that had already taken place. The objective of this project was to prepare two reports, firstly, an assessment of the quality of the data collected by the SDG working group and, secondly, to make proposals on behalf of the Institute on methodology for prioritising the SDGs in Iceland. Work then proceeded based on the proposals presented in the second report, following a so-called “Criteria-Based Framework”. The goals were evaluated using four criteria: conformity with the government coalition platform, connection to Icelandic reality, access to data and distance to target, using a specific scale; however, the weighting of the criteria differed in the calculations. Following consultations with government experts, 65 targets were given priority in the government’s work in implementing the SDGs in Iceland and in international cooperation for the next few years.