The Sustainable Development Goals in Kópavogur


Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Kópavogur with a new comprehensive strategy approved by the town council in autumn 2018.

SDGs related to the project

Project description

The implementation of the strategy of Kópavogur implies the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The strategy consists of a mission statement, future vision, values and 36 primary goals derived from the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. Since it was approved by the town council, work has been directed at introducing the new strategy and SDGs for employees of the Town of Kópavogur, as well as on developing the next steps towards its implementation by the town council and a steering group. Department policies will be drafted and linked to action plans, setting measurable targets, which will be linked to indicators and the preparation of the budget. Part of the preparation for the implementation has been to find indicators and develop the Nightingale information system in order to monitor the progress and success of implementation in the town's activities. The Town of Kópavogur also participates in an international project organised by the OECD on the implementation of SDGs by local authorities and the development of indicators, and benefits from advice from this project in the implementation.

Objectives of the project

The goal of the new comprehensive strategy of the Town of Kópavogur is to ensure the quality of life of town residents and at the same time participate in the efforts of the nations of the world to implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Increased efficiency and better results are expected to result from the strategy in each department responsible for the issues concerned and related action plans where measurable targets will be set, these linked to indicators and to the preparation of the budget.

When is the target expected to be achieved?

The implementation process of the new strategy is expected to be completed by the end of 2024, while work towards the implementation of the SDGs will continue to 2030, which is the UN reference year.

Measurement of performance

Annual follow-up of the implementation of the strategy, action plans and their related indicators.

Project progress

January 2023 

 The municipality of Kópavogur published its first sustainability report on its website in the spring of 2022, the first sustainability report by a municipality in Iceland as far as is known. The report was prepared according to the criteria of the Global Reporting Initiative, GRI, which are internationally recognised standards for the dissemination of information on social responsibility used in over 100 countries. 

The report discusses the environment, economic situation, governance and social projects in the municipality, with an emphasis on the projects that fall under the town’s targets for implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

Implementation of the SDGs is part of the extensive strategic planning that has taken place in recent years in the Town of Kópavogur, the foundation of which was laid by the town council with the approval of the overall strategy for the town. The goal of the Town of Kópavogur is to ensure the development of sustainability in the municipality and the long-term quality of life of the town's residents. 

Kópavogur benefited from OECD guidance in the implementation of the SDGs through its participation in an international project called "A Territorial Approach to the Sustainable Development Goals". The OECD published a report on Kópavogur in the autumn of 2020. Further policy work has been guided by the town's overarching goals, which are adopted from the SDGs. In 2021, it was decided to formulate a strategy for the functions of all five departments of the town administration; the Education Department, Environment Department, Welfare Department, Finance Department and Administration Department. Strategy-linked budgeting was also introduced, which means that in preparing the 2022 budget action plans of departments arising from the strategy were submitted as working documents with measurable targets, indicators and actions.  The town uses an information system to promote the successful implementation of departmental policies and action plans. 

Kópavogur has been recognised as a child-friendly municipality for its implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

The town received UNICEF's international recognition for the Children's Dashboard at the organisation's first international conference held in Cologne in the fall of 2019. 

At year-end 2022, five preschools in Kópavogur received recognition as UNICEF Child Rights Schools, the first in the world to receive this recognition.  Three compulsory schools have also been recognised by UNICEF as Child Rights Schools. Five preschools and four compulsory schools have now started the implementation process.  

The co-ordination of the waste collection system in the capital area is a step forward of major significance in the fight against climate change and for the introduction of the circular economy in Iceland. Kópavogur is a member of the Union of Municipalities in the Capital Region and has therefore agreed to adopt a four-bin system, which means that collection takes place at the door for paper and cardboard waste, plastic, organic waste and mixed waste for every household. 

1 February 2021 

For the past two years, Kópavogur has participated in the OECD's international project to implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals and develop indicators related to the implementation. The OECD report published in September 2020 stated that the performance of the Town of Kópavogur was well above the OECD average in terms of the implementation status of many of the SDGs in the municipality. 

The report can be found here

Kópavogur has developed the IT system Nightingale and established a database consisting of dashboards and performance indicators that will be useful for strategic decision-making and allocation of funds, and give a view of the status of the implementation of SDGs in Kópavogur. In other words, Kópavogur's implementation of the SDGs is data-driven, as pointed out in the OECD report. 

One of the most important recommendations of the OECD to the Town of Kópavogur as part of the process was the need to involve stakeholders in the SDG implementation. With this in mind, electronic consultation portals were opened for staff and residents, and a large part of Kópavogur’s employees set to work mapping the SDGs as they appeared in their daily work. 

The Kópavogur Marketing Office has also launched a project in collaboration with the Town of Kópavogur encouraging businesses in Kópavogur to implement the SDGs in their operations, and an innovation centre will be established in collaboration with the town and businesses in Kópavogur. 

The Sustainable Development Goals are part of the town's overall strategy, the aim of which is to ensure the quality of life of the residents of Kópavogur and at the same time participate in the efforts of the nations of the world to implement the SDGs. 

Many projects related to the Global Goals have been set in motion.  

To mention some examples, the Kópavogur School Orchestra held a special concert on the theme of the Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; the school Salaskóli adopted the SDGs in its school curriculum in 2019; and preschools and compulsory schools have led the way in promoting the SDGs to their students and integrating them into their work.  

The town's cultural institutions have taken the initiative in an international collaborative project, The Drop of Water, the main theme of which is to link together the message and values of the SDGs to classic works by Nordic authors of children's books.    

Work has been directed at implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and a decision was taken to set up a Public Health/Mental Health institute, emphasising education and skills training for good mental well-being.

The Sustainable Development Goals were a prime focus in the review of the 2019-2031 master plan of the Town of Kópavogur and a decision was taken to have the new school Kársnesskóli currently under construction obtain the Nordic Swan Ecolabel environmental certification. 

Project status


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