Yesterday Iceland just kept popping up in conversation. We listened to a lot of Sigur Ros. I confirmed my attendance at Nordic Horizons‘ next event – Iceland Strikes Back – which will reveal how Iceland turned itself around socially and economically in only four years. Set up by broadcaster Lesley Riddoch, Nordic Horizons raise awareness about life and policy in Nordic countries, demonstrating how their model could work in Scotland.
Just look at the brilliance of the poster for this Scottish Government sponsored event!
Nordic Horizons first introduced me to Professor Thorvaldur Gylfason, a member of the committee who drafted Iceland’s new crowdsourced constitution. He’s an engaging speaker who can explain the massive task of writing a new constitution which prioritised people and nature over big business to an audience largely new to the story because the mainstream media just won’t cover it.
And then yesterday a friend linked to this incredible three minute clip from Davos, featuring Iceland’s President Olafur Ragnar Grimson. Unlike every other European country, Iceland has completely reversed it’s economic woes. In 2008 their banking industry was responsible for a higher proportion of GDP than any other country, and the total collapse of the sector heralded economic doom for the country. Except for the fact that instead of behaving like every other major Western economy faced with the crash, Iceland prosecuted bankers and politicians who had caused the crash. They took the situation as a wake up call, showing them how far they had moved from their social principles and through the Pots and Pans revolution brought about a peaceful revolution for their country.
But back to Davos. President Grimson explains the crux of how they achieved economic growth – “We let the banks fail. We provided support for the poor”. This is truly inspiring stuff – doing what is right socially and environmentally works better for economic development than our austerity measures and rush to open up to fracking and new coal.