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Seniors and climate issues – for the benefit of both: a pioneering initiative from Iceland

Over the past weeks and months, more and more initiatives and interests in the field of nature conservation and climate change have arisen in Iceland. The Icelandic government has decided to make the work of seniors on climate issues a special focus project during Iceland’s chairmanship of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2023. The title of the project is “Seniors and Climate Issues – For the Benefit of Both” which refers on the one hand to the great human resource and the extensive knowledge that resides in healthy people of retirement age, and on the other hand to the positive input these people can contribute to the climate debate – for the benefit of future generations.

The project’s objective is to involve more older people in climate issues by creating a Nordic platform for the exchange of ideas, networking, inspiration, and inspiring role models, while promoting the permanent physical and mental health of the participants.

Many Icelandic seniors have participated in the seminar of the Nordic Council that was held in Reykjavík at the end of September 2023. This resulted in the creation of a group of seniors called “Eldri aðgerðarsinna”, which could be translated by “Senior activists”, who started to meet in October 2023. Their aim is to put pressure on the government to take actions to fight against climate change and commit to Iceland’s greenhouse gasses reduction goals. This group is similar to already existing senior activists’ groups from Norway, Denmark or Sweden.    

Several Icelandic organizations have been dedicated to addressing environmental issues for numerous years, including:

  • The University of the Third Age (U3A), which aims to provide a forum for lifelong learning by sharing knowledge, experience and a stimulating and active life
  • The National Federation of Senior Citizens, who promote the collaboration of senior citizens
  • Friends of Icelandic Nature, with a focus on managing invasive species
  • “Félag Eldri Borgara” (Association of elderlies) whose aim is to get the seniors to do some activities and projects together.

The initiative from the Icelandic government perfectly aligns with the Grey4Green project, sending a compelling message to seniors to actively participate in nature conservation and climate change projects, Grey4green being of course disseminated through all these seniors’ groups.

Learn more about the Nordic Working Paper: 

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The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. Project number: 2021-1-DK01-KA220-ADU-000026601
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