CHARGE - ENERGY BRANDING CONFERENCE
Guðlaugur Þór Guðlaugsson, Minister for Foreign Affairs
Cities and Countries as Energy Brands
Energy! Has anyone forgotten Eyja-fjalla-jökull? The infamous Icelandic volcano, with that difficult name, which shut down the whole world for a few days back in 2010. It branded itself in our memories and raised the awareness of Iceland in the world beyond anything we Icelanders could have done ourselves.
The erruption served to remind us of how deeply integrated the world has become as the disruption of transportation across the Atlantic affected companies and individuals all over the globe. It also served to remind us of how fragile our human constructions are compared to nature. This is something that we live with every day in Iceland. Fear of uncontrolable consequences of climate change are now driving people all over the world to essentially the the same conclusions: We have to find ways of making our energy systems sustainable-renewable, and we have to find ways to do it together.
Although Icelanders have always faced difficulties living so close to a wild and unpredictable nature, this is also our greatest blessing and the foundation of our modern economy. We have an abundance of clean and sustainable energy sources. We have unpoluted fishing grounds all around us. And our country has become a popular tourist destination.
Iceland as well as many of our cities, industries and businesses built their branding work on the positive image associated with green energy, exotic nature, renewable fisheries, creative energy and female energy if you like, mostly referred to as gender equality. But it is not only about building a brand. It is also about real work, making a difference in the world. Our engineers and academics have been sharing practical knowledge and methods in the field of geothermal energy with our partners all over the world for a very long time and I encourage you to take a closer look at this particular sector.
Tourism is our fastest growing industry in Iceland today. It is a huge challenge for us to cope with what is essentially an unbelievable success story but these are problems of privilege that we are thankful for. According to opinion pools we did last year in the US, 2 out of 3 consumers say that Iceland´s renewable energy increases their interest in Iceland as a tourist destination. Be it our volcanos, hot springs, our warm natural geothermal swimming pools, all this has created a huge opportunity for Iceland to show itself to the world. It tells us that strategic branding of our energy resources and utilization is highly important to our prospects.
Reykjavík, our beautiful capital, which I hope you have been able to explore a bit, promotes itself through pure energy and a green footprint philosophy, but 80% of our total energy use comes from renewable energy resources. This even brought the prestigious Environmental and Nature Awards of the Nordic Council to Reykjavik in 2015.
Dear conference guests and panelists.
I look forward to a good and fruitful discussion today and remind you that you can also find creative energy pouring out of Iceland and Reykjavík. The creative brand is one of our most precious ones today. I encourage you to feel the energy, experience the power and enjoy local music, art and design during your stay in Iceland and here in Reykjavík. We have a lot to offer.
Where ever you look – Iceland is full of energy.