First annual plan of the Greening the Islands Observatory defined at launch event
Next conference to be jointly hosted by Stockholm, Ålands Islands and Helsinki (May 2019)
Minorca, 21 May 2018 – The prospect of a circular economy was repeatedly invoked during the two-day Greening the Islands International Conference as the best path towards the sustainable development of islands, embracing sectors as varied as energy and transport, water and tourism in a single vision.
Islands deserve particular attention within the policy and legal frameworks that look to establishing a circular economy in Europe: it’s indispensable for islands as closed systems to exploit their natural resources effectively while at the same time they have limited local resources and little capacity for sustainable projects.
“It is essential for islands to manage their own scarce resources (both in terms of materials, waste and water) sustainably, to become even more resource and energy efficient, and to protect their environment and the surrounding marine environment,” said George Kremlis, Honorary Director – Directorate General for the Environment, European Commission – Active Senior responsible for circular economy in the islands.
The switch to a circular economy model would reduce islands’ need to “import” energy and natural resources because local resources would be used more efficiently, to the benefit of the local environment as well. This would have the advantage of creating jobs for all those living on islands today and provide growth with direct benefits for the local economy.
Water is a hot issue for islands, and beyond. It is a limited resource for all of us, with one third of Europe experiencing water stress. The growing needs of our economies and climate change will make the availability of water in sufficient quantity and quality even more of a challenge in Europe in the future. Water reuse, still far below its significant potential in the EU today, is included as a priority in the European Commission’s Circular Economy Action Plan to ensure the uptake of secondary raw materials markets.
To achieve their ambitions for sustainable development, islands need to think and work together on setting up scalable projects that can have an impact and mark a radical shift, above all in terms of energy, transport and water.
“In the last years, a high number of interesting projects were submitted and financed by the European Commission, but now islands are advised to co-ordinate and collaborate on innovative solutions and organise common, standardised deployment to make the solutions roll out to the market. The European Commission will support you all the way. Let’s do this now, together!” said Helmut Morsi – Adviser to the Director and Coordinator for Innovation, European Commission, DG MOVE-B.
Greening the Islands Observatory
The inaugural meeting of the Greening the Islands Observatory defined plans for its first year of study, providing a concrete support for islands by creating the context for implementing best practices in the energy, water and mobility sectors. The concept of “circular economies” will be central to the work of the Observatory.
Selecting four or five European islands, one from the Asia Pacific region and one from the Caribbean, the Observatory will:
- Benchmark policies, regulation, permitting procedures, etc.
- Analyse for each island the current situation in one of the reference sectors (energy, water or mobility) and identify possible innovative sustainable projects
- Identify possible incentives and financing opportunities that would allow those projects to be financed.
Furthermore, the Observatory aims to stimulate partnership agreements and coalitions to apply for public funds (European, World Bank, etc.) to finance these projects, elaborate recommendations on roadmaps for decarbonisation plans and collect success stories and best practices.
“There is a gap between the needs of islands and access to finance for projects that would answer those needs. The GTI Observatory aims to put public and private bodies at different levels around the same table and provide them with all information needed to tackle islands’ transition towards sustainability,” commented Gianni Chianetta, Director & Scientific Coordinator of Greening the Islands.
The GTI Observatory will also involve institutions that are already working or have relevant data and information on islands and generate synergies. Solar Power Europe, Eurobat, Unef, ItaliaSolare, Elettricità Futura and Anev have already decided to join the Observatory, while Eurelectric, WindEurope, Avere, IDA, Global Solar Council have the approval process under way and most of them participated in the first meeting.
Greening the Islands 2019
The European Greening the Islands Conference 2019 “Greening the Islands in a blue sea – Islands Circular Economy Linked to Sustainable Sea Strategies” will be jointly hosted by Stockholm, the Ålands Islands and Helsinki from 20 to 22 May 2019. The conference will focus as usual on the central topics of energy, water and mobility as well as issues connected to waste management, agriculture and tourism but in a constructive frame of comparison between northern and Mediterranean islands.
They will all be seen through the lens of the importance of the sea for islands and its role in a circular economy. The event will be organised in association with the KTH Royal Institute of Technology Executive School.
Note to editors:
Greening the Islands is an international non-profit initiative that aims to stimulate collective work and promote best practices around the issues of energy, water, mobility and all aspects that can enhance small islands and remote locations, through conferences, online forums, webinars and an observatory.
The international conference – now in its 5th year – always involves the government of the host country and this year is organised in collaboration with the Regional Government of the Balearics, the Government of Minorca, the Minorca Biosphere Reserve and the association of the Spanish photovoltaic industry (UNEF) with the scientific support of The Green Consulting Group and Canary Islands’ Technology Institute (ITC). The event brings together a consolidated and rapidly growing network of experts from government, institutions and business in an exchange about the most innovative solutions and technologies as well as government policies.
Cecilia Bergamasco – firstname.lastname@example.org – cell. +39.347.9306784