GTI Awards see raising quality and ambition in island projects – winners 2021: Kökar (Aland Islands), Santiago & Maio (Cape Verde), Maldives, Chalki (Greece), Cres (Croatia), Province of Siquijor (Philippines)
Greening the Islands Tourism Certification is launched
Malta, October 25, 2021 – The 8th edition of the GTI e_Convention – International Conference & Exhibition took place on 19-21 October attracting more than 1000 visitors from all over the world, with 15 technical workshops, 85 international speakers, with hundreds of visits to the virtual exposition and networking sessions. Demonstrating the power and democracy of the digital medium, participants connected from Australia, Barbados, Bermuda, Falklands, Cyprus, Greece, Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Philippines, Vietnam, among the others.
The well-known holistic assessment of the most critical sectors of the island economy has continued spanning from mature sustainable solutions to the latest innovations, including updates on fast maturing technologies and also new topics like geothermal energy, green hydrogen and air quality for an even more comprehensive and multi-sectoral review. The focus on the integration of technology, policy and finance has allowed to identify the most viable ways to regulate, finance and deploy the most innovative sustainable solutions to the islands’ needs, like the Italian Minor Islands Decree – a good practice for policies – which has created a specific tool for small islands to finance the clean energy transition thanks to the savings generated from a lower diesel use due to increasing renewables share.
The Opening of the event has seen the participation of delegates from FAO, UNDESA, IRENA, Asian Development Bank, Insuleur, CPMR, among the others.
“A joint effort of technology, policy and finance is needed to advance the sustainable development of islands. International cooperation and partnerships across a variety of actors are critical, and have to be based on national ownership, transparency, accountability. They have emerged as a powerful tool for an effective post-pandemic recovery”, said Sainivalati S. Navoti, Chief of SIDS Unit, Division for Sustainable Development Goals, UNDESA, who has also praised GTI’s efforts for its Awards program which has inspired the UNDESA’s Partnership Awards.
Joseph Borg, Chairman of INSULEUR (The Association of the EU Islands Chambers of Commerce) said: “Technology should allow islands to become more autonomous, digitalization can help achieve this by addressing their peculiar accessibility issues. Islands businesses need to play an important role in the sustainable transition. However, technical change is unattainable without a clear and effective policy framework”.
As remarked by Gurbuz Gonul, Director Country Engagement and Partnerships, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) / SIDS Lighthouses Initiative (LHI), a holistic approach and political will are essential to create an enabling environment for renewables. SIDS governments need tailored support in developing proper technology- or sector-specific strategies and integrating them in the regional frameworks.
“The energy sector is peculiar as it can decarbonize also other sectors like agriculture, transport, fisheries. Reducing islands’ dependence on external fuel supply is key for their financial sustainability and for the resilience of their communities”, added Jaimes Kolantharaj, Senior Energy Specialist, Energy Division, South Asia Department, Asian Development Bank.
“Greening the Islands supports and facilitates partnership among local stakeholders as a key enabler of the islands’ sustainable transition, a path with no immediate finish line but rather a continuous one which needs to be sustained by joint efforts of global technology, policy and finance. This is also the reason why we have created the GTI Observatory Global Index and the GTI Tourism Certification, a new program to monitor and recognize islands’ progress towards integrated sustainability, in cooperation with Green Destinations Foundation”, said Gianni Chianetta, Founder and Director of GTI.
The GTI Tourism Certification powered by Green Destinations has been presented, aiming to encourage and support islands sustainable development, protecting and monitoring their typical social, cultural, natural and environmental values; and inform travelers and holidaymakers about the most sustainable islands and what opportunities exist to enjoy them in a responsible way. The GTI Observatory Global Index is integral part of the process, focusing on Energy, Water, Waste, Mobility, Environment (Agriculture and Tourism under development); the overall score will be reflected in the Certification. With a simplified process of certification, which includes on-site audits from expert evaluators, islands will be able to choose from five levels of certification on incrementing criteria. The highest level, GTI Tourism Certification 5 Star, is recognized by the GSTC (Global Sustainable Tourism Council) of the UN.
Closing the GTI e_Convention, the 7th edition of the GTI Awards has awarded 7 outstanding projects for islands sustainability carried on by the island municipalities/local authorities with partners among six categories (exceptionally, the waste award has been recognized to two deserving projects), thanks to most authoritative Jury ever assembled for islands composed by representatives of IRENA, FAO, Insuleur, Glispa, European Commission, Unesco, UN DESA, OCTA, University of Toronto, OTIE.
Renewable Energy: Maldives – main partner: Asian Development Bank
The POISED project is a flagship project in the Maldives that introduces Solar PV – Battery hybrid system with energy management system and grid upgrades meeting a minimum of 70% percent of the daytime peak load demand in more than 160 outer islands. The project represent the largest energy sector intervention in the region and a proof of concept that investing in renewable energy is financially sound. The islands are the places where poor and vulnerable population in Maldives live, which makes the project more impactful and meaningful. The project shows how investing in renewable energy helps move away from fossil fuels and secure a sustainable future – reducing gas emissions and dependence on diesel-generated electricity hence curbing the cost of electricity and improving livelihoods including gender inclusive opportunities for microenterprises and island communities – while helping de-risk renewable energy investments.
Sustainable Mobility: Chalki (Greece) – main partner: Energy Community of Chalki “CHALKION”
The Chalki Green-Smart Island project includes the installment of solar PV systems for the production of green energy, which will cover the energy demand of the residents and businesses of the island, as well as the provision of electric vehicles and recharge systems with the simultaneous integration of smart systems of public lighting, development of innovative telecommunications services and technological applications. The project is envisioned to save € 260,000.00 per year for the residents’ energy cost thanks to net metering, € 215,000.00 per year for the island utilities thanks to the replacement of thermal energy with renewable sources, and to reduce annual emissions by 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide.
Water: Maio (Cape Verde) – main partner: Instituto Tecnológico de Canarias
This initiative combines technology transfer, international cooperation and a demonstration of sustainable access to drinking water, to ensure freshwater supply to the population of Ribeira Dom João and Figueira Seca, in the island of Maio, Cape Verde. The output capacity of the seawater reverse-osmosis desalination plant was enhanced and its power consumption optimized with the highest energy efficiency possible. At the same time, an off-grid solar PV system was installed to supply renewable energy to the desalination plant and remove the use of diesel. Once completed in June 2021, this installation became the first plant of its kind in Cape Verde, resulting in a significant improvement in the quality of life of the residents and the lowest potable water production cost possible, both from the economic and environmental point of view.
Waste: Cres (Croatia) – main partner: Active Solera
Like in many other small islands, Cres-Lošinj Archipelago’s limited land availability makes waste management difficult and costly. SMO is the first energy-autonomous waste processor using exclusively solar thermal energy to transform carbon-based waste into competitively priced hydrogen coupling Carbon Capture and Utilization (CCU). The project is envisioned to turn 27 tons of locally available waste and biomass per day into 2.5 tons of clean, affordable hydrogen, which will be converted into electricity and sold to the grid for the islanders’ consumption.
Waste: Province of Siquijor (Philippines), main partner: Mother Earth Foundation (MEF)
The Province of Siquijor is the third smallest province in the Philippines. With the continuous influx of tourists and the local economy booming, waste generation and disposal alongside grew. And without a concrete plan and an adequate waste management program, the beautiful island of Siquijor could be soon transformed into an “Island of Garbage”. To prevent this waste crisis, the Ecological Solid Waste Management (ESWM) program of the Zero Waste Islands – Siquijor Project is raising the level of awareness of the people and establishing a proper waste management program, with multi-sectoral Consultation and Training and Information and Education Campaigns. The project has also managed to address the illegal dumping of plastics in the waterways and into the ocean, has empowered people not to burn their wastes, and promoted regulation of single-use plastics.
Agriculture: Santiago (Cape Verde), main partner: Instituto Tecnológico de Canarias, Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
The project includes demonstration, optimization and evaluation of the reuse of reclaimed water and promotion of good irrigation practices adapted to climate change and risk situations associated with water scarcity in Macaronesia. Treated water is used to irrigate obtaining optimum yield and maximum protection of the population, environment (soil, water and aquifer) and irrigation system, minimizing the need to modify the quality of water produced by the rural wastewater treatment plant by using the soil as an advanced treatment and optimizing water management. Diffusion of the results is conducted forming farmers and technical people in best irrigation practices. By optimizing the reuse of non-conventional water, resilience to climate change and water scarcity will increase.
Governance and Inclusion: Kökar (Aland Islands), main partner: ÅBO Academy, supported by the European Commission (H2020)
The Habitability Plan was led by the municipality of Kökar with a very strong participation from the community. Residents talked to each other, googled, read, listened, chatted and argued. They had a large number of meetings, lectures, workshops, sub-projects, committee and board sessions, and called in researchers from universities. Most of all, the people of Kökar acknowledged that they are the real experts on their island. That is why they came to focus on habitability: what determines whether they are a sustainable society or not, is whether Kökar is a habitable island. If those who were born and raised there want to stay or move back, if new families move in, if there are children in school, if there is work, housing, marine connections, service and security – then it is habitable. “If there is a mixed population of all ages, genders, origins and opinions all year round we might call us habitable and become long-term sustainable.” Islanders were inspired to organise sustainable tourism, to produce local carbonated water instead of importing water in plastic bottles, and to integrate immigrants in the small society.
Note for the editors
Greening the Islands (GTI) is an innovative organization that supports self-sufficiency and sustainability of islands worldwide. GTI launched the GTI Observatory, a global initiative that aggregates key stakeholders to match island needs and innovative solutions in energy, water, mobility and environmental sectors. The GTI Observatory facilitates the development of shared strategies between governments and corporates.