The green economy as a development opportunity for EU islands - Networking Session
The initiatives confirmed once again that the brown economy approach, based on unconditional exploitation of natural resources considered limitless, has already been replaced by the green economy model, which recognises our planet ecological limits and moves to a new economic model built on sustainable use of resources and reduction of the negative impacts on environment, our society and the quality of life.
It is necessary to protect and enhance the natural capital and biodiversity, finding a balance between natural heritage protection and other fundamental socio-economic activities of islands such as agriculture, fishing, mobility, industry, tourism and urban sprawl.
Sustainability and the enhancing the resilience of our territories must be in the centre of all policies and actions. This results in sustainable management of natural heritage, such us forests, coastal areas and protected areas. Promoting sustainable tourism and mobility, circular economy and clean energy can create new green jobs, social development and welfare in EU regions.
It is fundamental to invest in tools of aggregation and cooperation capable of raising international awareness on the crucial role of sub-national governments to achieve the sustainable global targets.
A multilevel governance, with the involvement of national, regional, and local authorities is a key factor to build successful policies and actions in these sectors. It is also necessary to deepen horizontal coordination between different fields to avoid the silo thinking, working in conjunction with the various policies in EU islands, such as territorial, landscape, environmental, health and productive. Regions can surely play a crucial role in this context.
It is also essential to foster the cross-sectoral collaboration involving all actors in the process creating a full inclusive governance. This approach has a great potential in spreading know-how and it also has the benefit to involve private and research sectors as well as citizens in this challenge.
These actions requires a cooperative approach and need for sharing activities with all the stakeholders to create a "community" of local and regional partners and promote common participation. A public acceptance of the required strong changes in the ways we produce and consume need to be built, engaging with citizens and guiding them to play an active role in this transition.
These themes should not be treated at local level. Mediterranean Islands have to broaden their perspective and foster an inclusive approach since they share similar challenges and needs.
The initiatives organised by the partnership “Green Islands for sustainable cohesion policy” composed by Sardinia, Corsica, Balearic Islands and Crete during the European Week of Regions and Cities represented a significant opportunity to reinforce the collaboration among Mediterranean Islands aiming to achieve the sustainable development.
Take away message
Mediterranean Islands need to strengthen their collaboration. This can be achieved increasing the participation in cooperation projects. EU islands do not have to confront European Union individually to face their specific issues. Instead, islands must join their efforts and bring common positions and requests to the EU level. Sustainable development can no longer be considered an opportunity but the only choice the Mediterranean islands can take.
We intend to bring to the attention of EU institutions specific aspects of insularity, from energy supply to climate change impacts. These debates are extremely valuable to identify common paths and projects and work together to turn geographical disadvantages into opportunities for natural capital protection and economic growth.
I strongly believe that our islands can be living innovation labs. The Mediterranean is the 1st tourist destination in the world but it is also a hotspot of biodiversity in danger.
Marie Antoniette Maupertuis
Region of Crete addresses insularity, as a crucial approach at the Mediterranean, in terms of interregional synergies, and cooperation of the islands in key sectors such energy, waste and water management, climate change.
Sustainable development can no longer be considered an opportunity, but the only choice the Mediterranean islands can take. These themes should not be treated at local level; on the contrary we have to broaden our perspective and foster cooperation among our islands which share similar challenges and needs.
There is an opportunity for our islands to demonstrate we can change paradigms making a real ecological transition simultaneously with a technological and digital transition. Our geographical and demographic situation allows to test new management systems related to diversified topic including waste, water, pleasure boats and motorhomes.
Marie Antoniette Maupertuis
Balearic Islands Government is pushing towards a change of model that has sustainability in the center of all its policies. In this sense, the different initiatives that we have carried out in a pioneering way to guarantee a shift to a more sustainable model have been highlighted.
We need to incorporate sustainability into the reformulation of the Islands tourist model. I would like to underline the pioneering legislative initiatives of Balearic Islands on waste, climate change and the decree for the preservation of Posidonia, a pioneering and leading measure to ensure its conservation.
Crete is stressing efforts for boosting the Circular Economy in main sector of economy, as a new, innovative business model. Our Region is implementing European Projects focusing on circular economy practices in agrifood and tourism sector, also highlighting that particular priority in respect to Regional Smart Specialization Strategy.