European Week of Regions and Cities
7-10 OCTOBER 2019 Brussels

Green economy as development opportunity for EU islands

October 10, 2018 from 11:30 to 13:00

Islands share similar needs, in terms of energy supplies, climate change impacts and accessibility. On the other hand, island status can be an opportunity to pursue innovative strategies on renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable mobility, the circular economy, protected areas, etc. Therefore, the issue of insularity needs to be addressed as part of the sustainable development theme. In this regard, the workshop aims to share experiences and good practices as well as to foster cooperation among EU islands and regions with the aim of promoting sustainable growth for Mediterranean and EU islands.

Eleni Chatzigianni, Marie-Antoinette Maupertuis, Donatella Spano, Miquel MIR GUAL
Energy, climate, environment
Green islands for sustainable cohesion policy
english (en), fran├žais (fr), italiano (it)
Building Rond - Point Schuman 14 Building , Room n/a

Session summary

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the brown economy approach, based on unconditional exploitation of natural resources considered limitless, has already been replaced by the green economy model, which recognises our planet ecological limits and moves to a new economic model built on sustainable use of resources and reduction of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 the 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 enhancing the resilience of our territories must be at the centre of all policies and actions. This results in sustainable management of natural heritage, such as 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 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 fully inclusive governance. This approach has a great potential in spreading know-how and it also has the benefit of involving the private and research sectors as well as citizens in this challenge.

These actions require a cooperative approach and a 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 outlook and foster an inclusive approach since they share similar challenges and needs.

The initiatives organised by the partnership “Green Islands for sustainable cohesion policy” organised 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 by increasing participation in cooperation projects. EU islands do not have to confront the European Union individually about their specific issues. Instead, islands must join 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.

Donatella Spano

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

Crete is stressing efforts for boosting the Circular Economy in main sectors of the economy, as a new, innovative business model. Our region is implementing European pProjects focusing on circular economy practices in agrifood and tourism sector, highlighting particular priority in respect of Regional Smart Specialization Strategy.

Eleni Chatzigianni

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 at the center of all its policies. In this way, the different initiatives that we have carried out in a pioneering way to guarantee a shift to a more sustainable model have been highlighted.

Miquel Mir

We need to incorporate sustainability into the reformulation of the Islands tourist model. I would like to underline the pioneering legislative initiatives of the Balearic Islands on waste, climate change and the decree for the preservation of Posidonia, a pioneering and leading measure to ensure its conservation.

Miquel Mir

The Region of Crete addresses insularity, as a crucial approach for the Mediterranean, in terms of interregional synergies, and cooperation of the islands in key sectors such energy, waste and water management, climate change.

Eleni Chatzigianni

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.

Donatella Spano

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