Developing a sustainable mutation program by exploiting the competitive advantages of the islands
Actors and representatives of local and regional authorities of Croatia, Cyprus,Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom met for the first time in Athens for the first forum of “smart islands” or intelligent islands.About 3.5% of European citizens live in islands and this percentage increases significantly during tourism high season, adding pressure on fragile islands’ecosystem, transport systems, energy and water systems needs.
In addition, it was recognized that most European islands suffer from various structural handicaps resulting in a reduction of the population and especially young people who tend to leave the islands for a better job and more modern living conditions on the continent.
European island communities in the forefront of the fight against global warming
Islands are surrounded by water, are home to fragile ecosystems and are characterized by weak local economies, hence the need to become important partners in the common global fight against climate change, and to participate in European initiatives to reduce CO2 emissions.
The introduction of energy systems and sustainable transport in island communities make an important contribution in achieving sustainable energy objectives in the fight against global warming in the EU, such as the reduction of CO2 emissions by 20% or more and improving energy efficiency by 20% or more by 2020.
A development program is needed to help protect the ecosystem of the islands and to increase energy independence and supply of water to help enhance local economic development, create jobs and reverse the decline of the local population.
Members islands DAFNI network have been working on the Declaration of intelligent islands, which outlines the aspirations, challenges and potential of the islands to become models of a paradigm of smart and sustainable development. In addition, the participants expressed their commitment to organize an event at the end of the autumn in Brussels to present the Declaration of intelligent islands between the EU institutions and stakeholders.
The participants discussed the possibility of setting up a platform of EU island authorities and stakeholders in Brussels, which will advocate of Insular Affairs and facilitate partnerships for the implementation of EU projects on the islands.
This first forum intelligent islands proved to be a success to the extent that it extends the European family islands and inspired participants to transform this first gathering in an annual event dedicated to the cooperation of the EU islands.