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SUSTAINABLE ENERGY AND EUROPEAN ISLANDS: The Pact of Islands and the ISLE-PACT project

THE PACT OF ISLANDS

16 Greek islands and 2 regional authorities from the Aegean area have joined the Pact of Islands, a European islands' scheme for cooperation in sustainable energy planning and a political commitment of European islands to developing Sustainable Energy Action Plans and identifying bankable energy projects with the aim of meeting or exceeding the EU sustainability targets for the year 2020.

Until April 2011, 48 European island politicians from islands municipalities and regions all over Europe have signed the Pact of Islands making the political commitment to achieve the 20-20-20 objectives of the European Union for 2020.

The Greek signatories are:

  • the Municipalities of Aegina, Andros, Ios, Kythnos, Lesvos, Limnos, Lipsi, Milos, Mykonos, Naxos and Small Cyclades, Samothraki, Santorini, Sifnos, Skyros and Syros-Ermoupolis
  • the Regions of North and South Aegean,

while more island Municipalities of the Aegean have already expressed their intention to join this initiative.

DAFNI, the Network of Sustainable Greek Islands and the Aegean Energy Agency are the Supporting Structures for the Aegean authorities, assisting them to fulfill their commitments.

Presidents of EU island regions and island mayors together with Mercedes Bresso (President of the Committee of the Regions) and Eleni Marianou (Secretary General of the Conference of Peripheral and Maritime Regions (CPMR) at the Signing Ceremony of the Pact of Islands, on 12th of April 2011, Brussels.

The Pact of Islands can also undertake the following key priorities and actions:

  • The formulation of island specific energy and environment policy proposals to the CPMR and the European Commission for the enhancement of the regional energy policy for Mediterranean islands, in order to facilitate EU financial support for the development and implementation of insular projects based on sustainable planning and revolving funds - rather than once-off grant financing. By doing so island authorities can recycle financial resources in order to enhance and accelerate investments.
  • The further enhancement of revolving of funds in order to gain access to complementary financing tools (e.g. NSRF - National Strategic Reference Framework and JESSICA, Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas) so that the implementation of projects would have a longer term horizon.
  • The creation of capacity building structures for the staff of island authorities
  • The gradual specialisation of islands in different technology sectors on the basis of each island's special characteristics and advantages, preferences and know-how available (e.g. a trademark for each island)
  • The co-operation with international organizations, such as IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency)
  • The expansion of the PoI in neighboring areas (e.g non European Mediterranean islands)

THE ISLE-PACT PROJECT

Approximately 3,5% of the European citizens live in islands and this percentage increases significantly during the high tourism season, adding pressure to the islands' ecosystems, transport systems, energy systems and water requirements. Furthermore, it has been recognised that many of the European islands are suffering from structural handicaps, leading to population reduction and more particularly the young leaving the islands for better employment and living conditions in the mainland. European island communities are and intend to continue to be in the forefront of the fight against global warming. Surrounded by water, with fragile ecosystems and weak local economies, island authorities have realised early the need to become important partners in the common global fight against climate change as well as European initiatives to reduce CO2 emissions.

The introduction of sustainable energy and transport systems in island communities will serve three main objectives:

  • to make a significant contribution in achieving EU sustainable energy and climate change targets, such as the reduction of CO2 emissions by 20% or more and the improvement of energy efficiency by 20% or more by 2020;
  • to help protect the islands ecosystems and increase their energy and water supply independence; and
  • to help enhance local economic development, job creation and reverse the decline of the local population

By 2008, a project entitled ISLE-PACT has been designed in order to prepare the ground for sustainable energy actions in a pilot scale in selected European islands. The project, after a call for proposals was approved by the end of 2009. The project is co-financed by the European Commission, Directorate General for Energy. Currently there are 12 participating groups of European Islands (over 50 islands) involved.

  • DAFNI - AEGEAN SUSTAINABLE ISLANDS NETWORK (Greece)
  • COMHAIRLE NAN EILEAN SIAR - THE OUTER HEBRIDES OF SCOTLAND (UK)
  • AREAM - AGENCIA REGIONAL DA ENERGIA E AMBIENTE DA REGIAO AUTONOMA DE MADEIRA (Portugal)
  • ARENA - ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT AGENCY OF AZORES (Portugal)
  • BALEARICS - DIRECTORATE GENERAL FOR ENERGY OF THE BALEARIC ISLANDS GOVERNMENT (Spain)
  • CYPRUS ENERGY AGENCY (Cyprus)
  • GOTLAND - MUNICIPALITY OF GOTLAND (Sweden)
  • ITC - INSTITUTO TECNOLOGICO DE CANARIAS S.A. (Spain)
  • PARAGON LIMITED (Malta)
  • PEPS - PUNTO ENERGIA PROVINCIA DI SASSARI - MULTISS (Italy)
  • REAC - REGIONAL ENERGY AGENCY OF CRETE (Greece)
  • SAMSØ ENERGY ACADEMY (Denmark)

Cooperation with more islands is welcome as the process has been conceived to include all European Islands. The Isle-Pact partner island authorities have made the commitment to signing the Pact of Islands and working together with the European Commission, energy experts and financial institutions, to identify bankable projects with the view to implementing sustainable energy actions in their island regions.
This project will end with some important outputs through the common work on Work Packages and internal analysis within the islands regions represented in the partnership scheme.

The political instrument to continue beyond 2012 is the Pact of Islands, which is a binding instrument with which island authorities will enter into a political engagement in order to meet the objectives of the project and it serves as a structure for cooperation in the future (after the end of the Isle-Pact project).

The Pact of Islands is structured in a manner similar to the Covenant of Mayors, taking into account the particularities of European island communities.

The Pact of Islands signatories make a number of significant commitments, such as:

  • to go beyond the objectives set by the EU for 2020, reducing the CO2 emissions in their respective territories by at least 20%;
  • to submit an Islands Sustainable Energy Action Plan including a Baseline Emission Inventory which outlines how the objectives will be reached;
  • to submit an implementation report at least every second year following the submission of the Action Plan for evaluation, monitoring and verification purposes;
  • to organise Energy Days, in cooperation with the European Commission and with other stakeholders, allowing citizens to benefit directly from the opportunities and advantages offered by a more intelligent use of energy, and to regularly inform the local media on developments concerning the action plan;
  • to attend and contribute to events organised by European Institutions relating to the Pact of Islands & the Covenant of Mayors;
  • to mobilise sustainable energy investments in their respective territories.

More information about Pact of Islands and ISLE-PACT, as well as the text of the signed Pact and a list of the signatories all over Europe are available at www.islepact.eu