Satellite image of Malta, Gozo and little Comino in between
ESIN has been invited to the EESC public hearing “What future for islands in the European Union?” which will take place in Valetta on February 7, http://www.eesc.europa.eu/?i=portal.en.events-and-activities-islands-in-eu-programme
We have prepared four messages to the hearing:
Heavy human pressure on small islands
There is a magnitude of challenges facing islands. Within Europe, the European Small Islands Federation (ESIN) represents 1,640 small and very small islands with a resident population of 359,357 people. These small islands have 3-4 million summer residents and ten times as many visitors, which creates a heavy human pressure on the islands’ hydrogeological system, infrastructure and nature, especially in high season.
The cost of living on a small island is generally at least 30% higher compared to the mainland. Direct overcosts are due to sea transports and affect goods and services such as construction materials and construction workers, fuel, foodstuff, craftsmen, consultants, culture, waste disposal and healthcare. Indirect overcosts come from the lack of local competence, technical service, spare parts and raw materials.
Small islands are forced to and have learnt to be smart and sustainable because of their scarcity of resources and high costs for external goods and competence. They have a lot to gain in being economically, environmentally and socially self-sufficient.
Sea transports count for 38% of a small island’s total energy use, which is not the case on the mainland and ought to be in focus for sustainable development.
The messages of the Smart Islands Declaration to be considered in order to tap the significant, yet largely unexploited potential of islands: http://www.scottish-islands-federation.co.uk/the-smart-island-initiative/
The new President is an island
We are honoured to have been invited to the public hearing about the Future of the Islands and are hoping that Malta – an island nation with both a big island and two small, inhabited ones – will use its Presidency to be the voice of all European islands, regardless of size.
During 2016, we made 76 postings on this ESIN site https://europeansmallislands.com. 16 of these were about events taking place in Greece, 8 in Scotland, 9 in Sweden, 7 each in France and Ireland, 6 in Finland, 3 in Denmark, and 2 in Estonia, Åland and Italy respectively.
The subjects were mixed: 7 out of 76 posts were about renewable energy (plus 2 about Smilegov), 5 about island schools, 4 about island kids, 3 about agriculture, 8 about literature and art, 5 about transports, 6 about ISISA, 4 about CPMR and 2 about waste. The intention is to give an overall picture of life on a small European island, its joys and hardships.
We had almost twelve thousand (11.824) visits by five thousand (5,375) visitors. Most of them came from the UK (c:a 2,000), Sweden (c:a 800), the US (c:a 750), Ireland, Greece and Germany (c:a 700 each), France (c:a 500), Italy, Estonia, Åland and Maldives (c:a 300 each).
Everything posted on this site is mirrored on our Facebook page which had an amazing 34,927 views during 2016. Most popular posts were: the letter from Arranmore on September 15 (seen by 1,478 people), Inishbofin’s ecoturism award on May 4 (1,138 views), the ESIN AGM in Brussels on October, 2 (1,010 views) and the opportunity for young islanders to study tourism in Palermo published on March 8 (1,005 views).
DG Energy’s Marie Donnely island pledge on December 2 reached 751 people, ESIN’s Elefteris Kechagioglou’s attendance to the CPMR 36th Annual General Meeting on May 19 was seen by 696 people and the recent link to “Islands of the Future” documentary films stirred the interest of 686 people.
On the French islands Ouessant (Ushant), the new year begins well as little Leane was born on 3rd of January. She shook up her parents, the medical services and the island statistics to become the first baby to be born on the island of Ouessant for a good thirty years.
The future mom ouessantine was about to take the Monday 16:30 boat to Brest, in anticipation of her imminent delivery, not wanting to quit her job at the local supermarket too early. The unborn baby decided otherwise while her mother was still on the Stiff landing stage.
The firefighters and the island doctor were called, the future mother was placed in the fire truck and taken to the airfield, waiting for the arrival of the airborne mainland medical services. It was there that Leane was born, around 5.45 pm. “It was in the open air and everyone brought blankets,” says an islander.
The last birth on the island dates back to June 18, 1986. A little girl, too. And, wink of fate, the brother of the young mother, born on October 6, 1985, was the penultimate birth to Ouessant. He was born at the motherhood of the island, which has since been transformed into a youth hostel.2017 is starting off well on Ouessant which just got its 879th inhabitant. Happy New Year!
A winter view from ESIN’s office in Karlby, Kökar. The temperature is just below minus and the sea is beginning to freeze. Wishing all islanders and island-friends a Happy New Year!
2016 ends like autumn, not winter, on Kökar. It’s almost midnight on New Year’s Eve, I’m a little drunk, out to pee in the shadowy slope beneath the old gate. It’s 5oC but the clouds are gone and the sky is boiling with stars.
Happy there aren’t any fireworks, hoping 2017 will bring better times for small islands, dreaming of zero waste and zero nonsense, wishing for more research, reflection, reaction and action. Kind of foolish to wish upon a star but remember they are all alive. Maybe they will let us all get a reasonable share of love from others and from ourselves.