Vice-President of the European Parliament Intergroup for the islands, Tonino Picula, organized a panel discussion on the islands and hosted representatives of eight small European islands from Croatia, France, Greece and Ireland, in the European Parliament in Brussels yesterday.
The panel, which was held on the occasion of World Water Day, marks the beginning of the project “Water saving challenge” that aims to save water and money on the islands. The project gathers 8 islands from 4 EU Member States (see the map attached). They will use their experience and knowledge for development of mindsets and technologies for saving water and communicate it to the 1,640 islands of ESIN – and others.
“The lack of drinking water affects both islands and coastal communities, and the Water Saving Challenge taps into possibilities of using technology and adjusting human behaviour to save both water and money”, said MEP Tonino Picula.
The project will carry out through the whole year, during which two key events will be held. Meeting of the working group after the field research is set for September on Komiža, island Vis and results will be presented in November, again in the European Parliament in Brussels.
Christian Pleijel with the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, said that “the aim of this project is to prove that we can, as people, islanders, industry, entrepreneurs, teenagers … reduce water consumption and build a project together, by listening to the islander’s solutions. For example, to establish a hotel that would motivate guests to stay in, because it successfully saves water.”
Dr. Christoforos Perakis from the Greek Centre for Renewable Energy Sources and Saving emphasized that they plan to make the island Agios Efstratios the first Greek “green island” which will get almost all the energy from renewable sources. As an excellent example of combining the power of wind and water towards energy independence, he announced a new project on the construction of a hybrid power plant on the island of Ikaria.
Mairtin O’Mealoid from the European Federation of small islands (ESIN) with Irish Cape Clear Island announced a major investment of the Irish Government in pipeline, because it turned out that 60 percent of water (11 million liters yearly = 30,000 liters/day) is lost on the way from pumping station to the consumers on the island.
“This project is a result of islanders and politicians working together and therefore I am extremely grateful to MEP Picula for his support and dedication to the project.”
The core team of the “Water saving challenge” project is : MEP Picula, Christian Pleijel and Mairtin O’Mealoid, Anders Nordstrom of the University of Stockholm and Maxime Bredin, representative of the University of Brest. Eight islands included are : Vis and Lastovo, Sein, Houat, Ithaca, Cape Clear, Inisheer and Tilos.
The panel on the islands presented a lot of useful and positive examples of efficient management of water as the most important resource. Discussion pointed that the island’s water resources were often, and for too long, badly ruled and that the islanders were often imposed ineffective solutions, coming from mainland.
Although much still has to be done for efficient and sustainable resolution of the island’s water management, the panelists concluded that the opening of this dialogue between European islands is a significant step forward that will enable better and more effective action for improving life on the islands around the Old continent.