The 2nd Clean Energy for EU Islands forum took place on the 5th of November on Lanzarote, Canary Islands.
This was co-organized by the newly formed Island secretariat for Clean Energy, the Commission and the Canary Island government.
Focusing on the opportunities for islands in the context of the clean energy transition, the session included speeches by the President of the Canary Islands Mr. Fernando Clavijo Battle, the Minister for Energy and Water management of Malta, Mr. Joe Mizzi, Members of the European Parliament Mrs. Inés Ayala Sender, Mrs. Maria Spyraki, and Mr. Tonino Picula, as well as the President of the Cabildo de Lanzarote Mr. Pedro San Ginés. The forum gathered a wide-ranging audience representing EU islands and outermost regions, island associations, EU institutions, national and local administrations, businesses and energy industry, academia and civil society.
The forum’s agenda focused on finding ways to accelerate the clean energy transition on islands by making them front-runners in the transformation of their energy systems. This shift must ensure that secure and competitive energy is delivered whilst also bringing benefits to local economies and deploying innovative clean energy technologies. The forum discussed achievements since the launch of the Initiative one year ago, the experience of clean energy transition of outermost regions, progress on technologies supporting the clean energy transition, the recently launched Secretariat supporting the Initiative, as well as the importance of stakeholders’ engagement in the clean energy transition.
To support the EU’s clean energy transition and the commitments under the Paris Agreement, the EU’s more than 2000 islands need to combine a reduction in their dependence on fossil fuel imports with sustainable development and job creation. Technical meetings will follow during 2019.
During the forum, there was the launch of a call for expression of interest to EU’s islands wishing to receive support to plan, prepare or advance their clean energy transition. The call is open until January 15, 2019.
That was the official take on this forum. Personal reflections as a representative of the “civil society” at this event are more ambiguous. There were a lot of talk about a “Quadra helix” approach, namely the four bodies public administration, business, academia and civil society intertwined in cooperation toward a common goal. As usual this is the standard way of interacting with the “grassroots,” talking about us, rather than with us.
To reach the appropriate level of participation in these processes, we must be given the means and capacity to seize the opportunities to interact (which was eloquently presented by John Walsh of Bere Island, Ireland), not just allowed to be present add so-called legitimacy. How we are to reach the goal of being perceived as partners rather than parts, I don’t know – perhaps by joining FEDARENE or a similar organization.
John Walsh of Bere Island, Ireland, speaking at the 2nd Clean Energy for EU Islands Forum on Lanzorate