Report from ESIN’s 2019 AGM on Hven, Sweden by Camille Dressler, Vice-Chair
ESIN 19th AGM took place on the lovely island Hven, Sweden, gathering Small islands delegates from Sweden, Ireland, Scotland, Finland, Denmark and Estonia.
The distillery and accommodation Spirit of Hven, which showcases the enterprising island spirit was the perfect venue for the islanders’ exchange experiences and best practices on smart islands strategies. The visit to the excellent Tycho Brahe museum and renaissance garden also showed how high quality EU funded heritage projects can be used to boost an island’s economy.
Farming also plays a large part in the islands economy as it has some of the richest farmland in Sweden, with sugar beet and grain the main crops. Delegates were impressed by the size of historical steadings which are maintained by the Swedish government! It was also great to see locally grown potatoes and island poultry sold in the island shop.
Cycling, golf cart hire and local buses are part of the mobility on Hven: no visitors are allowed to take their cars across. This is just as well as the numbers of bikes for hire is pretty impressive! There can be as many as 1000 cyclists on the road in the high season!
Sustainable tourism was very much part of the Smart Island strategies that the islanders contemplated as part of their reflection on how to engage in the forthcoming Framework Programme of the European Union for 2021-2027. Here are their conclusions:
“The Small islands of Europe have the potential to capitalise on their unique natural and cultural assets and contribute to a more sustainable future for Europe. Green Deal and climate action, sustainable energy, community-led tourism and the circular economy in particular can untap the small islands’ potential to create local growth, achieve population retention and make a substantial contribution to the EU goals at the same time. In order to achieve these, ESIN is now asking for the respective National legislation in our Member-States to better incorporate appropriate provisions to compensate for the severe and permanent natural and/or demographic handicaps that we face, as highlighted by Article 174 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the EU. The Small Islands of Europe are also asking their respective MEPs to support the formation of a renewed SEARICA intergroup in the EU parliament to ensure that their particular issues are understood and supported. ”