European Small Islands Federation

Archive for Economy

No plastic bags for Christmas, please!


From Tilos to Samothrace and from Alonnisos to Lipsi islands, 49 schools across the Aegean Sea took part in a campaign organised by DAFNI – the Network of Sustainable Greek Islands, in collaboration with the Hellenic Recycling Agency.

It was part of the European Week for Waste Reduction and engaged 1708 students from 28 Greek islands. Teachers together with municipality representatives handed out ecological cloth bags to students, highlighting the importance of re-use for waste reduction – plastic in particular. During the action, participants delivered presentations and discussed the need for product re-use and repair, which will help islands transition into a circular economy path.

This is a particularly important for island regions, where the intense seasonal demand for services takes a heavy toll on both infrastructures and resources, making sustainable resource and waste management an imperative for sustainable local development.

Adding Greek islands on the EWWR map of areas that are frontrunners in waste reduction and responsible resource use is meant to also underscore the potential of islands to emerge as test-beds that can host pilot projects and produce knowledge on smart and efficient resource and infrastructure management, tapping the synergies between energy, transport, water and waste.

Thank you DAFNI and let’s hope for an un-wasted, happy new 2018!

Plastic on quai

Public Hearing on entrepreneurship on islands


ESIN is proud to announce that we will collaborate with INSULEUR and EESC in organizing a Public Hearing on Entrepreneurship on Islands in Brussels on June,2

It is a follow-up of the “Smart Island” and “Inclusive Island” initiatives adopted by the EESC and the opinion on “Entrepreneurship on Islands: contributing towards territorial cohesion”, to be adopted by the Committee of Regions next May.

Background: As we esiners know, most of our SMEs are micro-enterprises – with fewer than ten employees – which produce and produce a large part of the economic value in islands. Craft professions – carpenter, butcher, baker, roofer, metal worker or information technician – are at the heart of islands communities. They produce mainly within their local base, ensure jobs and vocational training for young and old, and make an essential contribution to innovation in the European economy. Craft and small enterprises face particular problems due to their small size and limited resources. The globalisation of the economy and enlargements of the EU have also considerably changed the challenges that these enterprises face. Starting up a new business and getting the required capital is a challenge, as is finding the right kind of finance to expand an established business. Due to their limited resources and remoteness they suffer more from red tape and administrative burdens than mainland enterprises.

Objective: the public hearing will examine if existing policies and tools to support SMEs are sufficient for insular SMEs or some new tools or mechanism, mentioned also in the opinions, are needed to help these companies to tackle  obstacles and participate on a equal foot in the integration process and assure therefore a level playing field.

The program is attached.

Public hearing EESC June 2

Shetland Conference

The documents from the Shetland conference are now available here:

Poster Agenda - Shetland - COTER Seminar

Poster Agenda – Shetland – COTER Seminar

program cattaneo-and-robinson delegates cattaneo-twitter-2

Raffaele Cattaneo and Gary Robinson (courtesy of Shetland News), the attendees and the auditorium (courtesy Raffaele Cattaneos Twitter)

On Friday, the EU’s powerful Committee of Regions (CoR) held a one-day seminar in Lerwick (Shetland), entitled ”Overcoming Barriers To Economic Development – A Remote Island Perspective”.

Among the attendees were chairman of the European Small Islands Federation (ESIN) Bengt Almkvist, Scottish Islands Federation chairman Camille Dressler, Orkney Islands Council convener Steven Heddle, University of Edinburgh’s Professor James Mitchell and Gary Robinson, Shetland Islands Council leader last year.

The EU’s Committee of the Regions’ territorial cohesion chairman Raffaele Cattaneo backed Gary Robinson man by suggesting the EU exit was a “great mistake” for Britain. Gary Robinson is one of a handful of Scottish members on the CoR, which aims to give a greater voice to local areas.

The overarching objective of the seminar was to give the CoR a better understanding of the issues faced by rural locations like Shetland when it comes to economic development. One of the key issues of the seminar was connection to high-speed broadband, while transport and an ageing population was also highlighted. The auditorium was packed with delegates from countries as far flung as Greece, Latvia and Slovakia.

See the Shetland News

Bengt Almkvist was brilliant, says Camille Dressler, and continues: It was a wonderful farewell to ESIN involvement for Bengt. He is retiring after 15 years devoted work as founder and chairman. Bengt was born on a Wednesday 25,568 days ago, turning 70 today. Congratulations!


Bengt Almkvist – 70 years today

Eigg buy-out anniversary


Eigg is a small island in the Inner Hebrides. It stands out as a model for other islands in many ways and is the home of Camille Dressler, chair of the Scottish Island Federation, well known to all Esiners.

In 1975, Keith Schellenberg, a Yorkshire farmer and sportsman, bought Eigg for £265,000. Following a divorce there was a prolonged court case over the joint ownership which Mr Schellenberg lost in 1992. The island was put up for sale and Schellenberg rebought it for just under £1 million but as, by then, his relationship with the islanders had seriously deteriorated, he sold Eigg in 1995 for about £1.5 million to an elusive German artist who called himself ‘Maruma’.

After extravagant, unfulfilled promises by the new owner, and further acrimony on the island, the residents launched a public appeal for funds to purchase the island for themselves. Their aim was fulfilled on 12 June 1997 when Eigg was bought for £1.5 million from the true owner, a Hong Kong businessman, Hans Reiner Erdhart, by the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust (a partnership of Highland Council, the Scottish Wildlife Fund and the islanders’ own appeal fund).

They have a beautiful although not recently updated homepage at We guess Camille, Eigg and all Eiggers will celebrate their Independence Day in style and wish them all a Happy Anniversary!


National funding granted for Swedish archipelagos


The national federation for the associations of the Swedish archipelagos – SRF (ESIN’s Swedish member) – has been accorded a three-year grant from the Swedish government.

The grant which comprises over 0,5 million euro for 2016-2018 was communicated last Thursday February, 3. It is an increase compared to previous years to make special attention to equality, diversity and inclusion possible.

– The efforts SRF is conducting addresses a variety of challenges in our archipelagos. It supports the development capacity of Sweden’s archipelagos, says Minister of Rural Affairs Sven-Erik Bucht.

– The decision is most welcome, says Bengt Almqvist, chairman of SRF. The Government sees the importance of the work we do to improve conditions to keep our archipelagos alive, all-year-round. It has also been recognized that a stable core operation is a prerequisite to manage this work. We will administer their confidence well.


News from Italy

Corongiu e Ortelli

ANCIM president Mario Corongiu, mayor of Sant’Antiocco, and island of Giglio mayor Sergio Ortelli at the EXPO MILANO seminar

28 of the small Italian islands are united in ANCIM (Associazione Nazionale Comuni Isole Minori), founded in 1986, representing 36 municipalities with 200,000 islanders, and a key member of ESIN.

A matter of vital importance to the ANCIM and a matter of the heart of ANCIM’s general secretary Giannina Usai is health services on the small islands. This autumn, ANCIM and ANSPI, Associazione Nazionale Sanitaria Piccole Isole (, which is an NGO for health care on small islands, organised a joint seminar at EXPO MILANO on Isole Minore – Un Mare di Meraviglie (A sea of wonders), focused on island healthcare organisation, e-medecine and mobile health services.

Ancim 180915

Italy has recently established a National Observatory for the Health of the Smaller Islands and published an official guideline for healthcare on the smaller islands. Italy’s President Sergio Mattarela personally awarded doctor Nino Scirè, founder, a medal on the ANSPI congress on one of the Egadi islands: Favignana, west of Sicily, in september this year.

Nino Scirè

Doctor Nino Scirè

Italians seem to have a clear view of the disadvantages of small island societies. In the thoroughly elaborated UNESCO “Action Plan for the Aeolian Islands” (, north of Sicily, it is clearly stated that the islands have:

…“a lack of financial means or difficulty in the access to credit; insufficient abilities in terms of marketing; technological competences often not suitable; impossibility to effect economies of scale and economies of purpose; and scarce share to associative forms and excessive individualism.

To these structural characteristics of the system of entrepreneurship present in the islands it is added the cost related to the insularity, defined as the whole the economic disadvantages that the resident unities in the islands bear because of the over-cost of the importations.

The economic disadvantages that burden the Aeolian islands can be brought back to three categories: costs of transport, costs of distribution and costs of production.”

Sophia Loren could have been talking about small islands when she said: “Sex appeal is fifty percent what you’ve got and fifty percent what people think you’ve got.”

Islands of Sicily map

Circular economy potential


As part of the Scottish Islands Federation’s annual general meeting on the isle of Luing ( on December 15, there was a presentation by Roland Arnison on the Scottish island’s potential for engaging in circular economy, see the slides attached. There is potential for transnational cooperation here!

Circular economy potential