Archive for Infrastructure
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.
On his way out to Oileán Chléire – Cape Clear island – Mairtin O’Mealoid reports that the island is to receive a €4.3 million euro investment by Irish Water. The Cape Clear Water-main Rehabilitation Project will involve the replacement of 11.5km of water-mains across the Island.
The project, which is running in partnership with Cork County Council is due to get underway next month, and will take 18 months to complete. It’s hoped the 11 million litres of water that is currently lost to leakage will be saved, and this will lead to improvements in the water supply for local households and businesses.
Great news for the islanders and for the Water Saving Project https://europeansmallislands.com/water-saving-project/ in which Oileán Chléire is one of eight participating islands.
Mairtin and Mona Best, owner of the Victorian b&b in Skibbereen
At the EESC Public Hearing 7th of February, Croatian MEP Tonino Picula mentioned that the islands of Europe, if grouped together, would rank as Europe’s ninth nation. I double-checked him, making a table based on Wikipedia, from which I excluded islands that are nations (Great Britain, Ireland, Cyprus and Malta) but included all the remaining 2.136 ones, summing up their areas and their populations.
The result is a complex, widespread, divided, illusive island nation with an area of 454,753 km2 and with 18,889,077 inhabitants. Were it a nation, it would population-wise place itself after Romania but before Kazakstan. Counting by area, it would rank as the 4th nation of Europe, just after Norway. Assuming humans are more important than land, the islands of Europe grouped together would rank as the number 11 among the 50 sovereign states of Europe. Were it a nation, it might be called ISLANDIA.
Is this 11th nation of Europe different from the other 28 nations of Europe? Yes: it has some very valuable assets: (1) shores, that attract hundreds of millions of tourists every year; (2) seas, that contain tides, waves, oil, gas, fish, motorways of the seas as well as more ordinary waterways; (3) unrivalled natural and cultural heritages.
This 11th imaginary nation also has an invisible obstacle surrounding it: remoteness – a permanent handicap causing extra costs for its small-scale societies, enterprises and inhabitants. There are 671 ro-pax ferries connecting the islands with the mainland. On the one thousand smaller islands, 38% of the total energy spent is used for sea transports, larger islands somewhat less. To reengineer these sea transport systems would be an economical, ecological and social revolution.
The event is organized by European island authorities and actors and builds on the outcomes of the 1st Smart Islands Forum hosted by on 21-22 June in Athens, Greece. For more information on the Forum, see http://www.dafni.net.gr/en/archives/250616.htm
Key objective of the event is to present the Smart Islands Initiative, currently supported by 70 island authorities from 13 countries across Europe. Further, during the event representatives from island local and regional authorities will sign the Smart Islands Declaration.
Overall the event will engage EU policy-makers and representatives from local and regional authorities, research institutions, the private sector and civil society on a discussion about islands’ potential to drive Europe’s transition into a low-carbon, sustainable and inclusive economy.
This is a link to five documentary films on five exceptional islands, beautiful and fascinating, but above all exemplary. Farmers, business people, engineers and scientists on these islands have taken on the challenge or revolutionising energy provision – without oil, coal, gas or nuclear power.
The people who live on these islands have been battling against the forces of nature for centuries. Now they intend to use the power of water, the waves, the tides, the wind, geothermal energy and the sun for a better future. These islands are laboratories of hope that are showing the rest of the world how climate protection can be achieved and, above all, that it works.
The Danish island of Samsø, the Canary island of El Hierro, Madeira, Iceland and Orkney in Scotland have discovered pathways to the future without destroying their breathtaking landscapes.
Researchers Luca De Benedictis and Anna Maria Pinna from the University of Cagliari have launched the term ‘bad geography”. They have explored the geographical dimension of insularity, measuring its effect on trade costs. An interesting report with many different aspects on insularity http://www.siecon.org/online/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/De-Benedictis.pdf.
I quote: ”Insularity is not in general considered the worst condition in terms of ’bad geography’. According to both empirical and theoretical literature, the most immediate case of exterme geographical condition is the lack of direct access to the sea. This is considered to be a fundamental cause of heterogeneity among countries. One out of four countries in the world is landlocked; in Africa, it is one out of three. On the contrary, having direct access to the sea is the geographical condition that has been found to be the most advantageous for the economy of a country: coastal countries are wealthier and experience 30% more trade than landlocked countries But the direct access to the see can generate extreme geographical conditions. Islands are completely surrounded by sea. This full land discontinuity raises costs by eliminating alternatives in the connection system of an island and by raising the level of uncertainty for the remaining alternatives. The small and remote nature of island countries should be considered in view of these characteristics, revealing the crucial physical difference between islands and coastal countries. But also not all islands are made the same.”
Benedictis and Pinna conclude that to be an island is not bad per se in terms of trade costs. Bad geography can be reversed by connectedness and open institutions.
Easy said, hard to do. Let me quote Spilanis, Kizos and Petsioti “Accessibility of Peripheral Regions: Evidence from Aegean Islands”: On islands, where “everyday transportation is not available, many services are provided locally even if their quality or variety may not always satisfy local needs. Therefore, the increase of the availability of intermediate services locally in bigger mainland settlements is unsurprising, since the size of the population justifies the provision of private services (selling furniture, electric appliances, home products, physiotherapy services) and the existence of public services (tax office, town planning). Establishing and maintaining such services in areas where the level of population is lower than the threshold for its “spontaneous” emergence raises the cost for both private and public services. For public services, a revealing example is provided by ESPON (2011) for Notio Aigaio Region (40 inhabited islands). If all its population was living on one island, a maximum of three ports would be sufficient, while now there are 50, along with 14 airports instead of one, 21 power production plants instead of one, five hospitals instead of one, 90 primary schools instead of 211, 35 waste water treatment units instead of eight, and so on.“
If the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea (Notio Aigaio) could be grouped together, life would be so much simpler for everyone. Same thing were they municipalities in Germany. I believe they do suffer from ‘bad geography’.
Some Aegean islands grouped together
Some of the Aegean islands migrated to Germany (adapted from Jean-Didier Hache, CPMR)