Archive for Islands
During 2014 and 2015, the two Åland islands Simskäla and Sottunga were engaged in the EU project named SMILEGOV. The project idea was that islands should make their own local energy plan. As a result of the project, Sottunga has been nominated for the EU Sustainable Energy Awards, abbreviated EUSEW http://eusew.eu/about-awards-competition.
Through their national island organisation, the two islands were members of ESIN – the European Small Islands Federation. ESIN islands formed a small islands cluster in Smilegov with Ischia from Italy, Molène, Sein and Ushant from France, Cape Clear, Bere, Arranmore and Aran from Ireland, Ven Vinön and Visingsö from Sweden, Nagu and Iniö from Finland. There were more, bigger, islands in the project (Cyprus, Malta, the Canaries, Samsø, Madeira, Gotland among others), which as a whole was managed by Kostas Komninos from DAFNI http://www.sustainableislands.eu.
One of the Åland islands – Simskäla – is very, very small. Its dry area is 2,000 hectares and its wet area (the sea) is 12,000 ha. It has 35 all-year-residents but a strong identity, partly because the Åland writer Anni Blomkvist wrote a series of novels of her life here which were filmed under the title ”Stormskärs Maja”, depicting the hard times of a late 19-th century woman, married to a local fisherman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lCUK2_W7UA.
Simskäla was quite brave when engaging in the somewhat dodgy ”Smilegov” project, wanting to explore and develop its sustainability. There are two businesses on the island (not bad for a 35-person community): a greenhouse and a pub. Both are run in a smart, locally solved, sustainable way: the greenhouse collecting its energy (heat) from the surrounding sea, the pub breeding its own highland cattle, taking fish from the sea and of course vegetables from the greenhouse.
The pub owner (Mikael Lindholm) also drives the ferry to and from the island and has recently become a member of the Parliament of Åland.
During the project, the island made a Sustainable Energy Action Plan https://europeansmallislands.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/simskala-iseap.pdf. It is in Swedish (made by and for them, not for the EU) but the summary is in English. Their plan is to develop the ferry system, which is the single most energy-consuming object of the island (as on all islands).
Now, Simskäla is short-listed for the final evaluation of candidates for the EU Sustainability Award together with 12 other candidates. There are three categories with separate jurys: “Consumers”, “Public Sector” and “Energy Islands”, as well as a fourth category, “Citizens’ Award” chosen through a public vote.
The prize is awarded during the EU Sustainable Energy Week, held for the 12th time in Brussels on June 19th to 25th. The winners, having made “outstanding innovation in energy efficiency and renewables”, will be announced on Monday, June 19th.
What Simskäla has shown – whether a winner of the EUSEW award on not – is that micro communities, despite their small format, are able to take active responsibility for their future in a sensible, ingenious and sustainable manner. They are a benchmark for ESINs 1,415 islands – and for small communities all over Europe.
Chair Camille Dressler represented ESIN at the Smart Islands Initiative launch in Brussels yesterday, saying: “We are proud to have been signing the Smart Islands Declaration: islanders will now be truly empowered to be lead the energy revolution: Thank you DG energy for your support, and massive respect to Kostas and Alkisti from the Aegean Energy Agency for holding the vision right through to this fantastic achievement, a well deserved success!!!”
The journey of the Smart Islands Intiative starts with the 1st Smart Islands Forum, organized last June in Athens at the initiative of DAFNI (coordinator of the SMILEGOV project, which officially ended in 2015. In SMILEGOV ESIN formed a cluster of 15 small islands https://europeansmallislands.com/smilegov/.
The Forum built on this foundation, offering the opportunity to capitalize on the results of SMILEGOV and broaden at the same time the European family of islands. At the Forum more than 40 representatives of island local and regional authorities and actors from Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK as well as organisations such as ESIN, the European Commission, CPMR, EESC, INSULEUR, GEF and GIZ took stock of islands collaboration over the years and decided to launch the Smart Islands Initiative as a meaningful vehicle helping them embark on a smart, sustainable and inclusive development paradigm! To this end, they started drafting the Smart Islands Declaration and decided to have it endorsed by all Quadruple Helix actors back in their islands, namely public administrations, businesses, academic institutions and civil society actors!
MEPs Eva Kali Eva Kaili, Salvatore Cicu Salvatore Cicu, Anna Hedh Anna Hedh, Davor Skrlec @davor Skrlec, Jens Gieseke Jens Gieseke, Neoklis Sylokiotis Neoklis Sylikiotis, Gabriel Mato @Gabriel Mato and Alyn Smyth Alyn Smith at the launch in the European Parliament, March 28.
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A smart island is the insular territory that embarks on a climate resilient pathway, combining climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, in order to create sustainable local economic development and a high quality of life for the local population by implementing smart and integrated solutions to the management of infrastructures, natural resources and the environment as a whole, supported by the use of ICT, all while promoting the use of innovative and socially inclusive governance and financing schemes.
ESIN chair Camille Dressler took part in the CPMR Islands Commission annual general meeting which was hosted on Gozo, Malta’s smaller island, seen above with Kostas Komninos from DAFNI, Joseph Borg, Gozo Chamber of Commerce and a lady from Orkney.
The meeting brought together island regions from the North to the South of Europe to look at the future of Cohesion Policy post-2020. As an observer member, the European Small Islands Federation was extremely pleased to see some very strong principles being reiterated:
– Islands must think globally and act locally
– One size does not dictate all nor add value to a nation
– It is important to bridge the gap between the EU and policies
– It is crucial to get rid of bureaucratic barriers and help micro, small and medium size enterprises through changes to State Aid rules for islands and a rise in De minimis level at least in line with inflation.
– The Cohesion Policy, as a fundamental pillar of EU construction, must act as a forward looking policy bringing EU citizens together
– There must be a new way to look ar shipping issues
– There should be social policies for the islands
– There should be Special funding packages for the islands
– To serve the islands adequately, there must be a place-based approach to the EU Development and Territorial Cohesion Policy.
Island Commission President Vasco Cordeiro: “We MUST SPEAK VERY CLEARLY AND VERY LOUDLY ABOUT THE ISLANDS’ NEEDS, to be an island should nto be a problem but a pillar of development!”
CPRM island Commission secretary Eleni Marianou on the future of the EU: The CPMR needs to make a response to the EU White Paper and respond to the key challenges of competiveness, investment and Territorial Cohesion. It needs a strong voice and think of target audiences: EU institutions, National governments, EU Regions, Citizens and Young People. Response includes making the case for EU cooperation based on CPMR principles of balanced Territorial Principles, solidarity between EU and its regions, championing the position of regions in EU policy-making. CPMR needs to prepare for a strong lobbying campaign prior to and during the EU parliamentary elections in 2018- 2019.
Professor Ioannis Spilanis from the University of Aegean: 5% of EU population live on islands. Their access to the Single market is NOT equal to the access enjoyed by other parts of the EU. Insularity has a negative aspect on businesses and people and Brexit will make it worse by reducing the number of islands in the EU and the overall funding share. EU Sectoral policies are without differentiation. For the islands to realise their potential, EU policies need to include insularity clauses. For this reason, a new island typology is needed. Current indicators are woefully inadequate: new indicators are required to describe the islands situation as the classification used in NUTS2 and NUTS3 is not good enough. (NUTS 3 islands are drowned in the NUTS2 areas). To achieve the EU’s principles of Territorial Cohesion and Sustainability, the development model needs to be changed to include Equal opportunities for the islands and Green island policies.
– We need to communicate what the EU Cohesion Policy stands for.
– We need to provide pertinent examples and make our voices heard for a balanced territorial approach to succeed.
– CPMR’s proposal is for the distribution of funds in NUTS2 areas to be done in a way that favours ESF spending in proportion to the levels of island population: We are asking that the member states offer at least a proportion of their ESF funds to their island population in line with the percentage of population they represent.
MEP MEP Myriam Dalli: Islands need to have a Can do attitude and islands need to access support to realise their ambitions.
Entreprise on islands with INSULEUR president Georgios Benetos: No economy of scale for the islands. Added costs of insularity needs to be taken into account. Access to credit and finance is more complicated. VAT should be lower as it is already on some islands ( Corsica, Heilgoland, no VAT in Faroes). There should be a lower level of taxation for islands to help small and medium enterprises as well as micro-enterprises.
Finnish state TV station YLE reports that an European organisation for small islands – yes, ESIN – has its centre in Finland’s second smallest municipality: Kökar, and has plans for building an ESIN office there.
http://areena.yle.fi/1-4052507?autoplay=true, the part on Kökar starts at 10:03.
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.
Enso by Torei Enji (1721-1792)
Susanne is a friend of mine who paints ensō’s. It is a Japanese word meaning ”circle” and a concept strongly associated with Zen. Ensō is perhaps the most common subject of Japanese calligraphy, symbolizing strength, elegance, the universe, single mindedness, the state of mind of the artist at the moment of creation and the acceptance of imperfection as perfect.
To me, it is a picture of an island. They can be drawn with or without an opening. Susanne’s ensō is an island with no opening. The island has its residents who move around paths and roads inside the island. Outside of he “o” there is a lot of traffic mainly at the bottom of the painting. Maybe, maybe there are some small connections?
When drawn with an opening, it can suggest that imperfection is an essential and inherent part of existence, a part of something greater.
I prefer to see islands as open ensō’s. No island can exist with a harbour which is the opening, the connection to the mainland, the acceptance that the island cannot survive as a secluded, self-supporting society.
I am, of course, heavily influenced by the fact that the Swedish word for island is ”ö”. It is a word of Germanic origin meaning “land close to water”. It is, as you can see, an ensō, a ”o” with two dots on top, like a French ”trema”. It’s could be a pictogram of an island with its round shape supported by two skerries or rocks or lighthouses.
In Danish, the word for island is ”ø” (not too bad), in Norwegia ”øy” (no ore a pictogram). In Finnish it ish ”saari” and in Estonian ”saar”, both languages have of Slavonic roots. Germans say ”insel”, French say ”île”, English people say ”island and so do the Irish and the Scots if they aren’t saying ” eilean” or ”innis”. The Italians say ”isola”, most of these are derived from latin and have to do with isolation. The Croatians say ”otoka” and the Greeks say ”νησί”.
I believe there is no more accurate and beautiful word for island than the Swedish “ö”. Open or not, you decide.
Ensō by Susanne Frunck
2014 enso by Jaysen Matthew Waller
A monk asked his master to express Zen on paper so that he would have something tangible to study. At first the master refused, saying, “Since it is right in front of your face why should I try to capture it with brush and ink?” Still the monk continued to plead with the master for something concrete. The master drew a circle on a piece of paper and added this inscription: “Thinking about this and understanding it is second best; not thinking about it and understanding it is third best.” The master did not say what is first best.
Zenga: Brushstrokes of Enlightenment
Which books, songs or poems have had the strongest influence on our common image of what an island is?
Is it Daniel Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe”, George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” or Ernest Hemingway’s “Islands in the Stream”? Is it Lucy Maud Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables” or Enid Blyton’s “Five on a Treasure Island”? Is it Paul Simon’s “I am a rock, I am an island” or is it John Donne’s “No man is an island”? Is it Jules Verne’s “l’Ile Mysterieuse”, Walt Disney/Carl Barks’ “Floating Island” or Hergé’s “L’Ile Noir”?
Which literary contribution has had most influence on the human concept of an “island”?