Archive for Bengt Almkvist
Greek journalist Kostas Argyros, seconded by Eleni Korovila and a film team, has been island-hopping around Europe, covering some of its small islands. On Sunday evening, the Greek television program “28europe” showed his 45 minute long report https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AVzC1LvOCw
Such great contributions from islanders Bengt, Lefteris, Tarja, Camille, Christian, Denis, Laurids and Maria. Such beautiful portraits of Skaftö (though Bengt seems a bit mislocated), Prangli in Estonia, Eigg in Scotland, the Åland Islands, Houat and Ouessant in France, Sejerø in Denmark and Tilos in Greece. But not just beauty – Kostas catches some of the important issues regarding life on small islands.
I especially like the interviews with Tarja from Prangli and Maria from Tilos.
All in all: a fantastic portrait of ESIN (the only thing missing is English subtitles).
The documents from the Shetland conference are now available here: http://cor.europa.eu/en/events/Pages/coter-lerwick.aspx
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 http://www.shetnews.co.uk/news/13274-eu-exit-could-be-disaster.
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
In Sweden, previous attempts to decentralize natural resource management have partly failed because of opposition from the authorities. The chairman of the Swedish small islands association Bengt Almkvist (who is also chairman of ESIN) has, together with other stakeholders, written a much noticed article in one of Sweden’s biggest newspapers. They have identified ten key policy measures to strengthen the local government:
- Support decentralized management: previous attempts have partly failed because of opposition from the authorities. Hence the need for clearer directives and regulations from the government to the provincial governments and the local players.
- The vital biological diversity that exists in Sweden has been shaped by people’s cultivation of natural resources. We must recognize the importance of reindeer and pasture farmers and of small-scale fishermen.
- Develop a comprehensive rural development policy.
- Make natural resource management part of the climate transition.
- Develop the skills of the county administrative boards. Research has shown that previous initiatives did not yield the desired effect, partly because of resistance from the authorities to use the new knowledge.
- Integrate local management and green infrastructure: there is a need for better planning of the landscape and its resources named by various terms, such as the ecosystem approach, regional landscape strategies and most recently green infrastructure.
- Evaluate and research: we need an independent investigation of the effects of the government’s work for the local administration. Research is also needed to develop models of local governance.
- Population and Nature Conferences are important platforms for knowledge sharing and dialogue between the local community level and politicians.
- Create a permanent hub for local and traditional knowledge: continuous, long-term efforts to integrate different kinds of knowledge, perspectives and values in the management structure.
- Refund from natural resources: wind, hydro, mining and forestry are some examples of areas that should be analyzed in order to develop national guidelines for optimized resource management. This may involve reallocating some national taxation powers to the municipal / local level, the reversal of the natural resource fees and improved opportunities for participation. This could involve the development of incentives for greater democracy, greater commitment, better conservation and generally improved opportunities for rural development.
Skärgårdarnas Riksförbund – SRF – the National Association for the Swedish Archipelago) was established in 1982 and covers, among other things, matters relating to employment, housing and transportation. During April, Sune Fogelström from Möja island took over as chairman after Bengt Almkvist, who has been the leader of SRF almost from its startup nearly thirty years ago.
Bengt has been of incalculable benefit to SRF and to the 32,000 islanders they represent. A cool diplomat in the Swedish tradition, Bengt is always running on low gear but covering astonishing mileage both mentally and literally as there are 580 small, un-bridged islands along the coasts and in the lakes of Sweden. His four greatest hits may well be the following:
1 When SRF after ten years (1993) managed to get funding from the Rural Development Agency to be used for designing a program for the Swedish archipelagos. This was the the first time SRF actually could to influence the development of the islands.
2 When SRF after fifteen years (1998) managed to get yearly grants from the Swedish government under Prime Minister Göran Persson, and could employ a secretary.
3 When SRF during a meeting at Möja island (2001) took lead in the creation of ESIN and hosted its first presidency.
4 When SRF after twenty years (2003) was able to get EU funds to implement the project Archipelago for the future which resulted in ten White Papers.
Not an easy task for Sune Fogelström to succeed such a guy as Bengt – but Sune is no rookie, having been in the SRF Board of Directors for ten years and a member of its working committee. We wish him the best of luck!
Bengt and Sune, photo by Eva Widlund, Skärgården http://www.skargarden.se/fogelstrom-blir-ny-ordforande-for-srf/