ISLE PACT project: Sustainable Energy Action Plans in Support of the Islands Pact

The author of this article is Dr. Anthon Theuma, Director Paragon Europe ([email protected])

The ISLE-PACT project, co-financed by the European Commission, Directorate General for Energy, is committed to developing Local Sustainable Energy Action Plans and a pipeline of bankable projects with the aim of meeting or exceeding the EU sustainability target of reducing CO2 emissions by at least 20% by the year 2020.  The project’s duration is 30 months, 1 February 2010 – 31 July 2012.

The project’s coordinator is Comhairle nan Eilean Siar – The Outer Hebrides of Scotland, and there are 12 participating groups of European Islands (over 50 islands) involved. Cooperation with more islands is welcome as the ISLE-PACT process has been conceived to include allEuropean Islands.

The project partners are: Gotland – Municipality of Gotland; Aream- Agencia regional da Energia e Ambiente da regiao autonoma de Madeira; ITC- Instituto Tecnológico de Canarias S.A; Dafni – AEGEAN Sustainable Islands Network; REAC- Regional Energy Agency of Crete; PEPS – Punto Energia Provincia di Sassari- Multiss; Malta – Paragon Europe; Cyprus Energy Agency; Samso Energy Academy; Arena – Energy and Environment Agency of Azores.

The ISLE-PACT partner island authorities have made the commitment to signing the Pact of Islands and working together with the European Commission, energy experts and financial institutions, to identify bankable projects with the view to implementing sustainable energy actions in their island regions.

The objectives already achieved are:

  • The signature of the Pact of Islands by 62 island communities. The Signing Ceremony of the Pact of Islands took place at the Committee of the Regions in Brussels on April 12th, 2011.
  • The Island Sustainable Energy Action Plans (ISEAPs). To underline that the first 52 Pact of Islands signatories have committed to producing one ISEAP each within one year of signing. From 52 ISEAP to be prepared by partners, 48 out of the 53 ISEAPs to be prepared by the ISLE-PACT partners, have been completed and 6 are already approved.
  • The organisation of a conference on EU Islands strategy in the framework of Open Days 2011, in which the discussion was focused on many future initiatives and programs including the need of insularity and sustainable energy, enhancing the Pact of Islands and ensuring that European strategic development goals and priorities are relevant to the islands’ needs, potential and opportunities.
  • The organization of a conference in December 2011 hosted by the European Parliament  – “Islands and Overseas Entities’ contribution to biodiversity conservation and the fight against climate change” in order to raise further the awareness among local communities to achieve an overall objective of more than 20% CO2 emissions reduction by 2020.
  • The Written  Declaration on the establishment of the Pact of Islands as an official European Union initiative has been adopted by the European Parliament on 19th of January 2012 with 388 signatures from members of the European Parliament, which allow a further strengthen the Pact of Islands signatories in their fight against climate change.
  • The identification of over 50 bankable projects that would help local communities secure financing in order to implement sustainable energy projects in their island regions.

The Long – Term Benefits of the ISLE PACT Project

Islands are vulnerable to development and the impacts of activities such as tourism. Projects such as Isle Pact are useful as they help islands to mange better the physical impacts of development as well as to be able to determine what projects are beneficial and to what extent.

The process to build sustainable island communities is continuous and requires both a collective effort and great commitment. Through the number of initiatives developed in this project, island communities will be assisted by adopting innovative and effective methodologies, tools and mechanisms that can lead to significant benefits. These include:

  • A steady improvement of local economic conditions in the participating island communities through enhanced economic development, a positive contribution through the creation of new jobs in innovative and highly technical sectors, as well as the retention of local populations and improved investment conditions
  • A steady increase in the levels of awareness across island communities of the societal value of sustainable energy plans and therefore green investments with the participation of local citizens;
  • Sustained support through a series of train the trainer courses given to the hospitality sector, local authorities, financial sector and related entities
  • A tangible contribution to EU sustainable energy and climate change policy targets and objectives and more specifically the achievement of the target of 20% CO2 reduction by 2020.

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