Islands “on the front line” require urgent consideration amid pressures of climate change, migration and water stress
Greening the Islands conference opens in Malta to raise awareness of issues of energy, water and mobility and share best practices
Half a million islands in the world need to be taken into consideration about the consequences from climate change
Green infrastructure successfully deployed in Malta port
Valletta, 29 October 2015 – Adopting more sustainable policies with regards to energy, water and transport is an essential step in kick-starting a process of “greening” thousands of islands globally, since social and economic activities and ecosystem functions all depend on these three aspects. Indeed, islands and remote locations must focus on this “triple” sustainability challenge in an integrated way: transitioning to renewable energy sources while at the same time ensuring reliable water supplies and implementing clean transport solutions. This was the central point to emerge from the first day of the 2nd edition of the Greening the Islands conference, under way in Malta today.
There are more than 500,000 islands around the world and several thousand in the Mediterranean Sea alone. But political fragmentation and global trends increase risks to their sustainability. In a business-as-usual scenario, it is expected that, by 2050, 150 million people will move, migrating form one country to another, from one region to another, while climate change may cost 5% of GDP each year.
In this context, islands face a unique set of challenges due to their scale and remote locations, making them highly vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters.
Gianni Chianetta, Director & Scientific Co-ordinator of Greening the Islands and Director of The Green Consulting Group , commented: “The Greening The Islands conference is not only an opportunity to bring together islands and share knowledge and opportunities about innovations and best practices. It also aims at to systematically convey islands’ demands to decision-makers in government and supranational organizations. In a century characterized by climate change, environmental threats and mass migration, islands are already on the front line.”
Politics is therefore called to play a fundamental role to make a change, in particular for islands. Ronald Mizzi, Permanent Secretary, Ministry for Energy and Health, Malta, said: “Islands’ specificities in terms of renewable energy and efficiency constraints, geophysical limitations, and security of supply concerns are of high importance. Malta is committed to a renewable energy share of 10% in 2020. By the end of this year, renewable energy generation is expected to be close to 5% of the island’s gross final energy consumption. Malta has also committed to 27% in energy savings by 2020 and is liaising with all stakeholders, public and private, to reach this target.” The commitment expressed by Malta on the opening day was echoed by delegates from islands ranging from the Canary Islands to the Balearic Islands (Spain), Azores (Portugal), Greek and Italian islands and Cyprus.
Energy supply and water provision are interdependent in island situations. Generally, global water demand is seen increasing 55% by 2050 mainly because of growing demands from manufacturing, thermal electricity generation and domestic use. Global energy demand is expected to grow by one third by 2035. Supporting this increased energy demand will lead to surge in water withdrawal since 90% of global electricity generation in water intensive.
For coming decades, despite the progress of policies promoting renewables, the global energy system will continue to rely upon fossil fuels. Along with this, the need for water will lead to over-extraction of water resources and to approach critical limits in large part of the world.
Lucilla Minelli, Advocacy Officer, UN WWAP UNESCO, told the conference: “To achieve sustainable energy and water we have to reconsider subsidies, addressing misaligned incentives that are among the main reasons of ineffective use of water and energy; improve energy and water use efficiency by targeting the largest water consumers; and last but not least rethink our cities. Indeed, future urban development requires approaches that minimize resource consumption and focus on resource recovery, evolving towards a circular approach.”
Yesterday, during the first day of the conference organized in conjunction of the Second National Electromobility Conference of Malta, a green project for Malta’s infrastructure was presented. Transport Malta has deployed 13 full electric vehicles as part of its general fleet ranging from crew and panel vans, passenger vehicles and quads. These vehicles are used as part of enforcement, maintenance and courier duties carried out by the Authority. Transport Malta also installed solar PV panels at the Malta Transport Centre covering a surface area of 1,290 square metres. Through these initiatives over 200 tonnes of CO2 emissions are saved annually from Malta’s port areas. The project, led by Transport Malta, brought together the Ministry for Transport and Infrastructure, as well as Italian partners, the Port Authority of Catania and the Province of Caltanissetta, in order to demonstrate the economic viability of green solutions in island contexts.
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About Greening the Islands
Greening the Islands is a unique, international event to inspire our collective work around the nexus of energy, water and mobility on islands and in remote locations. The conference’s 2nd edition, being held in Malta on 28-29-30 October 2015, gives the chance to discover projects that are being implemented in locations around the world as well as to meet the protagonists involved.
The Green Consulting Group – in collaboration with the Government of Malta and Transport Malta and with the support of UN WWAP UNESCO, the Global Water Partnership and many other sector institutions – will bring together experts to discuss best practices, innovative technologies and how to manage infrastructure and systems in the most economically and ecologically efficient way. With the common goal of sustainability and self-sufficiency, island leaders will get a unique chance to meet with financial and government agencies as well as companies and investors. The event benefits from the support of Ascot Industrial, Global Hybrid Power, MegaCivic, SMA Solar Technology, SOPES and Electric Vehicles.
The Malta event will also see the inaugural Greening the Islands Awards, an initiative that will serve not only to showcase the best technologies, projects and practices but also to facilitate information exchange and set the bar for future collaborative cooperation and competition among islands globally in reaching their CO2 reduction goals. A jury of five experts will determine the criteria and standards needed to pick out the most deserving islands in six categories. This year there will also be a specific focus on clean vehicles, since transport often accounts for a significant portion of CO2 emissions on islands.
For a full agenda, presentations and practical demonstrations, visit www.greeningtheislands.com or contact: firstname.lastname@example.org