The Smart Islands Declaration is the cornerstone document of the Smart Islands Initiative. It outlines the challenges facing islands as much as the potential these exhibit to usher in a low-carbon, smart, sustainable and inclusive development paradigm.

The Smart Islands Declaration was first drafted by representatives of European islands who attended the 1st Smart Islands Forum in June 2016 in Athens, Greece.

In the Declaration islands make an ambitious call for action and commit to 10 steps through which to become smart, inclusive and thriving societies!

10 action points towards becoming smart, inclusive and thriving societies


Take action to mitigate and adapt to climate change and build resilience at local level


Trigger the uptake of smart technologies to ensure the optimal management and use of our resources and infrastructures


Move away from fossil fuels by tapping our significant renewables and energy efficiency potential


Introduce sustainable island mobility including electric mobility


Reduce water scarcity by applying non-conventional and smart water resources management


Become zero-waste territories by moving to a circular economy


Preserve our distinctive natural and cultural capital


Diversify our economies by exploiting the intrinsic characteristics of our islands to create new and innovative jobs locally


Strengthen social inclusion, education and citizens’ empowerment


Encourage the shift towards alternative, yearlong, sustainable and responsible tourism

To take on this challenge, islands focus their efforts on seven key areas and on maximizing the synergies between those areas.


We will tap into our significant renewable energy sources including solar, wind, tidal, ocean, wave, and geothermal potential and lead CO2 emissions reduction efforts to become increasingly energy independent, minimizing fuel imports and subsequent costs and allowing the emergence of new business models favouring decentralized energy production and consumption and the rise of islanders as prosumers.

We will increase the energy efficiency of our building stock (electricity, heating and cooling) and infrastructures (e.g. street lighting, pumping stations), also within protected historic districts, to reduce subsequent CO2 emissions, through the integration of innovative technologies and practices and the adoption of near zero-cost actions by islanders and visitors, triggering a shift to more responsible energy consumption patterns and more resilient infrastructures overall.

We will prioritize the use of biomass as renewable fuel for heating, cooling and transport and consider energy crops as an alternative to regular crops in islands with significant agricultural production.

We will promote small islands in particular as test-beds for cutting-edge, sustainable energy technologies, including smart grids, storage and demand-response and by doing so make the operation of electrical grids more flexible, ensure increased penetration of renewables, improve the quality of life of the local population and provide useful insights on how these technologies can be transferred in other islands and geographically isolated territories and scaled up in big cities of continental Europe.

We will exploit existing synergies between sustainable energy and waste, water and transport sectors, underscoring islands’ potential to emerge as laboratories for the development of integrated solutions including the production of renewable energy from waste, the use of excess renewable power in shipping and electric vehicles and use of renewable energy for water desalination purposes.


We will change our modal split towards sustainable transport modes including new ways of using the car (car-sharing, car-pooling), promoting walking and cycling (trails restoration, bike-sharing) and optimizing the design of multi-modal hubs and terminals, towards boosting the sustainable growth of key sectors, i.e. yearlong tourism, logistics, commerce, agriculture and fishing.

We will realize existing synergies between transport and energy, by promoting ferries using alternative fuels such as LNG or hydrogen, balancing intermittent power from renewable energy through cold ironing, promoting electro-mobility, integrating electric vehicles and ferries into islands’ smart electric grids ensuring increased penetration of renewable energy at local level and minimizing the use of fossil fuels.

We will introduce island hopping infrastructure in islands close to the mainland or island archipelagos in particular, using small-scale electric vessels and/or vessels fueled by LNG, methane or hydrogen that can also operate on automatic pilot to reduce environmental and transportation costs and bring tangible benefits to island communities and local markets.

We will promote intelligent transport management and information systems with a view to improving the quality of service provision and help with monitoring and mitigating pollution levels resulting from transport, especially in islands’ ports and urban centers.


We will encourage non-conventional water resources management through grey water recycling and rain water harvesting coupled with the introduction of smart technologies for efficient water network upgrading in order to reduce water losses, realise projects on water energy nexus, minimize costs and effectively tackle water scarcity on islands, also exacerbated by climate change.

We will deploy, in anhydrous islands in particular and where it is proved cost-effective, water desalination plants that run on renewable energy and are energy efficient. We will raise awareness among the population on the qualities and need for responsible use of desalinated water.

We will promote the integrated management of our inland water resources, also by making use of traditional sustainable water management practices, in order to improve the quality and availability of freshwater, ensure the long-term health of aquifers and ultimately support the revival of sustainable island-scale agriculture that offers local products of high added value and quality.

We will make use of innovative approaches and tools such as the Ecosystem-based Adaptation and Integrated Coastal Zone Management to ensure the good environmental status of our marine and inland waters, crucial for livelihoods and human well-being and islands’ overall resilience.

We will raise awareness on the need to shift to more responsible consumption patterns and thus turn economic activities on islands such as tourism and agriculture more sustainable, enhance ecosystems’ resilience and build successful branding strategies, targeting the ever-growing market of responsible and sustainable tourism.


We will pursue the transition towards zero-waste territories by adopting a circular economy development model through the strengthening of local value chains.

We will put in place smart waste management at island level consisting of small-scale decentralized infrastructure for collecting, sorting, reusing and recycling and adopt innovative technologies including ICT, so as to move away from traditional waste management techniques, improve environmental quality and create jobs locally.

We will investigate the possibility of promoting, especially in small island archipelagos, the management of waste centrally, on the island that is bigger in size and can support the operation of such a facility, thus creating economies of scale.

We will introduce incentives for waste producers, in order to reduce mixed waste and increase recycling rates.

We will support targeted awareness-raising activities on sustainable consumption targeting islanders, including households and the business sector, and visitors, in order to address increased waste generation during peak tourism season.


We will work closely with the European Commission in promoting the clean energy transition on islands and to this end we will (a) develop island local sustainable and integrated plans that maximize synergies between infrastructures, i.e. energy, transport, waste, water (b) promote close collaboration between islands, regulatory and financial institutions in sharing best practice with regards to applying proper financial and regulatory tools and best available technologies. We underscore the need for a long-term framework promoting and supporting scalable projects with funding and technical assistance to accelerate the clean energy transition on islands.

We will make use of the Integrated Territorial Investment and Community-Led Local Development tools provided under Cohesion Policy to make public interventions more efficient and tailored to local conditions, also in alignment with private sector activities.

We will reinforce social inclusion through citizen empowerment and broad stakeholder engagement by focusing on participatory planning as well as participatory implementation, so as to ensure proper realization of projects and strategies and foster local ownership.

We will tap into our rich traditional knowledge and culture of collaboration to nurture social innovation and bottom-up governance initiatives.


We will ensure the uptake of smart and sustainable technologies in our islands, allowing for a more efficient and inclusive management and use of our natural resources and infrastructures.

We will improve the provision of digital services in our islands in order to create new opportunities for citizens and businesses, boost the growth of innovative SMEs and start-ups and facilitate access to markets and sources of funding.

We will tackle the digital divide in island societies and strive to provide all citizens with equal access to information and digital services.

We will incorporate ICT tools in our policy- and decision-making processes to make these more participatory and inclusive.


will build on our tradition of enhanced social capital to nurture innovative forms of collective financing such as cooperatives, crowd-funding, crowd-lending and public-private-people partnerships.

We will diversify our economic activities to foster the creation of sustainable local jobs, overturn the population decline and ageing and transform our islands into territories where people can live and prosper.

We will cooperate by sharing best practice and aggregating projects to unlock financing opportunities.

We will maximize the synergies between the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors (tourism in particular), so as to create new integrated local value chains, cultivate entrepreneurship, establish conditions for small-scale investment and support employment, particularly among the youth.

We will unleash our Blue Growth potential by establishing strategic partnerships with market actors and academia in order to promote islands as blue labs for testing and piloting innovative services, products and tools, particularly in the fields of biotechnology, renewable energy, coastal tourism, marine conservation and more.