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November 2017

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Local Energy Communities - A vehicle for islands' energy transition?

In the Winter Package special reference is made to Local Energy Communities (LECs) as a means to ensuring greater participation of consumers in the energy market through enhanced local ownership of decentralised RES generation. Meanwhile the Package also underscores islands’ potential to drive Europe’s energy transition, reflected in the recent Political Declaration to launch the new 'Clean Energy for EU Islands' initiative signed by the EC and 14 Members States.

In an attempt to identify the synergies between the two policy developments, the EESC hearing will bring together all relevant actors, i.e. policy-makers, island representatives and market players to discuss if and how LECs can be the vehicle for implementing smart and sustainable projects on islands. The hearing will specifically address the extent to which LECs can operate as platforms where local authorities, citizens and private entities can participate, helping reach a satisfactory level playing field for all participants in islands' local energy markets.

The event is organized by INSULEUR and the Smart Islands Initiative, both well-positioned to reflect the different interests, opportunities and challenges facing islands. Host of the event is the European Economic and Social Committee, vocal supporter of the equal access to and participation in the energy market and of islands’ smart and sustainable development!

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SMART ISLANDS INITIATIVE

The Smart Islands Initiative is a bottom-up effort of European island authorities and communities. It builds on years of collaboration between European islands and seeks to communicate the significant potential of islands to function as laboratories for technological, social, environmental, economic and political innovation.

The Smart Islands Initiative is inspired by the Smart Cities and Communities – it seeks to improve life on islands through sustainable, integrated solutions that make the most out of islands’ competitive advantages. More so, the Smart Islands Initiative underscores the role of islands in accelerating Europe’s transition into a low carbon, sustainable and economy.

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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.



Key areas of intervention


  • ENERGY
  • TRANSPORT
  • WATER
  • WASTE
  • GOVERNANCE
  • ICT
  • ECONOMY


Smart and integrated solutions an imperative for islands


Islands are living labs that can offer important lessons on multiple policy fronts, including energy, transport, circular economy, multi-level governance and ICT and for different geographies – cities and towns, rural and mountainous areas. This is due to the fact that islands themselves are faced with different challenges as a result of variations in their size, distance from the mainland, population density, governance and level of fiscal and political devolution.

Despite their differences though, islands are shaped by insularity which very often comes with energy dependency – particularly on fossil fuels – high transportation costs, limited economic diversification, but also significant renewables potential, unique ecosystems, enhanced levels of social capital and strong sense of identity. This set of pluralistic characteristics can in fact give rise to local development paradigms on islands that optimally combine environmental, social, economic and technological solutions underpinned by the premise of smart, integrated and inclusive natural resources and infrastructures management.




SMART ISLANDS DECLARATION

NEW PATHWAYS FOR EUROPEAN ISLANDS


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.


We understand that to be able to capture islands’ potential to transform into smart and thriving economies, we will have to be creative and apply systems thinking in order to identify and realize synergies between the different cutting-edge technologies as they become available. Even more so, we ought to do this in a socially inclusive way, ensuring the active engagement of our authorities, citizens, entrepreneurs and researchers.



PILLARS

The pillars represent the foundation setting the Smart Islands Initiative into motion.
Each pillar serves a different purpose, as described below:



SMART ISLANDS FORUM


An annual collaborative, networking and knowledge-sharing space for island public administration and community representatives

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SMART ISLANDS CONFERENCE


An annual gathering of stakeholders to exchange views and propose measures for putting the Smart Islands Declaration into effect, organized back-to-back with the Forum


SMART ISLANDS PLATFORM


A body catalysing collaboration between the public, private and academic sectors for the deployment of pilot innovative projects on islands