GTI highlights untapped potential for Gozo to foster renewable energy and enhance the benefits of a circular economy
Gozo has “huge potential” for its sustainable future, a new report by Greening the Islands (GTI) has found. The report was presented during a Greening the Islands Observatory meeting hosted by the Gozo Regional Development Authority (GRDA) in Gozo, Malta on November 14, 2023.
The report shows that Gozo has great potential to advance its sustainability and self-sufficiency with the joint efforts of the public and private sectors and the population. The first application of the Global Index produced a baseline assessment indicating that the overall outlook is positive for Gozo, but it could further improve, in particular through further developments in the energy, transport and air quality sectors.
The island of Gozo (Malta) became a member of the GTI Observatory in 2019 and since then, Greening the Islands has been cooperating with the Ministry for Gozo, the Gozo Business Chamber, and the GRDA to support Gozo in the development of an efficient decarbonization strategy including by identifying needed projects and most suitable solutions, as well as potential financing opportunities. GTI and GRDA have also signed a cooperation agreement to widen their collaboration.
The report is the result of the findings gathered from the application of the GTI Observatory Global Index. The Global Index is an innovative tool devised to assess the environmental sustainability of small islands comprehensively. This cutting-edge instrument is the result of meticulous development, aimed at transforming complex technical data into a clear, aggregated grading system.
The Global Index, derived from a comprehensive and customised questionnaire, stands as a beacon of innovation in sustainability assessment as it provides immediate, clear insights into the sustainability progress of small islands, marking a significant step towards a greener future.
The analysis was also informed by critical insights gathered in an Observatory meeting held in Gozo in May 2022, when GTI along with its specialists and several key local stakeholders, discussed pivotal challenges and needs for the island. The focus was placed on all sectors of the island’s economy, ranging from energy and water to waste management, maritime and inland mobility, air quality, and agriculture.
The report produces a baseline assessment for the island of Gozo showcasing innovative solutions tailored to its context. It encapsulates analysis outcomes, conclusions, and specific recommendations for overcoming the identified challenges in the sectors of energy, water, waste, maritime and inland mobility, air quality, and agriculture.
Among the key highlights, Gozo shows untapped potential for renewable energy, especially for distributed solar PV and offshore wind. Developing regulations for energy communities and self-consumption could dramatically accelerate renewable energy deployment, achieving higher self-sufficiency and unlocking socio-economic benefits.
Water security is under stress due to increasingly frequent droughts and high tourist inflows. Wastewater treatment shows already good results in Gozo, but the reuse could be incremented, in particular by exploiting innovative technologies for treatment at the tertiary level and small-scale reuse to distribute the “new water” close to where it is produced. Furthermore, Gozo’s reverse osmosis desalination plant could be coupled with renewable energy systems, such as solar PV, for increased sustainability and lower provisioning costs.
Public transport is already largely promoted; however, private motorization is still prevalent and a main contributor towards congestion and air pollution. Developing charging infrastructure is essential to promote electric mobility, land and maritime, while dedicated lanes and awareness campaigns would sustain the promotion of cycling and e-biking, which are not exploited enough compared to their potential in Gozo.
Following the presentation of the results, the collaboration will now move to a new phase, drawing on the formed multistakeholder group and aiming at the identification of concrete projects to advance the island’s transition. This will empower key intersectoral synergies while creating significant socio-economic development opportunities.
The meeting saw interventions from the GTI specialist who contributed to the report, boasting expert-driven insight into several sectors: Helmut Morsi, Former Director Innovation DG Move; Gonzalo Piernavieja, Director of the Instituto Tecnológico de Canarias’ Research & Investment department; Attilio Piattelli, Chairman at SunCity srl; Emilio Gabbrielli, Independent International Advisor; Ryiad Fezzani, Chairperson & Director Carbon Collect Limited; Silvia Livoni, Vice President of the Italian Bikeconomy Observatory; Enzo Favoino, Chair of the Scientific Community of Zero Waste Europe; Paolo Barbato, Co-founder of Wiseair.
“Gozo is poised for a brighter, greener future, and the GTI Observatory is committed to being a vital partner on this transformative journey. We brought here our headquarters, in a European island state at the center of the Mediterranean, to help make it a sustainability model for the region and the world”, said Gianni Chiannetta, Chair of the GTI Foundation.