The first GTI Observatory Summit that recently took place in Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, represented a crucial stepping stone for global island action, redefining and upscaling ambitions. The whole GTI Observatory network mobilized to join forces to create a sustainable future for islands worldwide. Islands stakeholders, utility companies, energy and water authorities, global industry associations, and numerous international organizations from all over the world gathered to consolidate the Observatory structure and outline an action-oriented agenda towards COP 28 to ensure the islands\’ voice is heard and that the progress is accelerated.
The main highlights from the Summit:
- The two leading committees of the Observatory were consolidated, and contributed to steering the focus of the Observatory in 2023 towards building case studies for 100% renewable islands (first checkpoint in developing an “ideal” island model);
- The GTI Observatory Manifesto of Gran Canaria was originated, an outcome document outlining a transition agenda for islands based on shared priorities drawing from concrete sectoral solutions identified during the summit;
- The Energy Authorities of Italy, Spain, Greece, and Malta met to kick-start cooperation on policy and regulation to support the energy transition in the Mediterranean islands.
The Summit concluded with the 8th edition of the GTI Awards. The GTI Jury awarded three highly significant projects for island circularity and self-sufficiency that the Observatory will help disseminate and replicate.
- 1st classified: Med-Wet (Gozo, Malta) – A project aimed at improving the efficiency of irrigation and water supply systems for small farms with low-cost, nature-based and energy-efficient systems.
- 2nd classified: Just go Zero (Tilos, Greece) – A project focused on circular economy towards the triple R (Reused, Recycled and Reused) implementation.
- 3rd classified: Xploration (Curacao) – A pilot project of a boat equipped with renewable energy and desalination systems to enhance the water-energy-food nexus and address humanitarian emergencies.
- 4th classified: Closing of Octopus Fishing (Rodrigues, Mauritius) – A project that promotes sustainable octopus’ fisheries to preserve marine life and reduce pressure on the lagoon\’s resources, while generating income for the local community.
The three-day summit attracted unprecedented participation, highlighting the increased commitment from the global leaders of the sustainable transition, including island governments, international organizations, utility companies, national energy and water authorities, global industry associations, and academia, to help islands become sustainable and self-sufficient.
Thanks to the successful consolidation of the Observatory structure – first and foremost of its two leading Committees – significant steps ahead on the path to sustainable and self-sufficient islands were obtained. The Island Advisory Committee (composed of island stakeholders among local authorities, businesses, citizens, and academia) and the Strategy Scientific Committee (comprised of international scientific organizations and global industry associations) shaped the concept that will guide the Observatory strategy in 2023: islands are ideal testbeds to showcase that 100% renewable energy systems are attainable today, both technically and economically. This will represent the first, important step on a wider path to create the ideal island model. The Observatory will activate dedicated island case studies and present the results in the Report 2023.
In line with this, the Summit\’s outcome document, the Manifesto of Gran Canaria, presents common positions of the Observatory\’s stakeholders, transposing them into a transition agenda for islands based on crucial priority actions. The document aims to orient the Observatory\’s work and to inform policymakers in the run-up to COP 28.
The document draws on the GTI Observatory Report 2022, which was presented at the Summit, as well as on the gaps in the development of ideal green islands and concrete solutions to their challenges identified by delegates of island governments, global industry associations, international institutions and authorities from all sectors of the circular economy in interactive sessions concerning policy and regulation promoting integrated sustainability, unlocking finance for islands’ decarbonization, and create island models for sustainable tourism.