First International Ecoislas Forum kicks off, a space to discuss the challenge of island ecological transition

  • This event was inaugurated by the president of the Cabildo de Gran Canaria, Antonio Morales, and will feature four international speakers, in addition to more than 60 national and local experts
  • The Forum, which is being held today and tomorrow in Infecar, has had the opening plenary session by Manuel Maqueda.

The first International Forum Ecoislas was inaugurated today in Infecar with the aim of “becoming an international reference to address the necessary ecological transition in island areas,” as defined by the president of the Cabildo de Gran Canaria, Antonio Morales.

To be Ecoisla is to develop a “socio-economic transformation project for our development model, to move towards an environmentally sustainable, socially fair and self-centered one, focused on the characteristics of one of the most unique territories in the world”. For Antonio Morales, it is an exercise of “working together with other territories, particularly island territories, to be a space for discussion, proposals and promotion of measures aimed at promoting the transition towards a more sustainable and self-sufficient socioeconomic model with an island approach”.

Thus, this first International Ecoislas Forum is the place to reflect and discuss solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change that “suffer more and with greater intensity the islands, now and in the future,” as Morales has pointed out. In this line, he has delved into the “triple sovereignty”, energy, water and food, putting in value projects such as Renovagua, which aims to “produce 10 MW of renewable energy and reduce energy and economic dependence on desalination plants and purification of fossil fuels, reducing by 40% the use of conventional energy in the production and distribution of water”. Also with the support to the primary sector, with which it has been possible to increase the cultivated area by almost 300 hectares and the cultivable area by 30,000 hectares.

One of the challenges is “to advance towards a 100% renewable island in the shortest possible time”, he said, celebrating that Gran Canaria “leads the production of renewable energies in the Canary Islands, and where the installation of self-consumption panels has been multiplied by 11” and “66 million Euros are being invested so that the Cabildo self-produces 75% of the energy it consumes”.

The Salto de Chira hydroelectric power plant will mean “reaching more than 50% of renewable energy on the island by 2026 and will allow a strong reduction in polluting carbon dioxide emissions of more than 20%”. Gran Canaria is “the first island of the Canary Islands to have a strategy for mitigation and adaptation to climate change, the first to have developed a diagnosis of circular economy” and in this way it expects to advance this Forum, which it hopes “will help to make possible the hope for the change that the Canary Islands, Spain and the whole planet need”.

With all this, the first plenary session of the International Ecoislands Forum was attended by the professor of Applied Circular Economy and Regenerative Economics at Harvard University, Manuel Maqueda, who invited to “a change of thinking to achieve sustainability in the islands, which concerns us all”, and “be good ancestors” for the next generations. For Maqueda, we must “try to separate the economic value of the extraction of limited resources and the generation of waste” for a “different” management focused on “preserving the value for as long as possible”. This shift involves “moving away from disposable things and things that quickly become obsolete” back to “a mentality of repairing, using, sharing and being good stewards of resources”.

“We can discuss how to measure the impact and what it is, but it is clear that the islands have a capacity limit” and are already receiving “signs of the emergency and call to this new consciousness, this new economy”. He has warned of the “enormous vulnerability” of the islands, which are “a dead end street” for waste. The “true circular economy is to design for the full life cycle of resources” and, in this challenge that will reach all territories, “islands are the battle front” with the “possibility of leading the world in this necessary change”.

The circular economy must look at this regenerative capacity of nature, because that “is what makes our planet different”. In his presentation, Manuel Maqueda proposed the concept of ‘Ecoisleño’, who is aware of the need for “a diverse economic activity, which measures the health of the biosphere and which is exponential and adaptive”. The future “is here but is not well distributed”, and has celebrated that in this I International Forum Ecoislas serve to “learn from the success stories in the islands”.

Measuring the carbon footprint

The I Ecoislas International Forum will be a climate neutral event thanks to the alliance with the company Circular Carbón, which will address all areas of the event with actions to measure, reduce and offset the emissions that will be produced, both in the planning and during the development of the event.

This first edition has an action plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions through circularity actions in different areas of work, materials, merchandising, catering, energy, waste and transfer of participants, in addition to compensating, ultimately, the emissions that cannot be reduced with forestry actions on the island.

Two days of intense debate

Together with four international experts and more than 60 speakers from academic, administrative, financial, business and social sectors, the 1st International Ecoislas Forum will delve into the four main axes for real and efficient change: the circular and blue economy; energy, water and mobility; adaptation to climate change; and regenerative tourism. During today’s day, a dozen parallel sessions will be held with experts in each of the areas, case studies will be addressed, and the annual report ‘Greening the Islands’ will be presented. The afternoon will begin with the plenary session of the biologist, philosopher and professor emeritus of the Catholic University of Leuven, Bernard Feltz, at 4 pm, which will serve as the starting signal for the afternoon program.

This I International Ecoislas Forum counts on Cajasiete, as official collaborator; with the sponsorship of Ewaste, Fundación Canarias Recicla, Astican and Inetel; the participation of Greening The Islands, European Projects and Mac Clima; and with the collaboration of the Consejo Insular de la Energía, Spegc, the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the Clúster Marítimo de Canarias, the Consejo Insular de Aguas de Gran Canaria, the Plataforma Oceánica de Canarias, the Instituto Tecnológico de Canarias, Gesplan and the Chamber of Commerce of Gran Canaria.




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