In the midst of a tumultuous period for Europe beset by social, environmental, and economic challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, investing in the energy transition and the resilience of our continent is critical. This is particularly the case for islands, with their own distinct challenges related to their geographic isolation and size resulting in both a dependence on energy imports and higher energy prices, as well as a greater vulnerability to natural disasters.
As the fallout of our current challenges becomes clear (e.g. the cost of living crisis entailing increasing levels of energy poverty), the idea of a ‘Just Transition’ has never been more prescient. Whilst the European Union implements policies and programmes to steer us toward a more resilient future, including the Green Deal, the Resilience and Recovery Facility, and REPower EU, these must be implemented in a ‘Just’ way – encompassing the needs of all vulnerable sectors, groups, and communities.
Island communities must not be left behind, and to ensure this, they need tailored support. Support to capitalise on the gains that they have made in the past decades, which are the result of strong local commitment and action on energy and environmental issues, and support to replicate successful initiatives across all islands.
Energy agencies are vital in helping islands navigate the energy transition, and the Cyprus Energy Agency (CEA), member of FEDARENE, offers an example of how. CEA has teamed up with the central government to deliver the Recovery and Resilience Plan and is involved in the:
In my role as FEDARENE Vice-President for Smart and Sustainable Islands, I commit to coordinating action on the energy transition and resilience of our islands, through advocacy and the replication of successful policies and measures across all islands; ensuring no island is left behind.
Savvas Vlachos is FEDARENE Vice-President for Smart and Sustainable Islands. He is also Director of the Cyprus Energy Agency (CEA).
This editorial is part of our publication “Sustainable Regions in Action 2023”. Find out more by clicking here to discover best practices from FEDARENE members as well as an overview of our activities.