Antonis Kabourakis –Mayor of Rhodes
The mayor welcomed all participants and the previous speakers of the Clean energy for EU islands forum 2022 to Rhodes. Antonis Kabourakis started his speech with a quote by the Australian politician Bob Brown "The future will either be green or not at all", followed by a description of what the Aegean Islands are planning and doing in terms of clean energy and sustainability. He especially highlighted the importance of sustainable tourism for these islands.
European islands can play a leading role in the energy transition. He stated that it is a great pleasure to host the Clean energy of EU secretariat.
Jan Cornillie summarised the speech of Antonis Kabourakis stating that the challenge of sustainable tourism is a big one. The pleasure of tourism and the ecological footprint of that tourism seems to be incompatible.
Tonino Picula described the clean energy transition as a remarkable journey. He states that there is much work ahead of us. We need to be aware of our vulnerabilities and stand united in these most challenging times as this crisis has proven once again. The sanctions cost Russia but the EU too. Therefore, we need to boost our production and enhance our independence, the process of the Green Deal needs to be exhilarated with more funding. The theme of the forum is from clean energy transition to clean energy action, with which Tonino Picula agrees to. He’s proud to see the initiative develop further and would like to see islands lead the clean energy action. The new legislative proposal of RePowerEU, the legislative framework for clean energy action should enhance this process. To overcome barriers such as lack of administrative power or funding, we need three things: 1. Funding 2. Technical support 3. Adequate investment in solutions. This is where the EU island secretariat’s role comes in for supporting islands to achieve these three things and overcome challenges. The islands have already shown that they can lead the way for the rest of Europe.
Jan Cornillie, the moderator of this session stated that the war in Ukraine cannot be underestimated but will be felt all over Europe, and exhilaration is really needed. We need the call for a separate budget line for EU islands. He emphasised the important role of research and innovation and sees a link between the energy transition with education. It is also about social skills and how to adapt our lives to new energy saving habits.
Chrysi Vitsilaki stated that, from our understanding of climate change, we had to do something. Ukraine created a crisis, and we need to turn the crisis into an opportunity. Green and blue, we need a holistic green transition. The University of the Aegean has roots on all islands, we need to understand the people and we need to work with each other. The University has the first environmental department that is working through a multi-interdisciplinary approach to protect the environment and promote clean energy.