2nd International Conference on Island Sustainability 2012
17 - 19 September 2012
The second International Conference on Island Sustainability took place in the island of Brač, Croatia organised by the Wessex Institute of Technology, UK represented by Prof C A Brebbia, and the Hydrographic Institute of the Republic of Croatia, represented by Dr Srecko Favro. The conference was sponsored by the International Journal of Sustainable Development and Planning and the papers published in the WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment, and permanently archived in the eLibrary of WIT (http://library.witpress.com/).
The meeting aimed to promote contacts among participants representing various island regions around the world, exchanging scientific and professional information. It set up a mechanism for increasing communication among the delegates, encouraging them to share their experiences.
The current global financial crisis and the associated recession have particularly affected small and under developed areas of the world. These include remote islands particularly those in less developed coastal regions. In spite of the rapid advances in coastal areas during the period of economic prosperity, these benefits did not reach most islands and their communities. Many islands experience also the seasonal tourism phenomena, acting as a major economic centre for only part of the year.
Islands that are part of less developed countries are even less successful and are frequently left out of any long term development plan. Their lack of proper infrastructure, including poor communication, means that they suffer long term depopulation, leading to stagnation and eventually the collapse of whole communities. Most rich countries have instead recognised the advantage that their islands can offer and have taken positive steps to protect and develop certain areas in a sustainable manner. Their enlightened policies take into consideration the specific regional, cultural and socio-economic characteristics of each island, laying particular emphasis on the protection of the environment.The Island Sustainability conference gave the participants the opportunity to discuss the socio-economic characteristics of islands in different parts of the world and how to solve the problems facing them. Those projects which have been successfully implemented are the source of information to establish suitable development guidelines which can then be applied in different parts of the world.
The basis for island sustainability is to secure the appropriate conditions for the inhabitants to survive while respecting environmental standards and the protection of nature. This could result in a new style of island colonisation where the work of craftsmen, artists and professionals revitalise whole communities on the brink of extinction. It is essential to this end to improve the quality of life in these unique environments in order to ensure their survival.
The Conference was opened by Carlos Brebbia who explained the importance of the meeting series within the activities of Wessex Institute, which aims to act as a mechanism for transfer of knowledge between research and applications in industry and society in general.
WIT, Carlos explained, carries out a substantial amount of industrial and EU activities as well as basic research on advanced numerical methods. Contract work supports Research Fellows and PhD students, the latter having the degrees validated by the University of Wales in the UK.
Carlos also described the importance of WIT Press which not only distributes the conference papers worldwide but also publishes a large number of monographs and edited books. WIT Press has recently launched a series of International Journals which aim to cover a variety of interdisciplinary fields.
All papers presented at WIT conferences are widely distributed in paper as well as digital format and are archived in the eLibrary of WIT Press where they are permanently available to the international community (http://library.witpress.com/).
Carlos finished by expressing his appreciation for the support received from his Croatian colleagues not only in organising this conference, but through a series of other initiatives that WIT has with Croatian Institutions, such as the University of Split. The Conference, Carlos explained, would not have been feasible without the support of the Hydrographic Institute of the Republic of Croatia and the hard and efficient work of his Co-Chairman, Dr Srecko Favro.
The opening address was presented by Mr Miliud Bratincevic of the Island Directory, Ministry of Regional Development in charge of EU funds.
The speaker referred to the demographic tools, showing the depopulation of the islands, some of which are now uninhabited. Only one of all of the Dalmatian islands (Rab) showed an increase in population in the last 150 years.
The work of the Director of Regional Development, sector for islands dealing with EU funds, monitors the conditions in the Croatian islands. One of their functions is to implement the legal framework and in particular protect the natural assets represented by those islands.
The aim is to protect the existing values, improve the living conditions and the demography and socio-economic development of the islands. A series of projects are being implemented, ranging from provision of energy, water etc to transport and health care, agricultural and fishing resources, amongst others.
The Croatian government continues to invest funds and provide lines of credit to improve the environment of the islands. These funds continue to increase since they started to be available in 1995.
There is a well chosen plan for development of the islands in the 21st century which includes all different aspects. The main factors are to ensure that the population – preferably young people - are not forced to leave the islands. The Croatian islands have a great potential and they ought to be protected in terms of sustainability.
Keynote AddressThe keynote speaker was Dr Nenad Starc from the institute of Economics in Zagreb.
He spoke of the problems of depopulation, which from 117,000 in 1857 reached a maximum of 175,000 in 1921 and has been stabilised for the last few years to 125,000. This is a small population taking into account that there are more than 1,000 islands comprising 33% of the total area of the country.
In the case of inhabited islands, islanders are able to service and deal with their ecosystems to establish island systems and institutions. The menace to their eco-systems tends to come from the mainland. They were affected by incursions, overseas emigration, wars and poorly-conceived development plans without participation of the islanders themselves.
The difficulty with islands is that each of them has its unique eco-system, culture and social characteristics. Each island is different not only from the mainland but also from each other. It is challenging for mainland policy makers to ensure the participation of the islanders.
Dr Starc recalled a list of different initiatives dealing with island development since independence and the difficulties of implementing their ruling and recommendations in practice.
The conference sessions were enhanced by a series of invited addresses including the one by Dr Nenad Starc. They were as follows:
‘Tangled up in blue: the Croatian islands and participatory development planning’
by N Starc, The Institute of Economics, Croatia
‘We connect Croatia – European coastline airlines’
by S Runjajic, Clementi Sistemi, Croatia
‘Solid waste from the hospitality industry in Cyprus’
by A A Zorpas, Institute of Environmental Technology and Sustainable Development, Croatia
‘Protected areas and tourism development on Croatian islands: coexistence or divergence?’
by L Petric, University of Split, Croatia
‘Development and preservation of tourist resources: example of the Seto Inland Sea in Japan’
by H Gotoh, Nihon University, Japan
‘Marine debris – an ever-growing global challenge’
by A Markic, Southern Cross University, Australia
‘Proposal of socio-economic model of development of small, periodically inhabited and uninhabited Croatian islands’
by S Favro, Hydrographic Institute of the Republic of Croatia
Conference Dinner & Social Events
The conference gave the participants numerous occasions for interaction including a series of social functions, in addition to coffee breaks and complimentary lunches.
A special visit was arranged to a local winery that produces excellent wines from local grapes. The visit consisted of a guided tour of the facilities followed by a wine tasting session in which rosé, white and red wines were given to the participants. The facilities located in Bol produced 80,000 bottles per year which are a significant portion of the total island production of 500,000 bottles. The quality wines produced in Bol are an important local industry which makes a significant contribution to the local economy and, in particular, to tourism. It is another example of the island trying to develop a sustainable economy.
A field trip was arranged during the conference consisting of sailing in the survey ship of the Hydrographical Institute of Croatia to visit the island of Hvar, where it stopped in the port of Stari Grad, an ancient town dating from 500 BC, the time of the Greek civilisation. The town, known then as Pharos was started by settlers from the Greek island of the same name. The archaeological remains of the ancient Agora and other buildings can still be seen, as well as the foundations of the oldest church in Dalmatia dating from the fifth century after Christ.
The delegates had enough time to appreciate some of the sights as well as the work carried out by the Hydrographic Institute. On arrival back in Bol, they were invited to a dinner in one of the harbour restaurants to participate in the well know meat Peka, one of the main attractions of the Croatian cuisine. Peka consists of covered meat dishes, mainly lamb or beef, baked in a special oven. It was a most enjoyable visit and the dinner was another of the activities which helped to bring people together.
The Conference banquet took place in the town of Jelsa, on the neighbouring island of Hvar, where they were taken by a special chartered boat leaving from Bol. The pleasant and short trip to and from Jelsa gave occasion to further contacts. The banquet itself was held in what is accepted to be the best restaurant in that port. It consisted of a series of dishes followed by fresh island fish, all washed down with wines for which the Dalmatian Islands are famous. The participants were delighted with the quality of the food and the unique atmosphere of the restaurant housed in an ancient stone house.
Papers from the conference will also be hosted online at the WIT eLibrary as Volume 166 of WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment (ISSN: 1746-448X, Digital ISSN 1743-3541). For more details visit the WIT eLibrary at http://library.witpress.com
Closing of the Conference
Conferences relevant to Islands 2012 are:
- Sustainable Development and Planning, to be held 27-29 May 2013 in Kos, Greece (see, http://www.wessex.ac.uk/13-conferences/sustainable-development-and-planning-2013.html)
- Energy and Sustainability to be held 19-21 June 2013 in Bucharest, Romania (see, http://www.wessex.ac.uk/13-conferences/energy-and-sustainability-2013.html)
- Sustainable City to be held 3-5 December 2013 in Putrajaya, Malaysia (see, http://www.wessex.ac.uk/13-conferences/sustainable-city-2013.html)