The municipality of Schiermonnikoog is the smallest island of the Dutch Wadden Islands. It is located in the North Sea and has less than 1000 inhabitants. Even though the island is small, the people have big dreams about a sustainable future.
On the island everything is going well, however, citizens want a change. They want to become climate neutral and protect their environment to fight climate change. To do so, they must pay attention to their most valuable assets: nature and tourism. Tourism is the biggest business on the island. Around 300 000 visitors come to explore the beautiful nature on the island every year. The tourists consume a big amount of energy which is imported from the mainland. Now the island wants to become self-sufficient and produce its own electricity, but power generation, nature and tourism are in conflict.
To get new inspirations and answers for their questions citizens of different occupational fields came together to visit the Energy Academy on Samsø in Denmark. The Energy Academy facilitated the process that made Samsø self-sufficient already in 2007 and can share their experience on how they enabled local change. The people of Schiermonnikoog wanted to know how they could convince people to reach the same goal. Many people have different interests and are not open to other ideas. Therefore, it is necessary to understand their interests and create a community with the same goals. The first step is about sharing, learning, and understanding. It is helpful to work with questions instead of answers because questions create a space for thinking.
The Mayor of Schiermonnikoog, Ineke van Gent, would like to build Samsø 2.0 on her island. She got inspiration from the visit and will try to realize the same goals in practice through good communication to the citizens and an open process for the development of shared vision and goals.