On 13 and 14 February 2020, a two-day event was organized on the island of Culatra with a series of panel discussions, presentations and workshops. Representatives of numerous institutions, the Ministry of the Sea, representatives of local and regional authorities, the non-profit sector, members of the island's cooperatives, representatives of companies, universities and numerous journalists attended the event.
Culatra, an island on the Portuguese coast in the Algarve region, is administratively part of the city of Faro. Last year, the local island community initiated the launch of a comprehensive island strategy that would define future guidelines for the use of renewable energy sources, waste management, water supply and the overall further development of the island economy.
Through a collaboration with the Algarve University and the nonprofit organization Make it Better, the community of Culatra last year became a pilot project to develop a Clean Energy Transition Agenda (CETA). The agenda, co-authored by experts from the Clean Energy for EU Islands Secretariat, was published in November 2019. This document will serve as the basis for all the work that will be developed in the next decade. The Culatra transition team wants the island to serve as an example to other islands and rural areas, and become a lighthouse of transition in this area.
The first day of the workshop brought together many experts from Portugal and beyond. The event was opened by Francisco Serra, President of Algarve Regional Coordination & Development Commission; Rogério Bacalhau, Mayor of Faro; Saúl Neves de Jesus, University of Algarve Vice-Rector and Minister of the Sea, Mr. Ricardo Serrao Santos through the video link.
The presentations during the first day covered the potentials and barriers of the energy transition across several key areas: electricity generation, storage and distribution, maritime transport and simple planning, water supply and drainage, waste management, the efficiency of public buildings and households. What makes Culatra and its transition so special is that the whole initiative comes from the local community and the islanders, and all team members are focused on involving all local stakeholders, informing them and connecting with other levels of decision-makers, technical experts and other professional support.
The second day was reserved for the island visit and workshop in the local community, bringing together external experts, decision-makers and islanders. Participants discussed the paths and priorities for implementation of the agenda, and exchanged knowledge with local inhabitants of all ages. The event closed with the ceremony of signing the Clean Energy for EU Islands Pledge – a document by which all signatories/island stakeholders commit to actively contribute to the decarbonization and sustainable development of the island.
The workshop fostered strong connections between the participants, and participants left the island with the strong intent to contribute the island's development in the future. The EU Islands Secretariat is excited to accompany the residents of Culatra and its stakeholders on the journey they have embarked on.