Earlier this month Christine Lancaster was on Bornholm Island (the Bright Green Island) in Denmark for the Eco-island conference where there was an amazing exchange of ideas on continuing to transition islands off fossil fuels and increasing economic resilience.
The energy company on Bornholm , Østkraft, has made significant strides by reaching 75% renewable energy penetration. They acknowledge that the next stage will be the hardest and the most expensive and there is a need for sharing knowledge regarding storage technologies. Østkraft is heading the EU Ecogrid project that provides a unique opportunity to test an island energy infrastructure.
Other impressive initiatives on the island that are increasing economic resilience and reducing climate impacts are:
• EcoGrid EU is introducing market-based mechanisms to encourage the 2000 households on the island to participate in actions to balance capacity, particularly in relation to flexible consumption. Read more at https://www.eu-ecogrid.net/
• The Bright Green Island Construction programme which educates construction workers on sustainable construction for private housing and has just won a national award for creating a sustainable transition of the built environment which was presented EU Climate Commisioner Connie Hedegaard. The programme so far has resulted in fifth of the workforce taking the diploma
• Waste and recycling programmes – Denmark and in particular Bornholm has one of the world’s best waste management recycling programmes and has significant support from the local population. The Local Waste Management Company BOFA www.bofa.dk has setup an education programme for young people to acquire knowledge relating to waste disposal and recycling. The programme has had a big impact on the behavior of families in relation to waste and consumption patterns.
• A local investment programme for backing local and sustainable island transition projects https://www.lag-bornholm.dk/IN%20ENGLISH.aspx . The LAG Bornholm has for over 10 years actively supported and initiated projects to revitalise the fishing industry, create local jobs within the crafts sector, tourism, and developing city areas to attract new citizens.
• CItizen innovation platform and crowd visioning is a process developed on Bornholm where citizens set up a think tank for creating island transition initiatives on Bornholm. A key part of the visioning process involved engaging all island’s citizens in creating and debating ideas for island development. This involved 10 major public meetings involving at least 450 participants per time and live television transmission. To ensure an ongoing innovation involvement for citizens to develop and put new initiatives into action a digital island innovation platform has been launched. See www.voresbornholm.com
• A series of projects have been carried out over the last few years to revitalize and retrofit Bornholm Harbours and ports after the local fishing industry went into severe decline. The new initiatives focus o using ports as recreation centers for local citizens and tourists as well as developing new local industries.
• Bornholm has made crafts into a major development sector with a leading European education programme, crafts maker spaces, artist in residence, common exhibition spaces and an international Art Bienale. The sector has a high strategic value in helping to both drive local economy as well as attracting creative people to the island and branding Bornholm internationally.
There are now a number of pilot island nations that are successfully moving to being free of fossil fuels and it would be helpful for the exchange of “good news” stories to be documented and shared.
Christine Lancaster: climate change lawyer and consultant with more than 15 years experience. Legal adviser to the Qatar Government for COP 18 in Doha. Operation Lead of the Smart Island Economy Operation of Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room. Advisory Board member of Code REDD and Eco-island network. Currently advising energy companies and geospatial companies on business development, project initiation and finance.