ESIN 2016 conference will focus on the need for island sustainability indicators

Small Islands Atlas and Sustainability indicators

There has been a long discussion within ESIN about the need for a better understanding of the Smaller islands position at the level of the EU commission.

For this reason, ESIN vice-president Christian Pleijel and University of South Wales PhD student and self-confessed nissologist Neil Lodwick have teemed up for the first presentation of the conference which will also look at island labelling and the possibility of starting a ZeroWaste Island EU programme ( see full programme below)

They have worked on  the concept of an Atlas of the Small Islands of Europe which will look at the islands from the point of view of a set of sustainability indicators dealing with social, economic, governance and environmental aspects of island life.

Read more about it on the ESIN website.

This is largely in response to the European Parliament resolution of February 4th 2016 on the special situation of islands, as ESIN is concerned that the smaller islands are not included in the NUTS 2 and NUTS 3 description.

The present statistical indicators are also  the subject of detailed criticism by the Committee of Region, who has identified the need for more adapted and subtle statistical instruments.

What is the S.I.F. and ESIN position on the need for better indicators?

S.I.F chair Camille Dressler who has largely coordinated the programme for this year’s ESIN AGM conference in Brussels on 27 September 2016, has secured the attendance of Olivier Heiden, a European statistics specialist from the Committee of Regions to lead the panel discussion about sustainability indicators.

This is what she wrote to Mr Heiden in response to his interest in leading the discussion:

“In the document COTER – VI/009, (indicators for territorial development, GDP and beyond- 10-11 February 2016), the  following comments echo very well the opinion we have in ESIN that the present statistical indicators do not address the situation of territories such as the islands archipelagoes members of the European Small Islands Federation.

We agree in the first instance that a number of EU instruments are still based on an excessively narrow economic measure, and that eligibility decisions are basically blind to social and environmental and territorial aspects across European regions.

As many of our islands are not included in the NUTS2 or NUTS 3 areas, we too question what is the ability of NUTS level 2 to reflect real communities and real geographies when the NUTS areas are purely statistical geographies based on population rather than reflecting real boundaries or functional geographical areas such as islands.

And since NUTS are also used to date to allocate EU Structural Funds, we also agree that “their use to formulate and evaluate the territorial impact of EU cohesion, transport, environment and other policies has a pervasive effect which results in EU policies being out of step with the situation on the ground” and failing to reflect in particular the situation of islands that are members of ESIN.

For this reason, we agree that “currently the regionalisation of Europe 2020 indicators is not satisfactory, because only some of the indicators needed to track the Europe 2020 headline targets at regional level (NUTS level 2 and 3) are available.”

We would certainly support the Committee of the Regions proposal to “update regional statistics that would make it possible to build a synthetic Regional Progress Indicator.”

Our research shows it is indeed necessary to add specific data pertinent to islands that are not in the NUTS 2 or NUTS 3 classification in order to add to the weight carried by cohesion objectives.

We therefore support the Committee of Regions statement urging “the European Commission to include in the European statistical programme the measures needed for dealing with shortcomings in statistical information on territorial diversity and specific features in the EU, namely measures for compiling data and building up indicators on regions’ remoteness and isolation, so as to improve the process of devising and implementing European policies better adapted to regions affected by these phenomena” such as islands,” in keeping with the principle of territorial cohesion.””

ESIN AGM 2016 Conference programme

Date: Tuesday 27th September 2016     09.30 – 17.30

Venue: European Economic and Social Committee, Rue Belliard, 99, BRUSSELS, room JDE 63

Time Programme
9.00 Registration of participants
1 9.30 Introduction by ESIN president Bengt Almkvist

ESIN vice president Eleftherios Kechagioglou introduces conference sponsor president Georges Dassis (EESC).

ESIN President introduces Pierre Jean Coulon (EESC TEN president), Ioannis Latoudis (DG REGIO), Toni Piccula (SEARICA).

2 10.00 Description of the Small Islands situation: The ESIN Atlas and islands sustainability indicators, ppt by Christian Plejiel and Neil Lodwick
3 10.30 Panel Discussion led by Oliver Heiden ( European Committee of the Regions (CoR)

“ There is a need for the EU to improve the description of the small islands situation as they are not included in the NUTS 3 and 4 classification”

Panel participants: Oliver Heiden Ioannis Latoudis (DG Regio), Yannis Vardakastanis (2017 Year of Disability), Bengt Almkvist (ESIN)

10.50 Coffee/tea break
4 11.00 Thematic Islands presentations: the top three issues (OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES) on each national islands federation’s agenda, led by Camille Dressler
5 11.55 Summing up on thematic issues: common strengths and weaknesses, threats and opportunities in reference to the Atlas by Christian Pleijel.
6 12.00 EESC’s perspective on islands by Pierre Jean Coulon (EESC TEN president)
7 12.15 Island Issues post 2020

Panel discussion led by Toni Piccula We are moving towards post 2020 and the European Commission is discussing how to act in the islands issue in the next program period 2021-2027.

– How will islands be earmarked for financing?

– Creation of an island desk to coordinate all island programs?

– How can the contract between the commission and island nations be strengthened, making it possible to reject programs that do not include islands?

Panel participants: Toni Piccula, Pierre Jean Coulon, Ioannis Latoudis, Bengt Almkvist

8 12.55 Summing up and conclusions by Bengt Almkvist
13.00 Buffet lunch in venue foyer
9 14.00 Towards a Zero Waste Islands Programme? by Ferran Rosa, Policy Officer, Zero Waste Europe .
10 14.30 Islands Product Labelling, presentation by Laurids Siig Christensen (The Small Island Food Network of Denmark) followed by debate.

Island Specialties, a registered trademark owned by the Small Island Food Network in Denmark, is a terroir-based brand, and permission to use the brand implies a positive impact of production on the island community.

Could this brand be used by island communities in other European countries? Discussion of the potential of this idea with the ESIN delegates.

15.30 Coffee/tea break
11 15.45 Island indicators: from general to local. Discussion led by Christian Pleijel and Neil Lodwick on two sets of indicators:

We have devised 10 common indicators for the islands, but we feel these need refining to take into account the individual island situation. How is this to be achieved?

12 16.45 Conclusions of the day by Bengt Almkvist
17.00 End of conference

Relevant links:



European Network For Rural development

DG REGIO               


2017, Year of disability:


The Small Island Food Network of Denmark:

Zero Waste Europe:

European Parliament resolution of February 4th 2016 on the special situation of islands:

ESIN ATLAS can be found at the ESIN website:

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