British Island Takes Giant Leap Towards Sustainability

The expression "green island" may evoke images of coconut trees, white sandy shores and blue oceans. But in a time of sustainability and environmental paradigm shifts, it has come to describe a wind-swept, grey island in Great Britain as the Isle of Wight endeavors to become a serious contender for the greenest island on the planet.

EcoIsland is an initiative whose aim is to make the Isle of Wight the first sustainable region in Britain and to inspire other communities to follow suit. Recently it organized the inaugural EcoIsland Summit, which brought together island and regional communities from around the world who are working towards achieving sustainability by 2030.

The summit invited islands to publicly commit to becoming renewable energy self-sufficient by 2020 and sustainable by 2030 by signing the EcoIslands Accord.

“Sustainability is defined as the point at which a communityʼs ecological footprint s no bigger than the land area that they occupy,” EcoIsland says. The accord is signed by a member of the community with the authority to implement the commitment, on behalf of the population of that ʻislandʼ. Those communities who were not yet ready to make the commitment had the opportunity to take learnings from the summit back to their own communities in order to lay the foundations for signing the Accord at the 2013 summit.

The event also showcased progress from the flagship EcoIsland project, the Isle of Wight. Delegates had the opportunity to learn from EcoIslandsʼ research and development activities, demonstration projects and community initiatives spanning energy, transport, water and waste management. Global partners including IBM, Toshiba, Cable&Wireless Worldwide, Sliver Spring Networks, Scottish and Southern Energy, ITM Power and Southern Water presented a range of technology solutions.

Even the British Minister of State for Energy attended the event, and was driven there on a Hyunday ix35 Fuel Cell vehicle by TV presenter Quention Willson

Energy is at the center of the project. The hope is that within 10 years the Isle of Wight will not only have a smart grid to manage the energy that powers the region, but it could also be self-sufficient in renewable energy generated from waste, wind, solar and marine sources.

But it doesn’t stop there. On the EcoIsland charter page, the developers of the project state in their manifesto that they would also like to become self-sufficient in terms of water, food and fuel. In short, it wants integral sustainability, with no additives and merely symbolic gestures.

The Isle of Wight is famous for its rock music festival. We hope its ambition to become a global reference in sustainability will pan out. We will watch this space.

Image credit: EcoIsland