Approximately 3.5% of the European citizens live in islands and this percentage increases significantly during the high tourism season, adding pressure to the islands' ecosystems, transport systems, energy systems and water requirements.
Furthermore, it has been recognised that many of the European islands are suffering from structural handicaps, leading to population reduction and more particularly the young leaving the islands for better employment and living conditions in the mainland.
European island communities are and intend to continue to be in the forefront of the fight against global warming. Surrounded by water, with fragile ecosystems and weak local economies, island authorities have realised early the need to become important partners in the common global fight against climate change as well as European initiatives to reduce CO2 emissions.
The introduction of sustainable energy and transport systems in island communities will serve three main objectives:
- to make a significant contribution in achieving EU sustainable energy and climate change targets, such as the reduction of CO2 emissions by 20% or more and the improvement of energy efficiency by 20% or more by 2020;
- to help protect the islands ecosystems and increase their energy and water supply independence; and
- to help enhance local economic development, job creation and reverse the decline of the local population.
The ISLE-PACT project is committed to developing Local Sustainable Energy Action Plans and a pipeline of bankable projects with the aim of meeting or exceeding the EU sustainability target of reducing CO2 emissions by at least 20% by the year 2020. The project's duration is 34 months, 1 February 2010 – 30 November 2012.
The project's coordinator is Comhairle nan Eilean Siar - The Outer Hebrides of Scotland.
The project is co-financed by the European Commission, Directorate General for Energy.
Currently there are 12 participating groups of European Islands (over 50 islands) involved. Cooperation with more islands is welcome as the ISLE-PACT process has been conceived to include all European Islands.
The ISLE-PACT partner island authorities have made the commitment to signing the Pact of Islands and working together with the European Commission, energy experts and financial institutions, to identify bankable projects with the view to implementing sustainable energy actions in their island regions.