Developing decentralised resource management techniques for island communities

RegioStars 2013 Finalist...Pohjois-Suomi, Finland; Hamburg, Niedersachsen, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany; Friesland, Noord-Holland, Zuid-Holland, Zeeland, Netherlands; Sydsverige, Västsverige, Sweden; Eastern Scotland, Highlands and Islands, United Kingdom; Norway; USA

Through the Cradle to Cradle Islands initiative techniques and technologies are being developed for the decentralised and sustainable use of resources such as water, energy and materials in isolated communities. The techniques being developed in the islands in the North Sea region can be shared worldwide.

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The islands in the North Sea region face many common problems: geographical isolation, a lack of local resources (energy, materials and a limited water supply), declining populations and pressure on resources and the environment caused by tourism.

Under the Cradle to Cradle Islands (C2CI) project these islands are being used as testing grounds where research institutes and businesses can experiment with new sustainable technologies and approaches which can provide local solutions for water, energy and materials. The innovative and decentralised solutions for infrastructure, closing water cycles, risk management and environmental foot prints being developed have potential application in the islands across the North Sea region and even worldwide.

The C2CI project is being carried out among 12 islands from six countries around the North Sea, led by the Province of Fryslân (Friesland, NL) and includes 22 participants from local and regional governments, knowledge institutions, water boards and private companies.

The three year EU-funded project (INTERREG IVB North Sea Programme) was launched in 2009 to encourage the development of knowledge and exchange of experience in the search for the most sustainable decentralised solutions for resource management.

The joint transnational approach is essential given that the island communities themselves are not able to solve these problems because of their size and lack of knowledge and financial resources. Through the project a range of innovative sustainable island technologies are being developed.

• The ‘Eternal Holiday House’ concept on Ameland (NL) is showcasing the latest innovations using closed water cycles and energy technologies which save resources yet do not diminish levels of comfort and health standards. Low water consumption achieved by a recycle shower and a vacuum toilet is part of this concept.

• The partner island of Spiekeroog (DE) has developed a concept for a sustainable swimming pool which has been adopted by the island of Vlieland (NL).

• A ‘cargo bike’ has been designed by the University of Delft (NL) and this innovative form of transport is now in commercial production and is already being used by IKEA for its customers.

• The island of Samso (DK) is implementing a plan for the use of biomass and smart grids for energy generation. The island of Texel (NL) is developing a sustainable lighting system using LED lighting powered by solar panels.

• A Cradle to Cradle picnic set made of cork has been developed which will include local products and be offered when renting bicycles.

The ‘Wise Islands’ web portal ( has been developed as a worldwide ‘C2CI Knowledge Exchange Network’ which can distribute and discuss the project results beyond the partnership and to establish a global network of C2C-Islands.

The project has already delivered concrete results and gained serious interest and involvement of parties outside the North Sea region like New York Roosevelt Island, Oulu University in Finland and Taiwan.

The Cradle to Cradle Islands programme fosters the decentralised and sustainable use of our resources in respect to water, energy and materials. The results of the project are now gaining interest throughout the world and by launching the WISLE web portal, a start has been made with the establishing of a world wide network of interested islands into the C2CI-approach.”
Hans van Meerendonk, Province of Fryslân

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