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  Nr. 142 - November 2010
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Islands hold the Key to Sustainable Development

by Sophia Karavias
On 9 October 2010 Nikos Chrysogelos, who is the head of the Ecogreen party Oikologikos Anemos and is running for the elections for the Southern Aegean Precinct, visited Naxos together with three other scientists – all experts on various environmental issues, including the development of the wind-powered desalination plant on the island of Iraklia. They visited the notorious Naxos municipal rubbish dump on the road to Engares, gave a short talk at the ONAS (Federation of Naxos Associations) conference on self-government, and from 6pm until midnight chaired a workshop on sustainable development with reference to Naxos, which was open to all interested parties.

Mr Chrysogelos outlined the reasons for the presence – in force – of the Ecogreens in the Southern Aegean precinct and answered many questions on a variety of topics from members of the audience.

The approach of Oikologikos Anemos is different from that of the political parties we have known so far in Greece, in that they want local communities to come up with their own solutions, as has been the case in Aghios Evstratios and Anavra, about which short documentary films were shown. They stressed that the islands, with their traditionally environmentally-friendly lifestyle, already hold the key to sustainable development, and that the wisdom of the past, for example in building bio-climatic houses, saving water, fishing and farming in environmentally correct ways, must not be lost to future generations.

Much time was devoted to the question of energy, and a detailed analysis of the cost-effectiveness of the different methods of energy production was presented by one of the experts present. Chrysogelos expressed the view that it was really rather ridiculous that every time a wind farm is planned there are reactions (and usually recourse to the State Council) from so-called environmentalists, yet none of them have ever complained to DEH about burning 200 tons of crude oil per day during the high season on Paros alone! His view is that if local communities, led by their newly-elected, hopefully enlightened mayors, become investors in renewable energy sources such as wind generators (as is the case in Samso, Denmark) and see the direct benefits – such as reduced municipal taxes – then these reactions will become a thing of the past.

This workshop gave us a taste of how the Ecogreens intend to proceed on our islands, in an intelligent and undogmatic manner, really listening to the concerns of local communities and providing expert guidance and high-tech expertise when it is needed.

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