In Sifnos, planning green social transition together

Anemos Ananeosis / Wind of Renewal and the Municipality of Sifnos are working together with the other partners of the GRAPE project, «Local Social Green Action Plan for small and peripheral territories», co-financed by EU Commission, for the green and social transition of the local community. An Action Plan is a useful and efficient tool for the transition of a community as long as it is a result of a structured dialogue at the local level and not only a scientific paper or a study produced by a group of experts. This is why we are following a participatory methodology for the preparation of the Action Plan.

Empowerment of the local community is important for its sustainable prosperity. Public participation in planning for green transition is a key issue. Strengthening and upgrading local knowledge for the protection and sustainable management of natural resources is a decisive factor for survival and resilience. It is increasingly clear that the global effort to protect natural resources and the ecosystem is linked to the effort of sustainability at the local level and to the strengthening of social cohesion.

The local wisdom is not only a theory. There are good examples of its presence at the local level, in the daily practices. For example, the dry stone network includes not only stones but also knowledge and mastery, in the context of what today we call «nature based solutions» or green infrastructure.

For this, we seek to integrate traditional wisdom into modern scientific knowledge, sustainability strategy, green transition and climate policy. For centuries, human intervention in space was integrated into the environment, as we see at the local level, it was an integral part of it, and used wisely the natural resources, preserving them for a long time. We intend to capitalize the experience of other islands, collective knowledge, exchanges of good practices, modern tools for recording and highlighting the importance of local experience for a future green and social resilient society.

Dialogue and public participation at the local level

We started with a diagnosis and SWOT analysis. This analysis will help to formulate the objectives of the Action Plan for Green Social Resilience of Sifnos and their achievement. During the SWOT analysis, the strengths and weaknesses of Sifnos are studied, as well as the opportunities and threats that exist. The strengths and weaknesses mainly concern the internal environment of Sifnos and its society (e.g. nature, man-made stock, culture, human capital, social organization, staff and executive skills, qualities and characteristics of the local community, financial potential, cohesion , tradition, contact with developments and innovation, etc.). On the contrary, opportunities and threats reflect factors of the wider environment – physical, social, economic, administrative and political, which Sifnos should identify, take into account, see its adaptation to the new facts and adopt goals that respond to these present and future challenges.

For some weeks there has been an online collaboration to shape this analysis as participatory as possible, and along the way the release of the first draft diagnosis allows a wider discussion and final shaping. In the first processing of the SWOT analysis, we took into account elements that emerged from the organization of two days, in June and September 2022, workshops and thematic meetings held under the responsibility of the Committee for Sustainable Management of Natural Resources of Sifnos, interventions and experiences from previous activities in Sifnos, data from surveys as well as the recent recording of local varieties and seeds (February 2023) as well as observations and suggestions of people from the island.

We have used outcomes and tools like the Committee for Sustainable Management of Natural Resources of Sifnos, arising from another project, the SMILO MED program «Sustainable Management of Natural Resources of Sifnos».

The process

On the occasion of the two programs (GRAPECOSME and SMILO MED):

  • every month we meet and discuss an important issue for Sifnos, we record existing experience, good practices, we look for forms of structures and new proposals in order to formulate a Green and Social Action Plan that will be proposed to the Municipal Council to form a long-term strategy of Sifnos society:
  • we co-organised together with other local actors two conferences on sustainable management of natural resources (June and September 2022), and a workshop on the social economy (September 2022 with the participation of representatives from European networks but also from small municipalities in Spain and Italy);
  • We also organised a series of workshops and discussions on: (a) the NATURA area of Sifnos (December 2022); (b) «Stories about water in Sifnos – from the part to a sustainable future» (January 2023);
  • From 24 to 27.2.2023 together with the expert/agronomist Roikos Thanopoulos we had a very interesting experience of systematically recording the memory of sustainable local farming and of local varieties/ species that were cultivated in Sifnos. We have also collected samples of local seeds, plants and trees that are still cultivated today. It’s impressive what we have learned from this process. This is why we decided to collect and donate to the national seeds bank all the genetic material we have collected and to record all the discussions with local people. It is not only useful as a memory and cultural material but also as a basis for a dynamic renaissance of agriculture in Sifnos.

After every workshop we publish a follow up and we try to include the proposals and approaches arising from the debate.

The partecipants

Who participated in the workshops, conferences and meetings:

  • Members of the Municipal Council, like the presidents of it, the vice mayor, counselors as well as a member of the Regional Council of South Aegean, formes mayors etc;
  • Wind of Renewal and other members of the Committee for the Sustainable Management of Sifnos Natural resources;
  • Farmers and beekeepers cooperative and local farmers;
  • Members of the Cultural Union of Sifnos;
  • Members of the Cultural Center of Sifnos;
  • Members of the Women Union of Sifnos SMARI;
  • Members of the Union of local Entrepreneurs and the Union of touristic Enterprises – Rooms to rents;
  • Teachers;
  • Inhabitants of different origin;
  • Sifnians living out of the island, eg in Athen.
  • Experts eg architects, engineers, professors who are friends of Sifnos or are connected with the local people and some researchers and environmental and cultural organizations supporting projects related to different issues of the insular life.

We have to work systematically on attractingmore young people and especially persons who have an interest to work as professionals not related directly to tourism

This document reflects the views only of the Author and the GRAPE Consortium. The Commission cannot be held responsible for any use wich may be made of the information contained therein.


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