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Monday the 19 th of October was the date our first encounter under the project Elba 2035 took place, in view of the drafting of a manifesto for sustainable development of the island. Firmly desired by Acqua dell’Elba, a company who sees its presence within local territory as a founding value of its own identity, this shared building approach towards a sustainable future was introduced by EY, who is also responsible for the realisation of the project.

One of the main guidelines of the project is the belief that Isola d’Elba’s tourism may truly become sustainable only if it shall exploit the numerous activities offered by the island which can take place in harmony with nature, even proposing innovative ideas which may favour the exchange of experiences and contacts between local islanders and tourists. The development of sustainable mobility is also crucial, a concept which may function through incentivisation of a reduction of automotive transport in favour of cycling or walking, on collective or anyhow shared journeys, even involving sea-based water transport. Another important feature will be work countering the seasonal effects of the island’s economy, by raising awareness of the many other opportunities offered by the island: historical and cultural wealth, variety of natural and urban landscapes, options
to engage in numerous sporting and recreational activities. Besides tourism, focus was placed on attempting to develop the possibility of selecting the island as one’s elective residence, creating opportunities such as remote medicinal diagnostics and other forms of smart working.

All of these resources will have to be balanced with the existence of certain weaknesses which have to be taken into account: from the lack of water purificators to the still awaited institution of a protected marine
area, from the necessity to increase the number of specialised medical care facilities to environmental pollution caused by certain seafaring vessels, up to the problem consisting in the impossibility to reach the island using exclusively means of sustainable transport.

A second guideline of the project is that of establishing a shared vision over culture, identity and lifestyle. In order to make Isola d’Elba more sustainable and attractive, we all agreed to focus on concrete (though at the same time ambitious) objectives such as offering high levels of quality of life, a coordinated cultural model for both inhabitants and tourists, aimed at developing the historical and cultural heritage of the island, the local winemaking and gastronomy sectors, as well as the environment, throughout the whole year. In order to improve quality of life we need to do everything that is possible to ensure the population’s well-being through services which are sustainable for the environment, in favour of health, mobility, growth, training, and protection of the beauty of our environment. Even in this case, strong points such as hospitality towards tourists and
opportunities such as a “green” sustainable transport infrastructure interconnecting larger cities with the suburbs and involving both public and private sectors, must be balanced against weaknesses such as the existing, aging infrastructure and the Elban citizens’ resistance to foreign investment.

Last, though by all means not least, of our three guidelines is the one dedicated to environment and beauty. Isola d’Elba will become sustainable from an environmental point of view when it will neutralise carbon fuel emissions through the use of renewable, sustainable energy sources, when it will nurture and protect the biodiversity of terrestrial and acquatic fauna, when it will correctly manage water sources and human waste, when humanity will be at the centre of the vision of sustainability.

The objective is to identify strengths and weaknesses for the achievement of this vision. Among the strengths there is surely the vastness of geological and geo-mineral wealth, among weaknesses we have marine pollution due to microplastics, then among the opportunities we have the institution of a marine protected area, and among threats we see the unsustainability of privately-owned electrically powered transport, because there is a lack of organisation from the private point of view.

You may re-watch the “plenary” part of our encounter relating to the conclusions we reached, directly by clicking on this link. The next Elba 2035 appointment is scheduled for the 10 th of December, the day on which all participants to the workshops will propose their respective plans for achieving the desired vision – work on which they will start already in the upcoming days. A uniquely innovative working methodology which will culminate in the realisation of the First Draft of the Sustainability Manifesto, at the start of the 2021 summer.

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