Culatra Island Committee will help “boat” of the energy transition to “arrive to port”

Committee is composed of 17 entities, from public bodies to companies, passing through associations

Photo: Fabiana Saboya| Sul Informação

A new Insular Committee was born today, which came to "put us all in the same boat" and will help the entities that launched the energy transition project on a European scale. 2030 breech «to take this boat to good port. It's as simple as that".

The image created by Sílvia Padinha, president of the Association of Residents of Ilha da Culatra, about the protocol signed today by almost two dozen entities, from public bodies to associations, passing by companies, could not be more appropriate.

After all, we are talking about a project that aims to turn a barrier island in the Ria Formosa into an international example of energy transition and sustainability, involving the fishing community that inhabits the core of Culatra.

Today, "one more step on the path to sustainability that humanity has to take" has been taken and to which the promoters of this energy transition project, which is Algarve, but also European, want to make a decisive contribution.

And if the inhabitants of Culatra and the University of Algarve, who kick-started this process, quickly convinced other entities to join the project, namely the Regional Coordination and Development Commission and the Chamber of Faro, the ball was advancing and growing, with more and more partners joining the initiative.


Signing of the protocol for the creation of the Insular Committee of Culatra – Photo: Flávio Costa | Sul Informação


In this way, the protocol that formally created the committee was signed by representatives of the three associations of the Culatra nucleus – AMIC, Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes and União Culatrense -, by the Chamber and by the Union of Parishes of Faro, by CCDR and UAlg, by the NGO Make it Better and SMILO (Small Islands Organization), by the Portuguese Environment Agency, by the Institute for Nature and Forest Conservation, by the Captaincy of Porto de Olhão, by the companies Docapesca, Águas do Algarve, Fagar e Algar and by AREAL – Regional Agency for Energy and Environment of the Algarve.

“The creation of the Insular Committee represents the institutional commitment to what was already the Culatra 2030 initiative, a project that started with the support of the European Union, with the objective of creating a sustainable energy community on the Ilha da Culatra”, according to André Pacheco, researcher at the University of Algarve and one of the mentors of this project.

After being chosen by European Commission's Clean Energy for Islands Initiative of the European Commission, in February 2019, to develop one of six pilot projects for energy transition at European level, Culatra drafted an agenda for the transition, based on five sustainability pillars: water, energy, waste, biodiversity and ecosystems and cultural heritage, combined with human activities.

«After that, it was necessary to institutionalize the entire process and this involves the commitment of the entities that have jurisdiction or responsibility over the territory», explained André Pacheco.


André Pacheco – Photo: Flávio Costa | Sul Informação


Hence this Insular Committee.

“We invited the seven entities that have jurisdiction over the territory, plus the companies that have responsibilities in the area of ​​waste, water and energy”, summarized the researcher.

In this way, when a compromise solution for sustainability is thought of, the chosen path can be “validated by all these entities, so that we can pass those barriers that are often the most complicated”.

Basically, it's about avoiding situations in which “you get a positive opinion on one side and a negative one on the other, and then we are left in a vacuum where things don't go forward”.

«By promoting this early dialogue, we know that everything that comes out of this Insular Committee is already outlined in all the decrees and regulations that exist for territorial management, namely the constraints and obstacles of the fact that we are in a territory that integrates the Park Natural of Ria Formosa, the Natura 2000 Network and the National Ecological Reserve», reinforced André Pacheco.


Sílvia Padinha – Photo: Flávio Costa | Sul Informação


«I think that today, the entities that were here wanted to make a serious commitment and we all feel that. They are signing, it's not just words anymore. They consider this project interesting and are assuming that they want to make this journey with us, which is very important for us», said Sílvia Padinha.

Meanwhile, the inhabitants of Culatra, who will always be the central elements of any energy transition strategy for the island, are already advancing with some projects.

«We had participatory diagnosis sessions, in which the population intervened, enunciating problems and looking for solutions. It is very important to involve people and awaken them to other realities they are unaware of», recalled the president of AMIC.

«Then we have the Social Center of Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes, which there will be electric motorcycles to provide home support, possibly as early as next month. Until now, gasoline motorcycles were used, with the associated noise and pollution,” he added.


Culatra Social Center – Photo: Fabiana Saboya | Sul Informação


On the other hand, the residents' association submitted an application for the 2020 Sea, for the purchase of a boat powered by solar energy.

«With this boat, we are going to set the example that it is possible to navigate the estuary and not pollute. The vessel will have the capacity to transport four tons of cargo. This allows that, instead of carrying out various transports, we can gather small producers and transport bivalves on this collective vessel», summarized Sílvia Padinha.

And there are already other producers with greater capacity to follow suit. «There are two nurserymen who have already applied for support to acquire boats powered by solar energy».

The creation of the committee was also the first step towards obtaining an international sustainability certification, awarded by SMILO, an NGO based in France.

«For SMILO, these small islands have certain particularities and, as is the case of Culatra, they have challenging socio-economic contexts. It is not easy for a fishing community to maintain its identity in the face of great pressure from tourism», said André Pacheco.

«In the face of everything that could detract from what Culatra is and the added value it represents for the region, this organization tries to protect communities, through a quality seal based on the five pillars: water, energy, waste, biodiversity and ecosystems and cultural heritage”, concluded the UAlg researcher.


Photos: Flavio Costa | Sul Informação


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