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What does it take to make an island sustainable?

There’s no doubt that the quickest development happens in the smallest areas. That’s why Gotland and Åland, two little islands in the middle of the Baltic sea, are the best example of how fast and how far sustainable development can bring.

ReGeneration 2030 proudly collaborated with GHOST (Gotland Headquarters of Sustainable Thinkers), Envis and Food Rescue while organising the Sustainable Islands event with the theme “Sustainability: Perspectives from two Islands in the Baltic Sea”. The event created an opportunity to create a space between different actors both in Gotland and Åland for collaboration, inspiration and innovation, all anchored in sustainable living. In order to overcome emerging societal, economic and environmental issues, the event aimed to foster multidisciplinary dialogue in sustainability around the Baltic sea, by creating a platform for it.

"There are unique challenges in making island communities sustainable, but we also have tight kinship networks, a sense of island identities that help us develop bonds and leadership, along with more agency to create our envisioned sustainable societies",- Lennie Jansson

Joining the dedicated delegation from ReGeneration 2030 were Vice-Chairperson Isaac Parkes, Board member Jessica Brunnberg and members of Circulents team - Lennie Jansson and Karolina Vikinge - representing one of the movements’ focus areas while contributing to strengthening and uniting actors that share the vision of making sustainable consumption and production the new norm in Nordic and Baltic Sea Regions across borders, generations and sectors of society. As Lennie puts it:

"A pattern I see in sustainable solutions is a partnership. We need many people, with different perspectives, lives and passions, to have platforms for collaboration. We need brave visions of how people can work together to give each other decent standards of future living",- Lennie Jansson

There were a number of engaging talks throughout the event, with representatives from Gotland and Åland presenting a number of different topics around sustainability. Sustainable food systems were discussed at length, with presentations from Marcus Wahlgren of Stora Coop and Leonie Paul of Food Rescue, showing the innovative ways in which residents of Gotland were fighting food waste. Harriet Strandvik of Spectrum Åland also discussed food systems and spoke about her work on Åland to educate young people on avoiding food waste. Another key topic from the event was island development, where Lennie Jansson represented the Bärkraft movement, discussing how a civil society movement had led to sustainable changes on a governmental level in Åland. William Cöster of Region Gotland also discussed a number of sustainability projects on Gotland, providing great insight into what individuals can do in a small community.

During the event the Circulents team, originating from the Leadership Programme on Circular Economy, hosted their own workshop on the last day of the event. The exercises focused on personal reflections of sustainability and dialogs between participants. Under what circumstances are electric cars, hotels and organic food sustainable? And are libraries, rental cars and organic food parts of a circular economy?

With around 70 participants on-site and 100 more joining through online streaming, the event definitely showed that the interest and potential of developing collaboration for sustainability on Gotland and Åland exist and hopefully it will grow even more in the future!

Even more so, it showed that bringing together youths and discussing our sustainable future does not only empower youth, networking and knowledge-sharing is also fun - and brings hopeful thoughts about our common path forward.

Photo credit: Iida Pyykkö


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