The second meeting of the Blue Municipalities Network was unique as it took place with the participation of representatives of civil society, local government, and central government. More specifically, in the second meeting of the Mayors of the Blue Municipalities Network, which was organized by Aegean Rebreath in collaboration with the Committee of Islands and Political Cohesion of K.E.D.E. participated the President of K.E.D.E. Mr. Dimitris Papastergiou, the General Secretary of Natural Environment and Waters Mr. Petros Varelidis, the General Secretary of Waste Management Coordination Mr. Manolis Grafakos and 33 mayors including Central Corfu and the Diapontian Islands.
The meeting was opened by the Chairman of the Committee of Islands and Mayor of Kythera Mr. Efstratios Charchalakis who stressed the importance of the project as the environmental issues of the islands are recognized by the EU. as top on the policy agenda. The participants had an extremely interesting two-hour exchange of views on the problems and needs identified by the members of the Network. The only goal is the development of proposals to the competent ministries and the definition of the next steps of the Network.
The President of KEDE Mr. Dimitris Papastergiou stressed the importance and the need to strengthen the Network, while emphasizing the will of KEDE to actively contribute in this direction. Messrs. Varelidis and Grafakos presented the relevant initiatives of the Ministry of Environment and expressed the view that the Network should be strengthened and expanded within the local government, as there are financial tools that could be used.
The mayors of the network as well as members of the Island Policy Committee referred to the extremely big problem they face with marine litter and the need to strengthen their relevant efforts by the central administration. In addition, they referred to the important action of the network and the effective framework of actions that have been developed. The head of Aegean Rebreath, Mr. Sarelakos, highlighted the importance of the meeting as the most characteristic example of environmental democracy, presented the Network’s activities, and referred to the need to strengthen the Network, which to date relies on the excellent cooperation of civil society, municipalities, and private sector.
The results of the meeting were also important, as the Islands Committee decided to submit a proposal to the Board. of K.E.D.E. for the signing of a memorandum of cooperation with the Network of Blue Municipalities. At the same time, it was decided that the Municipalities of the Islands Committee should join the Network, while it was also proposed to submit a proposal for the acquisition of a legal entity.
Finally, the members of the Network decided to collect proposals for the 3 competent ministries (Environment, Shipping, and Rural Development), which will be submitted in live meetings with the relevant deputy ministers.
It is noted that the Network of Blue Municipalities, which was created in March 2021 and is being coordinated by Aegean Rebreath, includes 16 Municipalities (Central Corfu and Diapontia Islands, Alonissos, Anafi, Antiparos, Zakynthos, Kalamata, Kea, Lefkada, Naxos, Paros, Rafina, Santorini, Syros, Tinos and the Port Funds of Rafina, Santorini, and Skyros). The network operates with the kind sponsorship of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.