A HIGH-PROFILE conference with internationally-renowned speakers is being held to help the Isle of Wight become an energy-self-sufficient Eco-Island.
The event in Cowes on March 26 will inspire businesses and organisations to back the Eco-Island vision that aims to see the Island completely self-sufficient in renewable energy and with the country’s lowest carbon footprint by 2020.
At the same time Eco Island is about creating wealth and prosperity and raising aspirations and opportunities for young people in terms of educational and employment opportunities.
Among speakers – addressing delegates from a lectern made of recycled materials – will be record-breaking round the world yachtswoman Dame Ellen MacArthur who has become a passionate advocate of Eco Island and Sir Terry Farrell, the celebrated architect who has been appointed the Isle of Wight’s Design Champion.
The Eco Conference at Cowes Yacht Haven is being organised by the Isle of Wight Council on behalf of the Island Strategic Partnership — the collaboration of the county’s leading organisations including the police, the IW NHS Primary Care Trust, the IW College and the business and voluntary sectors.
The day-long event will be split into two phases. Speakers will take the floor in the morning and in the afternoon there will be a series of workshops at which invited businesses can learn more about what they can do to reduce their own carbon footprints, water consumption and waste.
The carbon footprint of the conference will be assessed during the event and subsequently offset
During the day, the ISP will also unveil its own Sustainable Community Strategy – the blueprint for how Eco Island will be achieved.
IW Council leader David Pugh said: “The aims of Eco Island are clearly highly ambitious and we know that to achieve the success we want, then we will need support from across the whole community.
“We are staging an event called the Big Green Picnic to engage families and individuals but the Eco Island conference is the opportunity for us to inspire organisations and businesses.
“The event will become a standing conference so that each year the IW Council and other local businesses and organisation can review the progress made.”
IW Council chief executive Joe Duckworth said: “We have already been extremely encouraged by the support shown by the businesses community to Eco Island. We have numerous businesses here already leading the way not only in the way of Eco-technology but also in working to the highest sustainable practices.”
One organisation with which the ISP is working very closely is the University of Southampton. Experts there will be providing a thermodynamic model of the Island so the success of work to reduce its ecological footprint can be measured and monitored over time.
The council is also working with the university and other private sector partners to develop an applied renewable energy centre, which could include a large tidal energy installation off the Island’s south coast.
University Vice-Chancellor Professor Bill Wakeham will also be speaking at the conference along with Professor Sir Ghillean Prance, scientific director of the Eden Project and the Rt Revd Dr Kenneth Stevenson, Bishop of Portsmouth.
Other speakers are Dr Vanessa Lawrence general director and chief executive of Ordnance Survey, David Taylor chief executive officer of Sustainable Energy Ireland and also speakers from eon UK and Forum for the Future.