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Samothraki in Transition: A Report on a Real-World Lab to Promote the Sustainability of a Greek Island

Marina Fischer-Kowalski (), Markus Löw (), Dominik Noll (), Panos Petridis and Nikolaos Skoulikidis ()
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Marina Fischer-Kowalski: Department for Social Sciences, University for Natural Resources and Life Sciences, A1070 Vienna, Austria
Markus Löw: Department of Forest Inventory, Austrian Research Centre for Forests, A1131 Vienna, Austria
Dominik Noll: Department for Social Sciences, University for Natural Resources and Life Sciences, A1070 Vienna, Austria
Nikolaos Skoulikidis: Institute of Marine Biological Resources & Inland Water, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Anavyssos, 19013 Attica, Greece

Sustainability, 2020, vol. 12, issue 5, 1-23

Abstract: This is a case study on a small mountainous island in the Aegean Sea with the policy goal of preparing it to become member of UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves. While the local community opted for such an identity very early on, there are a number of obstacles to be overcome. The multidisciplinary research is based upon a sociometabolic approach and focuses on two issues: The transformation of agriculture, mainly herding of sheep and goats, and the shift to tourism. The degradation of the landscape caused by extensive roaming of goats and sheep constitute one of the major sustainability challenges of the island. We analyze farmers’ opportunities and describe new initiatives to get out of this deadlock. The impacts of the transition to tourism are addressed from an infrastructural perspective: A shift from traditional stone buildings to bricks and concrete, the establishment of new roads and ports, and the challenges to water supply and wastewater removal, also with reference to the quality and amounts of wastes generated that need to be dealt with. The island has so far escaped mass tourism and attracts mainly eco-tourists who value its remoteness and wilderness. We discuss how to serve this clientele best in the future, and increase local job opportunities and income while maintaining environmental quality. Finally, we reflect upon emerging new forms of local collaboration and the impact of our research efforts on a sustainability transition that might be on its way.

Keywords: island sociometabolic regime; transdisciplinary research; real-world learning lab for sustainability transition; livestock herding, subsidies and overgrazing; tourism infrastructure; UNESCO Biosphere Reserves (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:12:y:2020:i:5:p:1932-:d:327975