Regional Development Strategy in Insular Space: The Recent Experience of Greece

Regional Development Strategy in Insular Space: The Recent Experience of Greece

Papadaskalopoulos Athanasios (Panteion University at Athens, Athens, Greece) and Christofakis Manolis (Panteion University at Athens, Athens, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/ijsesd.2014100102
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The formulation of a specific regional development strategy for insular areas has attracted strong interest in recent years. Despite efforts so far, no specific strategy for the development of insular space exists. This is the focus point of the present paper, which is based on a survey of policy measures for the Greek insular regions, covering the framework of regional and territorial planning since 2000. The paper tries to search for a particular insular development strategy, with the definition of the sector-based and territorial priorities, the formulation of strategic objectives, and the setting of guidelines for interventions.
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1. Content And Theoretical Approaches On The Insularity

The formulation of a specific development strategy for insular space has attracted strong interest, not only at national but also at European Union (EU) level. The main problem in this endeavour is that it has not developed a development strategy that takes into account the individualities of the islands. The main approaches concern small island states, but do not cover dispersed insular regions (Briguglio, 1995; Cook and Kirkpatrick, 1998). Although the specificity of the islands is recognised, a substantially differential policy has not been developed, but the development policy of the islands is included in the regional policy for the less developed areas.

The exploration of the development process as well as the formulation of a specific policy for the insular areas involves a systematic understanding of the basic features of the insular economy and especially the concept of insularity. In a move towards the understanding of the content of insularity, many definitions have been offered and a major effort has been made to clarify the concepts related to insular space.

Generally, an island can be considered as a part of any land that does not have land borders. Beyond this simplified definition, there have been several attempts to conceptualise the insular area in order to outline, in a comprehensive manner, the complex geomorphologic, demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. A statistical definition, which also includes socio-economic dimensions, is provided by the EU Statistical Service, EUROSTAT, according to which each island is part of land with an area less than 1 km2 which has also the following characteristics (Eurisles, 2002):

  • 1.

    It is situated at least 1 km from the land, without constant connection with this land.

  • 2.

    It has been created in a natural way.

  • 3.

    It is smaller than a continent.

  • 4.

    It has a statistically significant permanent population (with an indicative threshold of 50 inhabitants), which supports housing and economic activities.

  • 5.

    It does not include state capital.

Corresponding definitions have been given for the insular region, insular complex and archipelagos.

The insular region is defined as the geographical area comprising a group of islands or a large island whose characteristics, particularly socio-economic characteristics, differentiate it from the other continental regions (Sofoulis, 1990). The development problems that characterise the nature of this region are homogeneous throughout its extent and they are reported in relation to the difficulty of accessibility, the great distance that separates the included islands, and their small size (European Commission, 2001). In the EU, an insular region may be part of a country-member which is surrounded by the sea and has no constant connection with the mainland, or an established capital of the country (Parlement Europeen: A4-0118/98).

An insular complex includes a group of islands that have interdependencies on their functional area and it is sensitive to influences from the mainland, while the term archipelagos is mentioned in relation to an isolated group of islands with strong internal functional connections.

In this context, the basic characteristics of insularity can be identified and analysed. Firstly, the insularity refers both to physical and socioeconomic characteristics. The definitions presented above emphasise the physical aspects of the concept of insularity. However, the reference to natural features highlights only one aspect of insularity. The insularity is an aggravating factor, which causes unequal growth in capacity and spatial differentiation of income and living conditions. More specifically, the characteristics of insularity, which derived from a combination of natural and socio-economic data, are as follows (Commission Européenne, 2003):

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