On 3rd March friends and supporters of the IEF, as well as our Steering Committee gathered at The Truman Brewery in east London for an event that the villa rental company The Thinking Traveller (TTT) hosted for us. It was a really brilliant evening event, which we are very thankful for.
IEF ambassador and environmentalist Lee Durrell, our co-founder Ben Goldsmith and TTT founder Huw Beaugié formed the panel together with Costas, the IEF’s director. Ben Goldsmith introduced the panelists and the network the Conservation Collective, under which the IEF operates. He mentioned major issues that the Conservation Collective has worked to tackle locally, common threats that environmentalists globally need to work on and important wins. Lee Durrell (widow of the late Gerald Durrell) talked about her connection to Corfu, the changes she has seen ever since she first visited the island with Gerald Durrell and about the interest of many conservationists for the -still rich- nature of Corfu. She also explained the work that the ‘Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust’ has been doing for decades, based on Jersey Island, UK. Moreover, Lee Durrell expressed her full support for the campaign to ‘Save Erimitis‘, a place that Gerald Durrell knew so well and that conservationists value highly, and explained why it is important preserve the remaining nature areas of Corfu and of islands more generally.
Huw Beaugié of TTT starting by acknowledging the impact that tourism and the associated industries have on the environment and on local sustainability and expressed the high interest of the company in promoting more sustainable tourism models and activities that are in harmony with environmental preservation. Costas Kaloudis (IEF) focused on the well-known problems that Ionian Islands -and Greece altogether- have with waste management, explained the reasons and showed some striking images that illustrate the magnitude of the problem. He also emphasised on the possibilities for solutions if the right things are done and introduced some successful examples of sustainable waste management on the islands, arguing that if scaled up, they can seriously contribute to solving the problems overall.
After the initial presentations of the panelists a very lively discussion with the audience followed. We were all amazed by the passion and interest of people that have an Ionian Island as their first or second home and encouraged by the eagerness to contribute to their long-term sustainability. It was very interesting to see that there are so many common major concerns, as for the sustainability and the current trends in the Ionian Islands. Equally interesting that people with different origins and from different walks of life acknowledge certain problems, as well as the need for action.
Such an energising discussion and an active group certainly give hopes for good things to follow!