SMILES COST Action Seeks to Enhance Resilience of Islands through Sustainable Ecosystem Services

Ecostack Innovations fosters interdisciplinary discussions at SMILES COST Action meetings in Brussels to tackle sustainable development and natural capital management challenges on islands.

Brussels, Belgium – November 17, 2023 – The SMILES project, funded by the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST), is exploring ways to bolster the resilience of small to medium-sized European islands by ensuring the sustainability of their ecosystem services. The project brings together a diverse group of academic researchers, SMEs, and public institutions, leveraging their expertise to address this critical issue.

During a recent meeting held in Brussels on November 16-17, 2023, SMILES participants delved into the captivating topic of climate change's impact on plant diversity across Mediterranean islands. The first year of the project has yielded valuable data on plant diversity on a regional scale, providing insights into the current state of botanical diversity across the region. Localised data gaps were supplemented with published literature, and the next step will involve expanding this dataset to include European islands outside the Mediterranean, creating a comprehensive database encompassing all European islands.

Recognising the complexity of analysing island systems, the SMILES team discussed harmonising an appropriate methodology for ecosystem service assessment. This methodology will ensure that individual islands, archipelagos, and broader multiple-island clusters can be effectively integrated into the project's scope. Crucially, the success of the analysis will hinge on a holistic perspective encompassing both biophysical and socio-economic aspects of all ecosystem services generated across terrestrial, coastal, and marine realms in island systems.

The SMILES consortium's strength lies in its highly interdisciplinary expertise spanning ecological, geological, sociological, cultural, and economic fields. Its international collaboration draws on the experience of a range of partners across Europe, fostering knowledge-sharing activities to identify the specific requirements of each island's challenges and generate innovative solutions to overcome these barriers.

Ecostack Innovations is participating the scientific work carried out by SMILES action, and will focus on assessing ecosystem services and their susceptibility to climate change and future land uses. Through the expertise in Nature-based Solutions (NbS), we will work with the wider community to identify experiences of nature-based solutions implementation and identify key lessons to safeguard ecosystem services, while disseminating the project's findings, driving a more sustainable approach to ecosystem management on European islands.

Check out our dedicated SMILES webpage for further information on the ongoing work and planned activities. 

COST Action CA21158 - Enhancing Small-Medium IsLands resilience by securing the sustainability of Ecosystem Services 

Funded by the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme of the European Union