Chios Lab: building resilience on a Greek island


The FUTURESILIENCE project is an innovative project aimed at enhancing European economic and social resilience by strengthening the capacity to respond effectively to future crises. Over the past two decades, the frequency of crises at local, regional, and international levels has increased, emphasising the need for resilience, and testing the abilities of various stakeholders to cope, adapt, and rebuild. Crises such as the pandemic, disasters, energy challenges, and climate change have highlighted disparities in the preparedness of public, private, and civil society sectors to address unexpected crises and manage uncertainty. 

The FUTURESILIENCE project 10 labs studying the resilience and preparedness of certain regions in Europe based on concrete challenges. One of these regions is the island of Chios, the fifth largest Greek island, that faces unique challenges due to the migration crisis in 2015. The island experienced a significant influx of refugees and migrants attempting to enter Europe from nearby Turkey, leading to overcrowded refugee camps and humanitarian crises. The economy of the island, primarily driven by agriculture, tourism, and maritime trade, faced intertwined challenges posed not only by the migration crisis but also due to the effects of the economic recession in Greece. 

Chios lab

The Chios Lab: a collaborative approach 

The Chios Lab is led by the Municipality of Chios and the Research Development Institute of Panteion University and count with support from the Foresight Centre from the Parliament of Estonia. Our dedicated and multidisciplinary team include experts with diverse skills and experience essential for addressing the multifaceted challenges faced by the community. The Lab's core mission is to develop evidence-based strategies specifically tailored to Chios' context, fostering resilience and preparedness through collaboration.

The Chios pilot case explores innovative solutions for economic diversification, social inclusion, and cross-border cooperation. A key aspect is the participatory approach, engaging a wide range of stakeholders in co-creation processes. Stakeholders include the European Commission, national and regional authorities, industry associations (Chios Chamber of Commerce, Chios Mastiha Growers Association, Hoteliers Association), and international organizations (UNHCR, UNICEF), among others. 

The collaboration between these diverse stakeholders exemplifies the FUTURESILIENCE project's core objectives: 

  • Context-based solutions: Developing solutions that address Chios' specific needs. 
  • Participation and inclusiveness: Ensuring all voices are heard in the decision-making process. 
  • Building trust: Creating an open and accessible system that fosters trust. 
  • Learning from the past, building for the future 

By addressing the migration crisis and economic challenges, the Chios pilot aims to: 

  1. Enhance the overall resilience of the local community. 
  2. Provide valuable insights to inform broader policy development at national and European levels. 
  3. A look ahead: charting a course for the future of the island 

Engaging local stakeholders, unlocking the future 

Discussions with stakeholders put the focus on key challenges faced by islands like Chios, including depopulation, brain drain, and low birth rates. Local stakeholders also emphasised the importance of achieving a balance between self-sufficiency and global engagement. Climate change resilience and the role of agriculture in attracting population were identified as crucial for a sustainable future. Regarding the refugee crisis, stakeholders acknowledged the initial lack of preparedness. The valuable role of NGOs in filling these gaps was recognised, along with the need for improved services in refugee camps. 

The successful launch of the Chios Lab marked a promising step towards a more resilient future for island communities through innovative co-creation approaches. This include a series of workshops and interviews with local stakeholders working on the front-line of the migration multidimensional crisis. The Chios Lab aims to develop solutions that will benefit Chios local community and serve as a model for other island communities around Europe and the world.

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