Transition strategies towards a different development model for Paros and the Cyclades

EPAL (technical school) – Parikia

Watch a brief interview with one of the conference organizers.

Paros, like the Cyclades in general, is today at a very critical crossroads in its history. Its environment, already burdened by extensive construction, and its natural resources, which are under intense pressure from growth, are in danger of becoming seriously imbalanced. This, combined with the absence of an organised management and development plan at both central and local levels, threatens to lead to a definitive loss of its special character and possibly to a painful reversal of its economic development.

The messages of the times are contradictory. On the one hand, the free market is dominant in the area of real estate which, in combination with a problematic framework of licensing and control, leads to extremely extensive construction, the pressure to relax the restrictions on off-plan building, the absurd policy of supporting so-called strategic investments in saturated tourist areas, the delay of the central state in establishing a framework that will enhance sustainable tourism development and in taking measures in this direction and, in addition, the inability so far of municipal authorities to articulate and, even more so, to implement the necessary measures for the development of tourism in the region.

On the other hand, for the first time, such a strong and diverse movement is developing in many islands of the Cyclades, with particular dynamism in Paros. This movement is coherently advancing the need for a different model of development for control and regulation in the basic areas of the manifestation of the current growth and for the adoption of immediate measures to reverse the course of the islands. This movement goes hand in hand with the important actions of many other organisations in many regions of Greece, which are inspired by the same concerns and principles for protecting the physiognomy of endangered sites as a condition of their dignified survival. Finally, there was the recent election of new municipal authorities in the Cyclades, including Paros, who seem to realize the magnitude of the problems and announce plans for interventions and changes in the direction of regulation and protection.

At this juncture, Paros stakeholders, with a long history of intervening in the island’s development issues, decided to organize a two-day conference on 13 and 14 April 2024 entitled “Strategies for transition to a different model of development in Paros and the Cyclades.” We aim to move, with the help of specialized scientists and people with knowledge of the field, beyond the general findings and directions that characterize most efforts to date to the elaboration of a specific roadmap for the transition towards a development model that will balance economic growth with the protection of the environment and the natural environment and social cohesion.

The two-day conference is structured into four sections that address the respective major issues of the islands. The first section concerns the transition from anarchic tourism development to a sustainable management model, the second the transition to a regime of building control and respect for the environment, the third the transition to sustainable resource management and the fourth the definition of development including carrying capacity parameters. In all these sections we will attempt, with the help of experts, public officials and established professionals, and by presenting examples from other regions, to highlight the good practices and risks inherent in these transition pathways.

The conference is organized with the active support of the Municipality of Paros. We hope that at the end of it, we will be able to deliver some useful tools for a different future for Paros and the Cyclades to both the central and local authorities and to those of civil society.

The organizers of the two-day event:


Saturday, 13 April 2024