U.S. Embassy & ACG Speakers

I really enjoyed listening to the guest speakers from the U.S. Embassy and ACG come and speak. Both of these groups provided such insightful information from their daily careers that I would have never known if they had not spoken to our class. I loved how both of the presentations were very interactive, in order to keep the students intrigued. Looking around the room, it was easy to tell they had the student’s full attention with their captivating stories.

The lady from the ACG provided interesting knowledge about the process of working at a Greek University. I thought it was interesting how it was both different, yet somewhat similar to the colleges in the United States. Based on her presentation, it sounded like she had made a significant impact throughout her time at ACG.

I really thought it was interesting to hear the U.S. Embassy people come and speak, as well. I remember thinking it was so funny how one woman was saying a lot of the international students would go eat at the U.S. Embassy so they could get the flaming hot Cheetos. I never knew those would be so popular with people from different countries other than the U.S. I also thought the whole process of their daily duties within their jobs was so interesting. It was very interesting to know their job duties can range from anything like assisting government officials, attending important ceremonies and meetings, and helping others understand different policies. They are also the group people go to whenever they want to consider expanding their business internationally. It would be neat to be involved with the process of helping a domestic U.S. company get its foot in the door to expand globally. I also like the fact that they are able to somewhat pick which countries they want to live in by filling in a form and ranking their top countries. One of these ladies lived in Taiwan for four years and now currently lives in Greece. She also talked about how when one person gets a job there, the Embassy will also help their spouse to find a job in that designated area. It is really nice to know they look out for one another there. I also liked how if they ever did get tired of being abroad and just wanted to move back to the U.S., they could move back and work on the domestic side, once their current contract terminated. This level of flexibility indicates to me the U.S. Embassy seems like a very good place to work.


Hydra Island Towards Sustainability Article

I found this paper to be a very interesting take on Hydra Island’s sustainability. This research paper talks about the key points Hydra still struggles with within its overall sustainability efforts. It was surprising to me that an island like Hydra which is much more sustainable than other places, is still looking for ways to improve. The writer states his main goal is to not offer solutions but to strike up a discussion on the topic in an effort to potentially promote action within the island community. The writer consistently emphasizes the importance of research in order to get a better hand at the problems Hydra faces.

One thing that surprised me in the article was the water ordeal. The scarcity of water is both an international and local problem for Hydra. The main source of water from Hydra comes from the water boat, transporting water over from the mainland. This is so different compared to living in the United States, where we have such easy access to water. I never really paid much attention to the amount of water I use, but when thinking about it now it definitely seems like a lot.

Despite some problems Hydra faces, Hydra remains a beautiful Greek island that is known for not having any cars, besides two garbage trucks. Locals and tourists either get around by water taxi, walking, mules, or donkeys. There are no huge hotels, no airport, and the bars and restaurants are typically family-owned by local people. Walking around Hydra, it is easy to sense the relaxed, peaceful, and laid-back environment that reels people in. With that being said, tourism is the main driving economic income for this island.

Before coming to Hydra and even Greece alone, I never realized just how much their economy is reliant on tourism. During the seasons of April to even the end of October, the high volume of tourists visiting provides a significant factor in the country’s economic growth. One key point I found to be important within the article was the two different opposing sides when asked about the future of Hydra. One side feels the island should focus highly on infrastructure and development in order to bring in more visitors for the island, making it more competitive with the other islands, like Mykonos. The opposing side mainly consists of resident foreigners who are more concerned about the environmental aspect and how this might affect their holiday homes and the lifestyle they are used to with the current state of Hydra. I believe finding the balance between these two arguments is key because I see where both of them are coming from.

Industrial Symbiosis in Greece – TJ Heck

The study indicates that industrial symbiosis practices in Greece are unevenly distributed. High levels of industrial symbiosis are found in regions of high population, such as Thessaloniki and Attica. Besides, they are also influenced by high levels of infrastructure. The uneven distribution of industries in some regions suggests a need for interventions and better policies. They should be focused on industrial promotion to attain the set goals and objectives. Understanding the patterns of industrial symbiosis helps policymakers and stakeholders devise necessary intervention measures. Industrial symbiosis practices have positive environmental and economic impacts (Marinos-Kouris & Mourtsiadis, 2013). It involves an exchange of waste materials and utilizing them as resources. In such a way, the companies can reduce waste generation and minimize the environmental footprint. The finding aligns with the principles of sustainability. For instance, applying them leads to resource efficiency and highlights the need for symbiotic exchanges. It also reinforces collaboration and incentivizes industries to engage in such practices actively. The food and beverage sector is likely to indulge in symbiotic relationships. Others include the metals and textile sectors, ensuring lower participation rates have been identified.

A lack of enough resources challenges the implementation of symbiosis in Greece. Lack of awareness among the stakeholders hampers the willingness of the sectors to engage in symbiotic exchanges. It makes it difficult for companies to tap opportunities to utilize waste materials from one industry as input for another. Many results in missed opportunities for efficient resource allocation and cost savings. Addressing the knowledge barrier requires educational campaigns and outreach programs that raise awareness. Furthermore, it ensures the dissemination of information about industrial symbiosis. There is also limited regulatory support in Greece. It deters industries from participating in development initiatives. Such challenges can be addressed by instilling an institutional framework that recognizes and promotes the concept of symbiosis. An institutional framework is necessary for the widespread adoption of the development. Government agencies and other stakeholders can be pulled to the top to provide a platform for sharing information and establishing collaboration networks. The barriers heightened the need for supportive policies and regulations to coordinate symbiotic exchanges. Resource exchange networks identified in the study contribute to the material exchange and energy cascading. Applying the patterns ensures there is waste reduction and enhanced resource productivity.

Eco-Innovation in Greece – TJ Heck

The Greek environment is impacted by climate change and ecosystem pollution. Based on the global rankings, Greece has average air quality and GHG emissions intensity performance. In the data collected from 2008, GHG  emissions show a declining trend (Mitsios, 2019). Air emissions from transportation and power stations have challenged the country. Besides, overexploitation of water resources and coastal zone degradation led to the pollution of the environment. The groundwater resources are being exploited due to energy and water use for agricultural irrigation. For instance, most grounded water irrigation operates illegally and goes unrecorded. On the other hand, GHG emission has been attributed to economic crisis rather than ambitious climate change policies. Greece remains high in carbon level intensity compared to the other EU nations. The waste management plan has contributed to reducing waste generation and treatment. Leaders are putting efforts into closing illegal landfills and metal foundries. However, such an initiative remains challenging to the county due to inadequate resources for managing hazardous waste. It is at risk of failing to meet the municipal waste recycling rate of 50 %. The economic crisis within the country has hindered environmental protection and research and development. The practices that have worsened the condition include the malpractices by the local authorities and public unawareness of innovation benefits.

The economy of Greek is dominated by the tertiary sector, characterized by services like tourism and the public sector. The data shows that trade and agriculture are less innovative than the  European Union average. Innovation relies heavily on imported technology with more strengths linked to the organizational processes. Due to financial institutions’ risk aversion strategy, new firms have faced challenges accessing capital. Cultural, political, and institutional factors challenge the progress of Greece’s economy. The country needs a cohesive framework to support innovation despite the efforts on the action plan. The nation faces competitiveness challenges with a negative trade balance for high and medium-tech products. The size of the companies further hinders the commercialization of innovations. The other sector affected includes education. As a result, it leads to the weak performance of the learning institutions.

The drivers supporting eco-innovation include natural capital in renewable energy and digitization of the economy. The government has approved Environmental initiatives and improvements to promote renewable energy sources and funding for the sewerage networks. Generally, the policies prioritize environmental protection and waste management through legal forms. Additionally, they support research and innovation.

Hydra Island towards Sustainability – TJ Heck

The Island of the Hydra faces sustainability challenges. Although the region has an aesthetic beauty and a relaxed atmosphere, it faces environmental issues. A sustainable plan is needed to refrain from the island’s development. Hydra is one of the stunning islands characterized by traditional tone-built houses. Besides, it has narrow streets and lacks mass tourism. Within the environment, the absence of large hotels and airports contributes to the authentic charm of the region. The island faces various challenges, including power dynamics and decision-making processes (Smyth, 2019). It makes many inhabitants feel powerless. For instance, they have poor garbage disposal processes as the tracks take them to isolated valleys for burning. Other areas affected include water scarcity and failed infrastructure projects. The non-operational detoxification plant could not be accomplished, indicating the nature of the leadership in the region. Tourism serves as the main economic activity in Hydra. However, mass tourism is linked to adverse outcomes across the Mediterranean region. Land prices have risen hence dividing people’s perceptions. For instance, some perceive development as means of revitalizing the economy, while others fear it. There is a need for diversity in the island’s economy. The leaders should take precautions against haphazard infrastructural development.

Corruption and development are correlated, as addressed in the article. The current situation in Hydra is unsustainable as the young generation is pessimistic about its leadership. It has been influenced by the need for a coherent development plan that places the island at risk of succumbing to developers. There is a need for research projects to collect necessary information and propose a strategy for the future of the region. Additionally, it emphasizes the importance of consensus and awareness of alternative options. The water supply relies on the daily boat deliveries that reflect the disregard for sustainable practices. Wastewater is pumped into the sea during the night. Moreover, the mismanagement of allocated funds and the delineation plant’s mysterious status show the corrupt practices’ impact. Hydra faces many challenges linked to cultural differences, which result in economic difficulties. The article emphasizes the need for cultural changes in renewals to address the common challenges experienced in the region. External entities such as the European Commission and the international monetary fund are criticized for advocating a flawed model. Sustainable practices are linked to bottom-up initiatives. Long terms prosperity of Hydra can be attained through collaboration and restructuring of the leadership.

Circular Economy – TJ Heck

Understanding circular economy can be compared to the industrial economy. The circular economy works by designing out wastes and economic activities that adversely impact human health and natural systems. It encompasses the release of greenhouse gases and traffic congestion. The application of the concept also influences designing products for durability and recycling. Adopting a circular economy ensures that different uses of materials can be achieved. It regenerates the use of living systems by avoiding the usage of fossil fuels and non-renewable energy sources. The vision of the circular economy is the regeneration of the products that renew and replenish throughout various life cycles and uses. The application of the circular economy is beneficial since it aims to reduce waste and offer a stark alternative. As the world population is growing, the environment is being affected by the deposition of waste. Roughly one-third of the food shaped for human consumption goes to surplus. High population growth has seen over-utilization of resources that exceeds the earth’s bio-capacity. Shifting to a circular economy goes beyond reusing and recycling. It requires companies to evaluate the impact of products on the environment. Regeneration in the circular economy ensures that products and services contribute to renewals in various processes. Consequently, the reliance on a circular economy promotes stability and growth by consuming scarce natural resources.

Opportunities go to waste due to poor strategies for innovation. People no longer live in a world of cheap and abundant materials. For instance, over 300 metric tons of plastics are produced annually, and only a small portion is reused and recycled. Many of them end up landfilled and washed up on the shorelines. It is essential to adopt a circular economy to boost a nation’s GDP and reduce the cost of materials. On the consumer level, it results in high-quality products and sustainable services. It is a call to evaluate the environmental impacts of products and their components. Implementation of the circular economy faces challenges, such as a need for more awareness and willingness to engage in greener initiatives. Some countries may also need more proven technologies and implement policies to support the transition. When a country needs to shift to a circular economy, it has to use regenerative approaches to business processes. For instance, they can design for the future and incorporate digital technologies. It results in the strengthening and advancement of knowledge in industries. Furthermore, leaders must consider opportunities to create excellent value and build on incentives.

Ava Eco-Innovation

Greece ranks 25th in the overall global rankings of the environmental performer index. Greece performed average in air quality, fish stocks, and greenhouse gas emissions. The average air quality comes from difficulties with emissions from transport and electric power stations. Greece also overexploits its water resources and lost some biodiversity in marine ecosystems.

In 2020, Greece was only 7 points away from scoring. the EU average in terms of eco-innovation performance. Greece is in the lower half of the scores for counties in the EU. The eco-innovation index has 5 different components. These components include Eco-innovation input, eco-innovation activities, eco-innovation outputs, resource-efficiency outcomes, and socio-economic outcomes. Greece ranks below average in all of the categories except eco-innovation outputs. In the eco-innovation outputs, Greece actually ranks significantly above average which I found interesting. Although they are strong in the eco-innovation outputs, they still struggle in terms of eco-innovation-related patents.

Greece has shown progress in areas of solar energy, photovoltaics, and energy-related research. Kafireas is EGP investing in sustainable energy for Greece. They have been implementing solar parks and wind forms into the country for energy. We saw some of these wind farms while we were in Greece. In 2018, Greece began constructing the largest wind facility in the country. This project is made of seven wind farms on the island of Evia. This facility is able to generate 480 GWh per year. EGP invested nearly 300 million into this project, but it is responsible for the downward trends we see in Greece’s emissions from energy. Although the country is doing well in these environmental aspects, they are struggling in implementing eco-innovations into the construction center.

As stated before, Greece is lacking in eco-industries. Greece has an eco-industry action plan in place for the Implementation of the National Strategy for Research, Technological Development, and Innovation. This plan pushes efforts towards industrial waste management, anti-pollution technologies, industrial symbiosis, climate change mitigation, and access to environmental information and mitigation of natural disasters. Despite this, the country still struggled economically. Greece struggles internally with funding and the funding of the eco-innovation plan has been lacking causing the country to struggle with eco-industries.

Ava Circular Economy

Circle economy is a new terminology to help lead a more sustainable trend within businesses. The article discusses how the world needs more than just reducing, reusing, and recycling to reverse or halt the damage done to the environment. The circular economy can be the more that we need. The term circular economy ties into the cradle-cradle analogy versus the cradle-grave. With a circular economy, resources are reduced.

A linear cycle goes from production to seller, to use, to landfill. With a circular economy, the landfill step gets skipped and replaced with recycle, reuse, refurbish, and repair. With a linear cycle, waste is huge and the products are essentially one and done. With the linear cycle, when businesses actually see the amount of waste they are creating, it forces them to look internally and go through a life-cycle assessment. A life-cycle assessment has 5 steps–define the objective of the analysis, define the scope of the analysis, collect background data, collect data by conducting interviews or observations, interpret the collected data, and create an action plan.  The last step of the life-cycle assessment is to create an action plan, and switching over to a circular economy can be that action plan.

A circular economy minimizes waste greatly. It is a modern solution to the waste problems we see today. It is like the regenerative process of nature using a closes loop system. Both biological and technical materials can be reused. Biological materials include waste that can be absorbed into nature while technical materials consist of materials that can be utilized over and over again.

Many companies might be inclined to shift their production to a more circular economy. There are many benefits to companies for switching over to a circular economy. Some of these include improved brand reputation, increase in competitive advantage, access to new markets, reduce costs due to energy efficiency, reduction of costs, improved regulatory compliance, more stakeholder/investor relationship opportunities, innovation in business models and products/services, etc.