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Gianni Chianetta founded Greening the Islands after an extensive career at reputable companies including Parke-Davis, Wilkinson Sword and Warner Lambert.
Greening the Islands (GTI) is working to spread knowledge and best practices so as to accelerate the sustainability and self-sufficiency of islands and remote locations. They act as a catalyst in relations between private and public stakeholders.
Ahead of their campaign to raise capital to scale GTI, we sat down with Gianni Chianetta to learn more about his background, GTI’s mission and what’s next for the sustainable startup.
Tell us about your career prior to creating Greening the Islands?
I have been deeply involved in the energy sector since 2003, first as External Affairs Director in the Italian Division of BP then as Managing Director for BP Solar Italia until 2013.
In 2005, I co-founded the first solar industry association of Italy and served as President for three consecutive terms. I then co-founded the Network of National Solar PV Associations in 2007. This became the Global Solar Council in 2015 at COP21 and served as co-Chairman.
In 2013 I founded The Green Consulting Group, a consultancy company which specialised in the origination and development of projects in energy and environment and remained Managing Director to date. The Greening the Islands International Conference launched in 2014. It’s mission is to create a table for islands and international solution providers, promoting enabling legislation and sustainable projects.
Which leads up to 2017 where Greening the Islands became an innovative start up.
What is Greening the Islands and what do you do?
Greening The Islands is an innovative start-up that matches islands needs with forward-thinking solutions.
We facilitate the origination of projects for the sustainable transition of islands and their replicability on the mainland. We act as a catalyst in relationships between governments, business, academia and citizens, disseminating knowledge and best practices.
When and how did you realise that there was a significant impact on islands affected by climate change, and what would the impact look like without GTI’s help?
In 2015, at the Greening the Islands Conference, we launched a call to action for COP21 to acknowledge the role of islands as laboratories for solutions to confront climate change, issuing recommendations to governments and intergovernmental organisations to support and ease investments in sustainability on islands.
Without GTI it would be more difficult for islands to sit with key policymakers and innovative solution providers globally. In fact, GTI is already a pioneer in promoting islands’ sustainability. We were invited as a special guest to the EU Energy Ministers meeting in Malta 2017 where a political declaration was signed to accelerate renewable energy transition in more than 2700 UE islands.
GTI’s actions have stimulated the creation of the Clean Energy for EU Islands program, a package of EU directives to support the energy transition of EU islands from 2020 to 2030 that was presented at the GTI International Conference in Favignana, one of the Sicilian minor islands, in the same year.
What does your competitive landscape look like and how does GTI differentiate itself?
After the launch of the GTI conference in 2014, there have been other initiatives on communications and networking. However, GTI differentiates itself by focusing on the different technologies and unique digital tools to assess an island’s status and monitor its progress towards sustainability.
Could you tell us about some of your biggest achievements to date?
Our greatest achievement is the ability to gather all relevant stakeholders of different sectors (energy, water, agriculture, waste, tourism, mobility etc) at international and local levels. Then with that, identifying the islands as labs for integrated projects and enhanced sustainability.
How do you plan to create a scalable and profitable business model?
We are trusted by global leaders of the sustainable transition like the UN, European Commission, FAO, IRENA, UNESCO and others.
Now it’s time to scale up thanks to our digital platform. That includes the possibility of setting up buyer groups thus creating economies of scale, and accessing consulting services from experts all over the world.
We envision a vast number of memberships as well as an increasing number of tenders capitalising on our know-how and network.
What do you plan to do with the money you raise?
We are going to invest the proceeds into the company. This looks like strengthening the staff, the development of the digital platform and all its features.
What do you love to do in your free time?
I moved to Malta, which is an Island State, with frequent travels to Italy, my homeland. I love nature and enjoy taking care of plants. As well as doing sport activities outdoors and at sea, especially trekking and canoeing.
If you weren’t building GTI, what do you think you’d be doing?
I would be managing my family’s wine farm.
After a while in business now, what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far building GTI?
For the common good, it is necessary to continuously engage and motivate people. Islands can truly be a model of coexistence between humans and nature for every community.
Greening the Islands is tapping into an overlooked market, giving them enough space to become a dominant player. We are excited to be supporting them with their current campaign.
Want to be a part of history and support GTI on their journey? We invite you to visit their campaign here.