The Chinese say that even the longest journey starts with the first step. We can certainly say that this first step on our journey was my acquaintance in the early 90s and my collaboration with Professor Joseph (Steve) Davis. He introduced me to the basic principles of the biological process of Solar Saltworks and its fundamental and key contribution to the quality and quantity of their final product.
During our collaboration in exploring and studying the biological process that develops in the main Greek saltworks I recognized the importance and the value of the ecosystem that develops alongside the solar sea salt production process.
Meanwhile, there have been significant developments in a scheduled Solar Saltworks investment in Greece. Specifically the competent government authorities suspended the construction of new Solar Saltworks facilities in Lemnos Island, despite the fact that they had approved the EIS of the investment. Shortly after the commencement of construction works, they claimed new environmental impacts without providing any evidence and scientific proof seeking annulment of the investment!
That decision was so unfair and unjustified, so when Professor Themistokles Lekkas (Rector of the University of the Aegean and President of the BoD of Hellenic Saltworks S.A.), asked me to organize a post conference symposium during the works of the sixth Int. Conference on Environmental Science and Technology (6th CEST), the topic was already clearly formed in my mind. We need to promote and highlight the Ecological Importance of Solar Saltworks!
The 6th CEST Post Conference Symposium on “SALTWORKS: Preserving Saline Coastal Ecosystems” held on the Greek Island of Samos on September 1st, 1999, with invited speakers among which professors Steve Davis, Thomas Crisman and Patrick Sorgeloos. The symposium became the attraction of the 6th CEST, as its participants realized that in the case of Solar Saltworks we actually have the successful marriage of an industrial process with the environment! That was the second step in our journey!
Six years later, following the success of the Samos Symposium, the idea of organizing an international conference on the issue had matured. With the valuable assistance of Steve Davis, we organized the first International Conference on the Ecological Importance of Solar Saltworks (1st CEISSA) on the beautiful Greek Island of Santorini on October 20-22, 2006. Experts from all continents among which Steve Davis, Tom Crisman, Carol Litchfield, Renato Rocha, Vladimir Sedivy, Mario Giordano, Gilbert Van Stappen, Katia Hueso Kortekaas, Ciro Zeno, M. Matrat, D. S. Jhala, Sergio Ortiz, Roly Mottershead, the Presisdent of China National Salt Industry Corporation Mr. Mao Qinqquo, the Salt Commissioner of India Dr S. Sundaresan, gathered to discuss the importance of Solar Saltworks as coastal ecosystems.
With surprise, we realized that Solar Saltworks investments face similar to our own environmental problems almost worldwide! Generally, there was a global need and requirement for the identification of Solar Saltworks as coastal wetlands. Thus, the Santorini conference came like summer rain to the international solar salt community and actually gave birth to our movement! It was the third and most decisive step in our journey.
Three years later, we took the risk to organize a conference in another country. In collaboration with Industria Salinera de Yucatan S.A., we organized the 2nd CEISSA in Merida (next to Mayan's Chichen Itza), Yucatan, Mexico on March 26-28, 2009. We dedicated the 2nd CEISSA to professor Joseph (Steve) Davis for his pioneering work on Solar Saltworks worldwide. Professor Aharon Oren was the new presence (as ISSLR representative) that contributed substantially to the success of Merida Conference.
The conferences in Samos, Santorini and Merida organized under the authority of the Global Network on the Environmental Science and Technology (Global NEST) whereas the next, fourth conference in the row, organized under the authority of the European Salt Producers Association (EuSalt).
Following the positive response of Mr. Wouter Lox (Eusalt Managing Director), Eusalt and CEISSA co-organized an International Conference on "Biodiversity, Sustainability and Solar Salt", held in Seville, Spain on May 22-23, 2012. The Seville conference dedicated to Professor Carol Litchfield who suddenly passed away a few months before the event.
Two years later, following the success of Seville conference, Eusalt decided to organize one more relative conference on "The Economic Value of Biodiversity in Solar Salt Works", held in Sicily, Italy on June 3-4, 2014.
… and the journey continuous …!
Production & Development Director