Between 2000 and 2010, the municipality saw its unemployment rate drop to zero, its population almost double from 300 to 550 inhabitants, and its citizens’ quality of life improve. Anavra’s green transition even attracted worldwide attention, transforming the previously poor, isolated village into a model of sustainable local development. The village’s transformation began in the mid-1990s,ringing in major changes in a number of sectors.
Traditional livestock farmers turned towards integrated, organic farming, establishing three farms with a total of 25,000 animals, including sheep, goats, cows and pigs, all grazing freely in the mountains. The villagers also set up a public abattoir with a certified organic section and meeting the relevant international quality standards.
At the same time, in an effort to become energy-sufficient, Anavra built a wind farm comprising 20 turbines generating a combined total of up to 17.5 megawatts, capable of powering 12,500–13,000 homes. Two more wind farms are currently under construction, consisting of 23 turbines with a combined output of 20 megawatts. These projects are expected to create 20 permanent and 100 temporary jobs. Any surplus electricity is sold, and the first wind farm alone has generated additional income for the village of about €60,000 a year. In 2010, the village also teamed up with a local technical college to start planning the construction of a small hydroelectric plant and a biomass distance heating system.
Finally, the village also developed the 240-acre Goura Environmental and Cultural Park, which has bolstered eco-tourism,attracting more than 8,500 visitors between 2000 and 2012.
Anavra’s sustainable development plan has not only created jobs and boosted private incomes, but also given the local community the means to develop public infrastructure and hence improve its inhabitants’ quality of life. For instance, the villagers have built squares and water pumps, a rural medical centre, education and sport facilities, a retirement home and facilities for the homeless. The village’s rates of unemployment and criminality are zero, and its youngsters are no longer moving away.
The very positive socio-economic situation of Anavra today is even more stunning bearing in mind how badly Greece has been affected by the economic crisis. In 2012, per capita GDP in Greece was only 75% of the average for the EU as a whole, and in 2013 unemployment there ran at 27.8%, 160% higher than the EU average.Anavra’s success can largely be attributed to strong individual leadership and support provided by EU funds.
According to official estimates, if Greece manages to nudge its economy onto a sustainable path, it could create 210,000 green jobs, 27,000 of which would be permanent.
This Green success was published in the brochure "Green Jobs: Successes and Opportunities for Europe" of the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament.