Learning From Other Island Communities

This is Scotland’s Climate Week – 7th to 13th of October.

One highly innovative way in finding out how other communities are adapting to and coping with  the challenges of climate change is The Virtual Island Summit: linking up island nations and communities across the world in a virtual conference where we can hear directly from those who are making the difference.

The speakers come from a breadth of disciplines and places but the one thing they all share is that they are islanders.

Check the Agenda to see if there is something or someone you would be interested in hearing from: Agenda

Orkney features today, Tuesday 8th of October, but it is really worthwhile taking the opportunity to open your horizons and watch as many of the other sessions as you can.

On Sunday,6th of October, the opening session was from Aruba – situated in the southern Caribbean but a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Aruba Palm Beach by Atilin

Aruba Palm Beach by Atilin

A beautiful island with gorgeous beaches which has to cope with being a top tourist destination. Many of the issues arising from that successful industry our coming our way in Orkney. It was enlightening to hear from the former Prime Minister Mike Eman, about not using GDP as a measure to plan your country’s future but of other indicators which affect the wellbeing of the people. This is an idea whose time has come as countries like New Zealand have adopted this policy and Scotland is heading towards it.

Godfrey Baldacchino, University of Malta, started his presentation with a slide where he removed all the continents from the map – and yet we could still see them because they are outlined by islands. Living on an island is not unusual.


Malta by antheah

Malta is the fastest growing economy in the EU and yet has few resources. A very small independent nation, it has a high population density. As with Aruba, it is a beautiful island and here too tourism is a major sector. Godfrey Baldacchino, pointed out the problems that could occur if an island becomes dependent on tourism – if this one sector dominates future planning in a community to the detriment of other sectors.

The Alex Salmond Show recently featured a short series of programmes on Malta which are really worth tuning into to find out the past, present and future of the nation.

If you want uplifted  the session  Sustaining The Prosperity Of Island Communities: Cultural Traditions And The Environmental Legacy with Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation was  inspiring. Pointing out that not everyone is online she explained how she engages with communities.

Queen Quet Marquetta L. Goodwine is a published author, computer scientist, lecturer, mathematician, historian, columnist, preservationist, environmental justice advocate, environmentalist, film consultant, and “The Art-ivist.” She is the founder of the premiere advocacy organization for the continuation of Gullah/Geechee culture, the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition.

Some of the sessions might be a bit ‘drier’ for some or ‘technical’ but Queen Quet gets to the heart of islanders.

On tourism she said:

” Tourists come in and what they want to see are the beaches…..they see us in the museums… they don’t see us as we are now”.

Here is a short video of this incredible global activist

The Virtual Island Summit has been developed by James Ellsmoor who knows Orkney well from his studies at the University of the Highlands and Islands.

James Ellsmoor

James Ellsmoor with The Princess Royal, chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands

The conference is on now till the 11th of October and you can register (free) and find out more here: Virtual Island Summit You can also watch on Facebook at any time as the sessions which are live are also archived there: Island Innovation

Reporter: Fiona Grahame

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