The Smart Islands Initiative is a collaboration between EU islands authorities and communities.
Its aim is to:
“improve life on islands through sustainable, integrated solutions that make the most out of islands’ competitive advantages. More so, the Smart Islands Initiative underscores the role of islands in accelerating Europe’s transition into a low carbon, sustainable and economy.”
Recently 50 Scottish and Irish islanders gathered in Grimsay, North Uist to focus in particular on the contributions of younger islanders in renewing island life and contributing to sustainable island communities.
10 enterprising young islanders, most in their 20s and 30s, told of the often remarkable personal journeys that brought them to Uist, whether returning to their island home from the mainland or as far afield as Kenya, or being inspired to make Uist their new home. And they introduced all the participants to their business in Uist as founders of start-up enterprises or social enterprises like the North Uist Distillery, the Scandinavian Bakery, Uist Forest Retreats and an outdoor nursery, developing community sports, reviving a community charity that almost went under, as a climate change artist, or as a young leader seeking to tackle the shortage of appropriate housing that is preventing more people returning or settling.
Hosted by local organisation CoDeL (Community Developmment Lens) and the Scottish Islands Federation, more than 10 other young islanders led sessions on topics such as culture and identity, crofting, tourism, and developing island skills. They included young crofters and musicians, managers and development officers at social enterprises, arts, tourism and Gaelic development officers, and the founder of the Coral Box, Winner of this year’s Entrepreneur of the Year at the Young Women in Tourism Awards.
Praising the event local MSP Rhoda Grant, Labour said:
“In a time when rural areas of Scotland are fighting depopulation it’s heartening to see island renewal projects being led by young people, both those that originated from the area and those that have chosen to become part of the community.
“Living in rural areas comes with challenges, but offers rich rewards and a fantastic quality of life. I am keen to see what the events attendees have identified as the opportunities of island living and congratulate them on their ongoing contributions and commitment to island life.”
The Islands Plan is published, read about that here: Historic Moment as National Islands Plan is Launched
The Plan is now out for consultation – read about that here: Have Your Say About The National Islands Plan