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Food security is a major issue for islands worldwide, with many complicated implications related to health. Climate change is also forcing many farmers to rethink their traditional approaches and adapt to new conditions. Many islands rely on imported and processed foods – which tend to be high in sugar, salt and fat. Although these imported goods may be cheaper, the long term implications on public health can be severe – with a growing health crisis facing many small island states.

Food security requires permanent physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious foods. The application of modern technology to crop production, fishing, food processing, soil research, and food chains, known as agriculture technology or AgTech, could help these island nations achieve food security and meet the UN’s Zero Hunger targets on time. It could also provide healthier alternatives.

AgTech is being explored in different ways across many island nations and communities. Initiatives such as the Commonwealth Climate Services Demonstrator and CommonSensing use satellites to boost climate resilience in Fiji, Vanuatu, and the Solomon Islands. Collect Earth, a tool launched in 2013 by the FAO is used to monitor the environment and assess degradation in Papua New Guinea, Antigua & Barbuda and Cape Verde. The use of remote sensing technologies for vertical farming is also being explored in Ascension Island and other island communities where natural and climate phenomena make farming challenging.

This means that many solutions developed for challenging island environments could provide replicable examples for wider use in large urban areas.

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This occasional newsletter highlights events and stories about innovation in sustainable development for rural, remote and island regions. We want to change the discourse to demonstrate how islandness can be a driver for innovation.