Supporting the Sustainable Development Goals in 2021

At Island Innovation we often talk about the importance of supporting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, we are also aware that actions speak louder than words.
Sustainable Development Goals

Table of Contents

Share This Post

At Island Innovation we often talk about the importance of supporting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, we are also aware that actions speak louder than words. In the post below we aim to share how we, as a social enterprise, support each of the SDGs and how we plan to focus our efforts during 2021.

Those of you familiar with the SDGs will understand the importance of their interdependence:

Sustainable Development Goals interplay

The International Science Council produced a report, including the above image, examining the interactions between the different SDGs. You can review their executive summary here. In the interests of brevity, we will try and refrain from repeating ourselves too much below, but it is worth mentioning that there is a connection between our actions and multiple goals.

Despite our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, we know there is always more to be done. This is why we encourage you to join our community and share your innovations and best practices for supporting the SDGs. Not only will the entire network benefit, but it will push us to develop our efforts and further our support for remote, rural and island communities. 

Below we review each of the SDGs and, thanks to the work of Alicia Richins, include key actions for governments, communities, organisations, businesses, and individuals for 2021. Alicia developed the 24 days of SDGs, and we have included the actions she shared with her newsletter subscribers. If you’d like to learn more about her SDG work we recommend signing up for her newsletter. Alternatively, you can download the full list of actions in a single document

SDG 1: End poverty in all its forms

Unfortunately, largely due to COVID-19, poverty increased substantially in 2020. Over 150 million people are expected to fall into extreme poverty in 2021. Had COVID-19 not occurred then the expected rate, according to the World Bank Group, was estimated to drop to 7.9%.

Economic revival is essential to reducing poverty across the world. This is why we are committing to sharing best practices and ideas for post-COVID recovery:

We also welcome contributors from our network to share their thoughts and ideas on our platform. If you are interested in collaborating on content or wish to contribute an article please get in touch.

How you can support SDG 1


  • Expand the social safety net to provide more resources 
  • Institute measures like basic income to put more economic power in the hands of those who need it the most


  • Create mutual aid groups and initiatives 
  • Advocate for more and better protections from elected officials

Organisations and businesses

  • Pay all workers a living wage, provide paid sick leave
  • Encourage suppliers and partners to do the same
  • Where possible, provide health benefits, paid holiday, childcare and education subsidies, and paid parental leave


  • Call on your elected officials to better protect your neighbours
  • Donate and volunteer with community organisations that provide relief and support 
  • Look at the labour and community practices of the companies you shop from

SDG 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture

We aim to support and educate our audience on the benefits of agricultural technology (AgTech). We believe the application of modern technology to crop production, fishing, food production, soil research and food chains can help island nations achieve improved food security. 

In 2021, we also want to share more information about Circular Agri-food systems as a way for islands to become more sustainable. Sustainable agricultural systems can help prevent land degradation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% according to a study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Circular agri-food systems are a big opportunity for islands around the world. Many rely heavily on tourism and agriculture, two activities that are known to produce enormous amounts of waste. With the Circular agri-food model, island nations can turn the waste from these two economic activities into organic resources for crop production and energy generation sources. Creating a circular economy can not only maximise the allocation of limited resources without further harming the environment but also creates a more efficient economic system, with, ultimately, more food created per unit input.

How you can support SDG 2


  • Expand the provision of resources and assistance to those most vulnerable, and to ameliorate the causes of that vulnerability

Communities and individuals

  • Donate
  • Volunteer
  • Take care of each other
  • Advocate for policy changes

Organisations and businesses

  • Shorten supply chains and support local producers

SDG 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

It goes without saying that the biggest threat to achieving this goal is currently COVID-19 which has put unprecedented strain on healthcare systems. Our virtual events were designed initially to bring communities together across the world, but as they’ve developed, we’ve seen several tangible benefits including a reduced carbon footprint and adaptability to an environment where social distancing is recommended.

How you can support SDG 3


  • Provide universal access to healthcare for all
  • Increase health financing, as well as the recruitment, training and retention of healthcare workers
  • In the context of the pandemic, provide accurate information and evidence-based strategies and recommendations to contain COVID-19

Communities and individuals

  • Heed public health recommendations for the sake of your health, and that of those around you
  • Advocate for universal healthcare

Organisations and businesses

  • Provide paid sick leave, and where possible, health and dental benefits for all employees
  • Follow public health guidelines to safeguard your employees, customers, and long term longevity

SDG 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

Island Innovation is based on the principle that we can all benefit by sharing knowledge and experience. Everything we do as a social enterprise is designed to build connections across remote, rural and island communities. We believe peer-to-peer learning is at the forefront of innovation and is a fundamental driver of creating sustainable change.

A significant amount of our resources are invested in sharing insights and news from communities across the world. Our flagship virtual events, the Virtual Island Summit and the Island Finance Forum, are designed to facilitate learning and positive exchanges across our network. Attendance for these events is, and always will be, free and open to all to ensure inclusivity and equity. 

How you can support SDG 4


  • Expand internet infrastructure
  • Increase funding for public schools, and coordinate device programs for students
  • Facilitate remote education training for teachers and staff

Communities and individuals

  • Donate a device or school supplies to a child/adolescent in need in your community

Organisations and businesses

  • Allow for some childcare leeway for parenting employees (e.g. more flexible work hours and deadlines
  • Provide childcare support where possible

SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls

We are committed to ensuring that our team, ambassadors, contributors and community are representative of the diversity of the global community. Currently, at Island Innovation, more than 50% of the team are female and a large percentage live on or are from diverse island communities.

When working with clients we ensure that any post-COVID recovery plans are feminist and have considered everyone in society. To truly embrace equality as an organisation it is important to be not only feminist but anti-racist, support the LGBTQ+ community and be disability positive. 

How you can support SDG 5


Communities and individuals

  • Advocate for women-focused recovery efforts, including expanded childcare supports
  • Champion women-owned small businesses

Organisations and businesses

  • Where possible, allow for deep flexibility in working arrangements 
  • Consult employees to understand other needed supports
  • In hiring plans, centre women and people of colour

SDG 6: Ensure available and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Currently, 3 in 10 people lack access to safely managed drinking water and 6% lack access to safe drinking water, according to the United Nations. Though our news platform we hope to inspire communities and provide workable solutions for clean drinking water and sanitation. 

How you can support SDG 6


  • Improve sanitation in underserved communities
  • Increase Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitments to water sectors in developing countries, including capacity-building support to close the 61% funding gap identified
  • Support the manufacturing of hand sanitisers and soaps for export and donation 

Communities and individuals

  • Advocate for improved sanitation in underserved communities in your country, and increased development assistance to other countries
  • Follow water conservation guidelines from local authorities, and reduce the wastage of water in your household

Organisations and businesses

  • Make commitments to reduce and eliminate water pollution along supply chains
  • Adopt measures to improve water-use efficiency in all departments
  • Take steps to protect the water-related ecosystems upon which your operations rely

SDG 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy

One of the topics at the Virtual Island Summit 2020 was ‘Clean Energy Development and Integrated Resource Planning in Island States’. This 90-minute session focused on supporting economic growth and sustainability in island states through clean energy development and the importance of integrated resource planning in this process. 

Transitioning to clean power generation can provide island states with improved energy security and independence, support local economic development, and combat climate change and other negative local environmental impacts. Sustainable energy is one of the primary topics Island Innovation will focus on in 2021. This means we are committed to creating more conversations around the topic, sharing best practices and working with partners to bring the latest innovations to our network. 

If you, or your organisation, is working on any projects related to sustainable energy and would like to contribute to our blog then please get in touch. You can read more about contributing articles and insights to Island Innovation here.


How you can support SDG 7


Communities and individuals

  • Take advantage of clean and renewable energy tax benefits to make the transition in your household
  • Follow local guidelines for reducing your energy usage

Organisations and businesses

SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth

Good businesses provide decent work and economic growth to the areas they invest in. But for this to be sustainable and successful in remote, rural and island communities they must ensure their approach aligns to the quadruple helix.

We work with committed clients in the private sector who invest in remote and island regions and consistently generate new business and sustainable economic growth. The financial model at Island Innovations means we can provide free resources and events for island stakeholders whilst helping companies grow their businesses both sustainably and profitably.

How you can support SDG 8


  • Improve testing for COVID-19 and tracing contacts, and making much broader use of rapid testing to ensure businesses stay open
  • Continue and expand on COVID-19 stimulus packages and unemployment support measures

Communities and individuals

  • Support local and small businesses, including freelancers
  • Let your elected officials know that you are in favour of stimulus package expansions

Organisations and businesses

  • Where possible, consider pay cuts before layoffs, with a commitment to make up the difference when the economy eventually rebounds
  • Provide paid sick leave
  • Ensure you are paying your workers a living wage 
  • Where possible, provide some contribution to employee health benefits

SDG 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation

Fostering innovation is what we are here for as we have stated in our mission. There are many ways that we help innovative practices develop:

  • Sharing relevant news and stories daily via our website, newsletter and social media which has a following of over 127,000 people
  • Organising virtual events and webinars which share insights and best practice
  • Collaborating with academic partners to share key research with our network 
  • Developing a network of key stakeholders across remote, rural and island connections which helps innovative projects find the right connections to accelerate their progress

How you can support SDG 9


  • Invest in green infrastructure and innovation, especially in retrofits, low carbon technology, and energy transformations
  • Support the incubation of small-scale industrial businesses
  • Expand internet infrastructure in rural communities

Communities and individuals

  • Take advantage of retrofit incentives to improve the energy efficiency of your home
  • Support cleantech companies
  • Study/train in innovative industries and trades

Organisations and businesses

  • Find opportunities for retrofits in your infrastructure
  • Connect with local innovation hubs to stay in the know about developments

SDG 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries

One of the main goals of SDG10 is to achieve income growth of the bottom 40% of the population. As we’ve stated previously, our focus is on remote, rural and island communities, the majority of which fall within this 40%. 

By showcasing the successes of these communities, we want to help deliver enhanced representation in global economic and financial decision-making. This will happen when innovative projects and solutions are given the international recognition they deserve. Creating and developing a powerful global network helps provide a united voice and positively shapes the outside perception of these areas.

We are committed to not only growing our network, but ensuring that it is used appropriately to advance positive change and provide amplification of achievements equally across our members. 

How you can support SDG 10


  • Enforce anti-discriminatory policy, as well as fiscal, wage and social protection policies
  • Encourage competition and disincentivize monopolistic trade practices
  • Invest in education and businesses led by vulnerable groups
  • Ensure the protection of migrants and their rights
  • Maintain commitments to official development assistance

Communities and individuals

  • Advocate for the expansion of fiscal, wage and social protection policies
  • Commit to learning more about anti-racism and sparking changes in yourself, your family, your organisations, and your communities

Organisations and businesses

  • Ensure income equality across your organisation, and through deep employee and stakeholder consultation
  • Develop anti-discriminatory, anti-sexist and anti-racist policies 
  • Promote diversity, equity and inclusion at all levels

SDG 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe and resilient 

Island Innovation focuses on reducing negative environmental impacts, improving resource efficiency, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, and resilience to disasters (for example COVID-19). There are a number of cities on islands and we regularly share information concerning the protection of natural resources and the environment. We all share one planet so all positive actions, regardless of how remote they may seem, play a part in improving the environment for all. 

In 2021, we will also continue our work with renewable energy and sustainable transport technology companies and connect them with island governments and policymakers.

How you can support SDG 11


  • Promote science-backed pandemic information, and invest in slum-specific pandemic responses
  • Incentivise and invest also in more affordable housing and shelter 
  • Invest in public transportation and public green spaces 

Communities and individuals

  • Advocate for housing justice and affordable and convenient public transportation
  • Where possible, use public or active transit before pulling out your car keys
  • Visit your public parks and green spaces
  • Show your elected officials that you appreciate and require their continued protection

Organisations and businesses

  • Find ways to minimise your air and noise pollution in cities
  • Support public and active transit infrastructure development
  • Where possible, provide commuter credits to employees
  • Encourage remote working

SDG 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

One of the key challenges in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 12 (SDG12) is the continued fossil fuel subsidies offered by governments to fossil fuel companies. In 2018, they were at $427 billion compared to $318 billion in 2015. We, as we mentioned in our work on SDG11, work closely with sustainable energy companies. Our aim in 2020 is to work closely with government bodies to explore the advantages of switching to sustainable energy sources rather than remaining reliant on fossil fuels.

Our community, via the Facebook and LinkedIn Groups, shares best practices around sustainable production and consumption. This covers everything from personal initiatives, to articles and news.  

We are champions of virtual events; organising both the Virtual Island Summit and the Island Finance Forum annually.  But our commitment to virtual events, which connects thousands of attendees worldwide and are a sustainable alternative to in-person conferences, also extends to providing free resources:

We will continue to build our resource library in 2021 and are also planning to further develop our website to make existing resources more easily accessible to our network.

How you can support SDG 12


  • Adopt a circular economy model to secure a sustainable future to reduce the use of primary resources as well as the generation of harmful emissions
  • Convene stakeholders across sectors, professions and lived experiences to ensure that it is an inclusive one

Communities and individuals

  • Rethink your current consumption practices and find areas for reduction
  • Reuse, repurpose and repair as much as possible 
  • Where available, buy second-hand
  • Recycle and compost according to your local guidelines

Organisations and businesses

  • Reduce waste, and find creative ways of using waste as primary material inputs in your production
  • Embrace the circular economy model to redesign manufacturing processes
  • Adopt practices such as reusable packaging and incentivise recycling 
  • Find ways to reduce consumption volumes

SDG 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

We remain committed to fighting climate change and will continue to share news and insights on this topic throughout 2021. We also hope to be part of COP26 when this happens at the beginning of November. Growing the voice of Island Innovation helps us to champion island and rural initiatives in global forums. 

There are approximately 15,000 islands all over the world and many of them are fighting daily with man-made issues relating to climate change. As part of the Virtual Island Summit, we ran a session on “Energy Independence For Island Nations: Building Sustainable And Resilient Microgrids” which reviews how to go about finding the best solution and what type of planning is required. It also engaged governments and utilities about how to move forward proactively instead of waiting for environmental or catastrophic incidents to force their hands.


How you can support SDG 13


  • Make good on commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Climate Agreement
  • Review investments in renewables and tech
  • Commit to cutting subsidies to the fossil fuel industry
  • Advance new policy as part of recovery efforts

Communities and individuals

  • Rethink your current consumption practices and find areas for improvement
  • Advocate for the policy changes we need to achieve our targets

Organisations and businesses

  • Make organisational shifts to minimize emissions and negative environmental impacts
  • Tie the social and environmental to the typical bottom line
  • Show your elected officials that you support all initiatives to advance this goal

SDG 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

One of the key topics for this year’s Island Finance Forum is climate change, the Blue Economy and natural capital. We hope that the event will help highlight the unique financial challenges faced by global island communities and the solutions for sustainable economic recovery and inclusive growth in a post-pandemic world.

Again, it is through the development of our network, that positive change happens relating to SDG 14. Be it the sharing of innovative ideas such as wind-powered cargo ships which can reduce emissions by up to 90%, the Blue Economy table we featured at our end of year holiday event, or sharing resources which spark community debates. 

At the Virtual Island Summit 2020 we hosted a session on ‘Hometown heroes: encouraging local champions for ocean protection’. It highlighted ocean champions from island nations around the world who are leading efforts to protect their oceans one reef at a time: 

How you can support SDG 14


  • Increase the protection of key marine and coastal biodiversity areas 
  • If not yet signed, ratify the Agreement on Port State Measures 
  • Work to combat unreported and unregulated fishing
  • End harmful fisheries subsidies

Communities and individuals

  • Respect international law, and practise safe, legal and sustainable fishing and other uses of marine and coastal ecosystems 
  • Review production processes to eliminate pollution of waterways and oceans

Organisations and businesses

  • Use washable and reusable masks and limit your use of single-use plastics
  • Follow local guidelines about what is permitted concerning pouring anything other than water down your drains

SDG 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and revert land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

Many thought that COVID-19 had given the planet a break and that previous damage inflicted could be undone as the world stood still. However, the small respite provided when businesses halted production and international travel was suspended, was not anywhere near enough to achieve SDG 15.

More work is required from governments and businesses, including Island Innovation, to support this goal. Agricultural expansion is one of the main reasons that forest areas continue to decline as such a rapid rate. This is why SDG 2 and 15 are tied together. Our commitment remains in supporting companies who promote AgTech solutions and sharing best practice and insights with our community. You can read more about it here.

How you can support SDG 15


Communities and individuals

  • Advocate for expanded land and forest protections, especially in key biodiversity areas
  • Stop wildlife trafficking and poaching, and support tighter restrictions and penalties for these abuses

Organisations and businesses

  • Avoid or reverse any deforestation and other negative impacts on the environment that your organisation may be responsible for either directly and indirectly

SDG16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

The development of peaceful, just and inclusive societies, should be included in business planning. Part of these steps includes engaging with governments and NGOs to gauge the impact of business practices on the surrounding communities and environment. Our consultancy services are designed to help businesses support SDG 16. As seen in the ECOSOC chamber launch event, businesses and the financial sector are critical to the success of SDG 16: 

A key part of SDG 16 is about good governance and developing strong institutions. We, as we’ve said before, believe that this happens through enabling relationships between island stakeholders and government structures. 

How you can support SDG 16


  • Take steps to reduce prison populations by releasing some inmates early 
  • Expand on health and sanitation resources to contain COVID-19 outbreaks
  • Add the prison population to the priority list of those first to receive COVID-19 vaccines
  • Expand support provisions for women and children suffering domestic violence while in lockdown

Communities and individuals

  • Advocate for the rights of all within your communities and around the world
  • Promote peace and practice in the de-escalation of personal and other conflicts

Organisations and businesses

  • Honour the human rights of all employees, customers, and partners
  • Review human rights practices along your supply and value chains to ensure that you aren’t complicit in illicit activity

SDG17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development

We kind of wish this one came first, only because it is the one most closely aligned to how Island Innovation works as an organisation, and we are aware that not everyone will have got through each of the Sustainable Development Goals in one sitting! 

As we mentioned, the strength of our network comes from the ability to connect all key stakeholders and help coordinate meaningful partnerships. The more closely society, governments, academic institutions and businesses work together the more successful sustainable development will be.

This year we have welcomed 346 ambassadors to Island Innovation who represent over 200 different island communities. We started the program to bring passionate individuals together to help them develop their network, provide access to exclusive training and build stronger community connections. The program has grown significantly since its conception. It supports SDG 17 as it brings together individuals in powerful partnerships and facilitates connections across islands and diverse sectors within sustainable development.

How you can support SDG 17


  • Reaffirm commitments to Official Development Assistance to developing countries in funds, tech and capacity-building
  • Increase global foreign direct investment
  • Expand internet infrastructure in rural and remote areas
  • Fund data and statistics infrastructure, so that we can accurately measure our progress on the goals
  • Fund vaccine deployment to developing countries

Communities and individuals

  • If you can donate, please do donate to local causes affirming any of the goals
  • Advocate for better multilateral engagement from your elected officials
  • Find ways to lend your expertise in your work, as a volunteer, or other initiatives
  • Collaborate with others

Organisations and businesses

  • Engage in inter-sectoral partnerships to advance the goals
  • Establish impact measurement processes that enhance the national capacity to measure progress toward the goals
  • Ensure that your trade activity is rules-based, non-discriminatory and equitable 

Looking towards the future

2020 saw us united globally in many ways, all subject to new restrictions on our lives regardless of where in the world we live. But this situation has made us stronger, more resilient and appreciative of what we have and what we can count on, and fortunately, in many ways, it has spurred us into paying attention and taking care of our environment and society.

Sustainability is pressing for islands all around the globe as the tourism industry was hit hard by the pandemic, and it is the main source of income for many communities. At Island Innovation, we are proud to support the post-COVID recovery by making information accessible to islanders from all walks of life.

If you are part of a government body, NGO or organisation who wants to review your SDG support and strategy then please get in touch with us to discuss how our consultancy services help. 

Alicia Richins

About the Author
Island Innovation

Island Innovation facilitate connections between island stakeholders and sustainable development practitioners across the globe to share knowledge and promote collaboration.  By creating a support network, we smooth the way for developing innovative solutions to drive economic performance, ensure political stability and promote good governance, which improves the social and environmental conditions within island communities.