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The COVID-19 Island Insights Series is an initiative led by the Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law & Governance (SCELG) and the Institute of Island Studies (IIS) at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) in collaboration with Island Innovation. The series aims to bring together critical assessments of how specific islands around the world have performed during the COVID-19 pandemic and the extent to which their recovery plans are able to promote long term resilience and sustainability.

Every two weeks, Island Innovation will release COVID-19 Island Insights Series from two different island locations. This week we are focusing on the Canary Islands and the Azores. The piece on the Canary Islands is authored by Carmen Rubio Armendáriz and the piece on the Azores by Carlos Eduardo Pacheco Amaral.

In the Canary Islands, the imposed restrictions have been accompanied with a sense of greater remoteness and isolation not only from the mainland but also between the islands of the archipelago. The pandemic has highlighted the islands’ socioeconomic vulnerabilities, prompting consideration of new approaches in a post-pandemic world that may offer an opportunity to further the Regional Parliament’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals. Remote working and greater reliance on ecommerce are expected to remain. With respect to tourism, the government is implementing health security measures to render the Canary Islands a ‘safe destination’ and is also investing in marketing the islands as a central ‘digital nomad’ locale.

In the Azores, the growing tourism industry has been deeply affected. But agriculture and fisheries –  greatly significant sectors on the archipelago – have also suffered from the sudden change in consumption patterns and markets. In response to the crisis, the islands’ recovery plan aims to not only revive, but build the resilience of the economy. Very much in the spirit of the principles of sustainable development, areas of the recovery plan’s focus include reinvestment in education and adding value to Azorean products by investing in innovation and blue, green and circular economies. It also commits to the cultivation of the Azores as a ‘living laboratory’ of innovation to attract people and investment, as well its promotion as a sustainable tourism destination.

The COVID-19 Island Insights Series will lead to a series of “thematic primers” aimed at assisting policy makers and wider island related stakeholders to encourage islands to move to a more resilient and sustainable future.

List of islands covered by the COVID-19 Island Insights Series (list subject to change):

  • Åland Islands (Finland)
  • Barbados
  • Croatian Islands
  • Egadi Islands (Italy)
  • Grenada
  • Guam (USA)
  • Hawai’i (USA)
  • Iceland
  • Jamaica
  • Lesvos (Greece)
  • Malta
  • Mauritius
  • New Zealand
  • Newfoundland (Canada)
  • Okinawa (Japan)
  • Prince Edward Island (Canada)
  • Saint Helena (UK)
  • Seychelles
  • Shetland Islands, Scotland (UK)
  • Solomon Islands
  • Trinidad & Tobago

Click here to view the Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law & Governance (SCELG) website.

Click here to view the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) website.

Click here to view the University of Strathclyde website.

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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.