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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 islands. This week we are in the Pacific region and focusing on the Okinawa Islands of Japan and the U.S. overseas territory of Guam. The piece on the Okinawa Islands is authored by Hiroshi Kakazu and the piece on Guam by Romina King.

This edition’s insights come from two sub-national island jurisdictions in the Pacific region: the Okinawa Islands of Japan and the U.S. overseas territory of Guam.

Unfortunately, both territories provide unusual examples of islands that have experienced relatively large infection outbreaks and overwhelmed medical facilities as they have struggled to contain the spread. Both islands are also suffering severe economic repercussions from the blow to their tourism industries, the financial impact of which is being sorely felt by individuals across their communities.

However, both of our contributors nevertheless see promise in the incentive that the pandemic has given their islands to accelerate efforts to move towards more sustainable and resilient socio-economic structures. In the Okinawa Islands, the need for improved food security, transitions to renewable energy, more sustainable tourism practices and digital connectivity have been brought to the fore. Meanwhile, in Guam, the region’s dependence of federal aid and its undiversified economy have been highlighted as vulnerabilities to address. With that in mind, Guam’s G3 (Guam Green Growth) Action Framework, adopted in September 2020, provides us with a valuable illustration of an island using the SDGs to build a vision for their future.

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.