One of the cornerstones of the Island Innovation vision is to promote collaboration between islands across the globe and facilitate the discovery and implementation of innovative solutions for their shared challenges. We are committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goal #17, Partnership for The Goals.
Through building and articulating a strong network, we help connect many communities and enhance their strength. The success of our various initiatives is closely related to the consistent engagement of our community members throughout this year. We thank you for all of your support in 2021!
What is community building, and why is it so important?
Community building refers to enhancing the connections between people who have common interests, challenges, and experiences. Through building online and physical spaces to exchange knowledge, resources, and support, we facilitate the achievement of shared goals.
Island communities encapsulate many of the sustainable development challenges facing humanity today (Connell, 2013, Lewis, 1999). They share common challenges, such as climate change vulnerability, food security, unsustainable tourism, and waste management. By becoming a united community, the island nations can effectively collaborate and build visibility on a global level to amplify their needs and the value they add to the world.
Community building promotes new connections
Island communities can often feel isolated from the experiences of those who populate the mainland, so focusing on community building in this context helps to increase awareness of the social and cultural traits that are shared. This awareness helps to foster meaningful and long-lasting connections.
Developing new connections with a diverse community is also helpful to enrich your repertoire of references, ideas, and potential solutions to be applied in different contexts. However, networking is not only about trading information; it also serves as an avenue to create long-term relationships with mutual benefits. Expanding your network can lead to new business opportunities, job success, and personal development. Networking allows you to get new insights you might not have considered otherwise by exchanging information, advice, and support on issues, experiences, and aspirations.
Community building makes room for sharing
Both physical and virtual community spaces should be designed to nurture a sense of safety and respect among members. When in a safe environment, members are encouraged to exchange knowledge, collaborate, and develop innovative solutions for their shared challenges.
Among the challenges that island nations share are sustainable economic development, climate change adaptation/mitigation, protecting biodiversity, and exploring the Blue Economy.
When discussing common problems and opportunities with people from different regions and industries, you can come across new ideas and advice. Sharing your ideas encourages others to do the same, resulting in a more collaborative and happy environment for everybody. Island communities can empower and motivate each other to craft a more resilient and sustainable future.
Collective learning is what community building is all about
The sharing, preserving, and accumulation of information across time and generations is referred to as collective learning. Collective learning empowers humans because individuals who share information can work together efficiently. The creation and implementation of better solutions are facilitated when we have the opportunity to learn from others who had previous experiences trying to solve the same problem. When many individuals contribute their knowledge and skills to a group, this collective knowledge has a positive effect on the knowledge of the entire group.
Engaging in a community helps members to exchange ideas and re-signify concepts. These exchanges form a foundation of collective knowledge to be shared from region to region and to future generations. This intergenerational exchange also creates a sense of pride in community members, who strive to preserve their traditional knowledge.
Community building represents the formation of a movement
Societal movements are wide coalitions of people united by a common desire to prevent or accelerate social change. Island communities have the opportunity to build positive momentum and enhance the motivation to drive meaningful, long-lasting, sustainable change across various sectors.
Working together, the island communities can make their voices heard and achieve a more relevant position in the global arena. An example of this was seen when the island territories of Antigua & Barbuda and Tuvalu came together to announce the signing of an Accord on 31 October 2021, which establishes a Commission of Small Island Developing States on Climate Change and International Law.
Community building fosters innovation
Innovating means creating something new or better than the existing solution. It requires creativity and openness to welcoming diverse perspectives and identifying opportunities to transcend traditional ways of thinking and develop new and original ideas.
When members of different communities who represent a variety of cultures and perspectives discuss their previous experiences, innovative solutions can appear. No isolated society can transform its reality the way collective forces can. The challenges faced by island communities all over the globe can be tackled by people uniting resources and intellectual capital.
How we are building a strong community
Our mission at Island Innovation is to drive positive change to islands and rural communities across the globe through creating and empowering a network of island stakeholders. When it comes to facilitating the sustainable development of these territories, a wide range of actors must be involved and articulated to come up with feasible solutions. Island Innovation facilitates collaborative transformation by serving as a platform that connects private sector companies, governments, universities, NGOs, utilities, and community representatives.
“Island Innovation is creating a global community of islands. This wouldn’t have been possible a decade ago, and so I think it is amazing that “community” in the modern sense is not what most people imagine it to be. One thing we often hear from our network is “wow, we are not alone with this problem” and there is an opportunity to share and grow ideas between a wide variety of places”. Says James Ellsmoor, CEO at Island Innovation.
Through our Ambassador Program, we invite and empower islanders to discuss global challenges and implement initiatives to inform and support their communities. With more than 300 ambassadors representing 217 islands in 2021, the program itself creates a community of like-minded people who want to positively impact their islands, and shape a more resilient future.
One of the most important aspects of any successful collaboration is to listen, and we strive to listen to your feedback and suggestions. By understanding your experience and expectations as a community member, we can optimize our work and develop new initiatives to better serve as a platform for you to learn, cooperate and impact your community from anywhere in the world.
Over the past 18 months of the pandemic, more and more people have come to appreciate the power of cooperation and building bridges of shared understanding. This has enhanced the motivation to build communities, as the solution to make collaboration more accessible and efficient. As 2021 draws to a close, we can keep looking to our communities for strength, comfort, and affirmation, and hold on to the knowledge that we can change the world, together.
Thank you for being a part of the dynamic and diverse community of Island Innovation in 2021! We wish you all the best in 2022, and we look forward to creating an even better vision of sustainable island communities in the new year!
I joined Island Innovation in July of 2021, after being an Island Innovation Ambassador since January of the same year. As Content Manager, I am responsible for, among other things, organising sponsorships, content strategy design and implementation, reviewing social media channels, and creating content to promote specific Island Innovation events. One of the best things about working with Island Innovation is the opportunity to work with like-minded and supportive colleagues who facilitate each others’ efforts to fully implement the vision of Island Innovation. I truly believe that this vision will make this world a better place by enhancing the ability of island communities to operate collaboratively, and thereby become more sustainable and resilient. I am quite enthusiastic and driven, so it is wonderful to work with colleagues who match and encourage my enthusiasm and relentless positivity!