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In November, the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) takes place in Glasgow, Scotland. This important assembly of global delegates is an opportunity for countries to determine their progress on the Paris Agreement commitments, as well as announcing new goals.

Several nations have announced new targets, including the United States and conference host the United Kingdom. The latter pledged to use its presidencies of both COP and the G7 to highlight the work being done by island communities. It’s promising that representatives from Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) have met regularly with COP26 President Alok Sharma, who has continued to call for immediate climate action as the world transitions towards a low-carbon future.

SIDS and LDCs have called for more ambition among the world’s major powers. The UK also reminded world leaders of their agreed financial commitments for less developed nations’ resilience and adaptation programmes. The $100Bn funding mark set for 2020 has fallen short, but the UK is determined to make COP26 an opportunity to steer the world back on track. The climate crisis continues to disproportionately affect island nations and the need for action is pressing. 

Whether it be the concerns voiced through the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), or working together to share best practice at events like the Virtual Island Summit (VIS), islands are actively developing sustainable solutions for the future. 

Below are ten island initiatives and events that provide insight into the innovations developed by global islands.

1. Mangrove Carbon Credits

With emissions trading schemes set to be a major talking point at COP26, private companies and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are also working towards implementing frameworks to mitigate climate change through financial compensation. The recent partnership between the island of Palawan (Philippines) and Conservation International is just one of many projects that could be replicated by other island communities.

2. NCB Tourism Fund

During the 2021 Island Finance Forum one of the Caribbean region’s leading banks, NCB Capital Markets (NCBM), announced the creation of the Tourism Response Impact Portfolio (TRIP) to help drive a sustainable Blue-Green COVID-recovery plan. Initiatives like TRIP are paving the way for local funding among regional island groups and helping promote local entrepreneurs and their solutions.

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3. Redonda Eco-Haven

Global biodiversity continues to suffer at the hands of the climate crisis and continued environmental degradation. However, environmentalists have successfully managed to restore the island of Redonda to its previous glory. The efforts taken to rehabilitate and conserve the Caribbean isle provide a blueprint for other island communities seeking to protect their natural resources.

4. Fiji Clean Energy

Fresh off announcements of a deal for a new solar project, Fiji has emerged as one of the Pacific’s leading investment opportunities for clean energy. Expecting to be powered entirely by renewables by 2036, the nation is striving to mitigate the impacts of climate change and build its resilience through technology and low-carbon energy.

5. Sustainable Small Islands

Eighteen islands across the world are currently a part of the 2017-2021 SMILO development phase meant to develop their technical and financial capabilities as they implement their sustainability goals. This programme is helping provide other global islands and their investors with frameworks to foster effective governance, capacity-building, biodiversity protection, and promote self-reliance.

6. Barbados Ocean Energy

With plans for the entire nation to be powered by renewable energy by 2030, the Barbados government is exploring alternative power sources, including ocean energy. Not dissimilar to other island initiatives, Barbados is one of several global islands seeking to tap into local renewables. 

7. REDD+ Programme

A UN-supported programme that seeks to find opportunities for nations to protect their forest resources in return for financial support and funding for local initiatives, REDD+ has seen recent success in the Pacific. Cooperation between island nations in the region have yielded strong results and opportunities for environmental protection and economic development.

8. Rewilding the Galápagos

With degradation stemming from climate change, human impacts and high levels of tourism, the Galápagos have often served as a case study for the need for ecotourism. As part of a larger project group, actor Leonardo DiCaprio has pledged $43 million towards restoring and protecting Pacific islands in Latin America – including the iconic Galápagos Islands.

9. 2021 Virtual Island Summit 

An entirely free virtual event that brings together influential changemakers, experts, and entrepreneurs to discuss the innovation taking place on global islands. The VIS is a can’t-miss event for those interested in sustainability and the latest breakthroughs being pioneered by island communities.

Virtual island summit 2021

10. Island Space @ COP26

Building upon the momentum of the VIS in September, we will be actively sharing key insights and developments related to remote, rural and island communities at COP26. Ensuring islanders are represented and that relevant information is made available during COP26, our Island Space is set to become a hub for all island-related news and policy analysis. 

The time remaining before COP26 is as important as the conference itself. Nations are expected to announce new targets and goals in advance of the Scottish rendezvous and countries on the front lines of the climate crisis such as SIDS and LDCs will be watching. However, as the above initiatives highlight, these nations aren’t simply waiting on an international response. They are acting for themselves and finding workable, sustainable solutions for the future.



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