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Island communities, particularly those reliant on tourism, must not return to “business as usual” following the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a University of Strathclyde academic’s contribution to an international report.

Dr Francesco Sindico, Co-Director of the Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance (SCELG), has written a chapter in the Annual Report on Global Islands 2020, which explores development and public health on islands in the context of the global pandemic.

Dr Sindico states that, while many island communities have avoided the worst health effects of the virus, they have not been spared its economic impact and this has created the need for a fresh approach to help the islands to “build back better.” Focusing on tourism and security of food supply, he outlines a policy-based, island-specific research agenda to support a more sustainable future for islands and recommends exploration of:

digital connectivity, delivering improved internet access, remote operation of health services and enhanced education opportunities

unsustainable aspects of pre-pandemic island economies, such as health challenges and pressures on the environment

opportunities for islands which rely heavily on tourism to offset the most negative effects of unsustainable practices, while considering different forms of more sustainable tourism and diversifying their economies.

Dr Sindico said: “It is crucial that islands and their communities recover from COVID-19 not by going back to a business-as-usual scenario, but by building back better.

“If resilience is about driving an agenda for a better island following a state of vulnerability, the question becomes: what kind of future does that island want?

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