Green Island Case Studies
The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) is a coalition of island and low-lying coastal countries that share similar development problems and concerns about the environment, especially their vulnerability to the adverse effects of climate change. For two decades, the 42 member States of AOSIS have served as the moral compass of international climate negotiations, demanding an agreement that reflects the increasing urgency to stop global warming. Whilst the latest deal reached at the Cancun Conference in December 2010 was a small step in the right direction, there is still a long way to go and barriers to overcome. From their earliest work on an ambitious climate treaty to current efforts to strengthen reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions and emerging initiatives to transform their own energy sectors into drivers of sustainable development, the members of AOSIS have constantly lobbied G-20 nations to demonstrate the real leadership now required to tackle the climate crisis.
Whilst many AOSIS members, out of sheer necessity, have had to pioneer mitigation and adaptation measures to combat sea-level rise, other small island communities around the world have also been actively engaged in minimizing any damage to the environment caused by their economic and social activities. Our case studies represent a 'snapshot' from some of these Green Islands who are committed to reducing their dependency on fossil fuels and making a positive contribution to global sustainability based on a responsible use of natural resources and conscious stewardship of the environment. This includes conservation and management strategies that maintain and restore biodiversity thus reducing some of the negative impacts from climate change.
The aim of these case studies is not to produce some kind of environmental 'scorecard' to determine which islands might be best at pursuing the most sustainable livelihood practices and becoming as carbon neutral as possible. Rather our objective has been to draw upon and document the practical experience of 50 different island communities in order to share their knowledge and solutions as widely as possible thus inspiring others who face the direct consequences of climate change. Whilst the challenges are the same, their particular approaches and financial ability to solve them vary, so information covering a wide range of parameters has been gathered. There have been major successes and it would be invidious to criticise some inevitable setbacks and serious shortcomings that still exist when their collective efforts have clearly demonstrated that small islands are leading by example.
There is now growing anecdotal evidence that when an island starts to exhibit some innovative approaches to developing sustainable economic activities and utilization of the latest environmental technologies to combat climate change then there is a corresponding upsurge and celebration of cultural awareness. These jointly create an even stronger identity and sense of place. This positive spin-off often leads to a complete turnaround in the fortunes of an island that was facing terminal decline due to out-migration and other adverse socio-economic factors. Our organization is now keen to expand this collection of Green Island case studies, establish stronger working relationships with similar initiatives (see links below) and create a new network of partners wishing to undertake further research. More specifically, we would like to investigate how and why achieving a sense of place helps people identify with their particular island and can lead to community-led planning for future integrated development. This will require some modest funding so if you are interested in supporting, or joining us, with this endeavour then please don't hesitate to make contact.