UNESCO Co-chairs host meeting in Charlottetown
Charlottetown, PEI (September 2018) ― The Institute of Island Studies and the UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability recently hosted a weekend of meetings with representatives and researchers from a dozen islands around the world. This unprecedented gathering of scholars in the field of Island Studies is made possible by a Partnership Development Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The project will build relationships between researchers and will fund up to twelve graduate students.
“The Institute of Island Studies and the UNESCO Chairs in Island Studies and Sustainability are to be commended for organizing this very important initiative, which will bring together representatives of small island states to develop strategies to address their unique issues regarding sustainability and sovereignty,” said Dr. Robert Gilmour, UPEI’s Vice-President Academic and Research.
Island jurisdictions are often viewed as vulnerable, poverty-stricken, and destitute, but research shows many of these islands are better described as innovative and entrepreneurial. This meeting brought together six representatives of small island states (Iceland, New Zealand, Mauritius, Palau, Cyprus, St. Lucia, and Grenada) and six representatives from non-sovereign, subnational island jurisdictions (Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, La Réunion, Lesbos, Guam, and Tobago). These groups will compare experiences, to see whether statehood is a boon or hindrance when implementing sustainable practices in social-political, cultural-artistic, economic, and environmental areas.
“Take an island’s ability to respond to a natural crisis, such as a hurricane,” said Dr. James Randall, co-holder of the UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability. “If that island is a subnational jurisdiction, is it a benefit to know the larger government will be there to help them respond, or will an independent island state be better equipped to determine what is needed and implement that plan.”
The project will develop a set of measures of sustainability and sovereignty by undertaking household and focus group surveys using comparisons of six pairs of islands. The Institute of Island Studies and the UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability will coordinate these activities, bringing together island researchers and solving issues using a local-to-global integrated approach.
From L to R: Godfrey Baldacchino (Malta), Pia Hansson (Iceland), Margaret Paterson (UPEI MAIS student), Kimberly Wishart Chu Foon (UPEI PhD Environmental Sciences student), John Telesford (Grenada), Ioannis Spilanis (Greece [on video]), Gerard Prinsen (New Zealand), Patrick Watson (Trinidad & Tobago), Rob Greenwood (Newfoundland), Laurie Brinklow (PEI), Robert Gilmour (VP Academic & Research, UPEI). Several missing, including Principal Investigator Jim Randall (UPEI)
The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) is the federal research funding agency that promotes and supports postsecondary-based research and research training in the humanities and social sciences. By focusing on developing talent, generating insights and forging connections across campuses and communities, SSHRC strategically supports world-leading initiatives that reflect a commitment to ensuring a better future for Canada and the world.