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Thanks for reading the Island Innovation newsletter! If you were forwarded this email or accessed it through a link, don't forget to subscribe here and stay up to date on the latest sustainability news from islands and remote regions around the world.

Across the world, movements of people have become a pressing issue that controls the attention of the media. Islands are at the centre of many of these movements, as both destinations and sources of refugees and migrants.

In Europe, the islands of the Mediterranean have been the target destination for many refugees arriving through North Africa and Turkey, as they seek to land on the closest part of the European Union. The Italian island of Lampedusa, closer to Tunisia than the Italian mainland, has born the brunt of this movement with a population of just 5,000 people receiving tens of thousands of refugee arrivals, while thousands more have perished in the surrounding seas.

ReadLife After Brexit: Sustainability And The European Regional Development Fund

Under international law, refugees must be given an opportunity to claim asylum on arriving in the land of a country. This means that outlying island can play a huge significance - reducing the distance needed to travel. These exclaves of territory provide a jurisdiction that may be much more accessible for those in desperate need of escape.

This situation is taken to its extreme in the Indian Ocean island of Mayotte. The island is officially part of France, but its 200,000 residents living some 8,000km from the metropole. Mayotte has seen a migrant crisis of far greater numbers than the Mediterranean, but it has been little reported in the European media. Lying close to the Union of the Comoros, more than 50,000 Comorians are thought to have died trying to reach Mayotte, an exclave of the European Union.

ReadPuerto Rico's Utility PREPA Plans To Divide Island Into Renewable Energy Microgrids

An island exodus could also be approaching in the form of climate refugees. Atolls nations are particularly threatened by sea level rise. In the Marshall Islands, many citizens have already experienced forced movement from environmental pressures after the United States tested nuclear weapons at Bikini Atoll forcing residents of surrounding islands to flee.

Some atoll nations have been calling for damages from polluting countries for the impacts of climate change and for mechanisms to be put in place to facilitate movement of people in the event of the islands being submerged. However, the citizens of the tiny Pacific atoll states of Tuvalu and Kiribati have some of the most limited options to get visas, limiting their opportunities to migrate.

ReadBanning Plastic: How Jamaica Moved To Save Its Environment

There is a particularly dark side to some island involved in the refugee crisis. Islands have long been used as prisons from Devil's Island to Alcatraz and Saint Helena to Robben Island. In Australia, detention centres operating in Nauru and Manus Island (Papua New Guinea) have come under much fire. In this case, by housing refugees offshore, Australia is exploiting a loophole to avoid resettlement in their country.

A ray of light comes from the regions settling refugees and providing a new lease of life for arrivals and recipient communities alike. In the Australian outback (see film featured below) refugees can help inject life into struggling communities. Islands worldwide suffer from a brain drain that leaves them devoid of young people and refugees looking for peace could provide opportunities. While refugee resettlement in the remote outback town of Mingoola has been a success, similar stories abound from Scotland's Isle of Bute, Canada's Prince Edward Island and rural Sicily.

Read6 Renewable Energy Entrepreneurs Lighting Up Jamaica
Please take advantage of discussing today's topics further in the members-only Island Innovation Facebook Group. The next newsletter will focus on the plastic problem and look at the islands involved in dealing with these issues.

Thank you for reading,
James Ellsmoor

P.S. Did you enjoy the content so far and want to hear more? Then please pledge a few dollars to help cover the hosting expenses to continue sending you the latest information and resources. See the Patreon page for more details.

Thank you to my top tier patrons: James Stockan, Nathalie Mezza-Garcia, Robert Stewart and Task Ninja (Jamaica).

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Energy Stories

Interesting stories about energy from around the world: 

  • Utility Death Spiral: The role of the electric utility in 2019.
  • Haiti’s public utility company just announced it’s reducing output - after a series of blackouts throughout the country, some lasting weeks.
  • Denmark is building 9 energy islands to supply renewables.
  • Fair Isle’s renewable energy system offers the potential for economic growth.
  • Six renewable energy entrepreneurs changing Jamaica.
  • Hawai'i could be the most progressive part of the USA.

Puerto Rico's Utility Plans To Divide Island Into Renewable Energy Microgrids

After the catastrophe caused by 2017’s Hurricane Maria, many Puerto Ricans were left without electricity for months. Now, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) has put forward a plan to radically reform electricity access on the Caribbean island. Read here.

The social experiment of African refugees
in outback Australia

A year ago the small rural community of Mingoola on the New South Wales-Queensland border was facing a bleak future. Meanwhile in Western Sydney, refugee advocate Emmanuel Musoni saw problems affecting people in his community who’d come from war-ravaged countries of central Africa. When they were put in contact, they saw a solution to both their problems; a model many now believe could be used to help struggling rural communities across Australia.

Other stories worth sharing

A selection of stories relevant to innovation and sustainable development from around the world:

  • After Irma, "disaster capitalism" threatens cultural heritage in Barbuda.
  • The Maldives borrowed extensively for new infrastructure projects, and is now heavily in debt to China.
  • A new solution is offering clean water access in Jamaica.
  • Comoros is calling on other Arab countries to help it fight climate change.
  • Universities located on islands tend to have a different relationship with their communities, often working together to find new, appropriate ways of approaching those old island challenges. 
  • Healing the Haitian-Dominican divide through education.
  • After the island of Ulva led a community-buyout, residents are relishing the opportunity to run the island for themselves.
  • The Dodo still remains an important symbol for Mauritius.
  • IMF leader says poor countries should stop contracting multinational consulting firms.
  • A group of youngsters in Guyana is promoting environmental protection to empower other youth to address the big issues facing their generation.

Make Jamaica Green Again: 10 Powerful Women Leading The Sustainability Movement

As the world wakes up to the risks of climate change, the threats of sea-level rise and strong hurricanes are very clear to the island. But Jamaica is also home to activists and entrepreneurs dedicated to championing a sustainable future. Meet some of the women champioining a sustainable future for the Caribbean island. Read here.

Giving Voice to Guadeloupe

"Today, thanks to the New Academy Prize, I feel the liberation of having overcome a triple challenge: yes, women can write; yes, blacks can write; and yes, the inhabitants of a small, unimportant island, which never gets international attention, can write." - Guadeloupe's Maryse Condé on her relationship with her island, France and the world of literature. Read here.

As We Used To Float

The authors undertook a journey to Bikini Atoll two years ago. As in Adrienne Rich’s poem Diving into the Wreck, the two were armed with their own “book of myths;” a compendium of American Cold War propaganda, late capitalist fantasies of “the island,” Marshallese folklore and Bikinian creation myths. Charrière has produced a haunting body of work that resonates with the disconnectedness of our increasingly “compressed” world. Read here.

Thank you to everyone who has read, shared, supported and donated to help make this newsletter happen. I cannot thank you enough for your help and encouragement and look forward to seeing where this project will go!

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Feedback is always welcome!

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Island Innovation · Woore · Crewe, Cheshire CW3 · United Kingdom