10,000 islanders connect at the Virtual Island Summit 2020

The Virtual Island Summit is back!  Over one very exciting week, Scotland’s island communities will have the chance to link up with islanders from around the world, learn of new innovations and talk about the burning issues and ideas important to the islands.

From Scotland, Islands Minister Paul Wheelhouse, Angus MacNeil MP, Mark Hull of Community Energy Scotland and Francesco Sindico of Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law & Governance are amongst the speakers.

Scotland’s Islands Minister, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, said:

“This event provides the opportunity to make connections and share learning with people from some of the world’s most unique locations. I will be discussing the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 which is a ground-breaking piece of legislation that helps to meet the needs of Scotland’s islands now and in the future. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every country across the world and there have been particular challenges that have been exclusively faced by islands. We have the chance to share how we have responded and adapted to the changing circumstances, noting new vulnerabilities in addition to some new found strengths.”

Taking place over 7-13th September, its set to be a thought-provoking and inspiring week with a fantastic line up of speakers and topics for discussion. Its free, open to everyone and you can book your place here.

The Summit has been developed by Island Innovation and its founder James Ellsmoor (an alumni of the University of Highlands and Islands) explains, “Islands often face similar challenges to one another but are forced to tackle them separately due to barriers created by distance, language, and culture. The Virtual Island Summit seeks to build digital bridges between island communities around the world, regardless of size, political status, or location.  In the face of emerging worldwide crises such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, the spirit of international problem-solving fostered by the Virtual Island Summit is more critical than ever.”

This year the Island Innovation team has been joined by over 150 volunteer ambassadors to build in even more networking and to bring a local dimension to the global event.  Scotland has four ambassadors, each aiming to make new island connections and gather good ideas.

Donnie Steele, Director of Storas Uibhist and Uist Gifts & Information says:  “I have been involved with Island Innovations for over a year now. It’s all about collaboration that brings people and Islands closer together. One of the best things about working collaboratively is people bringing different skill sets and backgrounds to the table and learning from their experiences. For me is about getting innovative sustainable development ideas that I can take to our community, anything that can help Island communities throughout Scotland and helping Islands globally by offering support and ideas that we have”.

Thibault Gras is a renewable energy graduate based in Orkney, “The Summit is a one of a kind opportunity to gather everyone. The more I look into it, the more I realise how poorly islands are represented in academia, the economy and policies. Because we are all islands, we are in a way very close, and the summit breaks that historical barrier. I am excited to see how we can make islands more represented by showing a united front. Scottish Isles are no Carribean State, nor the Philippines, but we have a lot more in common than just being surrounded by water.”

Kirsty MacColl is the Development Officer for the Scottish Islands Federation “ I’m really looking forward to the summit and in particular to the topics around electric ferries, island data, marine litter, next generation of island leaders, democracy and island responses to covid-19. We all have such a lot in common from energy transition, transport, broadband, enterprise, to solutions around health and social care and sustainable tourism. Having this virtual platform is so exciting: all of a sudden, it is opening the door to learning from each other, and it doesn’t matter if we are on remote islands at opposite ends of the globe.

Sharing ideas, highlighting challenges and promoting sustainability are all very much part of what we do at SIF and it’s really great to be part of the ambassador group, especially as our regional ambassador group includes the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands. We hope to keep this going beyond the summit and continue learning from each other and sharing all the good things happening on islands.”

Island Innovation brings together the private sector, government, utilities, NGOs and universities to advance innovation for sustainability and prosperity in islands worldwide. For more information, visit the Island Innovation website.

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