Islands, like it or not, are on the front line of environmental challenges
Islands are vulnerable places, battered by climate change, pollution and migration. But a mounting sense of urgency is counterbalanced by the realization that islands offer an important opportunity to find innovative, “hybrid” solutions that combine renewable and traditional energy sources, making them test-beds that the wider world should invest in and learn from.
Island locations capture our imaginations: exotic, remote places that are home to unspoiled land and seascapes. In addition to being enticing tourist destinations, islands are places where “we the people” live and work. We face a very particular set of sustainability challenges, revolving around issues of energy, water, waste and mobility.
Islands are fragile, vulnerable places, battered by climate change, pollution and migration. With natural resources depleting at an unprecedented pace, there’s a mounting sense of urgency that's counterbalanced by the realization that islands may offer an important opportunity to find innovative solutions that combine renewable and traditional energy sources - solutions that the wider world should both invest in and learn from.
Governments with islands in their territory tend to care little for local island problems. Islands usually make up a very small portion of a country’s land mass and population. It is often the sole responsibility of islanders to protect their environment and the quality of the life of their inhabitants.
- Critical dependence and supply issues arise when it comes to water, electricity and fuel, especially when many islands (for example, Isla Colon, Panama), totally depend on incredibly polluting diesel for power generation.
- Islands usually make up a very small portion of a country’s land mass and population, thus accelerating depletion of forests, water sources and biodiversity.
- Islands like Bocas (Panama) are also more exposed to the direct effects of climate change, including rising sea levels and weather instability.
- Their smaller size makes it much harder to absorb non-recyclable waste and pollution of any kind, including garbage and other pollution generated by tourism, transportation and unregulated construction.
- Islands should be the first places to outlaw non-recyclable plastic bags, bottles and containers. Implementing substantial fines for non-compliance.
- Islands should also be the first to promote renewably generated power for electric vehicles. When it comes to road transportation, it’s easier to adopt electric cars and carts because islands tend to be small making distances less. Using electric vehicles charged from renewables protects fragile environments and saves on fuel costs.