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Sustainable Island Livelihoods
Submitted by ilan_kelman on Fri, 02/15/2008 - 10:29
Many islands face significant development and sustainability challenges, often attributed to their size and resource base, yet these same characteristics yield significant advantages too. Large economic and governance structures, rarely feasible on islands, can produce inflexible systems with poor response time to sudden change. In contrast, communities based on kinship or local understanding of the environment, which are prevalent on many islands, can more rapidly develop, implement, and adjust livelihoods based on the local social and environmental context.
The challenges and opportunities meld, providing lessons for sustainable livelihoods. Lessons from past mistakes--for example, Nauru enjoyed substantive earnings from phosphate since its independence, yet planned poorly for a post-phosphate future--should be learned and implemented. Daily and seasonal difficulties, such as a limited freshwater supply threatened by waste and salinisation, should be tackled as opportunities, such as to develop economic small-scale desalinisation processes.
Creativity and circumstances have yielded other examples, such as running vehicles on coconut oil on Vanuatu, marketing bottled water from St Vincent and the Grenadines, designing beautiful stamps from Tristan da Cunha, and selling Tuvalu's .tv top-level internet domain name to television companies around the world. Yet not all such endeavours have been managed appropriately, often raising ethical questions or leading to mismanagement of funds.
Models of island development are also strongly debated regarding their presence and appropriateness; for instance, the MIRAB (migration, remittances, aid, and bureaucracy) economy along with the role of island diasporas, second homes on island, microenterprises, circulatory mainland-island migration, and island heritage from culture, nature, and history.
Apart from energy-related ideas which should be sent to the "Sustainable Energy for Islands" blog, this blog on Sustainable Island Livelihoods proposes, debates, develops, and suggests means of testing and implementing development strategies and sustainable livelihoods which might be particularly relevant to islands.
Creative and critiquing contributions are welcome.