News and Events

An Island Blue Economy: A Review and Critique of the Concept and Practice
Ningbo, China, November 13-14, 2018
UNESCO Co-chair in Island Studies and Sustainability Dr. Jim Randall was invited to present a keynote address at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Blue Economy Forum, November 13-14, 2018, in Ningbo, China. The theme of this 5th APEC Forum focused on “Local Blue Economy Practice: Policy and Approach,” which has gained prominence in recent years as a popular development strategy among island and coastal communities through its vision to achieve marine sustainable development and human well-being.

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). Lots missing including the Principal Investigator Jim Randall (UPEI)

UPEI hosts discussion with researchers from 12 islands on challenges, opportunities, and similarities
SSHRC-funded meetings to create research relationships and partnerships in field of island studies

Charlottetown, PEI (September 10, 2018) — UPEI’s Institute of Island Studies and the UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability 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, sub-national 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 sub-national 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.

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.



The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road
Islands Economic Cooperation Forum
now online

The Annual Report 2017 LR April, published by Island Studies Press in partnership with the Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of Hainan Province, was launched at the Boao Forum for Asian Annual Conference April 8-11, 2018. Executive Editor-in-Chief is Dr. James Randall, working with Editor Dr. Laurie Brinklow and Designer Joan Sinclair. READ MORE…


Drs. Jim Randall and Godfrey Baldacchino attend Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference on Hainan Island, China, April 8-11, 2018.




Hainan Daily, April 9, 2018







Cooperation can help island economies cope with challenges,, April 10, 2018




The Island as a Carbon-Neutral Province?  Making the Case
Thursday, October 26, 2017 | 7-9 p.m. | MacKinnon Auditorium, Room 242 McDougall Hall, UPEI Campus | WATCH THE VIDEO | JIM RANDALL POWERPOINT |

With so much in the news these days about monster hurricanes and other unusually severe weather events, people are becoming more and more concerned about the long-term impact of climate change. Living on a small, low land-mass as we do, Islanders feel immediately vulnerable to sea-level rise. And so we ask ourselves what can be done about it; and also, how can we, on our own island, provide a model of positive action for elsewhere.

One possibility would be for us to make a concerted attempt to set an example for others – in Canada and beyond – by becoming Canada’s first carbon-neutral province.

How this might be done was the topic of a Public Symposium held at UPEI’s MacKinnon Auditorium, Room 242, McDougall Hall, on Thursday, October 26th, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

This event was sponsored by UPEI’s Institute of Island Studies, in conjunction with UPEI Research Services and the UPEI Climate Lab. The title of the Symposium was “Making the Case for Prince Edward Island to be Canada’s First Carbon-Neutral Province.”

The principal speaker was Dr. Catherine Potvin, a professor at McGill University and associate staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. In the wake of the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference on Confederation, Dr. Potvin was selected as one of 23 women visionaries for the future of Canada. She leads the group Sustainable Canada Dialogues, a voluntary initiative that mobilizes over 80 researchers from every province, with sustainability being at the heart of their research programs. The objective of Sustainable Canada Dialogues is to identify actions designed to have large, viable impacts to help Canadian governments at all levels to make thoughtful and ambitious commitments to greenhouse-gas emission reductions. Though the scale of the global challenge is enormous, more and more individuals, communities, industries and governments are stepping up to the task.


Dr. Potvin was joined by Mr. Bob Ashley, Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Summerside, which has implemented a number of initiatives, including generating its own electricity. His talk, “Summerside’s Renewable Energy Quest,” illustrated the critical value of a community-owned electric utility as an instrument of public energy policy. Other initiatives include storage for intermittent generation such as wind and solar, building a fleet of electric vehicles, implementing a “Living Lab” program, and a “smarter homes” initiative.




Dr. Jim Randall, the Chair of the Institute of Island Studies and UNESCO Co-chair in Island Studies and Sustainability, spoke about the experiences and challenges of other small islands of the world in their quest to achieve a version of “carbon-neutrality.” An economic and social geographer by training, Jim is a Professor in Island Studies and co-ordinator of the Master of Arts in Island Studies program.

The Symposium was chaired by Dr. Adam Fenech, Director of the UPEI Climate Lab.



Changing Island Economies
KEYNOTE ADDRESS by Dr. James Randall
Pingtan (China) International Forum on Island Conservation and Development
September 23, 2017

Thanks to the organizing committee for inviting me to this important event and for the hard work they have undertaken to organize this conference. One of the strengths of events such as this is that it allows people from diverse backgrounds, including academia, government and business, to discuss the same issues from very different points of view. Also, I’m an economic geographer by training and have been an island studies professor for the past five years. Therefore, I have a passion for places and an appreciation of the need to take an interdisciplinary approach to address issues.

In my opening remarks I’d like to focus on three main areas:

  • First, to discuss the prevailing and competing narratives or stories of islands. How others see islands and how islanders see themselves
  • Second, I’ll speak to some of the characteristics that might lead to the advantages and challenges facing islands in our current global economy.
  • Finally, I’ll provide a set of recommendations on economic development on islands, where and why they might flourish and serve as lessons for other islands and coastal regions.


All of this is based on my understanding of the current research on islands and my growing appreciation of what it means to be an islander.        READ MORE



Building Small Island Resilience to Global Climate Change:

An International Symposium and Public Forum
September 20-23, 2016 | Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island


L-R: Dr. Godfrey Baldacchino, UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability; Hon. David MacDonald; Dr. Catherine Potvin, Canada Research Chair on Climate Change Mitigation and Tropical Forests: Science for Empowerment, McGill University; Hon. Wade MacLauchlan, Premier of Prince Edward Island; and Dr. Adam Fenech, Director, Climate Lab, UPEI

UPEI’s UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability and the UPEI Climate Research Lab will co-host a public forum on climate change adaptations and islands. The forum begins at 7 pm on Thursday, September 22 in the Florence Simmons Performance Hall on the Prince of Wales Campus of Holland College. Information gathered at the forum will be become part of a statement delivered at the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change this November in Morocco and will inform public policy in local, national, and international jurisdictions.

“Despite being minor contributors to global climate change, many of the 600 million islanders of the world are seeing their way of life, and indeed the very existence of their islands, being threatened by human-induced global warming,” said Dr. Jim Randall, co-holder of the UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability. “This public forum and the larger symposium is an opportunity to show how islands and islanders are being adaptive and resilient; and at the same time provide practical lessons to the rest of the world on how we should adapt to climate change.”

Dr. Godfrey Baldacchino, co-holder of the UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability, will prime the forum by presenting a summary of a two-day international symposium on small island resilience to climate change. “Building Small Island Resilience to Global Climate Change: An International Symposium” brings together 15 people from around the world to discuss how residents of small islands and coastal jurisdictions can build on their strengths and resourcefulness to respond to the consequences of climate change. The focus is on four areas: food security, renewable energy, innovation, and cultural heritage. Also hosted by the UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability and the UPEI Climate Research Lab, the symposium is funded in part by the Atlantic Canada Opportunity Agency (ACOA) and the province of Prince Edward Island.


“The Government of Prince Edward Island is a proud sponsor of this international symposium that will provide a platform for participants to engage on the topic of climate change and small Islands. Small islands, like Prince Edward Island, do face unique challenges and we have an opportunity to be leaders in confronting these challenges by making proactive decisions on how we adapt to these new realities. As the Minister Responsible for the Environment, I wish all event organizers and participants a successful and engaging symposium and I look forward to hearing the outcomes of this week’s discussions,” said the Hon. Robert J. Mitchell, Minister of Communities, Land and Environment.


“Taking action to address climate change is an important part of building a strong and sustainable economy,” said Sean Casey, Member of Parliament for Charlottetown on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA). “That’s why the Government of Canada has made clean growth and climate change a priority under the Atlantic Growth Strategy. ACOA’s investment of $35,190 to support this conference is part of our commitment to encourage innovation and create jobs while at the same time protecting our environment.”

Symposium speakers include climate and island studies experts who who will bring their unique knowledge and skills to the table. They come from Australia, Vanuatu, Denmark, Faroe Islands, Gotland, Montreal, Toronto, St. John’s, Tignish, Lennox Island, and Charlottetown. Together with an invited group of engaged audience participants, the symposium addresses the pressing issue of climate change and small islands in an action-oriented and policy-focused series of dialogues that will provide public policy lessons for other jurisdictions.

cf25-13s-fenech-adam-929-mp3“The symposium provides a great opportunity for us to focus on climate change and adaptation in respect to islands. The forum gives the public an important venue to have their input added to this discussion,” said Dr. Adam Fenech, director of the UPEI Climate Research Lab, who will help present the first draft of the symposium statement to the forum. The moderator will then invite comments and suggestions from the audience.

Admission is free and everyone is welcome to attend. For more information, contact or 902-894-2881.

Climate change affects Islanders each day, says expert, Dr. Catherine Potvin, CBC Radio, September 21, 2016

“We can be ambassadors of our own fate”: A call to action on climate change, says Hon. David MacDonald, CBC Radio, September 21, 2016

Public forum on climate change tonight at UPEI: The Guardian, September 22, 2016

UPEI announces UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability

Charlottetown, PEI (July 22, 2016)—Dr. Robert Gilmour, Vice-President Academic and Research at the University of Prince Edward Island, today announced a new UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability. The chair will be co-held by Dr. James Randall, a geographer and coordinator of UPEI’s Master of Arts in Island Studies (MAIS) program, and Dr. Godfrey Baldacchino, a professor of sociology at the University of Malta and an Island Studies teaching fellow at the University of Prince Edward Island.

“The UNESCO Robert_GilmourChair is a singular achievement for the university, particularly for the program in Island Studies,” said Dr. Robert Gilmour. “The chair formalizes and reinforces the combined efforts of our former Canada Research Chair, Dr. Baldacchino, and the current coordinator of UPEI’s MAIS program, Dr. Randall, and, as such, significantly enhances the international impact of one of the university’s signature initiatives.”

Jim and Godfrey

The UNESCO Chair in Island Studies will work to establish and expand academic and research programmes on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Sub-National Island Jurisdictions (SNIJs). It will operate from the premise that SIDS and SNIJs are innovative, entrepreneurial, and connected, not vulnerable, lacking, and isolated. The chair is one of 700 UNESCO chairs around the world and is the first in Atlantic Canada.

“The relevance of islands to our world at the moment is unparalleled. From political turmoil in the South China Sea, to the impacts of climate change, to refugee movements through Europe, to the role of offshore financial centres, stories about islands and islanders seem to be in the news every day,” said Dr. James Randall. “This Chair brings together the people and the organizations doing island studies research and learning in order to help us solve some of the great challenges facing our world.”

The principal long-term mission of the Chair of Island Studies and Sustainability is to contribute to the sustainable development of SIDS—a UNESCO priority since the articulation of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000—and to extend this priority to SNIJs. The chair proposes to harness the insights and experience of island studies scholars, students, governments, and organizations worldwide, many of which the co-chair-holders, the Institute of Island Studies, and partners and supporters have already established.

“It is a great privilege to be the co-holder of the UNESCO Chair Program at UPEI along with my colleague Dr. Jim Randall,” said Dr. Godfrey Baldacchino. “UPEI has made huge investments in island studies over almost four decades and has developed a world class and world renowned reputation and expertise as a result. Most island studies roads lead to, or pass through, Charlottetown; the UNESCO Chair is a natural transition which now allows us to take the game to the next level, whether in public engagement, cutting edge scholarship, or research funding.”

“It is most edifying to see the strong relationship between the University of Prince Edward Island and the University of Malta cemented with this prestigious UNESCO Chair appointment—a first for both our institutions,” said Professor Alfred J. Vella, Rector of the University of Malta, in Malta. “In this way, our respective expertise in the study of islands and small jurisdictions is better recognized. I look forward to an even stronger island studies program, driven by the competitive advantage that our two institutions enjoy in this field.”

This chair is created through the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme, which has promoted international inter-university cooperation and networking since 1992 to enhance institutional capacities through knowledge sharing and collaborative work. The programme supports the establishment of UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks in key priority areas related to UNESCO’s fields of competence–i.e. in education, the natural and social sciences, culture, and communication.






July 26, 2016


CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI — Workforce and Advanced Learning Minister Richard Brown extended congratulations to the University of Prince Edward Island who recently announced the new UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability. The position will be co-held by Dr. James Randall, UPEI; and Dr. Godfrey Baldacchino, University of Malta. With 700 Chairs around the world, this UNESCO Chair is the first in Atlantic Canada, and the only one east of Quebec.


“It was an honour to take part in the celebration last week to recognize UPEI and its UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability,” said Minister Brown. “Dr. Randall and Dr. Baldacchino are top Island Studies scholars and I am confident that their research will be beneficial to help us better understand small island societies and their resiliency.”



Dr. Randall and Dr. Baldacchino will work as co-chairs to bring together academics, policy-makers, community organizations, and practitioners to look at best practices from small island development and other sub-national jurisdictions, like PEI, from around the world. Their research areas will include: sustainable development; climate change adaptation; governance; culture; outmigration; and educating our youth and our workforce.

“On behalf of the Government of Prince Edward Island, I’d like to congratulate UPEI on this latest achievement. UPEI’s Institute of Island Studies provides great work and invaluable research to our Island and other small islands around the world. I look forward to their research and working with the Institute to explore ways in which Prince Edward Island can reach our population goal of 150,000 by 2017.”

The Island Studies and Sustainability Chair, led by the University of Prince Edward Island and the University of Malta, and supported by various other universities and organizations, works to establish and expand academic and research programs on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Sub-National Island Jurisdictions (SNIJs).