News and Events

Building Small Island Resilience to Global Climate Change:
An International Symposium and Public Forum
September 20-23, 2016 | Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

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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.

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“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.

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“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 iis@upei.ca 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
(WATCH THE VIDEO)

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.”

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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.


CBC NEWS COVERAGE July 22, 2016

MALTA INDEPENDENT July 28, 2016

MALTA INDEPENDENT August 23, 2016


NEWS RELEASE
July 26, 2016

MINISTER CONGRATULATES UPEI ON UNESCO CHAIR IN ISLAND STUDIES AND SUSTAINABILITY

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.

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“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).


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