Project Updates & News

Project updates and announcements will be posted here periodically.

Upcoming Virtual Event: Learning from Financial Crisis: Towards Sustainable Island Futures for Iceland and Newfoundland & Labrador

Sustainable Island Futures research team member Professor Mark Stoddart (Memorial University, Newfoundland) and his Icelandic colleague Dr. Ásthildur Elva Bernharðsdóttir will be speaking at an upcoming Institute of Island Studies virtual event on March 30, 2021. Their presentation will discuss research from the Sustainable Island Futures project, comparing financial crises in Iceland and Newfoundland & Labrador.
All are welcome. For more information about this event and to reserve your spot, go to

Project Update — November 2020

This research and partnership development project is currently in the midst of data gathering, including an online survey of stakeholders’ attitudes to governance and their government’s success in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. The next step is a series of focus groups at each of the twelve island sites.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, an additional year was given by the funder. The pandemic has also required us to substitute Fiji for Palau as one of the sites.

Some of the intermediate findings of the project were presented in a panel session at the Virtual Island Summit in September 2020. The recording of the session can be found at

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.

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)

“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.


“Small Island Governance,” University of Malta Newspoint, September 13, 2018

There and back again: Islands learn from each other about bringing youth home, CBC Radio, Island Morning, September 11, 2018

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.