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Webinar to tackle impact of COVID-19 on island communities

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

ISLAND Innovation is hosting a free webinar series to discuss and raise awareness of the urgent solutions needed to combat both the short-and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on island communities.

The first webinar was held on Wednesday, May 4, 2020 while the remaining two are scheduled for today and May 20, 2020.

The organisation is a social enterprise that works with rural and island stakeholders, with one of the principal aims being to assist islands with implementing sustainable solutions to economic, environmental and social issues.

Tourism is particularly important to many islands and the sudden withdrawal of this vital income stream presents a potential crisis for many communities.

There is a need to build 'digital bridges' between the world's islands, to share strategies and approaches being taken in all corners of the world.

“Our world is being impacted by COVID-19 in many ways,” commented Island Innovation Director James Ellsmoor.

“Governments and institutions everywhere are doing what they can to stop the spread of the virus. Solutions are needed to cope with economic impacts on the tourism industry, shortages of essential resources, and other issues that islands endure. We are gathering global island experts to discuss this unprecedented challenge so that experiences that have proven to be successful can be repeated in other islands.”

Speakers from Jamaica will include state minister in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green; Anaitee Mills, advisor to the prime minister of Jamaica; Dr Che Bowen, CEO of MDLink; news presenter Basil Read of CVM TV who will act as a webinar moderator; as well as other personalities from the industry and tourism sectors.

The first webinar drew a significant level of interest with over 500 live viewers on Zoom.

In addition to this, it was also streamed live on the Island Innovation Facebook page where it has so far reached close to 4000 views and has been shared almost 100 times.

In introducing the series Ellsmoor discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic has led Island Innovation to pivot in response to the crisis, in order to look at how it can help island communities work towards solutions.

The reason why this webinar series is important for island communities, he explained, is that they are affected differently by this crisis, so while many have been fortunate to have limited the immediate health impact due to rapid lockdowns, there will be long-term economic issues to deal with.

Francesco Sindico from the University of Strathclyde's centre for Environmental Law and Governance in Scotland, who chaired the first session, reinforced Ellsmoor's points about the necessity for a meeting of minds.

“We are collaborating with Island Innovation to collate raw data from islands worldwide that can be used by researchers and policymakers to help show how these communities are responding to the pandemic,” he emphasised.

“It is important to discuss the special needs of islands, which can be both protected and more severely impacted when compared to mainland areas. This webinar series and our research bring together a diverse group of stakeholders to compare coping strategies and good practices that can be implemented globally.”

Some of the other international contributors to the series include Vittus Qujaukitsoq, Greenland's minister of finance and mineral resources; Mohamed Raaidh, managing director of Maldives Integrated Tourism Development Corporation; Tahirah Banks, partner at Thoughtful Digital Marketing Agency in Anguilla; and Daniel Trigg, president of the Lanzarote Business and Residents Association in the Canary Islands.

Interested participants may visit the Island Innovation website to find out more and register for the next two sessions, 'The Economic Future of the Caribbean' and 'Responding to COVID-19 in Jamaica'.

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