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Small island planning

The nature of islands, including their limited land area and scarcity of natural resources create special challenges - and special opportunities. The Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex has brought out a special edition of the magazine id21 insights highlighting positive aspects of island life and the threats facing islands and islanders, including ideas, experience and good practice which could be adopted by other islands. Read more.

Planners in Small Island states such as Bermuda, Jersey, Cyprus, Malta, Guernsey, Orkney, Hebrides, Shetland, Ynys Môn (Anglesey), Isle of Man, Isles of Scilly, Maldives, Tasmania and so on, can feel isolated from mainstream planning practice. Yet small island communities have much to gain by their sharing spatial planning experience in tackling common issues. For a co-ordinated approach to island-focused problems worldwide focusing on production of key benchmark data for 10 comparable islands across the globe, click here.

In addition, as relatively 'closed' environmental, political, social, cultural and economic systems, small island communities can demonstrate sustainable solutions that could be transferable to larger nation states. Paul Nichols, Chief Planning Officer for Jersey, spoke to an RTPI conference in May 2007 on this theme. View presentation.

By definition small island states have a severely constrained landmass and limited access to human and natural resources. Island communities have to satisfy the needs of their native population and often an influx of seasonal visitors and migrant workers within the confines of their shoreline. Displacing development pressure to a neighbouring jurisdiction is not an option.

Island Issues

Within these tight constraints issues such as increased household formation, economic diversification and the management of waste, water and traffic are acute problems that demand innovative and sustainable solutions. Read more about disposal of waste in the Isles of Scilly and housing key workers on Guernsey.

On leaving office, the Governor-General of Bermuda, Sir John Vereker, made two entertaining speeches about the status and role of small island states in the world: one on governance and one on globalisation. Click here to go to the Bermuda Government website, then navigate to speeches to Adult Educators and to Insurers.

The impacts of climate change are being felt keenly by islanders round the world. In some cases, entire island populations have been dispossessed by sea level change and, in the years to come, thousands of island inhabitants face a similar fate. Click here to read the presentation at the 2007 Planning Convention and here for news coverage on adapting to climate change in developing countries. Climate change economics on a small island: new approaches for Tobago is a paper from the International Institute for Environment and Development which looks at the impact of climate change on islands which depend heavily on tourism, trying to calculate and analyse the cost in new ways to support difficult decisions that Caribbean policymakers face. Read more

 The Guernsey Climate Change Partnership, a non-Governmental group, has published a new book called "Planet Guernsey", putting the global issue into a local context and showing how the island can respond to the challenge. The publication has started to attract interest from other islands inspired to take a similar approach to analysing their vulnerability to climate change and developing strategies for managing it.

The PDF version of "Planet Guernsey" is available for download from the website of La Société Guernesiaise.

How to get involved

Members of the Small Islands Planning Task Group are planners and others with a special interest in the issues described above. To join the group, you need to be a registered user of the RTPI website and a member of the International Development Network. For further information, please send an email to the IDN Manager.