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01.1 Islands, sustainability and quality of life

Tuesday, June 27, 2023
9:00 - 10:30


Dr. Álvaro Román
Associate Professor
University of Los Lagos

Insularity and territorial integration: challenges of top-down governance in Southern Chile


The islands of Southern Chile offer unique features to learn about inhabiting remote territories, with limited resources –water, connectivity, services– and with an epistemological gap that separates their inhabitants from decision-makers in the centre of the country. We examine three phenomena. First, territorial integration policies generate unexpected or undesired effects when they are implemented in a de-contextualised way. Second, the inhabitants of these places have positive and negative expectations that have an impact on a complex, not always coherent, understanding of the role of the state, affecting integration efforts. Finally, a top-down perspective restricts the manifestations of alternative developments, based on territorial particularities and different from a typically continental and urban pattern. This paper is based on semi-structured interviews conducted between 2018 and 2022 in three archipelagos of Chile –Cabo de Hornos, Huichas and Guaitecas– and presents a critical view of efforts to integrate them into the development of the rest of the country that, paradoxically, systematically place them in a marginal situation. When integration takes the form of an extension of urban and continental logics of inhabitation, territorial particularities are not exploited. In this process, the role of the state is contested, diluting its ability to articulate interests, and weakening the possibilities of territorial governance. However, these are also scenarios in which it is possible to draw lessons that point to a better understanding of how to promote local development based on the expectations of the inhabitants of these islands.
Christina Rundel
PhD Candidate
University of Groningen

Island-proofing of policies for innovative and sustainable island schools


Small European islands are very diverse regarding their natural, social, economic and cultural characteristics. Still, almost all of these islands have one thing in common- their separation and even isolation from the mainland, which strongly influences their accessibility, local economy and sociocultural life. This paper concentrates on the special circumstances of island schools- while their position might cause challenges in maintaining a broad range of educational offers for all children and adolescents on an island. Yet, island schools can also be seen as pioneers in inclusive, practice-oriented and creative teaching approaches due to their small sizes and flexible structure. Within an ERASMUS+ project, we investigated the special conditions and needs of small island schools and their (possible) role for the island communities. Focus group discussions have been hosted on five islands from five different countries (Greece, Iceland, Scotland, Spain, the Netherlands) and included a range of local and regional stakeholders of island communities including teachers and pupils. The aim was to identify existing policies and needs for future policies. A key finding and an important policy recommendation of our study is the call for education policies to be adapted to the special circumstances and needs of island schools, their communities and sustainable development. For example, island-proofing as already practised in Scotland was suggested to be a valuable tool for island schools and communities. Moreover, this paper presents country- and island-specific findings. The insights gained in this study are of interest to other islands and remote/ rural schools of other countries.
Prof. Dimitris Ballas
Professor of Economic Geography
University of Groningen

Engaging Tourists in Island Innovation


Islands, more than mainland regions, face unique challenges related to small size and limited accessibility, which on the positive side can offer breeding grounds for innovation. At the same time, most islands are popular tourist destinations. In our research we ask the question whether and how the speed and impact of island innovation can be improved via smarter governance mechanisms, with the help of tourists of the islands. Our research involves 5 case study islands in 5 countries (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands and France) as our experiment spaces. In the project, North Sea islands act as special places for “spark type innovations" that offer great potential for the mainland. The project uses a bottom-up participatory approach in which community involvement is central and young entrepreneurs, students and tourists enrich the process. We perform a series of experiments that engage tourists in island innovation using online connectivity as the main workhorse. Three types of tourist engagement are tested: 1. Can tourists share ideas and be creative co-creators in the island innovations? 2. Are tourists willing to support island innovation in physical terms, via helping, or testing products? 3. Are tourists willing to give donations for innovations on islands? For this work we will use the Greenmapper platform (www.greenmapper.org) and will in cooperation with software developers build relevant software to support the experiments. The research is based in the FREIIA - Facilitating Resilience Embracing Islands Innovation Approaches – Interreg North Sea project.



Contact for questions about abstracts or registration: groningen@congressbydesign.com 

Contact for questions about the content of the programme: ruralgeo2023@rug.nl