Updated: Feb 5
Spending the last couple of evenings a bit glued to the new 'Island Ambassadors' group chat, and reminiscing about / reflecting on my own 'island' links (past + present), has sent my brain into overdrive - so I thought we should explain a little more on what the Island Ambassador role means.
So what's an Island Ambassador? And why get involved?
I first came across Island Innovation a couple of months ago whilst researching island-focused networks as a way to learn about some of the energy access / sustainability specific to island communities - and last month joined the excellent floating solar PV webinar they hosted (with the Clinton Foundation and Multiconsult). A summary of Island Innovation is quoted below:
"We are a social enterprise and digital media platform at the intersection of sustainable development and communications, offering specialised services across various sectors. We bring together the private sector, government, utilities, NGOs and universities to advance innovation for sustainability and prosperity in islands worldwide" - Island Innovation website.
I came to realise the large & diverse global network of islanders and island-lovers who share news and discuss all sorts of sustainability / energy topics, and was keen to be a part of it. I saw amongst the events & networking being promoted by Island Innovation that the call to join the '2021 Island Ambassador' programme was open, and I was motivated to put my hand up for the learning & networking opportunity - and for the chance to delve into something incredibly interesting that's aligned with our professional interests.
Our Island Journey
My own 'island' link of growing up in Holyhead (on Holy Island, Anglesey) and having a family base there / visiting frequently / being fascinated with Holyhead's pioneering energy projects - and Anglesey's self-promotion as 'The Energy Island' is a kind of an obvious connection which I've mentioned previously. But one thing I've come to realise is that it's taken me to live & work abroad in some really lovely locations for extended periods over the years to truly appreciate and love the environment I grew up with.
I thought last night about all the different islands that we've visited over the years and compiled some photo stories on our Insta page . Lovely exotic locations including Bahrain, Bali, Capri, Denmark islands, Ibiza (where it rained & thundered heavily for us), Hong Kong, Iceland, Manhattan, Mauritius, Rottnest (off Perth WA), Singapore, Skye (where we spent our honeymoon in a pub overlooking the Hebrides) and Sri Lanka. But for me, Holyhead is my favourite island spot and I love going back there more and more. There's no place like home.
Living in London now for the past 11 years, I can't claim to be representing any particular island community - but some of the work we've done has encouraged us to think more on some of the possibilities with local island communities here in West London. We recently helped a local boatyard to screen the economics & practical considerations for some tidal turbines / solar PV / wind options to see what could be potentially useful in reducing their energy bills and reliance on import.
The Island Ambassador role / commitment is partly to help Island Innovation to promote their key virtual events (the Virtual Island Finance Forum in April and the Virtual Island Summit in September), and partly to promote structured professional networking between those with similar interests through sharing + training events. I can't wait.
One of the pleasures of joining was being invited to yet another WhatsApp group chat. With a throng of enthusiastic new Ambassadors around the world announcing ourselves to each other, the chat has been 'going off'..! There are members from literally all over the world - from Shetland to the Falklands, and from the Cayman Islands to Fiji. I've been blown away by the diversity of backgrounds / locations / interests etc in this group and have enjoyed seeing all the photos and learning about what everyone does and where they're from.
I'll write more on this in the coming months as we get to know each other and things become clearer - but it's certainly going to be an interesting 2021!