To become truly sustainable, islands must overcome their challenges of being predominately small, isolated, coastal entities, heavily dependent on imports and untapped vast ocean resources. Moreover, solid and liquid waste generation, and pollution of both land and marine environments are formidable constraints to sustainable development. Hazardous climate events can also have a serious negative impact on critical infrastructure, housing and natural capital. Nevertheless, there are significant opportunities for development within and around islands with the potential to transform these ecosystems. Some of the more promising opportunities include marine-based renewable energy, aquaculture / sustainable fisheries, marine biotechnology / bio-economy, and biological / technological waste recovery.
The framework of the SIsP addresses these issues so that a sustainable island can be characterized by blue and circular economic indicators:
- Blue indicators – Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) area per capita; tourist arrivals per capita; blue carbon storage; liner shipping connectivity index; marine protected areas; Ocean Health Index – Biodiversity; Ocean Health Index – Clean waters; Ocean Health Index – Fisheries; Fish stocks overexploited or collapsed; and Bycatch.
- Circular Indicators – Direct material Consumption (DMC) per capita; material footprint per capita; municipal solid waste produced per capita; E-waste produced; water consumption per capita; Level of water stress- freshwater withdrawal; human wastewater treated (%); electricity per capita; renewable proportion in final energy consumption; and CO2 emissions from energy per capital.
Innovative and qualitative performance measures.
In order to differentiate the SIsP program, we should incorporate more innovative and qualitative (as well as quantitative) performance measures / metrics that the average citizen on the ground (in any country) can relate to and understand (e.g., more than just average consumption, carbon statistics or GDP that will not be fully understood or drive effective change on the ground. This will also help grow the community by being different and appealing to a much broader audience). I will include some suggestions in my initial write up of the Blue and Circular Economies.
Using the indicators gathered, a Sustainable Blue and Circular Economy (SBCE) index has been constructed under the SIsP which can be used to determine the level of sustainability of islands in accordance with the three pillars of the Blue and Circular economy and Climate Resilience.
Under the SCBE Index, islands can be classified into the following groupings:
- A first group of developing, populated islands with low SBCE scores, which need to leapfrog to the blue and circular economy paradigm;
- A second group of transitioning islands which need to grow sustainably (i.e. increase GDP while improving their SBCE Index); and
- A third group of high-income islands relatively low SBCE scores, which need to transition from the linear to the circular economy.
Ultimately, the SBCE index can be used to align island economies to be intentionally designed and realize the positive benefits of a restorative, regenerative and resilient island communities. This will also create economic, environmental and social abundance from the land and surrounding ocean. It will accomplish this while safely and perpetually cycling materials as technical & biological nutrients, powered by clean renewable energy.