European Small Islands Federation

Invitation to a water saving project


As reported here on the ESIN blog in February, the Koster islands have a “water problem [that] puts an end to everything”.

To solve this problem, a project is describing Koster’s geophysical water resources (“the water of the island”), the human water footprint on the island (“the water of the islanders”) and way the water is distributed, how the system is managed, financed and administrated (“the water of the municipality”). The project’s website is

The project will present a three-level description of the island’s freshwater systems, and a sustainable system solution that takes all three levels into account.

Meanwhile, it is already evident that the islanders need to save water. A first water saving project will start now at the new built hotel “Kostergården”. It will monitor, in real time, how hotel guests use water for different purposes – showering, flushing the toilet, drinking etc. Each guest can follow their own consumption and the consumption of the whole hotel. They will be involved in saving water in a fun and simple way, backed up by information on the ferries, in the hotel reception and on websites. The hotel – and the island – has the ambition to be a benchmark of sustainability among large hotels on small islands.

The project is using professor Andy Bäcker as an advisor. It will by no means be penalizing or pry into people’s private life, just be smart, fun and creative, turning something repressive into something positive as for example the “Speed Camera Lottery” did.

Koster island would like to start an “island water lab” project with a handful of other small European islands to explore the possibilities of saving water, both by technical means and by changing human behaviour. Islands who are experimenting simultaneously with smart water management techniques could learn from each other and eventually show others how to save water.

Such islands would typically be under 100 km2 in (land) size, have a maximum all-year population of 1,000 people, have a scarcity of freshwater and lots of tourists.

Interested? Just comment here!

Sydkoster från Nordkoster


An Italian model is proving its repeatability

One of the old factories on Favignana, where they used to can the results of “la mattanza” – the bloody tuna slaughter

Projects often aim for repeatability, acting as role models for others – but how often do we actually succeed? For some time, the Italian renewable energy company ENEA has been working on Favignana, one of the Egadi islands, 20 km2 big with 3,400 inhabitants, west of Sicily.

The Progetto Egadi – Egadi Project – has included a composting plant for transforming organic waste into fertilizer; treatment and reuse of wastewater and the installation of a ‘water house’ powered by solar panels (to reduce the use of plastic bottles); patented a procedure for replanting the seabed; created an eco-label, run by the Marine Protected Area of the Egadi, for local companies that have embarked on a path of improvement and environmental impact of their activities. So far, 60 businesses have been certified for meeting the sustainability criteria set out for each tourist category.

It was presented at the smart islands conference in December, 2015

On July 14 2016, ANCIM, the Italian member of ESIN, signed an agreement with ENEA to use Favignana as a stepping stone to develop the environmental, cultural and social aspects of all the 36 small islands of Italy: diffusion of efficient energy, saving energy, renewables, alternative mobility, sustainable water use, waste disposal and tourism. Defined “minor” for the size of their territory, the islands involved in the project are scattered in seven regions, representing an area of about 1,000 km2 with 220,000 inhabitants, which become millions during the summer season.

Image processed by CodeCarvings Piczard ### FREE Community Edition ### on 2016-07-25 15:34:17Z |  |

Mario Corongiu

The president of ANCIM, Mario Corongiu, is very happy:

”Since its establishment, ANCIM has been trying to create an economic and social development model for small islands. These principles are also encoded in the framework bill of the smaller islands, currently wauiting for the Italian Senate’s approval. We are trying to make the best use of all the skills to maximize the effects of action of institutions, private bodies and entities. The agreement between ANCIM and ENEA is particularly significant for the smaller islands because their size is often an obstacle to have adequate technical expertise and a modern and effective local government ”

The cooperation will also include cooperation in identifying sources of funding, training and information for administrators, operators, citizens and visitors.

One of the first will be Procida, an island halfway between Naples and Ischia, quite small (4 km2) but with more than 10,000 all-year inhabitants, says President of ENEA Federico Testa. A summer school in ”Efficienza Energetica” is already set up on Procida.

Summer School Procida street

Summer school poster and street in Procida

An Italian model, that seems to be working. We can all learn from this.

Island Journals

Being an organisation for islanders, we must admit having a soft spot for island journals. Not the glossy magazines marketing islands as a place to visit, nor daily (or almost daily) newspapers covering crime, local debate and family affairs. No, our love is for copious, fact-filled periodicals with percipient descriptions of islands as a place to live and work, the trades and industries of the islanders, the deep roots of islandness and the struggle to survive as tiny societies in the modern world.

Here are seven examples, from France, Australia, Scotland, Denmark, Canada, Finland and Sweden:

ID-Îles: the magazine of initiatives and development in the French western islands (lLes îles du Ponant), containing most interesting portraits of the islands where the sun settles. The magazine is a monthly television broadcast 26 minutes long, an internet siteîles/id-îles-magazine/, and a monthly chronicle. You can follow ID-Îles on FaceBookîles-Magazine-1036287096423212/?fref=ts.

ID-îles 3ISJ-COVER-Nov 

There used to be a printed French journal called Î-liens but it ceased to exist in September, 2013.

Iliens sept 2013

Shima is an Australian peer-refereed academic journal that is published twice a year in open access online form It contains theoretical and/or comparative studies of islands and marine cultures, case studies of islands and marine cultures, accounts of collaborative research and development projects in island and marine cultures, analyses of fictional representations of islands, ‘islandness,’ and oceanic issues. There are photo and video essays on any aspects of the above.

The current issue focuses on almost islands  (presqu’îles) and peninsulas (péninsules), including an essay by Zrinka Mendas on the historic-economic traces in the former island cities of Zadar and Trogir in Croatia.


The Scottish Island Explorer is edited in Suffolk, designed on Jura, printed in Sussex, distributed from Lincolnshire and occupies an office at Kershader in the South Lochs area of the Isle of Lewis. It was founded in 2000, is “devoted to exploring the islands of Scotland”

The latest number July/August 2016 – is devoted to Fetlar and Barra, amongst other.

Scottish Islands Explorer


Four times a year, the Danish small islands association publishes an island journal called Ø-Posten, typically about 1216 pages. Edited by Lise Thilleman Sørensen on Strynø, it offers a superb impression of what’s up and what’s down in Denmark’s 27 small islands. So far, they have published 163 journals. You can download the latest and earlier issues hereø-posten. Number 162 was dedicated to ESIN’s meeting on Kastellorizo 2015.

O-Posten 162

The Island Studies Journal is a scholarly journal dedicated to the inter-disciplinary study of our ‘world of islands’ Its institutional home is the Institute of Island Studies at the University of Prince Edward Island, Canada. All articles published are rigorously peer-reviewed. The journal’s executive Editor is professor Godfrey Baldacchino on Malta.

The November 2015 cover shows La Maîtresse in the Les Minquiers reef, Jersey/Channel Islands. The islet is 100 m long and by 50 m wide, with 12 stone cottages in various states of repair (photo Henry Johnson).

ISJ-COVER-Nov 2015

The magazine Skärgård (= Archipelago) is in its 39th year, publishing four issues a year. It aims at documenting “the most unique area in Finland, both from a national and an international perspective: our coastal and island Swedish areas and cultural heritage”

The magazine is managed by the Archipelago Institute at Åbo Akademi, editor is Nina Söderlund on Ramsö (Nagu). It invests in a selected texts and pictures, beautiful layout and high quality print. Shown is he 2005 issue on Kökar.

Kokar 2-2005

Sine 2007, the Swedish small island association publishes the periodical Vi skärgårdsbor, four times a year. Edited by Eva Widlund on Vinön (Wine Island), it reports mainly on small island development in Sweden but includes European outlooks as in this issue (2011), reporting from Brittany (Bretagne):

Vi skargardsbor

We must have forgotten lots of journals, especially if you include web pages and blogs. You are more than welcome to comment and to promote other journals. We’ll be more than happy to give them the space they deserve, here. Maybe we should create an island journals blogroll / link library?

From street view to sheep view


Tired of waiting for Google to map the archipelago, smart Faroe Islanders have launched Sheep View 360, enlisting their ovine population to do the leg work, reports The Guardian

Living across 18 tiny sub-polar islands in the north Atlantic, Faroe islanders are used to working in difficult conditions. So tired of waiting for Google Street View to come and map the roads, causeways and bridges of the archipelago, a team has set up its own mapping project, see their superb website Sheep View 360.

With the help of a local shepherd and a specially built harness built by a fellow islander, Durita Dahl Andreassen of Visit Faroe Islands has fitted five of the island’s sheep with a 360-degree camera. The islands have a population of 80,000 sheep and 49,188 humans.

As well as obviously helping promote the island to visitors, the project is part of a campaign to convince Google to come to the island to complete the mapping project. Visit Faroe Islands have launched a petition and the hashtag #wewantgooglestreetview to promote its case.

But would Google Street View ruin the beauty that comes from being such an isolated place? “I think that we’re ready for this,” says Andreassen. “It’s a place that has always been so hidden and far away from everything, but I think that we are ready to invite people to the place.”

Guardian contacted Google to ask if they had any plans to map the Faroe Islands. They would not comment, but pointed out that anyone is welcome to create their own Street View experiences and apply to borrow Google’s camera equipment.

It’s not the first time a project has brought together Google Street View and sheep. Last year the Google Sheep View blog was launched, which collected images of sheep found on Street View to celebrate the year of the sheep.

Mark Twain

Paradise Lost?


When on Lesvos for the ISISA Islands of the World Conference in may, I met with Muna Mohamed from the Maldives. Her book “Falhu Alira Muiy” was just about to be published on forced migration and atoll development in her native island world.

Yes, the Maldives are not in the ESIN part of the world – but sometimes we may need to look beyond our own horizon. Since 1965, they are the republic Dhivehi Raa’jeyge Jumhooriyya with 342.00 islanders living on some 200 of their 1.192 islands, which are grouped in 26 atolls. It is one of the world’s most dispersed countries with an area of 90,000 square kilometres which would stretch from Orkney to Isle of Wight if transferred to Europe.

Munas book is in Dhivehi (Maldivian) but the following is a translation of a foreword written by Salma Fikry:

“For several years, we in the Maldives have accepted that we are a country with few natural resources. Our development policies were formulated and implemented with the underlying justification that the biggest challenge to our development was the highly dispersed nature of sparsely populated communities, over a vast spread of the ocean.

This being the case, it was seen as unfeasible to provide services and opportunities to every inhabited island. Priority was given to develop the capital island Male’ and subsequently, Vilingili or ViliMale’ (a resort island in the vicinity of Male’ changed to an inhabited island). Since then, we saw a huge stretch of land reclaimed near Male’, that is HulhuMale’, and the efforts to develop and relocate Maldivians to the artificial island of HulhuMale’. In recent years, we also witnessed a grand project in the lagoon of Gulhi nearby Male’. And today we witness the reclamation of land for HulhuMale Phase II.

These projects at creating artificial islands took place while there remained already existing natural land, undeveloped and underdeveloped, in the north, mid and south of Maldives. Development policies were formulated and implemented such that Maldivians were forced to abandon their land/homes and migrate to one corner of the country. The trend continues even today and at a much more alarming pace.

While we Maldivians accepted ours as a country with few natural resources and understood this factor as the most challenging to our development as a nation; the truth is that a select few individuals became powerful, wealthy oligarchs using the same “few” natural resources. It is also a reality that the gap between the rich and the poor continued to widen through the years. It is also an undeniable fact that the development disparity in income, services and opportunities are glaringly obvious between the capital and the atolls of he Maldives.

Maldivians are paying a high social and economic cost for development policies that enforce atoll populations to migrate to Male’ – the capital island, which today, is among the most congested places on earth.A place, burdened with environmental degradation and ever increasing crimes. Regardless, our development policies are still geared in that very same direction that has brought us to the present unsustainable, inequitable development. We are still pursuing policies and investing our finances to congest all Maldivians into one little corner of our archipelago, while abandoning the rest.

Today, we should ask ourselves what will happen to our birthright, i.e the land we leave behind and its natural capital, as we migrate to one corner of the country, in the perusal of better development opportunities and services. Today, we should question who will gain the benefits of the land, the lagoons, the reefs, the seas and other natural resources that we as Maldivians proudly thought belonged to us.”

Thilafushi island, "rubbish island" © Giulio Paletta

Bengalese workers at the dump on Thilafushi island, the so-called “rubbish island” created to collect and burn all the garbage coming from the capital island Male and all the tourists resorts © Giulio Paletta

Small islands, big ocean


I have several friends who refuse to use a camera, explaining how the camera keeps them at a distance. The act of producing memories prevents you from actually being present.

The artist Pive Toivonen, a resident of Kökar 2004-2006, bought a sailboat which she renovated for three years and then sailed it out on the Atlantic. She used a small watercolour paint box to to make her diary. “The paint box is my camera”, she says with a big smile, “but a bit slower. And weighing only 250 grams.”

Monday, June 27, she was back at Kökar, told us about her journey and showed her watercolour paintings which has also become a book: “Atlantin viemää” = “Gone with the Atlantic” (Painotala Printon 2015).

Slowness, care, love of detail make the difference. Pive is a blessed marine painter. Her father never let himself be blown into a harbour and it seems to be the same with Pive. She has sailed Biscayne six times and the book’s most beautiful pictures are those in which she stands at the helm at night, on her way to some of he Atlantic Ocean’s small, remote islands and meet gigantic waves two thousand nautical miles from home (see for example pages 178-187).

She works on a small scale with the mountainous Atlantic waves. The sea, the ocean’s beauty and the sailor’s small size fits well in her 28×30 cm format. She visited Helgoland, Ouessant, La Graciosa, La Gomera, Porto Santo, Pico, Bere, Arranmore and Anholt among others, and report on later travels to New Zealand and Tierra del Fuego.

Unfortunately the book is only in Finnish but the pictures don’t mind. They speak all the world’s languages.

Pive 4


På Atlantens fjäll


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