Representatives from 500+ islands gather for a virtual summit

The 2nd annual Virtual Island Summit kicked off today with 10,000 island participants from across the world. Politicians joining today’s opening sessions included Fiji’s Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, Guyana’s President Irfaan Ali, the Federated States of Micronesia’s David Paneulo, Guam’s Governor Lou Leon Guerrero, Tuvalu’s Enele Sopoaga MP and many others from across the globe.

During the opening sessions, Prime Minister Ralph Everard Gonsalves of Saint Vincent & the Grenadines said, “Our country’s activism has led us recently to head the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations and then to become the smallest country ever to be elected to the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member. We take out participation in the Virtual Island Summit very seriously and eagerly look forward to it.”

The Virtual Island Summit aims to be an inclusive event using the opportunity to create “digital bridges” that will bring together global islands to collaborate on finding creative solutions that lean on the expertise of every global community, no matter how isolated they may be. The input of these communities is invaluable in building a sustainable future, and the event brings together experts from islands around the world to discuss key issues facing the planet and how we can resolve them together.

Topics covered including post-pandemic economic recovery, tourism, energy, climate change, education, democracy, transport, sustainability and much more – all in relation to the island context.

There are over 30 different sessions available with no limit on how many participants can join – with a total of over 150 speakers. Attendees will be able to engage with one another throughout the week, and will have additional opportunities to interact with the Summit’s speakers and partners with features such as a tradeshow and focused networking sessions.

Facilitating conversations has been key throughout planning the event format, and the host Island Innovation utilizes its expertise in digital communications to ensure there will be plenty of opportunities for exchange just like a physical event.

“We started the Virtual Island Summit to encourage connections between seemingly far-flung islands that have a substantial amount in common but may be separated by vast distances. The idea was born before we were forced to use digital events this year by the pandemic, and the opportunity will extend far beyond lockdown,” says James Ellsmoor, Director, Island Innovation.

“Participants get a unique opportunity to exchange information with an extremely diverse array of people, and by keeping the event free we maximize the opportunities for participation. Especially given the specific challenges islands have faced in 2020, we aim to generate some concrete outcomes that can be actioned by participants in their own communities.”

Sponsors of this year’s event are the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, Leclanché, Pathable, University of Prince Edward Island, Curaçao’s Ministry of Economic Development, Primo Energy, Edge Foundation, the University of the West of England, Buzzmaker, Ricardo Energy & Environment, University of Delaware, Intelligent Community Energy, Island Institute, Waitt Institute, EarthFund, Caribbean Electric Utility Service Corporation, Orkney International Science Festival, Soloricon, Falkland Islands Government & St Helena Research Institute.

“In 2020, sustainability is no longer an optional activity – it’s a vital imperative,” said Anil Srivastava, CEO, Leclanché. “We commend the Virtual Island Summit for focusing on the needs of island communities and working diligently to educate and share knowledge globally to address our global island community’s many challenges. Leclanché is pleased to support the event and share our experience and expertise in renewable energy generation and storage and the electrification of transportation.”

The Virtual Island Summit is held through a series of dynamic open sessions that unites some of the world’s sharpest minds and decision-makers in one place, providing a knowledge-sharing experience like no other. There is a large range of topics that are sure to grab attendees’ attention with sessions held in Spanish, French and English discussing important issues and how they impact the world at large. It will give attendees a chance to listen to experts from around the world discuss case studies, the latest breakthroughs in their field, and outline a blueprint for more sustainable and prosperous islands in a truly unique format.