Islands are inherently sustainable by design, with limited access to outside resources people who live on islands tend to be resourceful. We are lucky enough to live on a beautiful little island. When we first arrived, we adjusted to rain-water capture, septic tanks and island time. Here’s a list of the worlds five most sustainable islands. Not only have they embraced sustainability, but they are championing it and making themselves truly unique in the world.
- Samso Island, Denmark
Denmark consistently ranks as one of he most sustainable countries in the world and by 2050, their goal is to be powered by 100% renewable energy. Samso Island is located in the Kattegat Sea is home to just 3,724 people, in less than a decade Samso has gone from being completely dependent on imported oil and coal to 100% renewables. Currently, Samso is a carbon negative region, the island has the highest number of electric cars per capita in Denmark and relies heavily on community investment. Local investment actually created a whole new sustainable industry in an area of historically poor economic growth. The island has community owned wind turbines and the majority of homes are heated by straw burning boilers, heat pumps and solar hot water systems. The people of Samso have embraced the green ethos and aim is to be completely fossil free by 2030.
- Isle of Eigg, Scotland
The Isle of Eigg is one of the most beautiful Hebridean Islands. Located South of the Island of Skye, off the Scottish West coast this small island only has 87 inhabitants. The island has a fascinating history, after a succession of wealthy land owners bought the island, the local inhabitants became disenchanted with their laird and raised funds for the community to buy the Isle of Eigg in 1997. Their power grid runs almost entirely on renewable energy including wind, hydro and solar which powers 90% of the island’s homes and businesses. In 2010 Isle of Egg won a £300,000 share of the National Endowment for the Arts and Sciences Big Green Challenge award and the prestigious Ashden gold award for energy efficiency.
- Tokelau, Archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, New Zealand
Tokelau is a remote group of atolls in the South Pacific Ocean, halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand, of which it’s a territory. It’s usually accessed by boat from Samoa, a trip that can take around 24 hours. Tokelau is the first place where 100% of electricity power is generated through solar panels. The 1,500 inhabitants living on its islands draw only 4000 solar panels for their supply. The fears of climate change and being disconnected from the outside world was one of the largest drivers to become more sustainable. A rise in sea level would devastate the islands as the highest point is just 5 meters above the sea level.
- Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean
The Island of Bonaire in the Dutch Caribbean sits close to Aruba and Curacao. Bonaire is part of the Netherlands Antilles, and was the first Caribbean island to have a 100% sustainable energy supply. In 2007, the local government started to transition away from a heavy dependence on fossil fuels. Currently, the wind farm capabilities alone can meet the energy demands of the island’s 15,000 permanent residents. Bonaire has joined Aruba and Curacao to create the Caribbean Waste Collective, which aims to enhance waste recycling and stimulate the transition to a circular economy.
- El Hierro, Canary Islands, Spain
El Hierro Island is the smallest and farthest south and west of the Canary Islands. Located in the Atlantic Ocean, El Hierro is home to 10,162 inhabitants. The creation of the Gorona del Viento hydroelectric plant, made El Hierro the first European island to be completely self-sufficient using only renewable energy. The location of the island makes it perfect for hydro-wind power station, which combines a wind farm with a water power station to power the island’s electricity grid. The island also has it’s own desalination plant. Lastly, El Hierro was declared a Biosphere Reserve in 2000, joining the World Network of Biosphere Reserves of UNESCO’s Man and Biosphere Program.
These five little islands are making huge contribution to the world while preserving their future. Do you know of any more? We would love to find out what your favorite sustainable islands. Share your thoughts and ideas directly in the comment section below.
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