Annual Report on Global Islands 2020

The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road
Islands Economic Cooperation Forum

The Annual Report on Global Islands 2020 was published in April 2021 by Island Studies Press in partnership with the Foreign Affairs Office of Hainan Province.

Executive Editor-in-Chief is Dr. James (Jim) Randall, working with Editor Maggie J. Whitten Henry and Designer Joan Sinclair.

“Given the multiple and ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the world, it should come as no surprise that the theme for this year’s edition of the Annual Report is public health on small islands, the vulnerabilities and resilience associated with the public health systems, and the links to the rest of the world that both aggravate challenges and offer creative solutions.

Using historical and current examples, the authors contributing to this volume show how islands experience and govern this external crisis while balancing economic and social agendas. As is the case with most issues on islands, the internal relationships developed on the islands, and the collaborations they have established externally, are critical to understanding islands’ current circumstances and the likelihood of experiencing sustainable futures.”




Wang Sheng, Director General, Foreign Affairs Office, Hainan Province, P.R. China


James Randall, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada

Chapter 1: The state of island economies and development in 2020
James Randall and Marlene Chapman, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada

This chapter continues the tradition in this series of tracking the economic and social changes taking place on a group of 48 island states and 13 subnational island jurisdictions (SNIJs). By bringing together island-specific data in one place, this chapter (and its predecessors in past editions) allows the reader to better understand the state of islands and the changes, albeit sometimes small, taking place from year-to-year. (PDF)


Chapter 2: Building back better: COVID-19 and island economies
Francesco Sindico, University of Strathclyde Law School, Glasgow, Scotland

In this chapter, Francesco Sindico discusses the COVID-19 impacts on the tourism sector and food security, and calls for a more robust policy-relevant research agenda that recognizes traditional policies that may have contributed to island vulnerability. A recognition that governance and government is at the heart of many of the current vulnerabilities is the first step in making islands more resilient to the next pandemic. (PDF)

Chapter 3: Neither gift nor luck: Island resilience and the COVID-19 pandemic
Robert Huish, Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada

In this chapter, Robert Huish uses the examples of historic and current pandemic experiences faced by islands to better understand their failures and successes. The subtitle of the chapter, “Neither gift, nor luck”, suggests that pandemic outcomes have not occurred by either fate or chance. Rather, good governance practices and coordination within and across islands have contributed to the positive outcomes. (PDF)

Chapter 4: Pandemic and post-pandemic islandness: Building and wrecking resilience
Ilan Kelman, University College London, UK; University of Agder, Norway

In this chapter, Ilan Kelman uses the concept of islandness to better understand the pandemic outcomes on small islands. Kelman’s interpretation of islandness takes two forms; the physical connectedness and barriers implemented to prevent the spread of the virus, and the virtual connectedness experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ultimately, Kelman concludes that islandness can be both beneficial and detrimental to islands facing crises, and that the key to a more resilient post-pandemic world is to recognize these elements and be nimble enough to react quickly when circumstances change. (PDF)

Chapter 5: Islands and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals: Learning lessons to transform our world — A health perspective
John N. Telesford, T.A. Marryshow Community College, Grenada

This chapter reminds us that all nations are still supposed to be working toward meeting their obligations under the United Nations-approved 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Given the theme of this volume and current public health challenges, John N. Telesford focuses on SDG3 — good health and well-being — and how this is integrated with all the other SDGs. The COVID-19 pandemic will negatively affect progress in achieving the SDGs. What is not clear is how many jurisdictions have even begun to articulate the magnitude of this impact. (PDF)


Chapter 6: A call for action: Prospects for cooperation between Hainan and other global islands
Huang Danying, Hainan University, P.R. China
Wang Sheng, Director General, Foreign Affairs Office, Hainan Province, P.R. China

This chapter is a “call to action” regarding the role that Hainan can play in a rapidly changing network of islands. Huang Danying and Wang Sheng document the advances Hainan has made and intends to make soon as a global island, and contend that Hainan is well-positioned to serve as a living laboratory for both China and the region to engage in some innovative economic development practices. (PDF)

Chapter 7: Explaining conflicts and cooperation among islands: Towards a unified framework
Mathew Y. H. Wong, Education University of Hong Kong

This chapter reminds readers of the main theoretical frameworks underpinning state-to-state cooperation and conflict and applies these to a series of case studies involving islands, including their relationships with other islands and with mainland jurisdictions. Mathew Y. H. Wong suggests that islands have been underrepresented in the literature on conflict and cooperation and, by using these cases, presents a preliminary unified framework of island-to-island and island-to-mainland cooperation and conflict. (PDF)

Chapter 8: Building cooperation among networks of islands: Redefining large ocean economies
Lin Heshan, Island Research Center of the Ministry of Natural Resources, P.R. China
Deng Yuncheng, Institute of Marine Strategy, Tianjin University, P.R. China

In this chapter, Lin Heshan and Deng Yuncheng provide examples of the many types of island networks that currently exist, making the case that there is still significant opportunity to build more cohesive island-centric networks around the broad concepts of the marine economy and the Blue Economy and calling for the collaborative establishment of Blue Economy demonstration areas and global central island cities to truly achieve the goals of sustainable development. (PDF)

James Randall, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada