Habitat Scotland, an independent environmental research charity based on the Isle of Skye since 1980, has been responsible for putting forward the whole Global Islands Network (GIN) concept. The origins of GIN can be traced back to 1994 when their Director attended the United Nations Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States and the parallel NGO Islands Forum held in Barbados. The Declaration and Programme of Action adopted at the Barbados Conference proposed solutions to problems under 14 priority areas established as being of great concern to small islands. These were further divided into 214 national, regional and international actions, policies and measures that were identified and agreed upon. An immediate major initiative recommended by the Conference was that regional organisations and networks be created to strengthen the ability of small islands to develop sustainably.
In response to this call, Habitat started operating the Skye International Teleservice Centre (SITC) in January 1995 which formed an islands network covering the Baltic, Caribbean, North and South Atlantic. This Centre trained local students for a teleworking vocational qualification and as part of their course work they helped design the SITC website which built up an extensive collection of island links and contacts. As students developed their desktop publishing skills they also assisted Centre staff to produce five issues of the popular 'Islander' magazine which was freely distributed to several thousand people by now connected through an informal network.
In January 1997, following the European Centre for Development Policy Management 10th anniversary seminar, 'An Island Gateway on the Internet: Using the Web to Facilitate Information Exchange on and among Small Islands' held in Maastricht, the SITC became a founder member of the Island Web Consortium (IWC) which was subsequently registered in Washington D.C. as a non-profit corporation. Twelve Directors were appointed and the Director of Habitat was elected President and Chief Executive Officer in August 1997.
As an outcome of local government re-organisation, the SITC closed down in June 1999 and Habitat constructed a new website managed in conjunction with the IWC which was officially launched at the UK Overseas Territories conference, 'A Breath of Fresh Air', held in London that year organised by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. This site became one of only two official Content Partners for the UN Small Island Developing States network (SIDSnet) as well as being linked to numerous other island networks like the North Atlantic Islands Programme.
Habitat hosted and organised the Islands of the World VI conference in Skye, 15-21 October 2000, on behalf of the International Small Islands Studies Association which attracted 150 delegates from around 40 countries. A day was devoted to island networking where participants emphasised their desire once again for having an effective gateway or portal website on the Internet. As a direct result of this conference, Habitat received financial support from the Lighthouse Foundation based in Hamburg, Germany, to undertake a six month pre-development phase for establishing a Global Islands Network. This included the formation of a Working Group and construction of a demonstration website to illustrate the range of content resource modules that could be made available.
The Global Islands Network represents a hub that connects and coordinates efforts to help ensure a healthy and productive future for islanders.
The Global Islands Network is a non-profit organisation established in June 2002 to conduct and promote
development on islands worldwide.
The directors and staff of GIN are committed to advancing the interests of islanders and islands in diverse situations at various levels over time, primarily through electronic communication, but also via face-to-face interactions, print, and other means. Our particular objectives include:
How does GIN operate
Around the world on numerous islands, people are sharing their concerns and identifying solutions through association with GIN and our partners.
Islands are characterised by various factors, many of which create barriers to growth and development, such as remoteness and insularity, peripherality to centres of decision making, a limited range of natural resources, specialisation of economies, small markets, narrow skills base, poor infrastructure, vulnerability to natural disasters, degree of exposure to forces outside their control such as climate change and sea level rise, plus often unique but threatened biological diversity.
GIN brings together islanders and partner organisations, comprising amongst others, government agencies, university departments, research institutes, marine laboratories, businesses, companies, NGOs, voluntary bodies and community groups, in a network where they can learn from each others experience, borrowing as well as replicating best practices to:
The topics listed above are just one way of grouping issues and challenges. Each of these areas is closely linked with the others, and cannot be addressed in isolation. Islands offer the world, in microcosm, some of the clearest opportunities for developing integrated systems of governance and management.