Island states stand in solidarity in the fight against climate change

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David O'Sullivan with other speakers at the Global Sustainable Island Summit

David O'Sullivan with Derek Ellis and Camilo Botero

David O’Sullivan, was one of 50 dignitaries who took part recently in the 2024 Global Sustainable Islands Summit

A native of the Ireland, David works for the Marine Institute of Ireland and with support from government the Institute supports the Our Shared Ocean funding program.

The Summit hosted Island governments from around the world to discuss topics such as sustainability, climate adaptation and green energy. 

“Ireland is an island, and it has had great success over the last 30 years,” said O’Sullivan. That success has been achieved through research, through innovation and as a result, “we have a pretty good knowledge of our marine environment. And we’d like to be able to share that with other island nations as best we can, understanding that small island states can’t tackle all these issues alone.”  

As the program manager at Our Shared Ocean, O’Sullivan works closely with small island developing states to help build research partnerships in certain climate areas. 

O’Sullivan said the company was there to “offer solutions” to small Island states dealing with the growing threat of climate change.  

“I’m excited to be at the summit. It’s my first time in Prince Edward Island,” he said. “I find it very similar to Ireland.”

O’Sullivan said it was a great honor to work with Island Innovation and indeed the Government of Prince Edward Island. “I think we share so many opportunities and challenges that it's better that we're here together, to learn together. So really, that’s the fundamental part of our being here is to stand in solidarity with other island nations.”  

Another attendee who used the conference as an opportunity for collaboration was James Ellsmoor. 

Originally from the United Kingdom, Ellsmoor is the CEO of Island Innovation. Through the company, Ellsmoor works alongside other island nations to pave the way for sustainable development, offering a network for islands who share similar vulnerabilities related to climate change.  

“I’m really excited to learn about what’s happening in Prince Edward Island in terms of climate, environment, and sustainability. There’s a lot of great initiatives here.”
Ellsmoor was impressed with the diversity at the Island Summit. He noted that it included Islands as close Cape Breton, Newfoundland, and as far away as Papua, New Guinea, Mauritius, and the Falkland Islands.

“So, it’s like, this huge global event, people coming from over 50 different countries, coming to Prince Edward Island to learn about what’s happening here, but also learn about each other in this global network,” he said. 

During the summit, Ellsmoor took part in the student discussion and workshop event at the Canadian Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation, May 21st. He was asked to describe an example of something that students and youth can do to help combat climate change. An interesting program that Island Innovation runs called the Caribbean Climate Justice Leaders Academy was discussed. Created last year, the program works to build the skills of young people from the Caribbean to help advocate for issues around climate justice.  

“When I say climate justice, that means looking at the impacts of climate change and how those impacts are spread,” he said. 

“We often see that the impacts of climate change are not spread equally across society. Minority groups, women, young people, etc., may feel the impacts first,” said Ellsmoor. 

“And, so, what the Caribbean Climate Justice Leaders Academy allows is a platform for young people to meet each other, build their own network in the region, but also give training to advocate for issues around climate justice.” 

The Global Island Sustainable Summit was held in Prince Edward Island May 21-May 23, 2024.

James Ellsmoor speaking at Global Sustainable Islands Summit
James Ellsmoor speaking at Global Sustainable Islands Summit

See highlights from the 2024 Global Sustainable Island Summit in our Flickr Album.