Smart Sustainable Islands

Island regions have common and specific permanent characteristics and features that clearly distinguish them from mainland regions. Islands are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Article 174 of the Lisbon Treaty recognises that island regions as a whole, face practical handicaps that require special attention. 

Here are some examples of the current situation on islands as a reference:


Four of the five landfill sites at the incinerator complex at Saphan Hin are already full. On average, from October 2017 through September 2018, about 925 tons of waste was delivered every day. 7.18 million tons of waste was improperly disposed. 


This 572 square-kilometer area is suffering from over-tourism and the government is having a difficult time keeping up with the influx of people staying on the island. The sewage plants function inadequately. They operate beyond capacity in summer, so sewage flows where it shouldn’t.

Reunion Island:

The island is affected by a high unemployment rate, which is three times the EU average for young people.The economy remains fragile due to lack of basic infrastructures, and high transport costs. Heavy soil pollution by nitrates derived from pig effluent using 18O and 15N isotope.

Costa Rica: 

Deforestation and land-use change, largely a result of the clearing of land for cattle ranching and agriculture hence leading to major soil erosion.


The percentage of the population with sustainable access to improved drinking water sources is only 47%, as compared to a full 100% in countries like Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Qatar, Spain and several more.


Almost half of its indigenous species are extinct and this issue cannot be reversed, also due to the fact that the islands have been overpopulated, neglected, and the balance of its natural flora and fauna has been damaged. Bleaching poses a serious threat to Hawaii’s coral reefs. 


It has been quoted that as much as 65 percent of the island’s groundwater is poured into the tourism industry, drying up 260 out of more than 400 Balinese rivers. Groundwater over-extraction has lowered the island’s water table by some 60 percent, risking irreversible saltwater intrusion.


The administrative data provided by WasteServ Malta Ltd. and the Environment and Resources Authority shows that, during 2017, the total amount of solid waste generated amounted to over 2.8 million tonnes, up by 41.9 percent over 2016.

Freshwater resources on most islands are seriously reduced in current man-made climate-change scenarios. Islands like Maldives, Madagascar, Easter Island, Galapagos Islands are under the threat of extinction.

Economies on islands are diverse in their nature and so are the challenges they face. For example, the sustainability of their economic performance is highly vulnerable to changing economic or environmental forces over which they have limited control. The costs of living have gone through the roof.

Common Challenges 

Following are some of the critical challenges faced on islands around the globe:  

  • Desertification
  • Waste Management
  • Green Infrastructure and Alternative Modes of Transport
  • Sustainable Land use – Agricultural and Management
  • Water Accessibility and Conservation
  • Marine Ecosystem Conservation
  • Heritage Preservation and Eco-tourism 
  • Social Cohesion and Active Citizenship
  • Erosion/Coastal Zone Management – e.g. trail erosion, mangrove removal causing erosion
  • Lack of nutrients in the soil

Most islands have found tourism to be an essential factor for the survival of the local population, their identity, cultural traditions and values, and landscapes.

It has generated economic growth, created more jobs and brought considerable diversification to their economic foundations through tourism-related services. 

Island economies have, however, become too dependent on tourism: diversification towards non-tourism activities is needed, facilitating the economic development of islands in the face of crises such as the present one which has a powerful impact on tourism.

Freshwater resources on most islands is seriously reduced in current man-made climate-change scenarios.

A Sustainable Solution

Here’s how Earth5R, in association with local island communities, creates island-specific sustainable development model- ACT Islands, to deal with the challenges and build a sustainable future for the islands. The primary focus of the model is to:

  • Help local communities to start growing their own fruits and vegetables
  • Develop projects for efficient waste disposal
    • Separation of wet waste and dry waste
    • Composting the biodegradable waste- “the best thing humans can do is build topsoil” 
    • Reusing and upcycling plastics and other non-compostable waste
  • Increase the use of Solar energy and solar water heating
  • Increase use of bicycles/electrical cars to reduce dependencies on fossil fuel imports from the mainland
  • Build projects for rainwater harvesting
  • Construct composting toilets
  • Vegetative greywater filtration
  • Educate the youth and next generation
  • Provide more job opportunities
  • Develop Eco-Tourism
  • Make life on islands more independent and secure 


Earth5R and local citizens of Malta Island develop a solution for the waste problems on the island. 


Earth5R team converts a local restaurant in Ibiza island into a zero waste one. 

ACT Islands project directly involves local citizens in meeting needs and addressing sustainability issues that affect the island ecosystem. The project team develops new localized solutions that work immediately and using citizens and youth leadership model the team scales up the impact across the island in a very short time.

“With a circular economy at the heart of its sustainability program ACT Islands is a shining example of sustainable community development for islands, we would like to bring this project to Costa Rica.”

– CARLOS ALVARADO, President, Costa Rica

Earth5R-Island-Ibiza-Phuket-Costa Rica Carlos Alvarado-Sustainability-Consulting-CommunityEarth5R Team with Cralos Alvarado, President of Costa Rica at the Paris Peace Forum.

“ACT Islands is probably the most replicable model on the planet, we need ACT Project in Fiji and we need ACT Everywhere!” 

-EPELI NAILATIKAUM, Ex-President Fiji Islands 


Earth5R Team with Epeli Nailatikau, Ex-President of Fiji Island.