Island Sustainability Conference: Cultivating Communities for Sustainable Action


Cultivating communities for sustainable action was the theme for the 8th Regional Island Sustainability Conference that took place April 19-20, 2017. The conference was hosted by the University of Guam with approximately 285 people in attendance contributing to the collective works of understanding island sustainability challenges. Their call for proposals emphasized two categories: the call for research and the call for action. Inviting researchers throughout the Western Pacific to highlight current or recent research in regards to sustainable environments, energy, and adaptions for climate change impacts. They also targeted researchers and presenters who could highlight evidence-based solutions or plans that will contribute to solving the challenges of island sustainability.  Sharon Ziegler-Chong commented that the theme helped bring out topics such as community impacts, culture, and innovation. Seeing the strong turnout of students and hearing the next generation voice made this conference unique. The diverse panel discussions were brilliantly facilitated, especially when the President of the University of Guam, Dr. Robert Underwood kept probing the speakers to distill what needs to happen and how we move forward.

Dr. Wendy Miles, photo courtesy Maria Kottermair

The Pacific Islands Climate Change Cooperative sent two representatives to the Island Sustainability Conference: Dr. Wendy Miles (PICCC/UH CCRT) and Dr. Patricia Fifita (UH CTAHR/PICCC). Wendy served on a plenary panel for the Pacific Islands Climate Science Center’s Student Research Symposium, alongside Peter Houk of the University of Guam Marine Lab, Mark Lander of the University of Guam Pacific ENSO Applications Center, Adrienne Loerzel of NOAA’s Office of Coastal Management in Guam, and Jesse Cruz, of the Guam Environmental Protection Agency. Dr. Fifita gave a presentation on building climate literacy within the Cooperative Extension Service to support Pacific Island food production systems. While in Guam, Wendy and Patricia met with representatives from the Cooperative Extension Service and Pacific Resources and Educational Resources at the University of Guam. They also represented the PICCC with a poster on climate change adaptation planning in the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands, which provided an overview of an upcoming report produced by the PICCC with funding from the Office of Insular Affairs.

Student presentations from the University of Guam and University of Hawaii participated in the Pacific Islands Climate Science Center ( Research Symposium.

Cassandra Flores-Hughes, undergraduate from the University of Guam, photo courtesy Xavier Matsutaro.
Joanna Norton, graduate student from UH, Hilo Tropical Conservation Biology & Environmental Science Program, photo by Xavier Matsutaro.

The trip was concluded with a quick exploration of the Southern part of the island thanks to a local partner. Important to see some of the communities and learn about the history and culture while here. Photos courtesy Dr. Wendy Miles.