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Island Vulnerability

European Union European Union's Flag

Island Vulnerability explores the challenges which isolated geographies face when dealing with risk and disasters by examining the processes which create, maintain, and could be used to reduce their vulnerability. This page provides information on the European Union:

This page provides information specifically related to vulnerability (including risk, disasters, and sustainability), rather than general information such as travel details, country profiles, government websites, or history. The information provided is not intended to be comprehensive, but is indicative of the vulnerabilities which islands experience and how sustainable solutions might be developed and implemented. The publications listed reflect those in the library of Island Vulnerability.

Some European Union Region Websites

  • CPMR
    Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions of Europe
    "Promoting together a more balanced development of the European Union highlighting the value of all its geographical areas with a view to strengthening its economic, social and territorial cohesion."

  • E-SIN
    European Small Islands Network
    "To build a network of small islands to promote self-help...to create cooperations between archipelagoes and small islands on two levels:
    1. Finding new ways to influence EU's policy and rules.
    2. Giving support to each other and transferring information and ideas."

  • Insuleur
    Network of the Insular Chambers of Commerce and Industry of the European Union
    "A non-profit association...operates at a European level to enhance economic and social development of the EU islands through close co-operation of island Chambers of Commerce and Industry."

  • Islenet
    European Islands Network on Energy and Environment
    "A network of European Island Authorities which promotes sustainable and efficient energy and environmental management...actively promotes the adoption of local energy saving strategies and renewable energy projects."

  • OTIE
    Observatory on Tourism in the European Islands
    "To realize statistic[al] studies and documents of research in order to identify current issues of Tourism in the European Islands."

Some European Union Region References

  • Lewis, J. 2008 (March). European Islands: Permanently populated Regions, Territories, Provinces, Colonies & Dependencies, full text (178 kb in PDF).

  • Petit, J. and G. Prudent. 2008. Climate Change and Biodiversity in the European Union Overseas Entities. IUCN, Brussels, Belgium.

  • Storms and Environmentally Sensitive Atlantic Coastal Areas of the European Union
    "To examine the changing magnitude, frequency and pattern of storminess along the European Union's Atlantic coastline over the last 2000 years and to identify the impacts of storminess on selected environmentally sensitive areas of that coastline, developing models of both storminess change and coastal response in order to provide a framework for coastal zone management, particularly in vulnerable areas."

  • Sutton, G. 2002. "The Overseas Countries and Territories: Renewed Partnership with the Community". The Courier ACP-EU, January-February, pp. 19-20.

Denmark Denmark's Flag

Denmark's self-governing overseas administrative divisions are islands and are not part of the European Union:

Denmark: Greenland Greenland's Flag

Rybråten, S. 2006. "Naturen kan ikke styres": Natursyn, identitet og holdninger til statlig forvaltning av levende ressurser i Qeqertarsuaq, Vest-Grønland ("Nature cannot be governed": Views on nature, identity, and attitudes to government management of living resources in Qeqertarsuaq, western Greenland). Masters dissertation from the University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway, download the full text in Norwegian (2.3 MB in pdf).

Drawing on findings from 5.5 months of field work in Qeqertarsuaq, an island off the western coast of Greenland, this thesis documents and analyzes how the local identities of men and women are connected to the surrounding landscape and how they utilize it.

The vast majority of Qeqertarsuaq inhabitants are Greenlanders, and thus Inuit. Despite the fact that their living conditions, ways of life, and world views have changed since the time that intimate knowledge of the surroundings was necessary for survival, the traditional hunting practices still have great importance for the population in terms of their identity. A majority of the men in the city are thus to some degree or another involved in hunting activities, and many of the women with higher education and paid employment are married to full-time hunters. The thesis shows that this leads to a different type of complementary gender roles than those represented by the traditional Inuit division of labour between men and women.

For the inhabitants of Qeqertarsuaq, the natural surroundings are an integrated part of their everyday life and their livelihoods. The practical activities of hunting, fishing and gathering of plants and berries form a foundation for the residents’ sense of belonging. Additionally these activities contribute to historical continuity. The local connectedness and link between past and present are further strengthened through preparation and consumption of subsistence food from hunting and gathering. Thus for both men and women it is important to adjust and pass on certain traditional knowledge in their identity formation.

Even though the support for the hunting profession is relatively strong in Qeqertarsuaq, the residents are uncertain about the future of the occupation. The Greenland government officials are encouraging full-time hunters to gradually make the transition to paid work. Furthermore, the government’s management policies are setting regulations for the hunters’ freedom to harvest the living resources in the area. In this way, the Qeqertarsuaq residents experience their ability to pass on their values and way of life as being threatened from the outside. Through empirical examples of local harvesting, preparation of subsistence food from hunting and gathering, and reactions to the government’s policies, I show how views on nature and attitudes to government management are closely connected to the construction of a “modern” Qeqertarsuaq identity.

A hunter's grandchild in her grandfather's skiff.

En fangstmanns barnebarn i sin bestefars jolle i Qeqertarsuaq, Vest-Grønland.
(A hunter's grandchild in her grandfather's skiff in Qeqertarsuaq, West Greenland.)
(Copyright Stine Rybråten 2005)

France France's Flag

France has islands with five political statuses:

1. Islands which are part of France and sited near the mainland, for example:

2. Islands which are overseas departments of France (and thus legally part of the European Union):

  • French Guiana French Guiana uses France's flag
  • Guadeloupe Guadeloupe uses France's flag covering nine inhabited islands; for example, see:

    (i) Global Volcanism Programme's entry for Bouillante Chain

    (ii) Global Volcanism Programme's entry for Soufrière Guadeloupe.

  • (iii) Spence, R., I. Kelman, E. Calogero, G. Toyos, P. Baxter, and J.-C. Komorowski. 2005. "Modelling Expected Physical Impacts and Human Casualties from Explosive Volcanic Eruption", Natural Hazards and Earth Systems Sciences, vol. 5, pp. 1003-1015, abstract (10 kb in PDF), full text (download from a webpage).

  • Martinique Martinique officially uses France's flag; for example, see:

    (i) Global Volcanism Programme's entry for Pelée.

    (ii) Jeffery, S.E. 1981. The Creation of Vulnerable Populations. University of Bath, Bath, U.K., download full text (250 kb in Rich Text Format).

    (iii) Lewis, J. 1997. "The Tale of Three Caribbean Volcanoes: Islands' History,Geography and Vulnerability". Stop Disasters, vol. 32, no. ii, pp. 26-27, download full text (269 kb in PDF).

  • Réunion Réunion uses France's flag

3. Overseas territorial collectivities:

  • Mayotte Mayotte uses France's flag

  • Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Pierre and Miquelon uses France's flag

4. Overseas territories of France:

  • French Polynesia French Polynesia's flag

  • French Southern and Antarctic Lands French Southern and Antarctic Lands uses France's flag

  • New Caledonia New Caledonia uses France's flag

  • Wallis and Futuna Wallis and Futuna uses France's flag

5. Possessions of France, for example:

  • Bassas da India Bassas da India uses France's flag

  • Glorioso Islands Glorioso Islands uses France's flag

Greece Greece's Flag

Some Resources:

  • Carrett, B. 2006. Geophysical Hazards and Hazard Awareness on Nisyros Volcano, Greece. MSc dissertation from Geophysical Hazards at University College London, London, U.K., download the full text (1.1 MB in pdf).

    The Kos-Yali-Nisyros volcanic field, as well as the island volcano of Nisyros lie in an area of intense tectonic activity. In the past 160 thousand years the island has witnessed many volcanic eruptions of different types and magnitudes presenting varying degrees of hazard. Several types of hazard are possible on Nisyros: seismic activity from regional tectonics, seismic activity associated with magmatic and hydrothermal unrest, hydrothermal eruptions, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and tsunami. In 1995, the volcano gave signs of renewing activity in the form of intense seismicity, ground deformation and significant variations in the chemical and temperature parameters of fumaroles, however volcanic activity did not result.

    The data attained on Nisyros show that the local population have little hazard awareness regarding the range of hazards that potentially affect the island. Sixty-six percent of locals interviewed were unsure regarding the most recent volcanic activity on the island, which manifested as hydrothermal eruptions in the late half on the nineteenth century. Fifteen percent of locals are aware that no civil protection plans currently exist for the island, along with a further 48% who are unsure.

    The Mayor of the island confirmed that no plans are in place regarding any magnitude of volcanic eruption, and commented that the current, general disaster management plan, Xenokratis, has not been revised to consider the hazards affecting Nisyros. Both residents and tourists are at a high risk from the hazards affecting the island and from a future eruption of the Nisyros volcano.

  • Nisyros, Greece.

    Nisyros, Greece.
    (Copyright Ben Carrett 2006)

  • Karababa, F. 2007. Local Seismic Construction Practices as a Means to Vulnerability Reduction and Sustainable Development. PhD dissertation from the University of Cambridge, Cambridge, U.K., download the full text of part 1 (5.2 MB in pdf) and full text of part 2 (6.8 MB in pdf).

    The study and conservation of local seismic construction practices, as a valuable source for technical, has been recently recognised. However, a conceptual gap is identified in addressing their conservation in the wider context of vulnerability reduction and sustainable development, compromising the potential for success of supportive policies.

    By conceptualising local seismic construction practices as capital, this thesis proposes a theoretical framework within which its conservation can be envisioned as a means to reducing vulnerability and moving towards more sustainable development. Adopting a mixed-method research strategy and a case-study research design, the application of the conceptual framework is demonstrated in the case of Lefkada Island in Greece. Each of the four key constructs (local seismic construction practices, physical vulnerability, social vulnerability, perceptions of local seismic construction practices) that constitute the framework are analytically examined with methods developed and illustrated where necessary. Inter-relationships between the key constructs are hypothesised and corroborated through the integrated interpretation of the findings emerging from the study of the individual constructs

    In particular, measures of social vulnerability are developed which are used to discern different levels of social vulnerability on the island. The influence of social vulnerability on perceptions of the local population pertaining to conservation of local seismic construction practices is subsequently demonstrated. The physical vulnerability of the buildings is assessed through damage data of the August 14, 2003 earthquake, and vulnerability curves are developed for the building typologies found in Lefkada. A hypothetical loss scenario is examined that demonstrates, through comparative means, the importance of local seismic construction practices in reducing physical vulnerability, and subsequently expected losses. The high correlation between spatial patterns of social and physical vulnerability is also demonstrated with the aid of a GIS, and through superposition of the two, the need for an integrated approach to vulnerability in identifying regions of critical concern is advocated. Finally, discussion of the contribution of conserving local seismic construction practices in Lefkada, as a means to reducing vulnerability and moving towards more sustainable development, as well as suggestions of how this can be achieved, are provided.

  • For further information, contact Faye Karababa faye.karababaat symbolgooglemail.com

    See also Karababa, F. 2008. "Local Seismic Construction Practices as a Means to Vulnerability Reduction And Sustainable Development". Presentation at the 14th World Conference on Earthquake Engineering, Beijing, China, 12-17 October 2008, full text (289 kB in pdf).

    A house on Lefkada, Greece.

    A house on Lefkada, Greece.
    (Copyright Faye Karababa 2005)

  • Tseloni, A., A. Zissi, and P. Skapinakis. 2010. "Psychiatric Morbidity and Social Capital in Rural Communities of the Greek North Aegean Islands". Journal of Community Psychology, vol. 38, no. 8, pp. 1023-1041.

Ireland Ireland's Flag

Some Resources:
  • Comhdháil Oileáin na hÉireann
    Irish Islands Federation
    "The representative body of the inhabited off shore islands [of Ireland]. Currently there are 33 island members with permanent populations ranging from just one to nine hundred on the largest island."

Inis Meáin, County Galway, Ireland.

Inis Meáin, County Galway, Ireland.
(Copyright Ilan Kelman 1997)

Malta Malta's Flag

Some photos of Malta.

Some Resources:
  • Camilleri, D.H. 1999. "Vulnerability of Buildings in Malta to Earthquake, Volcano and Tsunami Hazard". The Structural Engineer, vol. 77, no. 22, pp. 25-31.

  • Camilleri D.H. 2003. "Malta's Risk Minimisation to Earthquake, Volcanic, and Tsunami damage". Disaster Prevention and Management, vol. 12, no. 1 (5 March), pp. 37-47.

  • Camilleri, D.H. 2006. "Tsunami Construction Risks in the Mediterranean--Outlining Malta's Scenario". Disaster Prevention and Management, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 146-162.

  • ISSI
    Islands and Small States Institute at the Foundation for International Studies, University of Malta.
    "Promotes research and training on economic, social, cultural, ecological and geographical aspects of islands and small states."

Portugal Portugal's Flag

Two autonomous regions of Portugal are islands:

See also:

Portugal: The Azores The Azores' Flag

Ponta Delgada, the capital of São Miguel.

Bubbling pool in Furnas.

Ponta Delgada, the capital of São Miguel.
(Copyright Ilan Kelman 2003.)

Bubbling pool in Furnas.
(Copyright Ilan Kelman 2003.)

Some Resources:
  • Azorean Biodiversity Portal

  • Collares-Pereira, M., M.L. Mathias, M. Santos-Reis, M.G. Ramalhinho, and P. Duarte-Rodrigues. 2000. "Rodents and Leptospira Transmission Risk in Terceira Island (Azores)". European Journal of Epidemiology, vol. 16, no. 12, pp. 1151-1157.

  • Cruz, J.V. 2003. "Groundwater and Volcanoes: Examples from the Azores Archipelago". Environmental Geology, vol. 44, no. 3, pp. 343-355.

  • CVPT
    Centro de Vulcanologia e Avaliação de Riscos Geológicos, Universidade dos Açores.

  • Fernandes, R.M.S., J.M. Miranda, J. Catalao, J.F. Luis, L. Bastos, and B.A.C. Ambrosius. 2002. "Coseismic displacements of the MW = 6.1, July 9, 1998, Faial earthquake (Azores, North Atlantic)". Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 29, no. 16, pp. 21-1 to 21-4.

  • Global Volcanism Programme's entry for the Azores.

  • Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research. 1999. Special Issue on Furnas Volcano and Caldera, São Miguel, Azores, vol. 92, issues 1-2 (September).

  • Lima, M., T. Kay, J. Vasconcelos, L. Mota-Vieira, C. Gonzalez, A. Peixoto, A. Abade, P. MacLeod, R. Graca, and J. Santos J. 2001. "Disease Knowledge and Attitudes Toward Predictive Testing and Prenatal Diagnosis in Families with Machado-Joseph Disease from the Azores Islands (Portugal)". Community Genetics, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 36-42.

  • Miranda, J.M., L.A. Mendes Victor, J.Z. Simões, J.F. Luis, L. Matias, H. Shimamura, H. Shiobara, H. Nemoto, H. Mochizuki, A. Hirn, and J.C. Lépine. 1998. "Tectonic Setting of the Azores Plateau Deduced from a OBS Survey". Marine Geophysical Researches, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 171-182.

  • Monteiro, L.R., J.A. Ramos, and R.W. Furness. 1996. "Past and present status and conservation of the seabirds breeding in the Azores archipelago". Biological Conservation, vol. 78, no. 3 (December), pp. 319-328.

  • Montesinos, F.G., A.G. Camacho, J.C. Nunes, C.S. Oliveira, and Vieira R. 2003. "A 3-D Gravity Model for a Volcanic Crater in Terceira Island (Azores)". Geophysical Journal International, vol. 154, no. 2 (August), pp. 393-406.

Azorean civil defence practice run?

Near Mosteiros on São Miguel.

Azorean civil defence practice run?
(Copyright Ilan Kelman 2003.)

Near Mosteiros on São Miguel.
(Copyright Ilan Kelman 2003.)

Commentary by Ilan Kelman on 17 August 2003:

The photo below shows the caldera of Sete Cidades volcano with the ocean visible at the top left, behind the mountains. Just below the ocean in the photograph, also on the left side, sits the town of Sete Cidades--population 858 according to the 2001 census. The town sits entirely inside the caldera, more than 300 metres below the caldera's rim.

While on São Miguel in 2003, I was told the possibly apocryphal tale that, even up to the 1990's, some residents of the town of Sete Cidades had never left the caldera. Despite living on a small island in the middle of the ocean, these people would have experienced the two main bodies of water in the caldera--Lagoa Azul in the background and Lagoa Verde in the foreground--as representing the largest amount of water possible in one place.

They would be living in their own island on an island--an isolated caldera on an isolated island. I would be curious regarding any other information or opinions on this tale and, if it were true, the effects on the culture of the paradox of being surrounded by water yet perhaps not fully understanding that situation. Or did the people fully understand the ocean without having seen it? In the meantime, I offer a poem written after hearing the story.

I Have Never Seen the Sea
I creep like moss is growing,
I can climb the tallest tree.
I can leap the laughing rill,
But I have never seen the sea.

Clouds by me chase my shadow,
Rays of sunshine set it free.
I float dreamlike through the fog,
But I have never seen the sea.

The trees create my being,
Every leaf is known to me.
I am soul-mates with the stones,
But I have never seen the sea.

I drift tamely with the wind,
Rest in silence in the lee.
I fall gently as the rain,
But I have never seen the sea.

Sete Cidades Caldera and Town.

Sete Cidades Caldera and Town.
(Copyright Ilan Kelman 2003.)

Spain Spain's Flag

The Canary Islands Canary Islands' Flag are a Spanish island group forming an autonomous area (comunidad autonoma).

Other Spanish islands include the Balearic Islands and, off the Moroccan coast, Islas Chafarinas, Penon de Alhucaimas, and Penon de Velez de la Gomera. On 11 July 2002, Moroccan soldiers occupied the tiny, uninhabited island of Perejil or Leila which is claimed by both Spain and Morocco. On 17 July 2002, Spanish troops took over the island with no casualties. Details are provided by BBC News, including a map of the areas claimed by both Spain and Morocco. Spain also owns coastal areas along the north coast of Morocco: Ceuta and Melilla.

Sweden Sweden's Flag

Some Resources:

  • Källgård, A. 2005. "Fact Sheet: The Islands of Sweden". Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography, vol. 87, no. 4, pp. 295-298.

Contact Island Vulnerability.

The material on the Island Vulnerability website is provided as only an information source. Neither definitive advice nor recommendations are implied. Each person or organisation accessing the website is responsible for making their own assessment of the topics discussed and are strongly advised to verify all information. No liability will be accepted for loss or damage incurred as a result of using the material on this website. The appearance of external links on this website does not constitute endorsement of the organisations, information, products, or services contained on that external website.