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WHEN: Friday June 21st – Saturday June 22nd, 2024

WHERE: The Pickaquoy Centre and Online

The Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Islands—past, present, and future event series spotlights the complex stories of Scotland’s Island communities, looking back, taking stock, and imagining the future. With each instalment taking place in a different island community and live-streamed to ensure the widest possible reach, the Royal Society of Edinburgh aims to support networks of learning and knowledge sharing in the Islands as well as Scotland as a whole.  This series is in partnership with UHI North West and Hebrides, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

Islands – future is an essential event for anyone invested in the well-being and prosperity of Scotland’s islands. Attendees will gain insights into cutting-edge research, sustainable practices, and strategic initiatives designed to enhance island life. Whether you’re a policymaker, researcher, local resident, or industry professional, this event offers a platform to connect, share ideas, and collaborate on shaping a resilient and thriving future for the islands.

Chaired by Professor Des Thompson, FRSE and  Professor Christopher Whatley OBE, FRSE, the first day of the event will look ahead on sustainable economy, health and wellbeing; while the second day will focus on opportunities for culture, communities and the environment.

On June 21st, SAHA Steering Committee member Professor Donna Heddle FRSE (University of the Highlands and Islands)  will deliver a talk titled “Rising tides: the future for cultural tourism in island archipelagos”. The activity will look at cultural tourism today in islands arcipelagos like Orkney and Vanuatu. Professor Heddle will explore the advantages of embedding culture in tourism and the applications of UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Speaking ahead of the event, Professor Heddle said:

“The future of islands both environmentally and culturally should concern us all as they are microcosms of the world at large. I am delighted to be speaking at this event in Orkney on the future for cultural tourism and the challenges we face as island communities”.


Day 1: Friday 21 June

Islands – future | Looking ahead to a sustainable economy, health and wellbeing

13:00 – 13:10 | Welcome and introduction

13:15 – 13:40 | An introduction to the Scottish islands | Professor Christopher A Whatley OBE, FRSE

13:45 – 14:10 | Creative archaeology in the digital university | Dr Antonia Thomas

14:15 – 14:35 | Break

14:35 – 15:00 | The future of marine environment | Dr Joanne Porter

15:05 – 15:30 | The Scottish islands and youth migration | Dr Rosie Alexander

15:35 – 16:00 | Rising tides: the future for cultural tourism in island archipelagos | Professor Donna Heddle FRSE


Day 2: Saturday 22 June

Islands – future | Opportunities for culture, communities and the environment

9:00 – 9:10 | Welcome and introduction

9:15 – 9:40 | Scotland’s islands: multiple futures | Professor Michael Anderson FRSE

9:45 – 10:10 | Offshore marine renewables | Erica Knott

10:35 – 11:00 | Community as a decarbonisation technology | Dr Becky Ford

11:05 – 12:00 | Speakers to be announced

12:05 – 12:30 Closing | Professor Des Thompson FRSE and Professor Christopher A Whatley OBE, FRSE



Photo Credit: Royal Society of Edinburgh