Sustainable island businesses: a case study of Norfolk Island

Conventional measures aimed at tackling the energy and waste issues of island communities focus on technological solutions, such as the introduction of renewable energy sources. There exists a history of technology implementations on small islands that have failed because of a lack of continuing skills and financial resources needed for ongoing operation and maintenance. Despite these experiences, what has received little attention so far are measures aimed at achieving island-friendly solutions by reducing their material metabolism, for example, by recycling and re-use. The two case studies presented in this work show that conservation, efficiency and reductions of the overall material metabolism of economic activity can be as effective as purely technologically driven changes. Both case studies demonstrate exceptional sustainability performance in terms of material flow and greenhouse gas emissions. The income growth scenarios show that – from a sustainability point of view – increasing tourist yield rather than tourist numbers is preferable for coping with price hikes and a finite resource base, and is also more likely to keep within bounds the strain on the island's people and infrastructure.

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