Best RSA Blogpost 2022 awarded to CoDeL

(Originally published at on 08/12/22)


CoDeL have received an award from the Regional Studies Association for their best blogpost in 2022: view the video here.

They say they are delighted that this global research network recognises the insight held by many so-called remote rural and island communities as they confront global crises, and gave the award to a small social enterprise in a ‘remote’ island in contrast to a well-established academic institution.

CoDeL’s blogpost on How remote communities turned the challenges of peripherality to their advantage during COVID-19 is simple, but is deeply rooted in the lived experience of peripheral communities across the Northern Periphery, from Finland to Canada.  Above all, it challenges standard narratives that remote communities are backward, and need to “catch up”.

In the award video, CoDeL look beyond their original blog post focused on responses to the pandemic to the next and bigger emergencies of climate change and biodiversity.  They call on researchers and policy-makers to value the knowledge and wisdom held by so-called remote communities and indigenous peoples about living in tune with nature and community.

CoDeL were able to explore these links as they took a break from much social media over the past several months.  They have been able to reflect more deeply on new directions and next steps, following their intensive work with many great partners around responses to the pandemic under the heading of “Redefining Peripherality”.

While CoDeL have taken a break from social media, they have been busy sharing insights about redefining peripherality at many different events this year: the EU’s Rural Pact conference, the World Rural Health Conference, the European Rural Parliament, the OECD Rural Development conference and the Arctic Circle Assembly.  CoDel say they have been struck by how much their ideas have resonated with participants from so many different communities and contexts.  And by how much radical thinking, e.g. around de-growth rather than growth, has been welcomed at many of these events.

They will be sharing insights from some of these events in their next blogposts, starting with the Arctic Circle Assembly where Theona Morrison linked with communities across the Arctic, including representatives of indigenous communities.  They will also explore emerging insights, e.g. around the dangerous inadequacies of natural capital frameworks that underpin much green accounting regionally, nationally and globally.

As well as looking forward, They have also come full circle back to their original research on island population which led them to set up CoDeL in 2018.  Since May, CoDeL have focused much energy on supporting the development of the new digital platform, Uist Beò, delivered by a dynamic group of younger islanders.  The social media (on Instagram, Facebook and Tik Tok) shows clearly just how vibrant and dynamic so-called remote communities can be, with many younger people returning, settling or staying.

These younger people are setting up dynamic businesses, running remarkable social enterprises, contributing hugely to community and culture, and to the sustainable use of resources amidst the climate emergency. CoDeL say they continue to be inspired by the energy, confidence and commitment of young people within a community that may be remote to many, but is at the heart not only of Gàidhlig language and culture but also of much value-driven creativity and innovation, from practical initiatives to deep thinking.

Look out for CoDeL’s blogpost on the Arctic Circle Assembly coming soon, and to the launch of the Uist Beò website in February.