Island Initiative

Our goal is to instigate a series of community based projects with an aim to increase economic opportunities, conserve and improve island environments, increase and support education and halt the decline in small island populations and communities.


Our vision is to empower local communities to:

  • Create their own path to self-sufficiency
  • Use their on-site resources
  • Develop sustainable economic activities utilising local resources
In an effort to preserve islands and support a prosperous future for their communities

We aim to build a strong community based model for:

Economic development
Resource management

Watch how we are empowering Anaa Atoll


The Island Initiatives Trustees are drawn from a variety of professional backgrounds, but all have in common their commitment to actively support the charity, and to lend their expertise in directing the Island Initiatives affairs.

The Trustees have legal responsibility for ensuring that the Island Initiative meets its statutory obligations, is well run and solvent, and delivers its charitable outcomes. While the Trustees have overall responsibility for the operation of the Island Initiative, day to day management is delegated to the project managers and staff. The Trustees’ quarterly meetings are chaired by the Chairman of Trustees.

Matthew McHugh
Mathew McHugh

An Aquatic Science graduate from Deakin University, Warnambool, Australia Mathew McHugh worked in various scientific government agencies in various roles in both the UK (CEFAS) and New Zealand (NIWA) and private organisations (BAYER CROP SCIENCE) prior to setting up Fly Odyssey Ltd, a fly fishing related travel company, in 2007.

With a keen interest in marine conservation and sustainability Mathew found while exploring various remote tropical regions of the world a need for change in the economics of small island communities. Through Fly Odyssey, Mathew instigated a pilot project on the remote Anaa atoll in French Polynesia with the aim of developing a more robust model of economic self sufficiency for the islands inhabitants. Through the collaboration with Hinano Bagnis and the success of this pilot project the The Island Initiative was born.
Hinano Bagnis
Hinano Bagnis

A PhD in law graduate from Nice Sophia Antipolis University and lawyer Dr Hinano Bagnis has dedicated much of her life to her country, having spent many years holding various government positions, motivated to work toward a better future for French Polynesia.

With a high level of expertise in tourism, economy and investment she has worked as a technical advisor to the Ministry of Economy and Tourism and the President of French Polynesia as its head of the country’s economic development department. Additionally, she has led Tahiti Invest, the public agency in charge of promoting private investment in the region; established her own consulting company for the hospitality industry in French Polynesia; and was the executive director and president of Tetiaroa Society, a U.S. based nonprofit organization dedicated to the sustainable interdependence of the atoll of Tetiaroa and tropical island ecosystems. With this wealth of experience, Dr Bagnis has dedicated the last 3 years to identify and lead a mission for better economic self-sufficiency in French Polynesia’s remote islands.
Charles Watson
Charles Watson

A history graduate of Kings College London University, Charles Watson has spent his career building business across the professional services sector. He spent 25 years building leading international financial communications consultancy Financial Dynamics, where as CEO he led management buy out of the business, and its subsequent sale to FTI Consulting in 2006.

He has subsequently taken on a number of chairmanship roles across a variety of businesses which include the Karma Communications Group (an integrated advertising and digital communications agency group which was sold to Accenture in 2016) and New College of the Humanities. In 2015 he became chairman of Teneo International, a leading global consulting group – where he leads all the business’ operations outside of North America. He has been involved in a number of sustainable development projects in various locations in sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya, Rwanda and Somaliland and between 2012 and 2017 was a trustee of the Haller Foundation.
Mike Youkee
Mike Youkee

Mike Youkee has worked in housing and urban regeneration his whole career. He was principally charged with new development and re-provision of existing housing and the associated social and economic issues. He held senior positions in local government, charitable housing associations and private sector developers and holds diplomas in public administration and archaeology.

Since retirement he has continued to be involved in consulting, advisory and board roles. Currently he is chairman of a subsidiary of the U.K.’s biggest developer – British Land. In addition, he advises the Mayor of London on the acquisition of public sector land in order to secure new housing development. He is an avid birdwatcher and very keen salt water fly-fisherman.
Toby Coe
Toby Coe

A graduate of Oxford University, with a PhD from Exeter University, Toby Coe has spent his career in fisheries science. Currently a Director of sister companies Fishtek Consulting and Fishtek Marine, he works in a wide variety of areas, including fish pass design, bypass mitigation and fish migration with a focus on finding technical solutions to the problems facing fish populations around the world.

In addition to his work in fisheries science, Toby is a passionate fly-fisherman and regularly writes and takes photographs for various fishing and outdoor magazines. He is a firm believer that recreational fishing has an important role to play in the sustainable management of both freshwater and marine fisheries.
Alex Filous
Science Advisor

Charity Beginnings

The island Initiative’s foundations were formed in 2014 when Sir Douglas Myers and his wife Lady Barbara Myers, decided to support the development of a project proposed by current trustees Hinano Bagnis and Mathew McHugh. Sir Douglas, a New Zealander and Lady Barbara, a Tahitian had a love for the remote Polynesian islands and their marine life, wanted to help preserve these for future generations.

The idea was to create projects that would benefit the economies of these small island communities and from that conservation measures could be put in place to ensure protection and rehabilitation of fish stocks and marine ecosystems.

The Island Initiative is forever grateful for the continued support of the Myers family in helping us to make economic and conservation change in small island communities.


In addition to the organisations staff, the Island Initiative innovates by developing partnerships with worldwide respected organisations which to date include:

We utilise expertise from these organisations and others in ways that are pre-identified and required for the success of each project respective to each Island.

To date we have been able to use their expertise and resources as follows:

  • Workshops and Training – undertaken with EDF and proposed with TNC
  • Development of Assessment and Management Tools – undertaken with EDF for the Anaa project
  • Site assessment, Project Funding and Marketing – undertaken with Indifly and Costa on the Anaa project
  • Resource Management Plan – development utilising expertise form TNC and EDF
  • Technical Expertise and Equipment – Use of CRIOBE, University of Hawaii, and University of Massachusetts equipment and facilities


The Island Initiative is a charity registered in England and Wales (Charity number 1179271). It is governed by a Board of Trustees, who combine the legal responsibilities of charity trustees. The Island Initative, we strive to ensure our governance is transparent and robust.

  • We have a diverse, skill-based board that does not avoid difficult issues, questions and decisions. It is aware of its fiduciary duties and holds the executive to account.
  • Our employees are not paid excessively.
  • We have policies in place that preclude aggressive fundraising tactics.
  • We have a robust reserves policy.
  • We take our responsibilities seriously and work hard to keep improving our governance.