Island Agenda 2004 +
Sustainable development in small island developing states: taking stock, looking forward
Small island developing states (SIDS) face many challenges – some intrinsic and timeless, others extrinsic and new – arising from small land size, large exclusive economic zone, geographical dispersion, vulnerability to natural hazards and disasters, limited terrestrial natural resources, rich cultural resources and creativity, heavy dependence on imports, limited commodities, isolation from markets, tourism potentials and pressures, and many other characteristics and processes.
In September 2002 in Johannesburg, in reaffirming the special case for SIDS, the World Summit on Sustainable Development called for a full and comprehensive review of the SIDS Programme of Action adopted in Barbados in 1994. This review is being carried out under the aegis of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), leading to an international meeting with high-level representation in Mauritius in January 2005 and follow-up implementation.
The world’s small island developing states are front-line zones where, in concentrated form, many of the main problems of environment and development are unfolding. As such, they are the big tests for the commitments made at the 1992 World Summit.
Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, at ‘Barbados +5’, September 1999.
Since the Barbados conference of 1994, there has been progress towards sustainable living and sustainable development in many small island countries. At the same time, new concerns have emerged and sharpened, as reflected in the debates and strategy documents associated with the lead-up to the Mauritius meeting.
In the 21st century, the agendas of peace and sustainable development will be inseparable.
Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO.
Building capacities, bridges and networks
UNESCO functions thanks to the synergy between diverse community actors that together form an international community. These communities include governments, National Commissions, Parliamentarians, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Associations. Among them are also found the media, schools, cultural and scientific institutions, private sector partners and the United Nations family of institutions. Together, they give life to UNESCO’s ideals and values around the world, at local, national and international levels.
In contributing towards a new vision and commitment for small islands, UNESCO’s own action will continue to be rooted in its fields of competence: culture, basic and natural sciences, social and human sciences, communication and education. The underlying challenge is that of building capacities, bridges and networks, in promoting problem-solving actions that mobilize key actors and constituencies, that generate effective momentum and impact, that are culturally sensitive and scientifically sound. Addressing this challenge calls for meaningful collaboration between societal and organizational sectors (intersectoral cooperation), between regions and between islands of different affiliations (interregional cooperation) and between generations (intergenerational cooperation).
Cooperation between sectors, disciplines, specialties and institutions. Many of the issues and challenges of sustainable development lie at the intersection of sectoral boundaries and institutional responsibilities. Whence the importance of pursuing innovative approaches for fostering interactions at the interfaces between societal/organizational sectors and academic disciplines. Also the need to place activities in a particular domain or institution within a broader institutional context, emphasizing partnership activities at the interface of two or more sectors or institutional responsibilities.
This seeking of intersectoral connections and cooperation is somewhat analogous to the inter-relatedness between Water, Energy, Health, Agriculture, and Biodiversity - the five WEHAB thematic areas proposed by the UN Secretary-General as a contribution to the Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development. It is also consistent with the emphasis of the World Summit on Sustainable Development on developing innovative partnerships of various kinds.
Cooperation between regions and between islands of different affiliations. UNESCO’s work on small islands has a primary focus on small island developing states, and more particularly on those smaller states with limited land area and terrestrial resources. But attention is also given to small islands belonging to continental and archipelago countries, especially developing countries.
Though there are important differences between islands in different oceanic regions and between islands having different geopolitical affiliations, there are also many shared problems and issues. As such, there is much to gain from the exchange of experience and knowledge between and among small islands in different regions and small islands of different affiliations.
Synergies between generations. Central to the concept of sustainable development is the notion of meeting the needs of present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to satisfy their own needs. The importance of encouraging links between generations is reflected in various initiatives to provide young people from small-island nations with opportunities to play their full part in discussions and actions on environment and development issues.
In today’s global environment, any worthwhile education is an education for uncertainty — preparing people who are flexible, adaptable, and multi-skilled.
Dame Pearlette Louisy, Governor Gen-eral, St Lucia (September 2004).
|List of Small Island Developing States|
|Terrain||Length of coastline
|Cape Verde||414,294||rugged, rocky, volcanic||965||4,033|
|Mauritius||1,220,481||small coastal plain, central plateau||177||2,030|
|Sao Tome & Principe||181,565||volcanic, mountainous||209||1,001|
|Seychelles||80,832||narrow coastal strip, coral, flat||491||455|
|Asia and the Pacific|
|Bahraina||667,238||low desert plain, low central escarpment||161||665|
|Cook Islands||21,200||low coral atolls, volcanic, hilly||120||240|
|Fiji||880,874||mountainous of volcanic origin,coral atolls||1,129||18,270|
|Kiribati||100,798||low-lying coral atolls||1,143||811|
|Marshall Islands||57,738||low coral limestone and sand islands||370||181|
|Micronesia||108,155||low coral atolls, volcanic, mountainous||6,112||702|
|Nauru||12,809||sandy beach, coral reefs, phosphate plateau||30||21|
|Niue||2,156||limestone cliffs, central plateau||64||260|
|Palau||20,016||low coral islands, mountainous main island||1,519||458|
|Papua New Guinea||5,420,280||coastal lowlands, mountains||5,152||452,860|
|Samoa||177,714||narrow coastal plains, interior: mountains||403||2,934|
|Singapore||4,353,893||lowland, undulating central plateau||193||692|
|Solomon Islands||523,617||low coral atolls, rugged mountains||5,313||27,540|
|Tonga||110,237||coral formation, volcanic||419||718|
|Tuvalu||11,468||low-lying and narrow coral atolls||24||26|
|Vanuatu||202,609||narrow coastal plains, mountains of volcanic origin||2,528||12,200|
|Antigua & Barbuda||68,320||low-lying limestone and coral islands||153||443|
|Arubac||71,218||flat, some hills, scant vegetation||68||193|
|Bahamas||299,697||long, flat coral formations||3,542||10,070|
|Barbados||278,289||flat, central highland||97||431|
|Cuba||11,308,764||terraced plains, small hills, mountains||5,746||110,860|
|Dominica||69,278||rugged mountains of volcanic origin||148||754|
|Dominican Republica||8,833,634||rugged highlands and mountains||1,288||48,380|
|Grenada||89,357||volcanic in origin, central mountains||121||344|
|Jamaica||2,713,130||narrow coastal plains, mountains||1,022||10,831|
|Netherlands Antillesa, b||218,126||hilly, volcanic interiors||364||960|
|St Kitts & Nevis||38,836||volcanic, mountainous interiors||135||261|
|St Lucia||164,213||volcanic, mountainous with broad valleys||158||606|
|St Vincent & Grenadines||117,193||volcanic, mountainous||84||389|
|Trinidad & Tobago||1,096,585||flat, hilly, mountainous||362||5,128|
|US Virgin Islandsa,b||108,775||hilly, rugged, mountainous||188||349|
|Malta||396,851||low, flat plains, coastal cliffs||140||316|
|a|| Not a
member of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS)
(the Netherlands Antilles and US Virgin Islands are however observers).
|c||Part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands: Full autonomy in internal affairs.|
estimates for Haiti explicitly take into account the effects of
excess mortality due to AIDS.
|Source: Adapted from www.un.org/esa/sustdev/sids/sidslist.htm (2
September 2004). Population data for July 2004
and land area data from: CIA Factbook http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook (2 September 2004).
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