Island Agenda 2004 +
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. These actions will clearly need to be reviewed in the light of the outputs and outcomes of the main international meeting in Mauritius, January 2005. Without prejudging these outputs and outcomes, it seems likely that future UNESCO work will be underpinned by three main needs and requirements.
Consolidating, strengthening, integrating
First, there is consolidation and strengthening of work in the various fields identified within the evolving Programme of Action for SIDS, with particular emphasis on integrated approaches to issues and problems. The underlying challenge is that of building capacities, bridges and encouraging networks, in promoting problem-solving actions that cut across societal sectors and institutional specialities, that mobilize key actors and constituencies (including youth), that generate effective momentum and impact, that are culturally sensitive and scientifically sound, that take advantage of the opportunities opened by modern information and communication technologies, and that promote the exchange of information and experience within and between regions and between islands of different affiliations.
Broadening the agenda
Second, there is a broadening of the SIDS Programme of Action, to include areas that are crucial components of sustainable development, such as cultural identity, cultural diversity and cultural heritage, social and societal issues, and education. In human societies, culture can be considered as all–pervasive – the lens through which each of us views the world, shaping the whole system, contributing sustaining properties as well as enormous opportunities.
One challenge is that of recognizing and communicating the importance of these cultural values and variables that shape and sustain, while at the same time investing in what can be called the transmitting variables of education and communication and the fast economic variables of trade and investment.
Another challenge is that of securing ways and means whereby SIDS can take greater economic advantage from their cultural strengths, such as music and other cultural expressions and traditional skills and knowledge. Also from the resources of their exclusive economic zones, optimizing the potential benefits represented by these extensive marine areas.
‘Moving out of the box’
Third, ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking and fresh emphases need to be brought into considerations on the future of SIDS, encapsulated in such concepts as small islands as cultural crossroads and the notion of large ocean island states. There is also need to stress the very special positive characteristics and strengths of small-island nations and communities: their noted capacity for adaptation and innovation, their proven determination and capability to overcome many adversities, their role as one of the world’s front-line zones for addressing the challenges of sustainable development and sustainable living, the recognized importance of maintaining solidarity among themselves while treasuring their diversity.
Within such a context, SIDS programme planning and implementation increasingly call for approaches that connect entities in mutually supportive ways – facilitating actions that are inter-sectoral, interregional and intergenerational in nature, that will often and increasingly take advantage of the opportunities offered by Internet, with the whole process designed to contribute optimally to sustainable island living and development.
Photograph © Christophe Lepetit which illustrated the
title page of an earlier (1994) UNESCO Island Agenda
© Gillian Cambers
Facing a future whose only certainty is change, small island developing states are confronted with many problems and difficulties – some intrinsic and timeless, others extrinsic and new – in making progress towards sustainable living and sustainable development. In contributing towards a new vision and commitment for small islands, UNESCO’s own action in support of countries and communities is rooted in the fields of culture, basic and natural sciences, social and human sciences, communication and education. The under lying 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).
|Subject to the availability of stock, extra copies of this booklet can be obtained from the UNESCO Focal Point for Barbados+10/Mauritius International Meeting (see page 2) or from UNESCO Offices for the principal island regions:|
|UNESCO Office for the Pacific Islands
PO Box 615,
fax: +685 26593/22253
UNESCO Office for the western Indian Ocean Islands
|Or contact the relevant UNESCO field offices for your country and region, such as those in Dakar (for Cape Verde), Doha (for Bahrain), Havana, Jakarta (for Timor-Leste), Libreville (for Sao Tome & Principe), New Delhi (for Maldives), Port au Prince, Venice (for Cyprus and Malta). Addresses and contact details for all UNESCO field offices can be accessed through http://www.unesco.org|