Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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Extract from 167EX/4 (31 C/5) September 2003
(pdf version of the complete document)

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Report by the Director-General on the Execution of the Programme Adopted by the General Conference  

72. The exchange of knowledge through active intersectoral cooperation is the hallmark of the first 18 months of the 2002-2003 biennium for the Environment and Development in Coastal Regions and in Small Islands (CSI) platform. This has been advanced through field projects, university chairs/twinning and the Internet-based forum by the promotion and development of "wise practices", which serve to address the 31 C/5 principal priority of water resources and their associated ecosystems. CSI promotes a grass-roots approach to address needs through on-the-ground field project activities and within cross-cutting initiatives, Small Islands Voice (SIV) and Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems in a Global Society (LINKS). Moreover, in the preparations leading up to the review of the Programme of Action for the sustainable development of SIDS (Barbados+10) in 2004, CSI continues to coordinate UNESCO’s response in close collaboration with concerned programmes in field offices and Headquarters. CSI contributes to the enhancement of scientific, technical and human capacities within coastal and island communities by strengthening their equitable access to information. The trilingual, Internet-based "Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development" forum, which connects more than 13,000 people, promotes the continual exchange and review of wise practices for sustainable coastal and small-island living. In addition, the Small Islands Voice global and youth forums (password: view; user name: only), launched in late 2002, expand the exchange of information throughout civil society and young islander circles..

II.2.4: Towards sustainable living in coastal regional and on small islands

Main line of action 1: Enhancing sustainable living in coastal regions and on small islands: mainstreaming integrated approaches and intersectoral cooperation

107. The parameters of equitable and sustainable management of coastal and small island resources were explored, advanced and, in some cases, rewritten through a series of events and ongoing field project activities. Workshops were held to elaborate strategies to further coastal and small island sustainable development issues. Together with Headquarters staff, field office colleagues in Apia, Dar es Salaam and Kingston collaborated in the organization of the Small Islands Voice interregional workshop in Palau, November 2002. A second workshop, for the Asia-Pacific University Twinning (UNITWIN) network, held in Thailand, November 2002, which focused on “wise practice agreements for the prevention and management of conflicts over coastal resources and values” was supported by the efforts of colleagues from all sectors in Bangkok, Jakarta, New Delhi and Apia Offices. Both workshops served to further the strategic objective of promoting principles and ethical norms to guide scientific and technological development, and social transformation. These intersectoral meetings brought together a variety of stakeholders and key policy-makers from educational institutes, community groups, governmental and nongovernmental organizations, commercial enterprise, and relevant UNESCO National Commissions and regional field offices. A conceptual framework for equitable and sustainable management – including elements of an ethical code of practice – has been developed with projects in India, Indonesia, Jordan, Latvia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Philippines, Russian Federation, Senegal, South Africa, Thailand and Uruguay.

108. Many small islands and coastal communities continue to lack the infrastructure required for advanced information and communication technologies. With this in mind, the wise practices, guidelines and principles that raise awareness and serve to strengthen sustainable living in coastal and small island regions – with broad application in other regions – have been distributed through a variety of media. A coastal resource management book highlighting practical lessons learned in Ulugan Bay, Philippines, was produced; the CSI publication Indigenous Parks and People was translated into Thai; and the trilingual, Internet-based “Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development” Forum (www.csiwisepractices.org), which was redesigned to improve user accessibility, continues to enhance and influence global dialogue on sustainable living issues in coastal and small island settings. Moreover, the capacity of small islands and coastal regions to partake in the emerging knowledge society and to improve their means of sustainable living has been advanced by field projects and the training of students through the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Network. A UNITWIN network among five European universities to promote wise coastal practices was established at the University of Cadiz, Spain, in September and a planning workshop involving the Universities of Bologna (Italy), Riga (Latvia), St Petersburg (Russian Federation) and Aveiro (Portugal) was held in Cervia, Italy, in November 2002, with support of the UNESCO Venice Office.

Main line of action 2: Advance actions on priority areas of Small Island Developing States and effective contribution to implementing Barbados+5 and other multilateral agreements and action plans  

109. The sustainable development capacity of small islands was further strengthened through intersectoral field project activities in a dozen eastern Caribbean islands, as well as in Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea (Motu Koita, Port Moresby and Trobriand Islands) and Samoa. This is in addition to the increase in local, regional and interregional Small Islands Voice activities, as reported within the cross-cutting theme projects.

110. The exchange of knowledge on managing coastal conflicts through regular forum discussions and two key workshops reports has advanced concepts like “coastal stewardship” and “social contracts” as a practical response to quell conflict. In an effort to ensure that information reaches its intended audience, an abridged version in Creole and French of Haiti’s coastal environment and fisheries laws was produced (http://www.unesco.org/csi/pub/info/haiti.htm) so that the local fishers understand the legislation that govern them. A study on the evolution of village-based resource management in Vanuatu between 1993 and 2001 was completed, and the small islands web line (www.unesco.org/csi/smis/smallislands.htm) was expanded to assist small islands with the identification and prioritization of national, regional and global actions in preparation for Barbados+10 in 2004. In addition, a series of booklets entitled “Wise practices for coping with beach erosion” and tailored to the specific requirements of 10 selected eastern Caribbean islands, was produced (http://www.unesco.org/csi/wise2b.htm) and hard copies dispatched to the islands for their free distribution needs.

Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems (LINKS) in a global society

313. The LINKS project promotes local knowledge and world views as tools to help shape and attain the United Nations Millennium Development Goals of poverty eradication and environmental sustainability. Field projects to support resource-based livelihoods and strengthen equity in resource governance are under way: Bangladesh, in cooperation with a local NGO and the University of Durham (United Kingdom), concentrating on re-recording local knowledge regarding resource abundance and enhancing resource use; Nicaragua (in the planning stage) (Mayanga of the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve), Canada (Cree First Nations of Chisasibi and Whamagoostui, in cooperation with the Government of Quebec, Hydro-Quebec, CNRS and Grand Council of the Crees); the Pacific, in cooperation with the Vanuatu Cultural Center, Government of Vanuatu, UNDP/GEF and University of Bergen; the Russian Federation (Kamchatka), in cooperation with the German Max Planck Institute, the Kamchatka Institute for Environment protection and UNDP/GEF, focusing on resource-based livelihoods and biodiversity management; and Viet Nam (Song Hong Delta), in cooperation with the CNRS (France), looking at how changing access to traditional knowledge, especially by women, has transformed rice-farming systems.

314. To revitalize knowledge transmission from elders to youth a second contribution to the LINKS CD-ROM series is being finalized on traditional knowledge of navigation among Pacific Islanders. A revised encyclopedia of Solomon islander knowledge of land and sea environments is under preparation as well as other key publications from awareness-raising events. LINKS took part in the Third World Water Forum (Kyoto, Japan, March 2003) on “Water and Cultural Diversity” co-organized with the French Water Academy and the Japanese Museum of Ethnology. The project also organized an international seminar on “NGOs, Indigenous Peoples and Local Knowledge”. These events served to launch the UNESCO-ICSU report on “Science, Traditional Knowledge and Sustainable Development”. LINKS is also preparing an experts workshop in Nairobi, in cooperation with the Kenyan National Commission for UNESCO.

Small Islands Voice

367. In direct response to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Small Islands Voice addresses the needs of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and islands with other affiliations with the aim of promoting the effective participation of civil society, including young people, in sustainable island development (MDG 7) and in the 2004 review of the United Nations Barbados+10 Programme of Action for SIDS (MDG 8). The project started in January 2002 in four countries (Saint Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles, Palau and Cook Islands). Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the San Andrès Archipelago joined the project in late 2002, while Fiji and the Maldives and Mauritius will join in 2003. National committees – government, non-governmental and community-based organizations, media, youth representatives, private sector and civil society – stimulate and facilitate activities at the local level. Surveys to determine the main environment-development issues have been undertaken in the initial countries.

368. Another strategic objective – enhancing scientific, technical and human capacities to participate in the emerging knowledge societies – is addressed through a combination of new and traditional information and communication technologies. An Internet-based youth forum (password: view; user name: only) was launched on a trial basis in September 2002 to allow secondary schoolchildren from six schools in the three regions to exchange views and information on issues of concern to them. At the beginning of 2003, the forum – now with 30 participating schools – entered into a significant phase by focusing on the long-term goal of moving from discussion to action on the ground dealing with a variety of issues from traditional whaling practices to pollution and "brain drain" in the islands. As part of the initiative, computer equipment is being provided to schools in some of the islands. Several countries, such as the Cook Islands, have explored innovative ways to involve isolated schools in the outer islands without Internet connections. A second trial Internet-based global forum was launched in October 2002 with over 7,000 recipients. As the trial forum generated many contributions from around the world, it was continued into 2003 and there are now over 10,000 forum recipients. Newspapers in the British Virgin Islands, Cook Islands, Palau, Seychelles and Samoa have published some of the articles and related stories, which are also being highlighted on national websites such as www.seynews.com.

369. A Small Islands Voice website has been created (www.smallislandsvoice.org) and 10,000 copies of a promotional brochure have been produced and distributed. A paper entitled "Civil society’s perspective on environment and development issues" was presented at the Islands of the World VII Conference in Prince Edward Island, Canada (June 2002). Representatives from government, non-governmental organizations and youth groups in the project countries participated in the Small Islands Voice interregional workshop held in Palau (November 2002). The workshop was aimed at promoting direct interaction between island countries in the three regions and advancing specific Small Islands’ Voice activities nationally, regionally and inter-regionally. The workshop report and video have been finalized and distributed.



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