Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands

Small Islandsí Voice 2004

Project summary

Overview

Small Islands' Voice 2004 (SIV '04) will provide islanders with the opportunity to voice their opinions on environment-development issues and to ensure that their views are included in the 10-year review of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), adopted in Barbados in 1994. Continued dialogue, initiated at the grassroots level, supported by existing media and disseminated nationally and regionally by Internet-based discussion fora, will provide for a feedback-driven flow of information up to and beyond 2004. Training and capacity building, combined with regular evaluations are key components to providing for the sustainability of the initiative, which targets SIDS in the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Pacific regions.

Background

'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'. (United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, New York, September 1999).

Due to the size and relative isolation of small islands, combined with their vulnerability to natural disasters and to global economic events, the problems they confront are especially challenging. If they remain isolated and unable to take part in the 'information age' the tendency will be to continue in the downward spiral of environmental degradation and growing poverty.

The Small Islands' Voice 2004 initiative was prepared and approved in response to a 2001 call for proposals within the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for interdisciplinary activities relating to the contribution of new information and communication technologies to the development of education, science, culture and the construction of a knowledge society.

SIV'04 seeks to overcome the isolation of small islands by building capacity and strengthening modes of internal, regional and inter-regional communication. It will compile views and opinions on environment-development issues at the local level, through community-initiated activities supported by radio, television and print media. These views will be synthesised, prioritised and further discussed through Internet-based national discussion fora using the experience gained through the UNESCO 'Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development' Internet-based discussion forum, started in 1999.

'Knowledge does not only come from outside the community - it is often there, waiting to be shared. UNESCO firmly believes that marginalised communities should become content producers as well as users of the Internet.' (Mr Alain Modoux, Assistant Director-General for Communications and Information, UNESCO, Kothmale, Sri Lanka, 22 January 2001).

Goals

Small Islands' Voice 2004 seeks to:

These goals will be achieved by:

Work plan

The SIV'04 initiative will run, in the first instance, from January 2002 to December 2003, and will consist of the following steps.

  1. Identify a minimum of three individual islands (SIDS) from the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Pacific regions.
  2. Inventory existing communication channels in villages/communities/outer islands, resource user groups and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
  3. Identify a partner organisation(s) and a capable motivated leader(s) in each island, and provide for their training and equipment needs.
  4. Prepare detailed work plans, for exchange and discussion among the islands.
  5. Conduct pre- and post-project surveys of civil society's views on environment-development issues for evaluation purposes.
  6. Determine the key environment-development issues important to civil society in the selected islands through participatory, community-initiated activities involving all major groups in society (women, men, young people, local leaders, NGOs, private sector etc.) and using the most appropriate communication modes.
  7. Where appropriate enhance and/or add to existing communication modes, and provide additional training.
  8. Using the 'Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development' forum as a model, and together with local partners, develop national Internet-based discussion fora in each island, which will compile, prioritise and further discuss the issues.
  9. Provide training in the design, management and moderation of Internet-based discussion fora.
  10. Further synthesise the identified issues through regional and inter-regional small-island, Internet-based discussion fora, and fully maximising other Internet-based initiatives, such as SIDSnet, and involving all small islands wishing to participate.
  11. Provide mechanisms for continued feedback-driven communication between the local level and the Internet-based discussion fora at the (inter)regional level.
  12. Obtain the views of young people on environment-development issues, in cooperation with the UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet) in the three regions, together with youth groups, church groups and others. Initiate a young islanders Internet-based discussion forum.
  13. Document all activities.

Expected results & outcomes

  1. Through the direct input of civil society in small islands, the concerns of islanders regarding the environment-development arena will be better addressed.
  2. Increased awareness and understanding about small-island issues, both in SIDS and elsewhere in the world.
  3. The integrated approach will facilitate future complementary activities among societal sectors in the island countries and cooperation among UNESCO's five Programme Sectors.
  4. The added experience with Internet-based discussion fora will enhance the effective use of these technologies by individuals and organisations in small-island Member States, including those focusing on young persons such as the ASPnet.
  5. New ways on how to bridge communication gaps, such as between the Internet-connected and the Internet-unconnected, and between generations.
  6. Further development of local participatory communication modes e.g. community radio, in SIDS, with particular emphasis on their sustainability beyond project life.
  7. A synthesised input from civil society in SIDS into the 10-year review of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, adopted in Barbados in 1994.

Monitoring and evaluation

  1. Pre- and post-project attitude surveys of civil society in small islands.
  2. Intra- and inter-regional meetings for country co-ordinators.
  3. Six monthly reports.
  4. Continuous electronic networking.
  5. Post-project evaluation.

Implementation

UNESCO sectors for natural sciences, communication and information, culture; UNESCO field offices around the world; national commissions for UNESCO; NGOs and governmental organisations in SIDS; media stations, networks and organisations, both national and regional, in SIDS; coordinators of UNESCO and other field project activities in SIDS; SIDSnet, United Nations Division for Sustainable Development, United Nations Development Programme, New York; and other organisations interested in joining SIV '04 endeavours.

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