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Extract from the: 2002-2003 Programme
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Towards sustainable living in coastal regions and on small islands

The General Conference
Authorizes the Director-General:
to implement the corresponding plan of action in order:
(i) to promote sustainable development in coastal regions and for small islands through an integrated approach involving the five intergovernmental scientific programmes and all sectors, in particular by evaluating, sharing and applying wise practices through intersectoral field projects, associated UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Networks and a multilingual virtual forum; and
(ii) to ensure effective contribution to the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, in general, and of “Barbados+5” in particular;

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

Background. Three mutually reinforcing modalities are at the core of the Coastal Regions and Small Islands platform (CSI): intersectoral field projects, interdisciplinary university UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs and cross-cutting virtual fora on wise coastal practices. Through these modalities, wise practices are formulated and field-tested at the local level; reviewed and disseminated through university Chairs/twinning arrangements at local and regional levels; critiqued and transformed into normative action at the global level through the “Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development” Virtual Forum (WiCoP).

Strategy. CSI will focus on the equitable and integrated management of coastal resources, as well as the growing competition and conflict over their use. To further enhance local empowerment and participation, attention will also be paid to strengthening synergies between science and local and indigenous knowledge.
        The issue of water and society will be addressed, including through intersectoral field projects and associated university UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs in coastal regions and small islands. Joint action will be undertaken on key issues such as urban water management, flood control, saltwater intrusion and their socio-economic and cultural dynamics. Additional actions will focus upon ecosystem services, particularly as they relate to the cross-cutting theme of poverty eradication. Field projects are being pursued that will help empower local and indigenous communities to participate in sustainable development processes, enhancing coastal and small island biodiversity conservation. Coastal urbanization in the Mediterranean and Africa, natural disaster reduction in the eastern Caribbean islands and tourism impact in the Asia-Pacific region will receive special attention.

Results expected at the end of the biennium

  • Frameworks for enhanced sustainable coastal and small island living defined and applied through interlinked field projects.
  • A university UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Network consolidated to coordinate intersectoral support for field projects and training to students.
  • A set of wise practices, guidelines and principles formulated, including an ethical code of practice for an equitable sharing of resources.
  • The WiCoP Virtual Forum redesigned to promote information- and knowledge-sharing in the coastal and small island domain.

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

Background. UNESCO, including its 38 SIDS members, is invited “to enhance actions to address the six priority problem areas of the Barbados Programme of Action for SIDS, through the relevant activities of all programme sectors and through intersectoral pilot projects and UNESCO Chairs concerning ‘wise practices’ for sustainable island living” (see 159 EX/Decision). The six priority problem areas are: (a) adapting to climate change and rising sea levels, which may submerge low-lying island nations; (b) improving preparedness for, and recovery from, natural and environmental disasters; (c) preventing worsening shortages of freshwater as demand grows; (d) protecting coastal ecosystems and coral reefs from pollution and over-fishing; (e) developing solar and renewable energy to lessen dependence on expensive imported oil; and (f) managing tourism growth to protect the environment and cultural integrity.

Strategy. The strategy is to coordinate an effective UNESCO contribution to the United Nations system-wide implementation of the Barbados Action Plan and the preparation of inputs for Barbados+10 (2004). This process, supported by ICTs, will seek the participation of all societal sectors, highlight the comparative advantage of the Organization as a result of its intersectorality, and demonstrate the particular benefit of this approach to SIDS. The strategy aims at strengthened awareness and collaborative action to address the priority problem areas identified at Barbados+5, with particular attention to least developed SIDS.

Results expected at the end of the biennium.


  • Capacity in sustainable development for small islands strengthened by increasing awareness and transferring environmentally sound technology through field projects and by improving knowledge and information sharing through the exchange of experience and professional expertise and the linking of project activities.
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