Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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ISLAND AGENDA: Preface

The last few years have seen a flurry of interest on small islands. Studies, meetings, projects and bodies focused on islands have proliferated, and were given a spectacular push forward at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio in June 1992 and in the process associated with the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (Barbados, April 1994).

Perhaps not too pretentiously, UNESCO might claim to have had projects specifically focused on small islands for some twenty years. Studies and actions in many areas of education, environment and resource use, natural and social sciences, culture and communication, have reflected UNESCO's mandate and mission within the firmament of international organizations.

To contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboration among the nations through education, science and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.

The present report represents an overview of past, ongoing and planned activities of UNESCO related to small islands. Several of UNESCO's programmes on small islands include archipelago states and small islands associated with large countries, as well as small island developing states. The review is wide-ranging, but clearly does not pretend to be comprehensive. It provides insights, not a balance sheet.

The report aims to provide source material on UNESCO activities on small islands over the last couple of decades, and thus contribute to the planning of future work as well as to making better use of available information and experience. It is hoped that the overview may be useful to those involved in emerging regional and international activities, such as the 'Vake Moana' initiative in the Pacific and the Global conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States and its follow-up. More generally, it is hoped that this review might contain ideas and information useful to those who shape, move and implement policies which affect sustainable development and well-being of small island economies and societies.

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