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Substantive responses received by the Small Islands Voice global forum to the posting on the theme 'Alternatives to rising oil prices' by T. Deamer, K. Etuati, 24 August 2005

List of contents

Coconut Oil: Requests for Information
Alan, Seychelles
Mike Baker, France
Gerald Crowson
Environment Tobago, Trinidad and Tobago
Maria Font, Puerto Rico
Anthony Garland, Turks and Caicos Islands
Martin Griffiths, Cook Islands
Delta Hodge, Anguilla
Patu Hohepa, New Zealand
Chief Vaasiliifiti Moelagi Jackson, Savaii, Samoa
Dulph Mitchell, San Andres
Adelino Pereira
Sitiveni, Fiji
Peter Uko, Nigeria
Lulu Urmenita, Palau

Coconut Oil: Further Information about its use
Edward Beggs, Canada
Jan Cloin, Fiji
Jim Currie, Federated States of Micronesia
Tony Deamer, Vanuatu
Tony Deamer, Vanuatu
Tony Deamer, Vanuatu
Robert Early, Vanuatu
Justin Gurley
Ulrike Hertel
Tony Marjoram
Harvie Probert, Fiji
Mere Ratunabuabua, Fiji
Atul Raturi, Papua New Guinea
M. Rouhana, Solomon Islands
Rod Smith, Vanuatu

Coconut Oil: Comments
Jim Currie, Federated States of Micronesia
Albert DeTerville, St. Lucia
Ioannis A. Economides, Cyprus
Lionel Fox
Michael Griffin, Barbados
Philma Innocent, St. Lucia
Ian Mohammed, Trinidad and Tobago
Marie Nickllum, Vanuatu
Jimmy Rainer, Federated States of Micronesia
Jimmy Rainer, Federated States of Micronesia
Akuila Rawaqa, Australia
Mela Vusoniwailala, Fiji
David Williams, Jamaica
Writer, Philippines
Gillian Young-Smith, Jamaica

Renewable Energy: General comments
Derek, Vanuatu
Ioannis A. Economides, Cyprus
Leslie Hamlet, Antigua and Barbuda
Avinesh Sahayam, Fiji
Johnson Seeto, Fiji
Joan Seymour
Bevan Springer
Mali Voi, Samoa

Renewable Energy: Geothermal Energy
Magnús Jóhannesson, Iceland

Renewable Energy: Solar Energy
Sabra Kauka, Hawaii
Joan Seymour

Renewable Energy: Tidal Currents
From Thomas Goreau, USA

Other Responses
From Kavita Khanna
Jimmy Rainer, Federated States of Micronesia
Tamra Raven


Coconut Oil: Requests for Information

From Alan, Seychelles

I want to know more about coconut oil for fuel. Where can I find out more about this? Help please.

From Mike Baker, France

Why doesn't SIV Global inform people how to use coconut oil in diesel vehicles?

From Gerald Crowson

Thanks for the interesting news about using coconut oil in place of diesel.

Can you recommend any articles or publications in print or on the Web that explain how the coconut oil is refined into a useable product for vehicles? I import coconut oil into UK for cosmetics, so have a general interest in the subject

From Environment Tobago, Trinidad and Tobago

I live in Tobago a small island as well. I would love to learn how to make paper from banana bark. Can you put me on to someone who can help maybe a workshop in Tobago?

I totally agree that alternative energy is needed oil will not be in the earth forever and in continuing to extract oil a space remains what do you think happens?

Solar is the way to the future but the panels are expensive not everyone can afford this so who can design cheaper panels and what can be an alternative?

From Maria Font, Puerto Rico

In Puerto Rico we are feeling the same impotence over the rising cost of gas. Now, who would manufacture the coconut oil "en masse"? I for one, have coconut trees in my house, to the point that discarding the dried coconuts is a nuisance.

My mother used to make coconut milk by grinding the coconut and then straining and squeezing it in a piece of cloth. This would produce maybe a cup of milk to use in some dessert, or other type dish.

But how could we get gallons of this oil, at what price, when here a little bottle of coconut oil (maybe 2 oz.) is sold for hair preparations at almost a dollar? Who would start this type of industry? It is indeed necessary and feasible, but we do not have the infrastructure and we need this oil now to avert the gas price rise. Is this oil used pure or mixed with another product?

From Anthony Garland, Turks and Caicos Islands

I think the ongoing discussion on the use of coconut oil as an alternative to diesel is very productive and definitely worth further research. In my country, Turks and Caicos Islands, we don't have as much coconut trees as some of our other neighbours, but given the small size of our population shouldn't need a lot either. I will be reading the attached information provided and would like to engage some of your readers and contributors in future conversations with a goal of furthering such a possibility.

From Martin Griffiths, Cook Islands

An excellent article. I would like to know more about the technology of coconut oil as a fuel.

Can you assist?

From Delta Hodge, Anguilla

Thanks for an interesting theme. I really enjoyed it and I have learned a lot from your forums. Unfortunately I don't understand a vehicle operating on coconut oil. Is the coconut oil used instead of gas or diesel or in place of oil? Once again thanks for a very interesting story.

From Patu Hohepa, New Zealand

Given global warming, perhaps it is now time for countries in temperate areas (New Zealand where I live is one) to find the types of coconut trees that can transplant successfully. We have now successfully begun olive tree plantations - is there any information that olive oil is also suitable for replacing diesel fuel?

From Chief Vaasiliifiti Moelagi Jackson, Savaii, Samoa

You know our people living in Australia and New Zealand are called the coconut people and we live up to it. We are not shy about it as the coconut is very important to our lives as food, medicine, tools, housing, language and everything. We use it daily therefore even when we do not export coconut as copra we still plant a lot of coconuts. But it is no longer the main export. The cultural and daily value is still there. Very few villages are pressing for soap or sale for minimum prices. Therefore please tell us more so that I can advise our coconut expert to look into it for us considering the gas prices going sky high for us in Samoa.

From Dulph Mitchell, San Andres

My questions are:
a) How is the coconut oil processed to be used as fuel?
b) Is the processing difficult or costly?
c) If it is worthwhile, is it not possible or wise for several small islands to form a corporate enterprise to produce this type of fuel so that all partners might receive a profit?

From Adelino Pereira

Could you give me more information about using coconut oil to replace diesel. Is there a special process, is there a significant power loss versus diesel, and are any special additives required?

From Sitiveni, Fiji

We are an ecotourism company in Fiji with 5 vehicles and we would seriously consider coconut oil for our motors. Is there a contact for this technology in Fiji? Please advise.

From Peter Uko, Nigeria

This is a very welcome development in the world at large. We have been witnessing an era of environmental pollution as a result of incessant use of organic fuel. I am a Nigerian and part of my organization activities covers the dissemination of information regarding the dangers or usefulness inherent from products, activities and projects on individuals, communities and materials closer to the activity area.

My organization will be glad to have detail on how best this coconut oil can be processed to make fuel. This will help my countrymen to think about something else than petrol and gas from the Niger Delta Region where it is predominantly produced. Nigeria can equally boost of abundant supply of this fuel alternative with the available coconut in most parts of the country!

From Lulu Urmenita, Palau

I live in a small island called Palau, wherein coconuts are abundant, and presently nobody utilized them to become an industry. Like the reader Mr. Dulph Mitchell from Caribbean, the same questions that I suppose to ask. If it is possible, does the book explain the processing equipments and process of coconut oil? If so, is it possible for me to avail that book? And how much?


Coconut Oil: Further Information about its use

From Edward Beggs, Canada

As a subscriber to the Small Islands Voice, I am very happy to see this sort of article appearing!

I wrote an M.Sc. thesis in 2000 entitled "Renewable oil fuels and diesel engines as components of sustainable system design", and the research question was: "Are renewable oils as fuels in diesel engine an economically and technically feasible component of sustainable system design in both developed and developing countries?"

This led to founding Neoteric Biofuels, and now the "PlantDrive.com" division and web site, and we have had much experience in developing good systems to deal with the use of vegetable oil (plant oil) fuels without conversion to "biodiesel" and without blending with kerosene.

The experience we have gained in dealing with other oils at sub-Arctic temperatures (we have customers using Canola oil at -30C, for example), translates perfectly to use of coconut oil in warmer climates. The issues are the same - how to work with oil that goes solid or semi-solid.

The most practical solution is to use the "two-tank heating approach" The components used allow the engine to be started on a little diesel or biodiesel fuel, run for a few minutes, and then switched to straight plant oil. At the end of the use, it is switched back to diesel for a minute or so to clear the fuel system of vegetable oil. We have developed a small in-line electric heater that is easily shipped anywhere, called the Vegtherm. We have full kits, many options, valves, heated filters, tank heaters, oil presses etc. all developed and being used in hundreds of engines/applications every day, with both new and used cooking oils, and have done this for 5 years now, and these are all perfect for coconut and palm, etc. (and coconut is a very good fuel for this - one of the best in the world!)

As our business grows here in Canada and the USA, we are seeking to develop more international contacts and business, and I welcome people to visit our web site, and to contact me with any questions. We are available for consulting work, installation, training, CDM/Kyoto carbon credit project discussions etc. and are very committed to seeing this idea take its place in the renewable energy world. Readers should also be aware of what is happening with plant such as jatropha, and the honge projects in India. Moringa is another very interesting oil. Some links are below:

Our site: www.plantdrive.com
Reinhard Henning's very good site on Jatropha: www.jatropha.org
Moringa (ben oil): www.treesforlife.org
Honge oil projects in India:
See also: Mali Folkecenter (project of the Danish Folkecenter):

We may try to organize a plant oil fuels colloquium at the OUR Ecovillage on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, in 2006. Anyone interested in this topic or that idea can contact me directly at <edwardbeggs at plantdrive.com>

Our systems have been designed for 100% vegetable oil in cold climates, and would be ideally suited for coconut at 100% in warmer climates. We'd like readers of the list to know we are here. We're based in British Columbia, Canada. We can ship anywhere. Kits are compact and install on the vehicle or stationary engine.

From Jan Cloin, Fiji

Dear Small Island Voice editor, I know it's not the normal style to send attachments around but just thought it would be of added value for the biofuel discussion.

Here at SOPAC we are promoting the use of biofuels by means of applied research on technical, social and economic sides of biofuels.

From Jim Currie, Federated States of Micronesia

In response to Sitiventi, he should contact the Secretariat of the Pacific Community or the Forum Secretariat, both Fiji based organizations. He can also contact the sub-regional office of FAO located in Apia, Samoa. There is considerable technical help available through these organizations. I know there are many projects in this region using coconut oil as fuel. Samoa and Vanuatu are leaders in this field.

From Tony Deamer, Vanuatu

In a letter written on behalf of MAN diesel Engines Makers, received 15th Sept 2005, in response to samples sent by UNELCO of the coconut oil, they are looking at running in their 2x2Mw Generator sets in Port Vila after testing some of our Pure Coconut oil and finding a flash point 198 Deg C and ash content of <0,01 NCV (Hu) of 35,140 they Stated "Based on the TAN, the mix of coconut oil with gas oil must contain least 50% gas oil to reduce the risk of corrosion.

We have mixed the coconut oil with gas oil and looked for any precipitation .We've found none This does not mean that incompatibility problems inside the engine can be excluded, but it seems that it is worth to try such a mixture of coconut oil and gas oil". The Tan Fig for the two samples was 6.5 & 7.5 mg KOH/g. I do not know how this translates to a FFA percentage of 1.8% for the second one.

But given how conservative the engine maker is, it is wonderful that they did not say "NO don't use it," but said "it is worth to try." Of course, the usual disclaimer follows. This is wonderful news and now we seem to have our Business Licence issues sorted out, we will start selling Island fuel to club members as of Monday for the road side bourse at 115Vt that's 18Vatu less than diesel.

So we hope that it will not take long to get about 100 users on to Island fuel. As of today we only have about 4,000 litres in stock and can make about 3,600 litres a day once we have the CNO from Santo. At the moment we only have 5x 1000litre containers to ship it in, but a bladder in a 20 foot box container may be our next step. Does any one know where to get one?

From Tony Deamer, Vanuatu

We have our Island Fuel bowser in place now and we are selling Island Fuel 80% coconut oil at 115 Vt a Litre that's about 18 Vt less than diesel at the pumps, and we are offering up to 4 pre-filters to catch the dirt that the coconut oil is lifting from the old diesel tanks. Once they are clean there is no more need for them and the original filters seem to last well. We are taking on new clients at the rate of 2 a day only so we do not run out of stock. We now have about 6000 litres in tanks, and storage for about 9000 more as we can get the coconut oil from Santo and Vila.

From Tony Deamer, Vanuatu

Ha Fellers Give coconut oil a go. It is here now, it will run in you big 4x4 Macho machine too and your present generator sets so no big capital investment is needed. Just start making more good quality oil. Education is the key, not capital we have all we require now in most places - Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu, Kiribati all have oil mills and small ones are popping up in the Solomon's too So give it a go!

It is, a much cheaper form of solar energy, to run car on that rather than trying to make a solar powered car and it will give many more mega watts of electricity, for a much lower investment than wind or solar and is not so prone to total destruction as solar panels and wind turbines are, and it can be kept running in a cyclone and does not need any new skills to do it. We just make use of what we now have and feed it some coconut oil not all diesel Even the big German Diesel Engine maker thinks a 50% mix "is worth to try " of course they write in all the usual "at you own risk phrases" as well; But, hey, they did not say "Don't put it in the engines" did they? And we were not talking of a little home generator set here, they were referring to some big 4 Mw sets used to power Port Vila. So give it a go.

I don't think you will find a better way to boost the local economy and reduce the green house emissions, lower imports and give the youth something to do and boost their self esteem too; all in one small move on your part. You have to do it. Running your big macho 4x4, or little pickup truck, or mini bus and the local power house, on local coconut oil, after all we in the islands have been making the stuff for centuries.

It is not as hard as you may think. We at Island fuel can help you do it.

(What's wrong with Macho 4x4's anyway? I have one so does Jan and the Red Cross and most people I know! They are safe and reliable, hold together on our unpaved roads or the paved ones with pot holes and most can run on coconut oil and probably put out less pollution than the average petrol sedan car does)

From Robert Early, Vanuatu

I was surprised when reading the information from K. Etuati that when there was a mention of "biomass", there was no inclusion of "coconut" as one of the sources of biomass energy. The oil produced by the 5 billion coconuts that fall to the ground around the world every year is one of the greatest environmentally-friendly, renewable, sustainable sources of energy available. So it was good to read Tony Deamer's input, and as I'm also resident in Vanuatu I can endorse everything he has said about the extent to which there is a growing acceptance and commitment to the use of "Island Fuel" here in Vanuatu, after, it must be said, a very long period of resistance. Some of the resistance was motivated by the consideration that if a local source of fuel is found, then government revenues from excise and duty on imported fuel will decline substantially. Fortunately someone must have been able to demonstrate that this was false economy. Even though these revenues will decline, there are other benefits that accrue elsewhere in the economy.

A pioneer in the extraction and production of very high quality virgin coconut oil is Dan Etherington of Canberra, Australia, and the technology and process he has developed has now been commercialised and successfully implemented in many locations. Some consider that the initial capital costs of the package that Dan's company offers is high, but it's a production process geared towards producing the highest quality oil, and the whole package involves training and assistance with set-up and operation, and also marketing of the final product. The website http://www.kokonutpacific.com.au/ contains full details, plus heaps of information about the potential for the use of coconut oil as a substitute for other fuel oils as well as for other uses.

From: Justin Gurley

It is my understanding that different types of oil can be used, including olive oil, so don't start planting coconuts in temperate regions just yet. The internet is a hotbed of information on how to start running your vehicles on alternative fuels today. Just keep looking.

From Ulrike Hertel

The Independent State of Samoa Electric Power Corporation (EPC) is presently having a trial to use 15% locally produced coconut oil to mix with 85% diesel in some power generators. So far, they have had good results, also, with the present diesel prizes, the oil is cheaper. You could contact the General Manager of Samoa EPC for more information.

From Tony Marjoram

I have been following the vocal network and would like to note that the "Rays of Hope: Renewable Energy in the Pacific" video + booklet (also now on CD-ROM) includes some footage and discussion of coconut oil as a diesel substitute/extender. This is available from UNESCO publications (http://upo.unesco.org/). I attach a copy of a flier for this, and also a flier for two companion volumes, "Solar Photovoltaic Systems: Technical Training Manual" and "Solar Photovoltaic Project Development", prepared by Herb Wade and published by UNESCO (in hard copy), which have a background in Renewable Energy in the Pacific.

The use of coconut oil as a diesel substitute/extender was on the agenda before and during my time at the USP Rural Development Institute in the 1980s, continued into the 90s and now is an increasingly viable option. This is because of the price rises in imported hydrocarbon fuels, and the fact the increasing numbers of coconuts are uncollected and go to waste. Coconut oil is a viable and practicable fuel, available locally, that is a substitute for increasingly expensive hydrocarbon fuels, without the loss of export earnings. In addition to the information and countries mentioned below, there is also interest and experience in Vanuatu and the Cook Islands (which is included in "Rays of Hope"), and elsewhere.

Apart from technical and economic information and analysis, one other (aesthetic?) point that should be made is that following vehicles using coconut oil is quite a pleasure due to the beautiful smell, rather than the unpleasant hassle of following smelly, smoky trucks.

From Harvie Probert, Fiji

Currently the Fiji Electricity Authority in Fiji are trialling a larger 3.3Mw Cat engine running on coconut oil at their Sigatoka power station and are looking at that and other biofuels (canola, soya etc) as an alternative to diesel. With diesel at over $900/ tonne, biofuels at up to $700 are an almost viable replacement. On a recent survey to one of the remotest Fiji islands Rotuma it was observed that the island had the potential to use the coconuts lying around to displace almost entirely the need to import diesel, as the production available locally was estimated at about 2000 tonnes pa of copra which would produce around 1600 tonnes of coconut oil and if refined into biodiesel would produce around 1500 tonnes.

From Mere Ratunabuabua, Fiji In response to more information on coconut oil fuel and other liquid bio fuels, I suggest you take a look at the South Pacific Applied Geo Science Commission website for more details on their work on liquid bio fuels in Fiji! On http://www.sopac.org

From Atul Raturi, Papua New Guinea

For a PowerPoint presentation on Biofuel options in the Pacific please click below:


From M. Rouhana, Solomon Islands

I agree with my colleague in Vanuatu about the promotion of coconut oil. Just recently bus fare in Honiara (Solomon Islands) has increase by 100% in the name of oil price increase. Heated debate followed and people opted to walk either way, to their working place or on their return home. But what can we do with these increasing oil prices? We know that coconut oil did work, but we never fully utilised this yet. One investor is now looking at the possibility of turning Honiara diesel power supply into coconut oil generated power supply. The sooner the better, but more has to be done because that requires a lot of coconut fruits to produce such a huge amount of oil. To fulfil this initiative as a cost cutting measure against the continued increasing oil price, individuals should start revisiting their coconut plantation and plant more and more coconuts. I see it a long way yet, as the largest copra producer in the country (RIPEL - Russell Islands Plantation Estate) is far from solving a two and half years industrial action.

From Rod Smith, Vanuatu

It might be worth a look at the following site. www.globalfinest.com/tech I was looking for an efficient way of making diesel which didn't rely only on coconut oil. The system below uses almost any waste product but is priced a little out of my reach at around $5,000,000. It would be ideal for an Aid Agency funded community project however.

Thank you for your enquiry regarding our new waste to diesel process. Our process turns all bio waste into Hi Grade Diesel for general use or to convert into electricity to upload into the national grid - emissions free.

Our new patented Waste disposal Process www.globalfinest.com/tech is a proven, tested and running and is absolutely unique. This is cutting edge technology, is NOT a pyrolysis system, hence we have overcome the inherent problems of toxic emissions and limitations of similar systems currently on offer in the marketplace. This is a genuine breakthrough in dealing with landfills, waste animal disposal, toxic transformer waste disposal and so forth.... everything biomass..........The sizing of the plants available is a 500+ litre/hr ( minimum - depending on input materials ) decentralised unit, in modular form and has an efficiency of between 70 - 94%... depending on input material. Total Production costs are <40 - 50 cents per litre produced, dependent on the input material. The system is Emissions free, closed loop and has no effect on the environment. The very little that is not used by the process and any residue is disposed of in a licensed landfill. Totally inert. These are turnkey units with options of selling the diesel on the petrochemical market (tax free) or using the diesel to generate electricity on site and plugging into the national grid or self re use. ( 2 Mw powerplants are offered.) Better returns all round, especially now with the current price of a barrel of oil around $US 70 ! ROI is remarkable and is well within any other system available on the market today...and because its emissions free, attracts even more subsidies from Government!.. win - win ! Most of the additional information you may want to read is on www.globalfinest.com/tech


Coconut Oil: Comments

From Jim Currie, Federated States of Micronesia

I have to think this topic should generate a tremendous amount of response. I am glad to see both Fiji and Samoa being mentioned and suggest you explore recent events in Vanuatu. I also suggest you contact "Luigi Guarino" <Luigi at spc.int> the information office of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community as he has recently written about this topic.

I am surprised to read that 75% of the weight of copra is extractable oil. I am also of the opinion that possibly the best opportunity for now is in the outer islands of some of our groups where coconut is still a managed crop and the cost of transporting diesel is prohibitive. To my knowledge, it takes very little conversion to run a diesel generator on coconut and through that provide all the necessary power for the schools, clinics and communication - or homes.

From Albert DeTerville, St. Lucia

I am an indigenous person from the Island of Saint Lucia in the Caribbean Antilles where coconut oil is extracted for cooking and for other domestic use. The island exports coconut oil in large quantities.

Given that Saint Lucia is one of the SIDS, and having regard to the fact that coconut oil is already in use in the Pacific SIDS as fuel for vehicles, I propose that there be a Knowledge Exchange Programme among the SIDS.

The SIDS 2005 Mauritius Initiative, formed as a follow-up to the UN SIDS Conference in Mauritius in January 2005, has focal points in the regions of the SIDS, and is interested in collaborating with interested partners in the promotion of "Coconut Oil as fuel for vehicles."

From Ioannis A. Economides, Cyprus

The only indigenous oil produced by Cyprus in any significant quantities is olive oil, which is still a rather expensive substitute for diesel fuel. However, there is some renewed interest for utilizing mildly processed waste cooking oil as a diesel admixture, which offers economic and double environmental benefits: Managing a difficult waste plus promoting a potentially renewable source of energy, at a fraction of the cost.

From Lionel Fox

When I lived in Brazil it was common to have a pump at the gas station, delivering alcohol, to use in cars. It needed only a carburettor change. Could small islands grow enough sugar to support themselves in alcohol?

From Michael Griffin, Barbados

I received your message on uses coconuts, which I will send out to the Carib-Agri list - an e-mail list covering Caribbean agricultural issues. Currently, list membership is in the region of 400 persons. I have also added your address to the List. I hope there are issues of mutual interest that we can exchange and discuss between the Lists. Also, any of your members with an interest in agriculture would be welcome to join the Carib-Agri list.

From Philma Innocent, St. Lucia

I am from St. Lucia (Caribbean) and aware of the decline in the banana industry in my particular country. I welcome this new venture where coconut oil is concerned. I would suggest then that this idea be tried in every Caribbean island where coconut seems to be the most obvious plant seen in the vegetation, including my country St. Lucia, which would indeed benefit the inhabitants of this sweet island.

From Linda

Greetings and Bless you for this great information! And what a break through for the island nations if we can make this happen--big time! I always knew that the coconut has much much more to give and do beside uses in healing, food, cleaning, etc.--please let's get together and expand into the big stuff and soon! You're way ahead but those of us who just heard about it--can you help us start also? You should win the Pacific Nobel Prize!

From Ian Mohammed, Trinidad and Tobago

I just attended the AMCHAM Health and Safety conference and yes there was a paper presented on biodiesel. I am sure there will be definitely be more research and development in this field because of the various drivers and the impact on the environment. The Kyoto Accord and presently the high/rising cost of the oil/gas prices are the main drivers for this alternative fuel. For smaller less developed countries this biofuel seems to be the best alternative. Hugo Chavez just announced this morning that he will be using all idle cane fields in Venezuela to make ethanol from the sugar. Our country Trinidad & Tobago has closed down the Sugar Manufacturing Plant. Forward thinking there by our government. Anyways I believe if further research and development is carried out I believe the price of the biodiesel could be quite competitive and serve as an alternative to rising demand for less developed countries. This is my contribution to this discourse. I believe McDonalds is presently using used vegetable oil for their use in their fleet.

From Marie Nickllum, Vanuatu

Yes Vanuatu is producing that and a couple of cars are using coconut oil as fuel, why not? Go for it. It's about time.

From Jimmy Rainer, Federated States of Micronesia

Sounds interesting. I think islanders should start planting and taking care of their coconut trees so that they can have enough to make oil for their diesel vehicles.

From Jimmy Rainer, Federated States of Micronesia

It will take years for people in some of the North Pacific island nations to design a strategy for the people to start thinking about planting coconut trees before thinking about alternate source of energy...coconut oil. Copra was once the main export commodity from these small islands. Cost per pound of copra had hit the bottom several times and somehow, someone bailed the industry so the few people who still live on copra can at least make some money to bring their living conditions several notches closer to the so called "poverty guideline." The other day, I sat in a meeting co-facilitated by an ADB consultant. The lesson I learned was that we Micronesians have to be realistic with our capabilities in terms of natural resources. Our islands are "micro" and our visions and aspirations should also be focused on what mother nature has generously given us.

From Akuila Rawaqa, Australia

I'm interested. Let's get started.

From Mela Vusoniwailala, Fiji

Sound very good. Go for it in Jesus name.

From David Williams, Jamaica

First off, I was amazed to find out that coconut oil could be used to replace diesel fuel ......where I am confused is that with the price of coconut oil here (Jamaica) how can that be competitive to the price of diesel fuel??........or is it only used in places where you cannot get diesel??...a friend of mine produces coconut oil and his main complaint is that he simply cannot get enough coconuts to supply his needs.....the market here is more geared to the coconut's water, and finding dried coconuts is getting to be difficult....combined with the fight against disease to the trees, I can't see it being a viable option for Jamaica....just wanted to share my thoughts.....

From writer, Philippines

Salute to this endeavour. I am from the Philippines and palm oil is being pursued to be planted in our area in Palawan. This kind of information is very much welcome and informative to show our political leaders who usually decide contrary to community opinion and demand that there is big hope in our coconuts. Let the support be directed towards the coconut industry instead. Thanks for the information.

From Gillian Young-Smith, Jamaica

In Jamaica, we've had problems with disease wiping out our coconut industry in the past. My question is: in small islands do we have enough space to grow sufficient quantities of coconuts to make processing of this fuel worthwhile? And also, what happens to the industry if we have an epidemic that wipes out the coconuts again? Just some thoughts that should be considered if we're talking about developing a sustainable industry. This is an exciting idea though.


Renewable Energy: General comments

From Morris Amos

Renewable energy as it implies for small islands may not be that compatible as renewable because the cost of sustaining this form of energy will be high. This is due to the fact that small Pacific Islands are surrounded by big salt water ocean and are prone to natural disasters, cyclone earthquakes and etc that are always damaging. The islands and population are small remote and the cost of transfers and maintenance is not compatible as sustainable.

From Derek, Vanuatu

I wholeheartedly agree, we do not need chunky tyred, 4x4 phallic symbols on paved roads, neither do we need gigantic jumbo jets pouring out more pollution into the upper atmosphere in one hour than a fleet of buses could do in a day. The world is not driven by need, but by greed and speed. Here in Vanuatu we have bio-diesel that will work in any diesel engine on its own. But the oil barons have decreed that it must be mixed 50/50 with conventional diesel. 'If it don't come out of the ground, you can't use it' according to them.

Battery power is clean and recharging with small wind generators like yachties have is viable for private households. (Wind will blow all night, when the sun don't shine.) This is the method we are hoping to employ when we build our retirement home away from modernity.

I am green through and through and have been designing power sources for more years than I care to admit too. But… Yeah, there is always a but. The most benign I ever heard was "If it's that simple, someone would have thought of it before." But would they? No, in this technology driven age, everything must be big and complicated. The simple things are beyond the brain-bound.

From Ioannis A. Economides, Cyprus

Fuel prices are going up in Cyprus in line with the rest of the world and working their way through the supply chain of just about every product or service offered in the economy. Inflation is on the rise. However, this could be a positive development for the protection of the environment. During the next few years when more people will be searching for substitutes, government environmental regulation will be very important in encouraging that the substitutes that make it to the market are not only cheaper but are also environmentally better.

From Eric

Finding a renewable source of energy is to make a visit to Cuba and take notice of the innovative way of finding alternates. I have made three visits and always find the trip interesting.

From Solomone Fifita

Renewable energy is not an elixir and neither is it the only canoe by which SIDS can disembark on greener shores.

The disappointments with renewable energy (and technology transfers) are greatest in developing countries, SIDS in particular. But there have been marked improvements lately as more and more SIDS, with the support of the donor and international community, attempt to remove the so-called barriers to the widespread use and utilization of "feasible" renewable energy technologies.

Some of these barrier-removal activities include adoption of clear visions, policies and governments' will to pursue a renewable energy path. In Fiji, the Fiji Electricity Authority has adopted a vision "To be a 100% renewable energy utility by 2011." Work Plans and investment programmes are in place and implementations are well underway. In Vanuatu, its Council of Ministers/Cabinet resolved "to achieve a 100% renewable energy economy based on the use of renewable energies and hydrogen fuels by 2020." This includes developing it's geothermal potential to produce electricity for local use & the manufacture of hydrogen based fuels. Niue and Greenpeace Australia Pacific has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to work towards the large scale uptake of renewable energy for power, heat and transport. The primary objective is a 100% indigenous energy supply. In 2005, the Pacific Islands leaders endorsed the Pacific Plan, which incorporates the Pacific Regional Energy Policy. This policy "Supports the introduction of new commercially proven technologies, including renewable energy technologies and generating systems that are environmentally, economically, financially and socially viable". Unfortunately tidal energy (as well as wave energy and OTEC) is not a commercially proven technology as yet, even though they have enormous potential for all the ocean-surrounded SIDS. In SIDS such as Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands, ocean-based energy appears to be the only option (hopefully feasible option) for grid-based electricity from renewable energy.

There are other country-specific technical, financial, institutional, market and awareness barriers which must be removed too if renewable energy, tidal included, is to make a lasting difference. The Global Environmental Facility (GEF)-supported Caribbean Renewable Energy Development Programme (CREDP) for the Caribbean and the Pacific Islands Greenhouse Gas Abatement through Renewable Energy Project (PIGGAREP) for the Pacific Islands are but some of the needed support.

It therefore calls for SIDS to continue engaging in dialogues for effective collaborative effort where the "polluters" finance a more SIDS-focused development of the ocean-based technologies. CSD 15 is yet another opportunity and SIDS must stand together and blow the same cone shell in order to be heard.

From María E. Font, Puerto Rico

In the late seventies/early eighties, there was a Project called OTEC (Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion) the theme was researched but not funded because getting energy from such a source was deemed very costly. I have had people contact the Sea Grant Library, which I'm in charge of, trying to revisit such information because with the high cost of fuel, now it seems feasible.

From Leslie Hamlet, Antigua and Barbuda

I am particularly interested in Ian Mohammed's comments. I am also of the firm belief that small developing states needs (as a matter of urgency) find an alternative to our current energy crisis. There are some small states among us that can study the possibility of hydro electricity (Dominica). There are other islands because of their mountainous nature and proximity to the Atlantic sea breeze that may be able to generate electricity using the electric wind generators. The theory of biodiesel is ok however it will require a significant amount of capital investment and research and development. The energy super powers will not want to volunteer the technology cheaply. Therefore we may be forced to find a cheaper productive way to resolve our energy crisis. Nonetheless, biofuel, biodiesel, ethanol & hydro electricity all makes sense. Mohammed I agree. We need to do something fast.

From John Hart

One shining example of using technology for saving energy comes from the Cook Islands.

Tom Wichman, the Rarotonga based science advisor to the Cook Islands government was asked to advise about reequipping of Aitu with a diesel generator to meet demands on the ancient machinery making electricity there. His survey showed a glowing opportunity in the form of incandescent lamps being used throughout the island. He rather creatively applied for a grant of about $2500 with which he bought as many energy saving fluorescent bulbs as possible. He then went to Aitu and personally changed all incandescent bulbs to energy savers. Then the crisis of 85% of generating capacity use of electricity dropped to nearer 20% - literally overnight. Not only that but the long life of the bulbs meant that the higher cost of the bulbs was offset handsomely by the infrequent replacement.

Simple. Creative. And the old generator was able to carry on until a smaller and more efficient unit could be located and purchased.

From Avinesh Sahayam, Fiji

Did you know that here in Labasa, Fiji Islands, we use bagasse as a source of energy to supply electricity via steam engines. This power is available through Fiji Sugar Coorporation (FSC) during the crushing season. Bagasse is a waste product after extracting sugar. The bagasse is in abundance (available in tonnes) some is used while the rest is stored in tonnes. The crushing season is only six months and this is when the diesel generators of Fiji Electricity Authority (FEA) is resting. It starts only when there is an emergency shut down at FSC and during the non-crushing season. The fact is that FSC sells its waste power to FEA at a very cheap rate. FSC produces enough waste power to supply industries, factories and residents which can be located many kilometres from the source. We hope that if fossil fuel is depleted the use of bagasse could be an answer.

From Johnson Seeto, Fiji

It is okay to say we should switch to alternative sources of renewable energies but more research is needed to refine these energy sources. More money should be given to promote these kinds of research. Meanwhile, we should also make more efficient use of oil NOW. We do not need 4-wheel drive macho machines on our paved roads and this mentality must change!!

From Joan Seymour

I am from Guyana and live now in New York. Even here people are beginning to get on the band wagon of alternative sources of energy because of the anticipated high fuel prices this winter. A number of homeowners on Long Island are installing solar panels to help provide their own energy and if they have enough, they can return it to the big energy suppliers for a credit. Can you imagine that - in a place where there isn't the constant strong sunlight as in the tropics! Wind mills don't have to look ugly - there is a farm/plantation of windmills in the Palm Springs area of California. I thought that it looked beautiful - almost worth publicising as a tourist attraction by providing tours to visit the site. A new look at alternative energy sources is imperative.

From Bevan Springer

Press Release: Caribbean should invest in renewables, says energy expert

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (August 24, 2005) - If you can't sell them abroad then keep bananas at home because they could be used to fuel your car, asserted an energy expert.

Instead of continuing to burn valuable money importing expensive fossil fuels, Caribbean states should look at investing in a number of developments in the area of renewable energy - such as sugar and bananas.

The appeal is coming from an international expert on sustainability and renewable energy, the Honourable Tom Roper.

In an interview following the First International Conference on the Environment and Sustainable Development held in the Dominican Republic, sponsored in part by Counterpart International and the Caribbean Media Exchange (CMEx), Roper said that Caribbean states should closely follow ongoing investigations into the potential use of bananas for energy, being conducted by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, a Government Research body in Australia.

"While this is still a research project which is probably still a couple years before becoming viable, it was a development Caribbean banana producing states needed to watch carefully," Roper, a former Australia Cabinet Minister, said.

He said Caribbean states should also turn their attention to other similar developments where a country like Mauritius was using sugarcane for a large part of their energy generation, while in the Pacific region coconut oil was being added to diesel to make it more efficient.

Roper said that there were a lot of technologies currently available which this part of the world was not cashing in on, nor taking advantage of available funding.

"There appears to be few if any engineers or financiers who know much about these forms of energy and (who are) capable of making good proposals readily available, and it's those countries that have the expertise available that are obtaining funds for the projects, such as Brazil which is receiving more than anyone else," he noted.

Based on this finding Roper said that he has challenged the World Bank to provide funds for the Small Island Developing States to allow them to acquire the skills to prepare and present proposals. "If this is not done and done quickly, we can very well see the Brazils, Chilies, Argentinas, Indias and Chinas getting all the funds and the 40 (small) island developing states getting nothing. So it's a real challenge not just for individual governments of the Caribbean but one for a group like the World Bank to provide assistance so there can be a level playing field in terms of access to carbon financing," he said.

He said so far only six Caribbean states had started the process of accessing the Clean Development Mechanism Fund, which allows Western countries to purchase carbon credits from a developing country, as part of its contribution to reducing Global Warming. "But while they may have started the process, what they need to do is work with the utilities and investors to access more of these projects," he said. The six states that have set up "designated national authorities", the precondition for submitting projects, are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Cuba, Jamaica, St. Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Roper said that Jamaica has made the most significant strides having two major projects underway related to the area of emission reductions.

Delegates from across the Caribbean, Central and South America, the Pacific, the United States and Europe explored the theme "Environment: Our Partner in Development" during the three-day parley staged by The International Center for Environmental and Sustainable Development Studies (CIEMADeS) in collaboration with Counterpart International, the Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism (CMEx) and The National Geographic Society.

The talks were also coordinated by the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (FUNGLODE), which was set up by the nation's president Dr. Leonel Fernández, Universidad del Turabo in Puerto Rico and the Université Quisqueya from Haiti.

From Laisa Bale Tuinamoala

Thank you for a very interesting discussion on future sources of energy. Last week I was in LA when I saw a TV advertisement, spearheaded by the former US President Bill Clinton for the State of California on alternative sources of energy using ethanol. The advertisement states that Brazil has moved to energy independency by not relying on oil. The advertisement advocated a campaign on proposition 87 whereby produces of oil would be forced to pay taxes in order to fund renewable energy. Its food for thought for small island states on the use of "company taxes" - to fund some well needed research & public awareness campaigns. It may be a first step toward some of the suggestions below.

For more info on proposition 87, see http://www.yeson87.org/

From Mali Voi, Samoa

Those of us from SIDS have to research into use of all knowledge systems both traditional and contemporary to create opportunities for social and sustainable development. The coconut oil as an energy source for automobiles is one energy source. How about the energy from the sun, winds, and waves? In 2001 UNESCO conducted a workshop for young artists on papermaking using barks of bananas at Port Vila, Vanuatu. Today some of those artists have gone into making paper from grass and sugarcane waste. These natural resources grow abundantly in some of the SIDS.

The central message that I am putting forward is that we do not stop short of innovative ideas to sustain livelihood in all our islands even if things are going tough for us. Always look forward to taken on any challenge with zeal.


Renewable Energy: Geothermal Energy

From Magnús Jóhannesson, Iceland

As much as I can subscribe to your thoughts on alternatives I would like to point out a very important source in many countries which is missing. That is GEOTHERMAL ENERGY. Hope you can add that to your thoughts.


Renewable Energy: Solar Energy

From Cherio Boedh, Indonesia

Different isolated populations (e.g. the Punan in the interior of Kalimantan) are resettled by the Indonesian government and the government serves them with solar energy battery. Although rivers with cascades and rapids are plenty but the hydroelectricity plant is relatively expensive. Tidal electricity is probably not easy for simple people to handle. The only chance for people living in small island is probably wind driving electric plant or solar energy battery.

That's what I can suggest from Indonesia.

From Basil Fernandez, Jamaica

I agree with the person from St Vincent. In the Caribbean we need to harness the sunlight more effectively and more efficiently. The high cost of the materials, we have found in Jamaica to be due to taxes charged by the Government. If the taxes were removed the oil savings would more than cover the loss to the Government.

However I must point out that we all have a role to play in conservation. It is not a Government thing.

From Sabra Kauka, Hawaii

Aloha from the island of Kaua'i in the Hawaiian archipelago. I have recently returned from an Educators Expedition to the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. This is a vast area of ancient islands north of Kaua`i on the Pacific plate extending toward Japan. We travelled on a research ship, the Hi`ialakai, sponsored by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Access to the North West Hawaiian Islands is tightly controlled because they are part of a marine sanctuary or refuge.

We stopped to circumnavigate and snorkel at Nihoa, Mokumanamana (Necker), La Perouse Pinnacle, and Tern Island. There is a US Fish and Wildlife Station at Tern Island that runs 99% on solar energy. It is the only island of the ones I've mentioned that is currently inhabited. My ancestors once lived on Nihoa and travelled to Mokumanamana but no longer live there.

I think we are all going to have to look very seriously at solar energy. It comes to us from the heavens and the technology exists to harness it. We just have to find a way to buy the solar panels and related technology. Additionally, until now I have resisted wind energy because I don't think windmills are very attractive. If you make a windmill look like a tree I may be sold on that idea.

Furthermore, here on Kaua'i we have thousands of acres of fallow agricultural land as all but one of our sugar plantations have closed. There is a Renewable Energy Committee, composed of concerned community volunteers, that is meeting to explore alternative uses for this land and especially to address alternative sources of energy. You've already mentioned wind, solar, biodiesel, waves, etc.

A very viable idea that is being implemented on Kaua'i is to once again cultivate palm trees for their oil and other uses. This is actually an old idea that has come around again. In our rush for foreign oil we have forgotten the many uses of our home-grown varieties. My message for all of us who live on islands is to look in our own backyards for those plants that can provide energy for our community.

From Charles Meistrell, St. Vincent & the Grenadines

I have operated a resort on St Vincent since 1990. It is powered by solar panels. Solar panels and the system is not inexpensive, however, may be worth it. We have 4 refrigerator freezers. Each costs about $3,000 US, but use less than 5 amps @ 12 volts = less than 60 watts. The large ones have one compressor for the refrigerator and one for the freezer. They are over 10 times more efficient than the best new standard refrigerator. You do have to defrost, as they are not automatic defrost. Our ceiling fans take 4 amps @ 12 volts = 3 watts. Our pause operating front loader washer ($1,000 US) can be operated off the solar power with an inverter (cost $1,000 US). A necessary function in operating on your own power is that you must be aware of usage and work to reduce it. You have to be willing to use fans rather than air conditioning. But it can be done. To become energy independent take not only the producing, but also efficiency in the using. With proper design and monitoring use could be reduced by 50% with the existing power plants.

We use 20 panels ($400 US each) on the main area, 6 on the managers quarter (this needs to be expanded to 10 for full time use), 2 smaller ones ($300 US each) on the each guest site, one 24 volt ($600 US) on the well.

There are 2 considerations in efficiency in electricity. One is production and the second even greater one is on efficient use. Are you willing to give up air conditioning in exchange for fans and design buildings to make use of the natural flows of air, green cooling from plants and the use of LED's for lighting.

By the way, there are windmills that will adjust for high winds. They change their blades so as not to catch wind over their limits.

The other costs of solar or wind power are batteries, wiring, controllers, but it is all doable and doesn't have to cost much (the people that sell these items, will sell you more than you need). The problem with the Caribbean is that people are long on talk and short on action, so I don't see anything progressive happening until the powers let those that can, be in charge of doing it.

Your article mentioned tidal use, but our part of the Caribbean has little tide, but I am sure it we got out head together we could still design a system.

From Joan Seymour

I am very pleasantly surprised and a bit astonished at the letter from the person in Vanuatu describing the use of coconut oil as fuel there. I have not heard of this before and I think that this is the kind of information that should be made widely available to many developing countries which will be suffering from the higher cost of fuel and which do not have their own sources of energy. I also would like to recommend the use of solar energy, at least for cooking in places where there is no electricity but an abundance of sunshine. The solar cookers which are produced in many places but particularly used in Kenya are very low cost - and their manufacture can provide a source of employment for many people. There is a non-profit organization "Solar cookers international" which promotes the use of this type of cooking.


Renewable Energy: Tidal Currents

From Michael Alexiou, Bahamas

A thought just occurred on how to increase speed of tidal flow with greater head pressure.

This idea may already be in use - I don't know enough on the subject - if this is useful to anyone then good.
Let natural tidal flow into a lagoon and at high tide close the gates and retain the water in the lagoon to the high level. When the tide has dropped open the gates and the head pressure will increase the flow speed.
This can be done in reverse - keeping the tide out of another lagoon until the natural tide outside is high and then opening the gates and letting the high tide flood into the lagoon. The timing can be fine tuned so that as one is open the other is closed and water is flowing all the time.

From Thomas Goreau, USA

SIDS will be the worst victim as oil prices continue to rise well beyond what they now are.

Coconuts cover most small island nations and have negligible value in the world market. They can and should be used for biodiesel fuel, but may leave no land for food on low islands A far larger, completely clean, inexhaustible, and completely untapped energy resource for Pacific and Indian Ocean islands, which uses no land at all, are the tidal currents that race 4 times a day through passes in the reefs. We are working to apply revolutionary new generation Gorlov helical turbines to turn tidal current into electrical current. I presented a paper on its potential to make most small islands energy self-sufficient at the UN Summit of Small Island Developing States in Mauritius earlier this year. I will present more information on its potential at next year's United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. We are working with the UN Industrial Development Organization to try to set up pilot projects in the new technology in small island nations. All who are interested should contact me for further information. ( <goreau at bestweb.net> http://www.globalcoral.org)

From Rosario de Medici

The article on tidal current supplying future energy needs is most timely and as you are well aware, Dr. Goreau is already engaged in. While tidal currents are most accessible to SIDS, anti-gravity technology would certainly be another option but this is something not presently available for consumer use according to my research. See

http://www.infinite-energy.com/ http://www.freeenergynews.com/Directory/ZPE/index.html

It is believed that this is the technology used by the ancient Egyptians to build the pyramids (Information apportioned from aliens of another star system at that time).

In any event, I will keep you and the others apprised of developments regarding funding. This will enable us to accelerate a multi-tiered operation addressing all of the environmental conditions both prevalent and threatening. All the best.

From Sonia

Yes. Tidal currents can supply future energy needs. So can the wind and sun as mentioned. But is the government willing to forego oil revenue in order to reduce energy consumption? Oil companies would have to shut down operations and many people will be out of jobs.

Remember we only think of the present and what we can get from it. We do not thing about future generations and what they will have to live with once we are gone. In Trinidad where we are presently rich in oil, food prices/cost of housing are increasing rapidly and by this I mean on a daily basis. In the past, what we called 'middle class' is now barely making ends meet. So you can imagine the really poor citizens. There is still a very high ratio of 'upper class' or rich people who benefit from the oil revenue but these monies are not evenly/fairly distributed and crime (robberies, domestic violence, rapes, kidnappings) is at an all time high.

I truly believe the Government is playing blind to the fact that we have reached a crisis level in the cost of basic items such as food and shelter (needs not wants) while they enjoy the fruits of the high prices of oil/gas.


Other Responses

From Vaasiliifiti Moelagi Jackson, Samoa

Thank you for your views and your concern over trying to save our small islands and trying to cope with the fast development of our nations.

At the Pacific Island Association of NGOs meeting last month most of the issues discussed was the effect of the various Trade Agreements that our small nations had committed to like Pacific Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER), Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA) and the unfair negotiations upon accession of Pacific countries into the WTO like Tonga, Vanuatu and Samoa. Therefore there was very little time left to discuss all these issues like fuel costs, etc.

But this relates to the issue of having resources that we could not utilize into saleable commodities due to our lack of funds and skill. For example we have fish everywhere and yet we still cannot put a fish in a can. We have coconut oil and some countries like Samoa, Papua New Guinea and few others are struggling to utilize our coconut oil into fuel.

It is yet to see coconut butter produced locally or cosmetics being produced from our coconut and flowers of the islands. Let alone herbs, etc. With all these turned into commodities we still cannot compete with the rest of the world in trade. Unless we have a Pacific Trade Union, Caribbean Trade Union, etc.

Keep trying and thinking although one thing is for sure - we may be poor financially but most of the islands are enjoying peace and are able to sustain themselves within their environment. They would be even richer if they did not have to pay taxes, and high cost of infrastructure.

From Kavita Khanna

There is little doubt that when in the course of evolutionary process, Homo sapiens arrived on Planet Earth, this event created a potential for a major environmental crisis, which is now being realised.

Every transition from one geological age to the next seems to be marked by a major crisis, with a wide extinction of existing species and opening up of niches for new species.

Certainly if the crisis that exterminated the dinosaurs had not happened, either we would not be here today or we would look very different. We face a great transition. Through multiple pressures and triggers of change piled upon change, we are poised at a great divide even as a new world struggles to be born. Our biosphere groans under its burden. The pressure and processes are generating a host of impacts and outcomes - the compounded impact that tends to catch us unaware.

We shall see a continuing shift in the proportion of animal biomass represented by humans and livestock. Science is not the only way to solving our problems. There are other knowledge system, some much older and wider than science. In Zimbabwe science as a knowledge system is barely a century old. Before that there was the indigenous knowledge system which also deserves serious study because of its continued influence on, and use by, the majority of our people as they try to cope with the problems of their political, social, cultural life.

Modern science is the product of culture. I believe science came to this country as a knowledge system from colonial origins. Modern technology took an exclusionist approach and was largely programmed to displace indigenous knowledge systems. Countries such as Japan took a different approach to science as Basil Davidson writes in his book: The Black Man's Burden.

From Jimmy Rainer, Federated States of Micronesia

When we talk about small islands, perceptions of the work may leave one in doubt as to the actual size of a small island. The Pacific Region is divided into three archipelagos: Micronesia (tiny islands), Polynesia (many islands) and Melanesia (don't know). In these island chains, size of an island varies. In Micronesia, the island that I am originally from is about 00.7 square miles. This figure includes the fringing reef that surrounds 4 tiny, tiny islands situated to the north of the Eastern Caroline Islands. The question one might ask is....How to sustain a population of more than 300 on an island that is less than a square mile?

The major challenges to these islands are transportation and communication. Some of these islands can only be accessed by field trip ships. Depending on the ability of the state government, the ship might not be able to keep her monthly schedule. There are times that the field trip ship will not visit these islands for more than 2 months.

Some of these islands can be reached by small plane, with limited space for essentials that can sustain the population. Local produce takes more than 6 months to yield enough for the population. Political and economical changes and trends put forth challenges that island people have to adjust to. People on these islands depend on SSB radios to communicate with the capital cities and between islands. Solar power was introduced and now people enjoy the brightness that allows their children to use a better source of light to do their homework and study.

Health and education benefits from the government are very minimal due to transportation limitations. With migration from the small islands to the main islands increasing, the small island governments will end up with a population that is susceptible to failure because of lack of leadership. Leadership development training to the outer island population is a must. The islanders need to be aware of the world around them, what their potentials are, how to maximize these potentials and then figure out a plan that can sustain their resources.

Hope I am making sense. Thanks for sharing and the opportunity for me to share.

From Tamra Raven

The complex agro-biodiversity food garden is for schools in the tropics. It will be mapped using GIS and GPS individual or plant genetic populations. Biomass will be measured. The 10-40+ plant species complex will provide an outdoor biology/cultural/nutrition textbook addressing the 'digital divide' which if not addressed further marginalizes the poor (child soldiers, child sexual exploitation etc.) Students will cooperate on line by helping with garden plant associations/companion plantings, data input quality control etc., which in the end will produce an individual student syllabus (developed country contribution to digital divide chasm) which will substitute for term papers and produce curriculum on agriculture/ watershed-catchment management/bioregional seed exchange and local food security/ nutrition/health in developing countries in fields beyond agriculture, biology/genomics/ intellectual property rights.


To get involved, contact :


Coastal Regions and Small Islands Platform
UNESCO, Paris, France
fax: +33 1 45 68 58 08

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