Substantive responses received
by the Small Islands Voice global forum to the posting on the
for the future' newspaper articles, 21st June 2005
growth and island carrying capacity
Mitchell, San Andres Island
Bob Conrich, Anguilla
Patrick Ferrat, Mauritius
Federico Foders, Germany
Ed Gomez, Philippines
Moelagi Jackson, Savaii, Samoa
Graeme Kelleher, Australia
From G. Leys, Vanuatu
Gary Aboud, Trinidad and
Edward Manning, Canada
Chris McMurray, Australia
Osaia Santos, Federated States of Micronesia
Alina M. Szmant, USA
Vernon, Puerto Rico
Aliti Vunisea, Fiji
Writer, Trinidad and Tobago
Koin Etuati, Fiji
Shainomi Metseagharun, Nigeria
Bon Conrich, Anguilla
Sebastiano Tusa, Sicily
Terry Wilson, Australia
growth and island carrying capacity
Dulph Mitchell, San Andres Island
around the world, especially those of the Small Island Community:
In May 2004,
I launched the question, ‘Isn't there some way in which, especially
the Caribbean Islands, could work together and cooperate in
solving the threatening garbage problems?’ This was surprisingly
answered by a great deal of people from all over the globe for
whose attention I now extend to everyone my sincerest gratitude.
how the Colombian State, under a ‘Colombianization Policy’ called
sovereignty (neo-colonialism) is permitting the uncontrolled
and continuous occupation of our territory by her citizens from
mainland Colombia to displace us as a people, in our own homeland,
the Archipelago of San Andres, Providence and St Catherine,
located one hundred and ten miles east of the Nicaraguan coast
and three hundred miles northwest of the Colombian mainland.
This action since 1953, when our territory was declared a free
port, is alarmingly promoting daily an increasing population
growth as shown by the following: In 1952: 5,675 inhabitants;
1964: 16,731; 1973: 22,989; 1988: 42,315; 1992: 75,000+; 2005:
100,000+ in an area of 27 square kilometres, which shows one
of the (if not the) highest population density in the world.
It goes without saying that there is also the unceasing erection
of enormous cement buildings which serve only to destroy the
natural beauties around us, without forgetting our being pushed
out from our rightful place by the people who are coming in
and buying off the lands, creating in this way a tsunami of
overpopulation, which the Colombian State barefacedly declares
does not exist.
the face of this lamentable condition my questions are: (1)
Can someone quickly help us to find out what is the carrying
capacity of our territory? (2) Is there some way in which this
can be detected or determined? (3) At this alarming rate of
population growth, how long will it take for our small islands
to sink and disappear completely from existence? Help! Help!
Help! This is not a joke, a solution is needed urgently!
Bob Conrich, Anguilla
of San Andreas complains about "being pushed out from our
rightful place by the people who are coming in and buying up
the lands". Why are Dulph and his fellow islanders selling
their lands to such people? Perhaps it is true that we are
the people our parents warned us about.
Patrick Ferrat, Mauritius
for all the information concerning small islands. Mauritius
is 1,850 square km with a population of about 1,300,000 inhabitants
+ about 600,000 tourists visiting us each year. I always heard
that we are the third most over populated country in the world
(surface area/number of inhabitants) after Bangladesh, Hong
Kong. Can you tell me where to get genuine information on that
matter? Thank you for the existence of ‘Small Islands Voice’
which makes us awake to the consciousness of many aspect of
life in connections to islands.
Federico Foders, Germany
for sending me the Small Islands Voice. I enjoy it myself and
I also use it in class for my lecture on Principles of Resource
Management at the University of Kiel, Germany.
Let me give
you some comments on the relationship between population growth
and the economic growth potential of small islands, i.e. the
ability of small islands to increase their standard of living
to the level of, say, advanced countries, in spite of relatively
high rates of population growth. And let me begin by stating
that I believe that there are a number of ways in which the
challenge posed by population growth to small islands could
be met, and that if appropriate measures are designed, implemented
and enforced there should be no need at all to worry about the
assumed trade off between population growth and economic growth
in small islands.
of the examples in your essay demonstrate, there are basically
no upper limits for density in small islands if some ideas about
economic structure are taken seriously. A society organised
around economic activities in the primary sector and particularly
in agriculture and fishing obviously must have a limited carrying
capacity for its population. On the one hand, the supply of
land for agriculture is limited, and even switching to intensive
agriculture will not help improve the relationship between population
growth and the number of new jobs generated in the primary sector.
On the other, most fish stocks are almost depleted and harvest
is declining which is why fishermen should aim at finding a
job in another industry or at introducing some form of aquaculture
or fish farming to transform fishing into a sustainable activity
(with scope for exports) in the future. The fundamental choice
small islands are facing is between (i) continuing with the
old economic structure and imposing restrictions on fertility
or (ii) moving on to a different economic structure in which
high fertility rates may even be beneficial or at least not
be a problem for economic growth.
is that those responsible for economic policy create incentives
for rapid structural change away from the primary sector and
towards the services sector (including tourism and possibly
aquaculture or sea farming as an alternative to exploiting wild
fish stocks). In order to achieve structural change incentives
for capital investment in the services sector should be complemented
by a strong effort in the education sector. In fact the key
to structural change, i.e. to preparing small islands to cope
with population growth, is to educate and train the existing
population, both children and adults, so that investments in
the service sector become profitable and thus sustainable. New
jobs in the service sector should be able to absorb the cohorts
of young people finishing school, vocational and tertiary education.
Also, the service sector should make it possible for adults
to retrain and find a new job.
return to investment in education should be greatest in small
islands. Since in the long run fertility tends to fall in countries
in which educational attainment increases, investment in education
should have a positive spill-over effect on the reproductive
behaviour of families.
of the things I have said above apply in a general way to small
islands, when it comes to designing a practical strategy/policy
for a specific island one should take the particular circumstances
prevailing in that location into account. In some instances
it should also be necessary to take a closer look at the geographic
position of an island and its links to other countries/islands
in order to come up with a tailor-made proposal.
Ed Gomez, Philippines
posting reminded me about Jared Diamond's new book: "Collapse."
I think it is a good read, as it give several examples of the
fates of small island populations. I recommend it to all readers.
Moelagi Jackson, Savaii, Samoa
I do not have the statistics to justify my comment except I
wish to share with you my own village news regarding population
growth. We have two churches shared by three villages: Safua
has a population of 360 people, Lalomalava being 813 and Vaisaulu
113 people. On Sunday we celebrated our Congregational Church
Minister’s, Rev. Solomona, 60th birthday and 30th Anniversary
of their mission at our village. The service was attended
by the Mormon congregation of our village members and our Congregational
Church members. According to Rev Solomona’s record and the
Mormon Record, only 365 were born and baptised in the last 30
years. This has been quite visible in the continuous decrease
in the Sunday School numbers every year. According to Rev
Solomona, our three villages have been successful, education
wise, development wise with the two hotels Safua and Savaiian
Hotel, a bus company, two village markets and various small
businesses let alone the agricultural development progressing
quite well. The only development that is not progressing is
the making of babies - everyone roared with laughter at this.
Now we are
still trying to figure out what had we done to get these good
results in comparison with other villages not doing as well
as ours. For us we praise the Lord for his guidance and congratulate
our leaders, both the Chiefs and Orators, and the Women’s Committee.
God bless all the small islands and the NGO effort.
Graeme Kelleher, Australia
very strongly with G. Leys et al re the application of
carrying capacity. The concept was always deeply flawed- even
small changes in management/behaviour can dramatically change
the impact of humans on the environment and its productivity-
and thus change the fictitious ‘carrying capacity.’
G. Leys, Vanuatu
growth is a huge problem here, probably the biggest we have.
In one hospital alone approximately 450 babies are born every
three months - very many of them to teenage mothers. That is
enough to need a new primary school every three months in this
town alone! There is absolutely no money for that. Already
there is no money to pay new graduate teachers to postings in
existing schools so they go unemployed.
drift into town from other small islands in the hope of finding
gold on the streets. When this is impossible, they drift into
crime. The police service is totally understaffed and poorly
trained so no crime is ever solved; people do not even bother
report break-ins as it is useless.
hardly any jobs for unqualified persons. We have very few natural
resources and only small local industries which cannot offer
jobs to the expanding number of young persons. Regrettably,
the training colleges are on the whole of such a poor standard
that students leave with an attendance certificate but no capability.
There are jobs to be had in the trades for anyone who is capable,
but they are few and far between. It is a sad situation.
an association has been formed which has as its aim the export
of unemployed citizens to Australia! A figure of 10,000 has
been mentioned. I suppose that may be said to be a resource
if it is valued elsewhere but we are not the Philippines.
is fortunate still to have fertile land on some islands which
can support people but (1) young people do not want to remain
there and (2) There is so much island rivalry that despite the
fact that the constitution guarantees people free movement within
the country, custom mostly prevents someone from one island
settling on another.
‘2010 A Doomsday Scenario’, done by the Australian National
University in Canberra about ten years ago, is proving completely
accurate. It is sad that the government doesn't seem to be
concerned at all about this problem. It is the case of the
ostrich with its head in the sand.
Gary Aboud, Trinidad and Tobago
be mistaken, I am sure you are speaking of Trinidad and Tobago
and not Vanuatu.
Edward Manning, Canada
WTO publication ‘Indicators of Sustainable Development for Tourism
Destinations: A Guidebook’ has a section on carrying capacity
and sensitivity of destinations to different levels and types
of tourism. It also has a section on issues related to tourism
development for small islands, as well as sections on other
fragile destinations such as cruise ship ports, coastal zones,
and small cultural communities. I suggest that there is no
magic bullet regarding carrying capacity. Instead, you should
be looking at a range of indicators which help you understand
the limits of acceptable growth or change, and the range of
impacts which different levels and types of tourism will have
on the key assets and values of your island. The section on
carrying capacity from the book (World Tourism Organization
Capacity and Limits to Tourism (from WTO 2004 pp309-312)
Limits of Acceptable Change, Thresholds)
capacity is a much used phrase – usually in the context of how
many tourists can be accommodated in a certain place or area
without damaging the place or reducing tourists’ satisfaction.
The idea of carrying capacity is founded on the experience of
pastoral agriculture - where it was observed that a pasture
could support in perpetuity a particular number of cattle. If
this threshold was exceeded, the supporting system was damaged,
often to the point where it could no longer support grazing
at all. Carrying capacity as a concept measures what level of
use is sustainable. However, for tourism applications, the concept
of carrying capacity is much more complex, given that there
is a wide range of environmental and socio-economic factors
that interact at tourism destinations, and that many of them
depend on perception of host communities and tourists.
the concept of carrying capacity has value - particularly because
it draws attention to limits and thresholds beyond which we
do not wish to tread. However, in dealing with the reality,
we need to consider these factors (derived from Manning 1997):
• There are a large number of factors interacting in any destination
(in all dimensions of sustainability… environmental, social
and economic) which affect the ability of the destination to
support any specific type of tourism;
• The impact
of human activity on a system may be gradual, and may affect
different factors of the system at differing rates, with different
impacts on potential tourism uses. (e.g., poorer water quality
is likely to impact swimming before it affects uses such as
sailing or sightseeing);
are different types of users, and many different forms of tourism
activities, each of them with different needs, levels of impacts
are varying perceptions and expectations of different host societies
and different tourist segments. Crowds attract some tourists,
others seek solitude, or the ability to experience nature without
disturbance (see Colima and Rimini illustrations: each is successful
in sustaining its tourism product);
capacity limits are not static, they can be modified dependent
on the changes in the system and in management measures (e.g.
due to improvement in site-infrastructure, organization of groups,
conservation of the natural environment, the number of tourists
permitted at a site without harming the environment can be increased).
Also if conditions worsen over time, numbers can be further
of these concerns, when applied to tourism a simple definition
of carrying capacity involving the identification of a single
threshold value will be inadequate in nearly all cases. This
reinforces the conclusion in this regard contained in the paper
prepared from the 1990 WTO/UNEP workshop on carrying capacity
(World Tourism Organization, 1992). It also reflects some of
the concerns contained in the 1981 WTO capacity standards -
which suggest using working limits for particular types of tourism,
but also warns users of the need to adapt these to the unique
conditions of each site. Instead, a more sophisticated approach
to the identification of impacts and of limits is needed, which
better 309 Part 5 - Indicators Applications: Uses in Tourism
Planning and Management reflects the sensitivity of different
attributes of the environment to different types and levels
of impact or use.
approaches have been developed to consider the factors which
may affect the ability to support tourism. These approaches
range from work on the limits to acceptable change to applications
such as those described in detail in the case studies in (e.g.
Arches p. 342, Kangaroo Island p. 391 Albufera de Valencia p.
330). These cases show different approaches to the estimation
of capacity, of limits to change and to total numbers of tourists
or levels of development of the destination. All show that a
number of factors are important to the concept:
capacity – where biological and physical factors provide constraints
to the maximum numbers which can be accommodated (for useful
indicators see the section on Tourism in Sensitive Ecosystems
p. 263). Examples include the capacity of rivers to absorb waste,
capacity of species to withstand disturbance or sensitivity
of flora to trampling or harvesting by visitors;
capacity – where the impact on a local community, or the availability
of human resources are the key limiting factors to acceptance
of tourism and tourist numbers;
or Psychological capacity: The origin and background of tourists
determines the number of tourists or the level of crowding they
consider acceptable. Perception and psychological factors relating
to both the host community and the tourists are determinants;
capacity – where current infrastructure (water supply systems,
sewage systems, transport systems, numbers of rooms to accommodate
tourists) are the short to medium term limiters for tourist
capacity – where the key constraints are institutional, related
to the numbers of tourists who (with their impacts) can be realistically
managed. (Note that most economic measures – which could be
called economic capacity- are in fact aspects of management
capacity – limits on the resources available to support management
of tourism (control, design, etc)).
and Carrying Capacity
has always been difficult to estimate or model overall carrying
capacity (although some of the cases in Part 6 do provide tools
which help to understand the relationships and complexity),
indicators can be of considerable use to monitor how development
is related to specific limits which may affect the sustainability
of tourism. In some environments like the island of Cozumel
(Mexico) See Box 3.30 p. 167), a single factor (water supply)
is the most important factor limiting tourism growth. While
in the longer term, sophisticated water supply and conservation
programs may enlarge the supply and reduce the per-capita demand,
one factor, water is at present the key limiting factor. Measurement
of this factor (see Water Availability, p. 165) is probably
the single most important to determine capacity in the case
of Cozumel Island. In other destinations, cultural capacity
may be the most important – and locals may decide on tourism
limits in order to avoid major disruption in their way of life
or erosion of some cultural values. Other destinations may have
limits related to current infrastructure (e.g., number of parking
places in a national park, number of seats in a stadium, capacity
of a sewage treatment plant). Such infrastructural limits can
be altered and removed if decision makers approve the costs.
Indicators which measure the relative use of such capacity can
be critical to the decision of whether or not to limit numbers
of visitors, or whether and when to invest in new capacity.
For some ecological factors, there is much less flexibility.
If ecological thresholds can be scientifically estimated, indicators
which measure key factors relative to these thresholds (e.g.
levels of disturbance in ecosystems, species breeding success:
(See Natural and Sensitive Ecological Sites p. 263) become important
inputs into decisions of how much activity and what types to
of the carrying capacity concept advances, several approaches
have been developed to help understand what are essentially
human/biosphere relationships, using information relating to
measures of limits and measures of trends in use. These include:
of acceptable change, where the capacity of a destination (often
applied to a community or a protected area) is estimated primarily
based on what the residents or managers are prepared to tolerate.
The most important criteria or indicators tend to be those related
to perceived impacts by those affected, although in some applications
a number of different indicators can be used. This approach
emphasizes uses which match the stakeholders’ perception of
what is tolerable;
tools such as Visitor Impact Management (VIM), Visitor Experience
and Resource Protection (VERP), Visitor Activity Management
Process (VAMP) and Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS) which
attempt to match permitted visitor uses with known sensitivities
in a planning and management process which tries to limit negative
effects while permitting types and levels of use compatible
with environmental protection. (See Arches case p. 342);
sensitivity, where the sensitivity of selected (usually ecological)
assets to different use levels are analyzed. Often many indicators
are used to show a variety of relationships. Frequently a single
indicator or small set are determined to be the most critical,
and use levels set to respect these (e.g. the site will run
out of water at 500 persons per day, or the biologists’ work
shows that any more than 10 persons on that site per day will
cause the endangered species to abandon its breeding site).
Often management actions can alter the limits (reduced water
use per tourist, use of blinds for wildlife viewers) which may
alter the numbers which can be accommodated. This approach is
most used for small sensitive natural sites;
models which attempt to estimate capacity and limits based on
many different variables – and try to integrate many different
measures and relationships to provide an overall capacity measure.
(See Albufera case p. 330) Such models require a great deal
of data (many indicators) and a good understanding of the relationships
between many factors in the destination. In operation, this
type of model can lead to the establishment of standards and
limits which respond to many different types of stress on a
A more detailed
examination of some of these approaches is contained in the
IUCN/WTO/UNEP publication, “Sustainable Tourism in Protected
Areas - Guidelines for Planning and Management”, Chapter 6:
Managing the Challenges of Tourism in Protected Areas, where
the relative utility of several of these approaches is rated.
Indicators are shown to be a critical element in the construction
of any of these approaches; the choice of which indicators to
include and the weighting, if any, can greatly affect the results
of the exercise.
capacity is a difficult but important concept, because it implies
limits and can be used to stimulate discussion on those limits.
Thus the determination of “carrying capacity” – or the desired
levels of tourism is often negotiated by the stakeholders… each
an advocate for his or her own interests. To date, tourists
themselves are rarely present to advocate their interests at
destinations during the planning process. Their interests enter
the debate via tourism organizations or enterprises who are
advocates. Local planners may have access to indicators which
reflect the needs or desires of different tourist segments,
through market research, exit questionnaires and other feedback
which can provide clarity. Sometimes innovative solutions result,
as agreement can be found for different use levels at different
times or places (e.g. the religious site is open to all except
when religious services are under way, when only 20 visitors
who are suitably attired are allowed in.) There continues to
be a demand for numeric estimates of carrying capacity – for
a single number on the maximum number of tourists that can be
allowed, or how many rooms are allowed to be built. It is suggested
that managers consider more than a simple single limit, and
make use of a range of indicators to provide the best information
possible on the implications of different levels and types of
use for the destination and for the specific sites within it.
entire Guidebook (519 pages) can be obtained in print or electronic
from WTO's website at http://www.world-tourism.org/frameset/frame_sustainable.html
Dr Ted Manning - Principal author and editor of the Guidebook
Chris McMurray, Australia
to the plea of D. Mitchell and A. Szmant for help with defining
the carrying capacity of their island. They have raised the
vital and universal island concern that sustained population
increase will eventually upset the balance between population
and resources. I’d like to caution them against relying on the
concepts of carrying capacity and population density to argue
their case, however. There is no agreed limit to population
density, since carrying capacity is determined not just by local
conditions but by overall capacity to access resources. Hence
islands like Hong Kong and Singapore can support extreme population
densities without compromising lifestyles, because they draw
resources from a vast hinterland, largely by means of trade.
Islands that can’t do this tend to experience population pressure
at much lower densities than exist on wealthier islands.
to suggest that instead of trying to find a number that represents
carrying capacity, the people of San Andreas should focus on
quality of life and environmental indicators. These could include
access to services like schools and medical facilities, water
and sanitation; pollution; traffic congestion; waste disposal;
availability of housing; average number per household; employment;
nutrition; and other poverty-related indicators. Demonstrated
deterioration in these indicators is likely to make much more
impression on planners than arguing on the basis of an easily-contested
maximum carrying capacity.
Osaia Santos, Federated States of Micronesia
worry too much about population growth in the Federated States
of Micronesia since the net increase between 1994 and 2000,
as the census shows, is nearly nil. Emigration has solved whatever
problems of uncontrolled growth we once had. We ought to concentrate
now on more serious issues--like suicide.
Alina M. Szmant, USA
To me the
critical issue for small island nations in order to achieve
‘sustainable development’ is to achieve stable human population
size. More roads, more hotels, more agriculture all destroy
the natural habitat that is the golden goose needed to sustain
tourism as an industry. Continental types value beautiful rain
forested mountains, clean pristine beaches bordered by jungle,
clear waters when they consider spending their vacation dollars
traveling to a remote island nation. They don't want lots of
glass and concrete, which is what they are surrounded with at
home! With a stable human population size, development can
mean improving already established agricultural and tourism
properties so that they yield good salaries for the island residents.
If the resident human population keeps growing, then more land
must be cleared for housing, food production and more business
development to provide income for the expanding human population.
This is not sustainable development, but rather using up the
corpus of the endowment instead of the interest!
despise the term ‘sustainable development’ because it implies
that if you do it right, you can keep on developing ad infinitum.
Development cannot be sustainable when it is based on converting
under-developed, natural lands, to other uses. Land is a finite
resource, and land development (from untouched, wild to agricultural/urban/commercial)
carries with it an irreversible loss of natural beauty. Once
developed it is almost impossible to restore to the original
problem with ‘sustainable development’ is that we don't know
when or how to stop ourselves: in a democracy we have laws
that state that those there first don't have the right to keep
newcomers out. Every piece of undeveloped land looks like dollar
signs in the minds of politicians and developers. The first
world, USA, is suffering for this unbridled development all
along our coastlines. Wetlands, marshes, mangroves all fall
to our wanting homes and hotels with an ocean view. Most small
island nations have limited land resources and can't take too
much of this kind of pressure before turning into some sort
of concrete jungle (take a look at Grand Cayman).
I think it is important that the peoples of small island nations
when considering the human factor, and what present and future
generations of islanders aspire to, think carefully about the
population pressure issue and how that can be their downfall
or their salvation, depending on how they deal with it.
Vernon, Puerto Rico
Re ‘I think
it is important that the peoples of small island nations, when
considering the human factor and what present and future generations
of islanders aspire to, think carefully about the population
pressure issue and how that can be their downfall or their salvation,
depending on how they deal with it’ writes Alina Szmant (USA)
in responding to the article about saving for the future’. Good
We are suffering
the same problem with population growth in Puerto Rico and on
the island we just left (Vieques, Puerto Rico). Natural and
treed land is being converted to dollars, euros, yen, etc. in
the form of housing for the increased population and tourist
and industrial projects to provide income for the new population.
I do believe birth control should be aggressively pursued before
either Nature or the government forces the issue to be resolved.
Aliti Vunisea, Fiji
and most other small island countries in the Pacific, population
growth is a primary problem associated to so many others. Because
of the young population base of Pacific island states, the question
of education is one of importance. In addition to that, employment
opportunities for the numerous people that should be joining
the workforce in the next 10-15 years is another one. With limited
scope for industrialisation, employment, even in the informal
sector will continue to be a major problem. For some countries
like Fiji, the additional problem of rural-urban movement resulting
in the rise of squatter areas around the main town centres,
increase in crime and other such associated threats are becoming
a reality. There is no simple way to address these issues and
most if not all of these problems can only be addressed by tacking
both the government (policy level) and the people themselves.
Too many times planning and development go around the people
in communities, around the people who are facing problems, but
very little consultation is done with them and through them.
Maybe this is because they will not contribute to decision-making
or are not educated enough to set things straight, but they
will at least share in the experience and will be talking from
their own vantage point and not what the research or study is
about. Participatory approaches to development and management
have been around for ages now, but the realities of involving
people and really understanding how our people live is another
question…yes, there is no simple answer…
a writer, Trinidad and Tobago
is very interesting we would like to put it in our newspaper
for all to read. We live on a small island, Tobago (Trinidad
& Tobago). Please let me know. Thanks and Ms. Szmant has
said a mouthful. It seems that small islands are being re-colonised
and people becoming landless in their homeland.
Tony Deamer, Vanuatu
bit towards sustainability is the Introduction of "Island
Fuel." By using a locally grown and processed fuel as
an alternative to diesel we can reduce our imported fuel bill
by 85%, no small savings, and with time we can develop ways
to reduce this to less than 5% (and that would be mainly lube
oils). Coconut oil is clean. Putting back in the atmosphere
only the same carbon dioxide the coconut tree took out to
make the coconut, and it forms 85% of the Island fuel. The
ships transporting it can be run on it too and so can all
the harvesting and processing machinery. This is no longer
a dream. Most of the Vanuatu Government diesel powered cars
are now running on coconut oil either from VAST Biodiesel
(70% coconut oil) or from Island Fuel Co. Ltd. (Island fuel
85). All our own fleet of trucks, from the Volvo 760 Sedan
to the 5 ton Crane truck, is running on it. So it is working
and has been for 5 years now. So we know it is feasible and
sustainable and yes I can have air conditioning in my car,
like the big boys in Oz or USA and I can have clean air too!
As coconut oil puts out about half the soot particles of diesel!
So who says sustainable has to mean making sacrifices??
Koin Etuati, Fiji
for the future is a very good theme and every resource that
the small island nations have, should be used wisely for sustainable
development. In particular the marine resources, forests,
land, human resources and even energy resources.
resources, for example wind, solar, wave, hydro and biomass
are inexhaustible and abundant. If we want to save the future
for our children, politicians and decision makers and the
public should make a swift move forward on the increased use
of renewable energy resources. In the Pacific region, more
than one third of the population still has no access to energy
and mostly they are poor people in the rural areas.
reason amongst others for making a move towards renewable
energy is that the world oil price is beginning to rise sharply.
The price of oil is now US$ 60 a barrel compared to US $35
a barrel in early 2004. The small island nations which are
at the end of the oil chain would suffer most as the world
oil production is reaching its peak.
we must urge the experts working on renewable energies to
identify opportunities and challenges so that renewable energy
resources are used widely and wisely in the small island nations.
Pacific leaders should move towards more renewable energy
sources for electricity and transport at a much faster pace.
it comes down to a compromise by our leaders whether we want
to remain to depend on imported fuels which are causing pollution
and climate change or to start using renewable energy in order
save money and create more jobs and also lessen our dependency
on fossil fuels so that we have money for other development
needs (education, health, alleviation of poverty) and that
our children have a better future.
suggest that energy issues are tackled in the not too far
future. From Shainomi Metseagharun, Nigeria
what you are doing with theses write ups and my friend Fidelis
Onu, who subscribes to you, encourages me to write you since
you give small islands a voice. I would like to send a write
up on Escravos, a small island in the Niger-Delta region of
Nigeria, in the hope that the world may take a notice of what
is going on there and come to our aid. Is this OK? Better
still, I invite you over to see for yourselves the neglect
and abuse we suffer in the hands of multi-national oil companies
and even our government.
Mike Baker, France
question of tourism have any small islands tried something
like the English bed and breakfast (Small island bed and breakfast?)
for people who would like to escape from their usual mode
of living. This might be of interest to writers and artists
who would like to escape for several weeks - or even months.
If the writers were scientists or agricultural specialists
they might provide some inputs that could be of use to the
to babies..... and I am no expert............... do societies
that practice polygamy have a ‘shortage’ of babies?
Bon Conrich, Anguilla
instance in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a small island
country of about 100,000 people in the Caribbean, where tourism
and agriculture dominate the economy, it becomes a question
of whether to extend the airport so it can receive jet aircraft
and expand the tourism market, or to build a cross-country
road to open up new areas for development, agriculture and
tourism. What is better for the country now as well as being
more sustainable for the future? A difficult decision, which
is complicated by personal ambitions, political agendas, foreign
aid, market uncertainties and many other factors which all
come into play to make the boundaries less clear and the choices
harder to distinguish’.
is further complicated by the fact that their primary crop
is illegal. How can they do any sort of rational economic
planning while having to pretend that the backbone of their
entire economy either doesn't exist, or if it does, will be
Sebastiano Tusa, Sicily
I am living
in Sicily that cannot be defined as a proper island because
of its extension and because its position very close to peninsular
Italy. But due to my profession of archaeologist, I know very
well the situation of many small islands around Sicily. The
main problem that their populations have is connected to the
difficulty of connections between the small island and Sicily.
Frequently the harbours are not properly built to protect
ships and to let them enter in bad weather conditions. Only
two of them (Lampedusa and Pantelleria) have air connections
but sometime during winter those connections are irregular.
other side, the main problem of those islands is connected
to their future. Agriculture and fishing are in deep crisis
so the only future is based on tourism. But there is a huge
danger that tourism will destroy the beauty of those islands
because of buildings, roads and all the well known consequences
of a wide and uncontrolled tourism development. We are fighting
to maintain intact the original features of those islands,
but the war is uncertain and very hard.
Terry Wilson, Australia
reading your article 'Saving for the future'. It provided
a very typical development scenario for many small islands.
Interestingly, here on Lord Howe Island, back in the 1970s
there was a push to construct an airport to accommodate commercial
jets. Fortunately, the geological nature of the lagoon was
unstable and not able to cope with the engineering requirements.
Eventually a smaller runway was constructed, which was not
long enough to handle large jets but provided sufficient length
to cater for twin turbo prop dash 8 aircraft which can carry
up to 30 people. By creating a smaller runway, the runway
did not project out into the picturesque lagoon, and with
fewer visitors, there was less pressure for development, particularly
large scale chains, as there was insufficient tourist numbers.
The outcome was a smaller but sustainable number of visitors,
far less intrusive environmental impacts and the retention
of the values that people came for in the first place i.e.
small roads, safe bike riding etc. Because of its uniqueness,
visitor numbers have remained strong, and environmental values
have been preserved. I appreciate the dilemmas facing many
developing island nations but resisting the pressures to over-develop
will result in longer term economic security (keeping uniqueness)
and sustainability regarding infrastructure (road network/waste).
I'm sure these factors assisted in leading to the Lord Howe
Island's eventual listing as a World Heritage site in the
development in islands
Islands Project -- ongoing series of multi-media pdf-ebooks
1.0 is Ambergris Caye, Belize
Island 2.0 is Koh Si Chang, Thailand
1.0 -> http://bbrace.net/islands/island1/island1.html
-- over 800 images and hour-long audiotrack -- 69mb -- (acrobat
2.0 -> http://bbrace.net/islands/island2/island2.html
over 535 images and hour-long audiotrack -- 78mb -- (acrobat
Small Islands Voice provides a remarkable forum for discussion
of many, sometime unique but often global, environmental
problems. I have been reading these emails for several years,
but not contributing to them, because I am not from a small
island. But I have enjoyed and learned from the discussions.
What has interested me particularly is that the scale and
diversity of small islands provide many models for dealing
with virtually all of the contemporary continental problems.
Because of their small spatial scales, small islands can
be considered the environmental equivalents of ‘canaries
in the mine’; these systems respond rapidly to changes in
the environment, here interpreted very broadly, e.g. population
growth, over-development, exotic plant and animal introductions,
land management problems, displacement of indigenous peoples
. I think that the contemporary problems of small islands,
and their solutions, provide important lessons for those
of us not fortunate enough to live on small islands.....
. Thus I want to propose that the small island participants
in this program organize an international meeting convened
to gather, discuss and provide manuscripts for a book that
will examine .the problems, solutions and plans that islands
from Hong Kong, Singapore and Hawaii to Noumea, Federated
States of Micronesia, Western Samoa, Vanuatu and Kiribati,
have experienced and/or solved. The problems of small islands
are largely no different from the problems in the rest of
the world, but they are more immediate and how different
island peoples perceive and deal with them should be of
intense interest to everyone trying to understand and deal
with the legacy of the 20th century and developments in
the 21st century.
and sustainable development
I.A. Economides, Cyprus
growth is no problem for Cyprus. On the contrary, social
and economic problems are on the horizon because of the
aging of the population, due to both a declining birth
rate and an increasing lifespan. Government measures to
support the family social structure and encourage childbearing
have been on the political agendas for at least a decade
but have not been able to deliver results in reversing
or even delaying the current trends.
years ago a lot of Cypriots chose to emigrate to industrialized
countries in search of better opportunities. Today Cyprus
employs around 60,000 legal or illegal ‘temporary’ immigrants
out of a total workforce of around 350,000. It would therefore
appear that overpopulation is a rather transient and in
any case dynamic social phenomenon.
the short term, evidence suggests that emigration could
be the natural and proven relief. In the long term, I
think that a decent public education system is the solution
to the population growth problem, or even maybe any other
problem. (Public spending in education is a justified
government priority response to a true market failure,
where there are some private benefits but much larger
external benefits). Educated businessmen could utilize
the competitive advantage offered by any location and
create employment opportunities. An educated workforce
could move anywhere in the world there are employment
opportunities. Educated scientists could focus their attention
to more relevant opportunities and threats. Educated public
officials could make better government policy choices.
Educated parents could choose to have more or less children.
Educated citizens could choose better governments, demand
less corruption and more freedom in making choices for
themselves. Educated societies can continue to learn and
Noeline Brown, Cook Islands
for the message although in my opinion it (from Economides)
is overly simplistic and optimistic. While businesses
have a good chance of acceptance in another country, it
is not necessarily the experience of individuals trying
to emigrate. One only has to look at the shameful way
that Australia treats asylum seekers to see that.
Moelagi Jackson, Savaii, Samoa
wish to touch on the subject of education as quoted by
Economides. This is a must and a very important factor
that is responsible for the present situation in our villages
as discussed before. When I came to this village 30
years ago our people did not prioritise education and
this resulted in a poor standard of living and many unemployed
youth. The same young people dropout and become a pain
to the council of chiefs as every time we meet they are
brought in as culprits breaking into peoples plantations
and stealing or even doing stupid things for the sake
of it like stealing pigs and chickens that do not belong
to them. From then on, I set my own educational goals
and systems like offering scholarships to High Schools
on the island and stressing to the Council the importance
of education; also revitalising the sharing of old uniforms
and teaching women to sew. With the cooperation of our
Minister’s wife we had done a lot of projects to push
the women to have more pride in their children’s education.
I think that at that time our village people accepted
the fact that they are an outer island and therefore there
was no future for their children. This I did not accept.
I started lobbying with the business community to stop
taking their children to town but leave them on the island
as they are the brighter ones who could develop the schools
on Savaii. I started pushing the high school teachers
and principals to start Parents Teacher Associations to
earn money to help the school get more facilities - getting
the children to involve their parents and to develop a
spirit of ownership and pride for both parties. I have
proven myself well, out of my seven children six of them
are University graduates and all doing well and aiming
high, and our village young people have also become competitive
and are aiming high. So for me I personally sing a quiet
song that I am not afraid to die now as I know the young
people of this village are prepared and will prepare the
other young to retain and sustain our village forever.
I am quite sure this had led to young mothers using birth
control without taking the pill. They bear what they
reckon they can bring up according to their means.
Still there is a lot of things to be improved like transparency
and corruption in our village, even though it is much
better than ever before.
Jone Kalouniviti, Fiji
hope my little 5 cents of a contribution will be noted.
In Fiji, population growth has doubled in the past decade
with mothers or parents getting younger and younger. Teenage
pregnancy brought about by the impact of mass media, broken
families and loss of family values and of course the number
one factor - lack of education has all contributed to
this. Again political instability and the failure of government
to boost and prioritise health services add to the already
dull picture of society. The explosion in population is
quite visible with the strain it has on the Fiji economy.
Fiji cannot provide employment of all who even graduate
from tertiary institutions here just because numbers are
too great for the workforce to absorb. The soaring unemployment
rate sees our poverty levels moving up, crime rates soaring,
prisons getting full, less and less people gain access
to education opportunities and I can say that if this
trend continues, Fiji will be in a much worse situation
in the next decade.
certainly has its place in all society but the problem
here is accessibility to education. My friend from Cyprus
is quite right about education solving our ills but how
do we facilitate such a system with the available resources?
Our education system in Fiji is something of a survival
of the fittest endeavour - cost wise: only those who can
afford it get it full stop.
Michele Misiewicz, Australia
‘The real problem for policy makers is how to stimulate
creativity and maximize the resourceful energies of island
comes directly through an expanded consciousness. Teaching
holistic thinking (i.e. the inter-dependence, inter-connectedness
and inter-relatedness of all things) not only expands
consciousness (hence stimulates creativity) but through
an ‘expanded consciousness’ (i.e. through a greater understanding/knowledge/experience
of your connectedness to the whole) the actions of the
individual then alter to reflect this new understanding
of self. This is known in education/training terms as
vertical integration of new learning.
case I have not made myself clear what I'm saying is that
the understanding of self has now grown to encompass more
of the planet as a whole. And as the individual’s survival
mechanism still operates, the individual now makes decisions
that are more in the interests of the greater reality
i.e. the whole. This is really what sustainable development
is about i.e. making decisions that are balanced in terms
of your individual interests and the interests of the
whole - decisions that sustain both you individually and
the whole of which you are an intrinsic part. It is not
about wanting or not wanting what developed nations have
- or prioritizing nature over humans etc. etc. - or even
having to address these perceived problems.
that you can effect great change via the mass media (ref
Rupert Sheldrake’s work with the BBC late 80's) it would
be appropriate to direct education policy via the mass
media. And given that many small island nations already
endorse holistic thinking (more so than developed nations)
perhaps cross cutting this broader holistic education
policy delivered via the mass media with content policy
geared toward motivational/inspirational stories highlighting
achievements of individuals (in all sectors) may be needed
to spark the individual’s pursuit of their own higher