U N E S C O

Mauritius Strategy Implementation

Small Islands Voice Planning Meeting
Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, 11-16th July 2005


[1]

Introduction

For six days at the beginning of July 2005, representatives from thirteen small islands scattered around the globe, met in Bequia, one of the outer islands of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, to share sustainable development experiences and to plan future activities for Small Islands Voice within the overall framework of the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy. As mentioned by speakers at the opening ceremony, Bequia is not unspoilt, nor has it yet achieved the goal of sustainable development, however, it represents a model of sustainable island lifestyles whereby islanders are thinking, caring and planning for the future of their island.   

Objectives

  1. Small Islands Voice work planning 2005 -7 within the framework of Mauritius Strategy implementation
  2. Exchange of information about ongoing Small Islands Voice activities
  3. Exchanges with related UNESCO programmes and projects and those of other organizations
  4. Interaction between Small Islands Voice partners and UNESCO staff from field offices and headquarters
  5. Exchange and interaction with communities concerning sustainable development issues in St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Outcome

Rather than concentrating on sustainable development as an end-product or goal, many of the participants focused on a concept of sustainable island living, whereby an island or community displays a way of thinking and caring about their island and how they want to see it develop in the future.


Damaged roof at the Rotary Centre

Despite attempts by Tropical Storm Emily to disrupt plans (this storm passed over St. Vincent and the Grenadines on 13 July 2005), the meeting was successful and all the objectives were achieved. Although the roof of the meeting venue was damaged, participants reconvened in a hotel room to continue the meeting.


Herman Belmar (right) addressing the reconvened meeting in a hotel room

A full report on the meeting is available; this includes the presentations. The meeting was also reported in the press.

Future Framework for Small Islands Voice

Building on discussions during and after the meeting, a future framework for Small Islands Voice emerged; this has two major components: (i) Fostering sustainable island living through specific activities on the ground; and (ii) Spreading the word so that the impact of the collective effort becomes more than just the sum of individual work. (It is anticipated that many of the ongoing activities will also continue).

Sustainable island living activities include:

  • Helping communities cope with climate change and other natural disasters
  • Expanding the content and geographical coverage of Sandwatch to include other environmental systems and additional islands
  • Testing, applying and sharing eco-friendly practices covering environmental conservation, waste management and beach monitoring
  • Strengthening communities to plan their future development and to implement their own plans (community visioning)
  • Helping youth envision how they want their islands to change and then supporting youth- led initiatives to make this happen on the ground (youth visioning)
  • Preserving island heritage and culture, especially language, traditions and festivals, and promoting religious tolerance
  • Involving all the major groups (trade unions, women, fishers, civil rights groups, NGOs etc) of civil society in follow-up to the 2005 United Nations meeting in Mauritius

Activities relating to 'Spreading the word' include:

  • Regional and inter-regional youth exchanges
  • Revising and revitalising the Small Islands Voice Youth Internet Forum
  • Continuing and expanding the Small Islands Voice Global Internet Forum
  • Fully utilising community and national radio
  • Expanding Small Islands Voice to include other islands
  • · Small Islands Voice to investigate a partnership arrangement with the Small Island Developing States Universities Consortium
  • Capturing the inspiration (successes and lessons learnt) of Small Islands Voice in written and video format                              

    'What I will take away from this meeting is inspiration and motivation. To meet and hear what others are doing in Small Islands Voice makes you realise that you don't need thousands of Euros or huge resources to do important things'. Fathimath, Ghina, Maldives, Caribbean Compass, August 2005.



[1] Photo credits ‘The Ins and Outs of St. Vincent and the Grenadines’, Official publication of the Hotels and Tourism Association 2004