Coastal region and small island papers 20
COMMUNITIES IN ACTION: SHARING THE EXPERIENCES

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  3. SETTING THE FRAMEWORK

‘The power of inter-regional exchange is indeed great – people’s minds are expanded when they are taken out of their comfort zone. In the Pacific, communities still own their resources, land and sea, up to the reefs. There is challenge, though, since Pacific islanders aspire to be like Americans and Singaporeans wanting big cars, air conditioners and water heaters. Such aspirations can drive communities to do things that are detrimental to the environment. We learned long ago that individually we are weak, but in combination we can be strong. This has led to a strong tradition of regional cooperation in the Pacific’.  Joeli Veitayaki, Fiji

Opening Ceremony Themes

During the opening ceremony, several themes were voiced by the different speakers which were further developed during the subsequent discussions:

  • With the recent terrorist attacks in London (07.07.2005), and the 32 deaths in the Caribbean from Hurricane Dennis, all islands must recognise and take stock of their vulnerability.  Furthermore we all live in a global village with global warming, global trade, global travel, global TV channels, all of which impact on the local scene, sometimes to a disproportional extent in small islands
  • Small islands must continue to have a loud voice, and that voice must be coherent and united in order to be noticed around the world
  • Islanders all want to protect the natural environment for future generations, and the challenge facing everyone is how to balance new technology and infrastructural development with environmental concerns
  • It is not possible to claim that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is still the beautiful unspoilt ‘Island of Clouds’ as named by its earliest inhabitants.  Nor is it possible to say that the country has achieved the goal of sustainable development.  However, a form of sustainable island living is evolving, particularly in Bequia, such that the community exhibits a level of thinking and caring about their island and how they want to see it develop in the future.  This is an inspiration for other islands
  • The involvement of young people in sustainable development is very important.  Bequia, through its Sandwatch and Small Islands Voice activities, has led the way in showing how young people can influence their communities about environmental matters.   Education is a very important part of poverty alleviation and the promotion of sustainable development.  In September 2005 there will be universal access to secondary education in St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Many people in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are waiting to see practical outcomes from this meeting, possibly small steps, but hopefully strong positions

Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States

Agreed to in 1994, the Programme of Action for Small Island Developing States translates Agenda 21 into specific policies, actions and measures.  The 15 chapters are listed in Table 1 (below).

The Mauritius (2005) Strategy reaffirmed the continued validity of the Programme of Action as the framework for sustainable development in Small Island Developing States whilst also taking into account the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and the Millennium Development Goals. There are 20 chapters, many of which further develop those of the 1994 Programme of Action.  New areas are also developed, namely graduation from least developed country status, and knowledge management and information for decision-making (although this latter area is also mentioned in the 1994 Programme of Action).  These 20 chapters are also listed in Table 1 (below).

Table 1 Chapters in the 1994 Programme of Action for Small Island Developing States and the 2005 Mauritius Strategy

Chapters in the Programme of Action for Small Island Developing States (1994)

Chapters in the Mauritius Strategy (2005)

  1. Climate change and sea level rise
  2. Natural and environmental disasters
  3. Management of wastes
  4. Coastal and marine resources
  5. Freshwater resources
  6. Land resources
  7. Energy resources
  8. Tourism resources
  9. Biodiversity resources
  10. National institutions and administrative capacity
  11. Regional institutions and technical cooperation
  12. Transport and communication
  13. Science and technology
  14. Human resource development
  15. Implementation, monitoring and review
  1. Climate change and sea-level rise
  2. Natural and environmental disasters
  3. Management of wastes
  4. Coastal and marine resources
  5. Freshwater resources
  6. Land resources
  7. Energy resources
  8. Tourism resources
  9. Biodiversity resources
  10. Transport and communication
  11. Science and technology
  12. Graduation from least developed country status
  13. Trade: globalization and trade liberalization
  14. Sustainable capacity development and education for sustainable development
  15. Sustainable production and consumption
  16. National and regional enabling environments
  17. Health
  18. Knowledge management and information for decision-making
  19. Culture
  20. Implementation

As was mentioned in the Introduction (Chapter 2) implementing the Programme of Action/Mauritius Strategy is a major challenge for small islands.  Table 2 shows how Small Islands Voice is already contributing in a practical and meaningful way to all but two of the main chapters (as yet there are no Small Islands Voice activities relating to Chapter 12 Graduation from least developed country status or Chapter 13 Trade: globalization and trade liberalization, although these are certainly topics that could be discussed on the Small Islands Voice internet forum in the future).  It should be noted that Table 2 (below) includes only a selection of Small Islands Voice activities; it is by no means a comprehensive listing.  Also specific activities sometimes address several different chapter themes; this is a reflection of the comprehensive, integrated way in which islanders view issues and their solution, and of the holistic nature of the sustainable development concept.

Table 2 Small Islands Voice Contributions to the Mauritius Strategy

Mauritius Strategy Chapter

Selected Small Islands Voice On-going and Proposed Activities (list not totally comprehensive for reasons of space)

1.  Climate change and sea level rise

- building capacity in beach monitoring and management to cope with climate change and sea level rise through Sandwatch and related activities (several islands)

- assist communities to cope with climate change and natural disasters (San Andres, Seychelles, Cook Islands, St. Vincent and the Grenadines)

- climate change and traditional knowledge (Cook Islands)

- communities responding to climate change (Mauritius and other islands)

- sharing the experiences through SIV Global (theme issue) and SIV Youth* internet forums

2. Natural and environmental disasters

- assist communities to cope with climate change and natural disasters (San Andres, Seychelles,  Cook Islands)

- sharing the experiences through SIV Global (theme issue) and SIV youth* internet forums

3. Management of wastes

- zero tolerance for litter project in schools (Seychelles, Maldives)

- glass recycling (St. Vincent & the Grenadines)

- Clean X in communities (Fiji, Dominica)

- recycling initiatives (several islands)

- sharing the experiences through SIV Global (theme issue) and SIV Youth* internet forums

4. Coastal and marine resources

- building capacity in beach monitoring and management through Sandwatch and related activities (several islands)

- training young fishers in conservation (Zanzibar), youth in reef monitoring (Maldives and St. Vincent and the Grenadines), youth in marine conservation (Bahamas)

- community beautification (St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, San Andres)

 - sharing the experiences through SIV Global (theme issue) and SIV Youth* internet forums

5. Freshwater resources

- proposed linkage Sandwatch and River Care

activities – linking river monitoring and sustainable development issues

- rainwater harvesting (San Andres)

- sharing the experiences through SIV Global (2 theme issues – bottling water for export and water supply) and SIV Youth* internet forums

6. Land resources

- involving students in sustainable development issues relating to farming and quarrying (Dominica)

- land use planning and community visioning/ planning (Palau, San Andres)

- sharing the experiences through SIV Global (theme issue) and SIV Youth* internet forums

7. Energy resources

- conserving energy at the community level (Mauritius and other islands)

sharing the experiences through SIV Global (theme issue) internet forum

8. Tourism resources

- involving tourism operators in beach conservation (Seychelles)

- Community Sandwatch competition entries (Bahamas, St. Lucia, Cook Islands)

- sharing experiences through SIV Global (2 theme issues – Seychelles and Cook Islands) and the SIV Youth* internet forum

9. Biodiversity resources

- furthering existing and planned biosphere reserves (San Andres, Cook Islands)

- sharing experiences through SIV global (theme issue) and the SIV Youth* internet forums

10. Transport and communication

- provision of computer hardware for internet exchanges and training (Cook Islands, Fiji, Maldives, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, San Andres)

- provision of communications equipment (Cook Islands)

- support for local radio (Maldives, San Andres, St. Vincent and the Grenadines)

- support for community television (Cook Islands)

- support for video production (Cook Islands, all islands)

- support for newsletters (San Andres, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles, St. Kitts and Nevis)

- support for internet forums and training in their use – SIV Global and SIV Youth* and e-discussion groups

- support for exchanges (Seychelles/Maldives) and inter-regional meetings

- support for websites www.smallislandsvoice.org  www.islandyouth.org 

11. Science and technology

- strengthening scientific basis in primary and secondary schools and in communities through Sandwatch (several islands)

- sharing of experiences regarding wise practices through SIV Global (theme issues) and SIV Youth* internet forum

- establishing links between SIV Global discussions and other websites e.g. SIDSNet

- sharing SIV experiences as part of the SIDS Universities Consortium (planned)

- exchanges and south-south cooperation

12. Graduation from least developed country status

- no present SIV activities although this is an issue that could become a topic for SIV Global internet forum

13. Trade: Globalization and liberalization

- no present SIV activities although this is an issue that could become a topic for SIV Global internet forum

14. Sustainable capacity development and education for sustainable development

- all the SIV activities, particularly through the sharing of experiences, develop human capacity within small islands

- Sandwatch and its future links with River Care are working tools for ESD (several islands)

- Youth Visioning provides for developing capacity amongst youth to plan and implement sustainable development activities (all SIDS)

- mentoring and the establishment of youth groups e.g. Back Chat (St. Kitts and Nevis)

-  proposed involvement with SIDS Universities Consortium

- sharing experiences about education through the SIV Global Forum and the SIV Youth* internet forum

15. Sustainable production and consumption

- sharing of experiences on the SIV Global internet forum and on the SIV Youth* forum

16. National and regional enabling environments

- facilitate communities getting involved in planning their future development through community visioning (Palau, San Andres) and through civil society follow-up to the 2005 Mauritius International Meeting (Mauritius)

- facilitate youth contributions to sustainable development through youth visioning

17. Health

- assisting youth with heightening awareness about HIV/AIDS especially among disadvantaged groups through Youth Visioning (Turks and Caicos, Bahamas, St. Lucia, Cape Verde Islands)

- heightening awareness about HIV/AIDS, among young fishers (Zanzibar)

- addressing water quality issues through the Sandwatch project

- environmental clean-up activities and campaigns (several islands)

-sharing of experiences on the SIV Global and SIV Youth* internet forums

18. Knowledge management and information for decision making

- sharing of experiences through Small islands Voice programme and especially through the SIV Global and SIV Youth internet* forums

19. Culture

- recording on video island traditions, lifestyles and practices – island memories (Cook Islands, San Andres)

- inter-island exchanges which include cultural exchanges (Seychelles, Maldives, St. Kitts and Nevis); also Youth Visioning event in Mauritius (January 2005)

- activities to strengthen the use of local languages (Dominica)

- inter-generational exchanges (Singapore)

- sharing experiences on SIV Global and SIV Youth* internet forums

*Note that all the hotlinks to articles on the SIV Youth Internet forum will require use of the password view and username only

Perspectives on the Mauritius Meeting to Review the Programme of Action for Small Island Developing States

This international meeting, held from 9-13 January 2005, reviewed the implementation of the Programme of Action for the sustainable development of Small Island Developing States.

Government Perspective

In his presentation, Hon. Douglas Slater, Minister of Health and the Environment in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, outlined how his country was following up on some of the chapters contained in the Mauritius Strategy.  He made mention of a recently established and fully equipped national emergency management office; improvements in solid waste management on mainland St. Vincent and an ongoing waste management project in the Grenadines; liquid waste remains a problem and hazardous waste has not yet been fully addressed; the establishment of a marine park is in progress; energy resources are especially challenging and more attention needs to be devoted to renewable sources of energy; the serious impact of HIV/AIDS on development. He concluded by saying that he looked forward to seeing Sandwatch expanded throughout the country and that furthermore this could be a catalyst for other environmental watches.

Civil Society Perspective

Mr. Pynee Chellapermal, Centre for Documentation, Research and Training on the South West Indian Ocean (CEDREFI) Mauritius, in his presentation, described the civil society forum during the Review of the Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (7-9th January 2005, Mauritius).  He stressed that civil society included not just non-governmental organizations (NGOs), but also major groups such as trade unions.  At the civil society forum in Mauritius, they shared their experiences and concluded that implementation of the Programme of Action in the first ten years had not been satisfactory, largely due to the fact that the international community did not respect their commitments.  Their plan of action (see also the Civil Society Declaration) calls for specific tasks at both the community and formal United Nations levels.

Youth Perspective

Ms. Nekishair Gordon, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in her presentation on Youth Visioning for Island Living, described how 96 youth representatives from 37 island nations and territories met to discuss the themes: Life and love in islands, My island home, and Money in my pocket, and to plan youth-led actions to address some of the issues. Preparing their Youth Declaration was a huge challenge, and time and time again they had to return to the planning table.  The process showed how all the islands faced similar problems; and the youth representatives were proud to be a part of the international process.

International Organization’s Perspective

Mr. Dirk Troost, Environment and Development in Coastal Regions and Small Islands, UNESCO-Paris, in his presentation outlined several activities supported by UNESCO at the international meeting in Mauritius, among them, the Plenary Panel on the Role of Culture in the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, and the Youth Visioning for Island Living event.  As regards the United Nations follow-up process, it is anticipated that a resolution on the international meeting will shortly be adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. This resolution will include support at the inter-regional and regional levels.  UNESCO’s follow-up will focus on profiling SIDS needs in all of the Organization’s programmes and on stepping up the holistic and integrated approach to sustainable island living and development; in addition a dedicated website will be maintained.

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