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

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   6. GETTING THE WORD OUT
‘An emailed response to my column posed the question: Do you live in a small island?  If I did, I was urged to "tell us what you think". I thought: "spam".  But something stayed my hand as it moved quickly to the delete key and I read the message through to the end. It was, in fact, an interesting discussion on a problem peculiar to the people of small island states scattered around the planet.’  New Zealand Herald, July 2004


Recording the experiences in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on video – an effective way of getting the word out in small islands, 16 July 2005

Small Islands Voice Global Forum

Ms Fathimath Ghina, Environment and Development in Coastal Regions and Small Islands, UNESCO-Paris in her presentation highlighted the success of the forum and emphasised that input from meeting participants was needed to suggest new discussion themes and to provide lead articles, and also to assist with expanding the list of email addresses. Future approaches would include emphasis on solutions.

Mr. Hans Thulstrup, UNESCO Office for the Pacific States, Samoa in his presentation discussed ways to assess the impact of the forum in the Pacific.  He noted how the articles are often posted in island newspapers, referred to in major events, and acknowledged by other organizations.  He described how Pacific islanders used the forum to express controversial opinions without fear of repercussions, and outlined specific actions that had resulted from the forum.

Discussion:

  • Branding of the forum: The UNESCO or Small Islands Voice logo does not appear on the forum e-mail messages - this allows for free and sometimes controversial discussions; however, without a label some readers may perceive it as spam and delete the messages
  • English is the only language of the forum – for practical purposes – the posting of moderated messages every two weeks does not allow sufficient time for translation; and while the messages are edited, every attempt is made to retain the original style and wording provided by the writer
  • In selecting responses to be posted, preference is given to those from the general public audience rather than those working professionally in the field of sustainable development
  • The need for new addresses to add to the forum was emphasised
  • Media addresses are particularly important since they can transmit the articles to a wider and different audience
  • Participants’ help is needed in providing issues and solutions coming from small islands for discussion on the forum
  • Protection can be provided to authors in that articles can be ascribed to anonymous writers or pen names

Utilising the Power of Radio

Ms. Colleen Wint Smith, Caribbean Regional Radio Project, Barbados, was unable to get to the meeting because of the travel disruptions caused by Hurricane Emily.  However her presentation is available in which she had planned to describe the Caribbean Regional Radio Project.  This covers six Caribbean countries, including Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and seeks to develop local capacity to produce and deliver radio programmes on parenting and early childhood development.  Her presentation also covers UNESCO’s multimedia centres in the Caribbean and their role in addressing poverty in isolated indigenous communities.

Mr. Abdullah Shakir Mohammed of the Ministry of Fisheries, Agriculture and Marine Resources, Maldives outlined an ongoing Small Islands Voice activity in the Maldives that involves broadcasting participatory radio programmes on selected development issues.  Information packages will be circulated before the programmes are aired and people will be encouraged to call in with their views.  Listener feedback will be used to assess the success of the programmes.

Ms. Elizabeth Taylor, Corporation for the Sustainable Development of San Andres, Old Providence and Santa Catalina (CORALINA), San Andres Archipelago described school-based radio programmes which are broadcast throughout the school.  Programmes are prepared by a group of students and topics cover everything from peace to natural resources.  Other programmes, prepared by students, are broadcast to a wider audience with the help of a local radio station.

Mr. Leomore McDonald, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, described the plans of the Bequia Community High School to start a community radio station in the school.  The radio station would provide added motivation for young people at risk (in Bequia especially school-aged boys) to stay in school and develop technical and communication skills.  Preliminary activities relating to licensing and preparing a location for the radio station are underway.

Involving Additional Islands in Small Islands Voice

Whilst most of the countries participating in Small Islands Voice are Small Island Developing States, this is not exclusively the case.  Zanzibar and the San Andres Archipelago, two island groups involved in Small Islands Voice, are parts of larger continental countries, however, they share many of the problems of Small Island Developing States.

At present there are 13 partner islands involved in Small Islands Voice (Bahamas, Cook Islands, Cuba, Dominica, Fiji, Maldives, Mauritius, Palau, San Andres Archipelago, Seychelles, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Zanzibar).  This is besides the other islands from all around the world that receive and contribute to the Small Islands Voice Global Internet Forum. Niue in the Pacific is likely to become directly involved in Small Islands Voice in the coming months.  Requests to join Small Islands Voice usually come directly from the countries themselves, sometimes from the UNESCO National Commission or from other organizations.

Meeting participants were in favour of having additional islands join Small Islands Voice – this was viewed as a way of further sharing the benefits and enriching the experiences.

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