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

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7. MOVING AHEAD

‘Listening to the project presentations it was inspiring to see all the actions and outcomes taking place on-the-ground.  We need to encourage the project personnel to catalogue the success stories from Small Islands Voice – describing the ‘why’ and ‘how ’- doing the activities is easy, making them successful requires a process.  Documenting this would provide useful tools for other islands to follow.’ Christian Nielsen, Fiji


Litter bin made from recycled materials, Lower Bay, Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, July 2005

Building on discussions during and after the meeting, a future framework for Small Islands Voice has emerged, this focuses on:

  • Sustainable island living through specific activities on the ground
  • Spreading the word so that the impact of the collective effort becomes more than just a sum of individual work

This framework is discussed below. 

Sustainable Island Living

Climate change and communities: Helping communities relate to and cope with climate change and other types of natural disasters in their everyday lives; proposals include:

  • Expand the existing project on empowering the Grand River South East community to understand and cope with climate change to other communities in Mauritius, and to other islands
  • Assist communities in dealing with natural disasters (Seychelles, San Andres Archipelago)
  • Explore the connection between climate change and beach erosion utilising community-based beach monitoring techniques and Sandwatch (Mauritius, Cook Islands)
  • Expand the Chemistry Outreach to Schools (University of the South Pacific) seminars on climate change awareness building (Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands)

Sandwatch as an educational tool for sustainable development: Utilising the Sandwatch approach whereby school-aged youth scientifically monitor their environment and then, with the help of their teachers, parents and communities, undertake activities to enhance their environment and promote sustainable island living; proposals include:

  • Consolidate the existing Sandwatch programme and expand it to include more schools (Bahamas, Dominica, Seychelles, St. Vincent and the Grenadines)
  • Involve new countries in Sandwatch (Maldives, Mauritius, Fiji; and Hawaii through an existing Cook Islands/Hawaii exchange)
  • Developing linkages with related programmes that focus on other ecosystems besides beaches, e.g. River Care – a Pacific programme supported by Live and Learn Environmental Education Inc.

Eco-friendly practices: Testing, applying and sharing environmentally friendly practices; proposals include:

  • Spread marine conservation activities among youth and combining this with education and help lines about HIV/AIDS (Zanzibar); youth activities to address substance abuse (Cook Islands)
  • Expand environmental conservation activities among youth and communities through clean-ups, community beautification competitions, art and poetry competitions, student mentoring, SCUBA, church groups, youth and sports, Clean X (where X is a village, market place, school, church, park) concept (Bahamas, Dominica, Fiji, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, San Andres Archipelago)
  • Address waste management at the community level, through Zero tolerance for litter (Seychelles)
  • Promote the Zero Emission Research Initiative (ZERI) as a waste recycling and income generation activity for communities (Fiji)
  • Expand beach monitoring programmes to involve communities (Seychelles) and other groups, e.g. the Army (San Andres Archipelago)

Community visioning: Strengthening communities to plan their future development and to implement their own plans, proposals include:

  • Strengthen existing community visioning activities and incorporating media such as radio (Palau)
  • Assist communities to implement their plans (Fiji)

Youth visioning: Helping youth envision how they want their islands to change and then making this happen on the ground; all the Small Islands Voice islands are participating; the one exception is the San Andres Archipelago, where future proposed activities include involving youth in micro-business enterprises such as seaweed harvesting and vegetable farming

Culture: Culture is viewed as a very important part of island heritage and identity; proposals include:

  • Preservation of languages (Cook Islands)
  • Integrate Small Islands Voice activities into existing high profile cultural events (St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines)
  • Use exchange visits to promote religious tolerance, particularly in the AIMS region where there is a great diversity in terms of ethnic backgrounds, cultural and religious affiliations

Involvement of all major groups comprising civil society: Following the Mauritius International Meeting, all the major groups of civil society need to be involved in follow-up to ensure sustainable island living becomes a reality:

  • Encourage and assist islands to set up national civil society platforms to implement the Mauritius Strategy (Mauritius)
  • Involve more NGOs in Small Islands Voice (Maldives)
  • Hold a regional meeting in the AIMS region to strengthen linkages and joint activities

Spreading the Word

Regional and inter-regional exchanges: Island to island exchange activities have multiple benefits including the sharing of sustainable island lifestyles, education for sustainable development, and culture. Small Islands Voice along with other partners can help facilitate such exchanges. Proposals include:

  • Regional and inter-regional youth exchanges within and between the AIMS, Caribbean and Pacific regions, focusing on culture (drama, arts, music), but also including education for sustainable development and sustainable island lifestyles, and possibly facilitated through a regional/inter-regional UNESCO Participation Programme project (St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, Bahamas, Cook Islands)
  • Strengthening existing exchange mechanisms with new activities such as Sandwatch (Cook Islands/Hawaii)
  • Scheduling exchanges so that they coincide with national cultural events, e.g. carnivals
  • Focusing on the national level with exchanges between schools and communities (Dominica, Palau)

 Small Islands Voice Youth Internet Forum: The meeting endorsed the continuation of the forum along the following lines:

  • The objective of the forum would remain educational, and the themes to be discussed would be developed in conjunction with the teachers, possibly including sustainable development issues and topics relevant to school curricula
  • The appearance of the forum will be more user and youth friendly
  • Efforts will be made to facilitate instant dialogue at least within specific regions (time zones)
  • The forum will have a specific time frame
  • Separate forums will be developed for primary and secondary levels
  • Incentives such as certificates and youth exchange visits will be explored
  • A teachers e-group will be established to exchange experiences

Islands already involved in the forum expressed interest in continuing; in addition, Bahamas, Dominica, Maldives and San Andres Archipelago expressed interest in a forum for primary schools; while Zanzibar expressed interest in getting involved in the forum at the secondary school level and also in Youth Friendly Centres

Small Islands Voice Global Internet Forum: This important forum provides a place for the general public to discuss sustainable development issues and their solutions.  The meeting agreed that it should continue and island coordinators will assist by providing lead articles for discussion, and email addresses to add to the distribution list.

Community and national radio: Radio is a very important communications media in small islands; proposals for increased utilisation of this media include:

  • Facilitating communities to produce their own radio programmes (Maldives, St. Vincent and the Grenadines)
  • Utilising existing radio programmes so that youth can discuss sustainable development issues (St. Vincent and the Grenadines)
  • Expanding existing youth, school-based radio stations to involve communities and especially women (San Andres Archipelago)

Expansion of Small Islands Voice to include other islands: It was agreed that this should be considered favourably on a request basis – British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, Trinidad and Tobago, Niue have already expressed interest, and Comoros may also be interested

SIDS Universities Consortium: The newly formed SIDS Universities Consortium consists of a partnership between tertiary education institutions committed to assist small islands through research, education and outreach. The meeting endorsed the proposal for Small Islands Voice to investigate a partnership arrangement with the SIDS Universities Consortium. The facilitating agencies in each university (e.g. The Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development at the University of the South Pacific) will promote Small Islands Voice objectives in a mutually supportive manner.

Capturing the inspiration of Small Islands Voice: The meeting endorsed a proposal to document the Small Islands Voice success stories in such a way that the underlying processes and lessons learnt are analysed and explained.  This would assist other island communities in understanding and replicating the successes and would take the form of a reader-friendly document supported by a video.

Activities in each Island

Table 3 itemizes this proposed framework on an island by island basis.  It represents a guide for planning through to 2007.  The table also lists the main completed and ongoing Small Islands Voice activities in specific islands, it is anticipated that many of the ongoing activities will continue.

Table 3 Small Islands Voice Activities: Past, Ongoing and Future

Island

Completed and Ongoing Small Islands Voice Activities

New Areas of Interest to be explored 2005-7

Caribbean

Bahamas

Completed:
- Public opinion survey
Ongoing:
- SIV Youth Internet Forum
- SIV Global Forum
- Sandwatch
- Youth Focus Bahamas: follow-up
- Youth Visioning
- Expansion of Sandwatch to more Family Islands
- Expansion of the SIV Youth Internet Forum to primary  schools
- Regional and inter-regional exchanges

Cuba

Ongoing:
- SIV Youth Internet forum
- SIV Global Forum
- Sandwatch
- Youth Visioning
- Discuss future focus of Small Islands Voice activities – either social or environmental themes - with colleagues

Dominica

Completed:
- Providing computers and internet connections in schools
Ongoing:
- SIV Youth Internet forum
- SIV Global Forum
- Sandwatch
- Youth Visioning
- Expansion of Sandwatch to other schools and communities
- Expand SIV Youth Forum to primary schools
- School and community exchanges within Dominica

San Andres Archipelago

Completed:
- Strengthening documentation centres
Ongoing:
- SIV Youth Internet Forum
- SIV Global Forum
- Youth environmental
activities
- School radio stations
- Sandwatch
- Biosphere Reserve
awareness
- Documentation of community visioning
- Documenting island Memories
- Expansion of SIV Youth Forum to native island and church schools, both primary and secondary
- Participate in Youth Visioning
- Involve youth in micro-businesses
- Engage new partners, especially youth and the Army
- Fully utilise radio for awareness
- Explore linkage between climate change and natural disasters
- regional exchanges

St. Kitts and Nevis

Completed:
- Establishment of internet centres
- Opinion survey
Ongoing:
- SIV Youth Internet Forum
- SIV Global Forum
- Environmental awareness activities + video
- Back Chat youth groups
- Sandwatch
- Youth Visioning
- Regional and inter-regional exchange
- SIV regional cultural concert, song competition
- Highlight SIV at high profile events in St. Kitts and Nevis
- Community beautification contest

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Completed:
- Provision of computer hardware
Ongoing:
- SIV Youth Internet Forum
- SIV Global Forum
- Youth environmental
activities
- Youth newsletter
- Sandwatch
- Youth Visioning
- Community radio station
- Involve other schools in Small Islands Voice/ Sandwatch activities
- Regional and inter-regional exchange activities
- Establish community radio station
- Encourage youth pen pals using e-mail
- Seek private sector sponsorships
- Underwater clean-ups
- Create opportunities for youth to discuss issues on national radio

Indian Ocean

Maldives

Completed:
- Provision of computers and internet connections in schools
- Opinion Survey
- Reef monitoring
Ongoing:
- SIV Youth Internet Forum
- SIV Global forum
- Solid waste management
youth projects
- Youth exchanges
- Youth Visioning
- Participatory radio
Programmes
- Start a Sandwatch programme
- Expand the SIV Youth Forum to primary schools
- Involve NGOs in SIV activities
- Facilitate communities to produce their own radio programmes

Mauritius

Completed:
- Civil society forums in lead-up to, and during UN meeting
- Youth Visioning meeting
Ongoing:
- SIV Youth Internet Forum
- SIV Global forum
- Civil society follow-up to UN
International Meeting
- Youth Visioning
- Explore the concept of community island living
- Operationalise civil society follow-up to the 2005 UN meeting in Mauritius and other countries in the AIMS region
- Integrate Sandwatch into climate change activities
- Small Islands Voice meeting for AIMS region

Seychelles

Completed:
- Opinion survey
- Youth exchanges
Ongoing:
- SIV Youth Internet Forum
- Enviro News newsletter
- Solid waste management
projects
- Beach monitoring
- Sandwatch
- Youth Visioning
- Expand existing beach monitoring programmes to involve communities; improve data storage and management
- Expand Sandwatch activities
- Expand solid waste management project
- Community awareness and reparedness for disasters

Zanzibar

Ongoing:
- SIV Global forum
- Environmental and health
awareness with young fishers
- Youth Visioning
- Expand environmental and health awareness activities to other communities
- Set up free help lines for HIV/AIDS and substance abuse
- Create awareness in remote areas using mobile cinema shows
- SIV Youth Internet Forum in secondary schools (16-18 years)
- Establish micro-enterprises in seaweed farming, specialised tailoring (training in designing/fashion) and marketing of spices and fruits for the local tourist market

Pacific

Cook Islands

Completed:
- Providing computers and internet connections in schools in outer islands
- Public opinion survey
- Video training
Ongoing:
- SIV Youth Forum
- Documenting island
memories (video)
- Sandwatch
- Youth Visioning
- SIV Global Forum
- Inter-regional exchange
- Expand Sandwatch and build on existing linkages with colleges in Hawaii
- Address substance abuse among youth
- Start activities to explore linkages between climate change and beach erosion, start beach monitoring and establish beach change database

Fiji

Completed:
- Providing internet connections in schools
Ongoing:
- SIV Youth Forum
- Community activities – Clean X concept
- SIV Global Forum
- Youth Visioning
- Start a Sandwatch programme
- Implementation of community plans
- Expand the COTS school seminars on climate change awareness building (Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands
- Expand the Clean X concept to other Pacific islands
- Promote the Zero Emission Research Initiative (ZERI) as a waste recycling and income generation activity for communities
- Promote education for sustainable development through the Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) concept. (RCE Pacific is based at the University of the South Pacific
- Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development

Palau

Completed:
- Opinion survey
Ongoing:
- SIV Youth Forum
- SIV Global forum
- Community visioning
- Youth visioning
- Initiate national exchanges before regional exchanges
- Encourage youth pen pals using e-mail
- Continuation and expansion of community visioning
- Community outreach (methods to be determined)

Implementing the Ideas

Dirk Troost in his presentation on UNESCO’s Participation Programme described how this initiative provides assistance to Member States based on their requests for projects within UNESCO’s fields of competence.  Projects have to be submitted according to a specific format through the country’s National Commission for UNESCO.  Financial contributions range from US$26,000 for national projects to US$ 46,000 for regional projects.  Project proposals are due February 2006 for funding in the 2006-2007 biennium. 

Meeting participants discussed using the Participation Programme as a way to fund regional/inter-regional exchanges, and it was agreed that representatives from St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Cook Islands would take the lead in this process. 

The important role played by the UNESCO regional offices in programming, accessing support and linking with other institutions and partners was stressed.

Meeting participants recognised that co-financing was among the most promising approaches to getting the necessary support for implementation.  Several countries gave examples, e.g. BP supporting River Care activities in Fiji, Lighthouse Foundation supporting Youth Visioning project implementation, hotels providing competition prizes in Bequia.  Partnerships with other organizations are also likely to be productive, e.g. the partnership between UNDP and UNESCO to involve Niue in Small Islands Voice. The key is to be innovative and to recognise that every contribution of support - whether financial or in-kind, large or small - helps in making things happen at the local level.

‘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
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