As a contribution to the SIDS Partnership Framework and as a contribution to the follow-up of the SAMOA Pathway implementation, UNESCO engaged in various partnerships that benefit its SIDS member states. These partnerships benefit from UNESCO’s unique multi-disciplinary expertise in natural sciences, culture, education, social sciences, communication and information, in order to address the multiple challenges facing SIDS. To implement actions linked to these partnerships, the Organization is working in collaboration with governments, civil society, regional bodies, other UN and international organizations, among others.
World Network of Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves (WNICBR)
This Network was established in 2012 by UNESCO MAB Programme with the aim to study, implement and disseminate island and coastal strategies to preserve biodiversity and heritage, promote sustainable development, and adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change. This Network, formed by the representatives of twenty islands and coastal biosphere reserves around the world, emerges as a forum for cooperation and knowledge transfer between distant territories facing common challenges. At the Congress of the World Network of Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves, held on the island of Menorca in February 2012, the basis for the operation of the Network was established, with two technical headquarters working together: Island of Jeju (Republic of Korea), which focuses on climate change issues and Menorca (Spain), dedicated to sustainable development. Since the creation, this partnership established a work plan, long-term independent monitoring, annual meeting and annual training courses. To date, the Network has organized four international meetings and three training courses for managers from Island and Coastal Biosphere Reserves. In addition, the Network has created a website and information platform, monthly newsletter as well as four publications in order to exchange information.
Pacific Biosphere Reserves Network: A tool for exchange and cooperation
This partnership, established in 2006, aims to strengthening the PacMAB network, promoting sustainable use of natural resources and sustainable development in the Pacific SIDS4, enhancing environmental monitoring, research, training and capacity building as well as nominating new biosphere reserves. The network serves as a vehicle for exchange and cooperation among new and emerging Biosphere Reserves and national MAB focal points in the Pacific. To date, PacMAB network is composed of eleven Pacific countries with new countries recently involved and participants coming from Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Nauru, Niue, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga. The successful nomination of the region’s first two Biosphere Reserves – Utwe in the Federated States of Micronesia and Ngaremeduu in the Republic of Palau – in 2005 was the spark to establish PacMAB. This promising start led to the notable nomination of And Atoll in Federated States of Micronesia as the third and latest biosphere reserve in the Pacific in 2007.
Ocean & Water
International decade of ocean science for sustainable development – The ocean we want for the future we need
This partnership was announced at the Third International Conference on SIDS by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC) and its partners, with the objective of planning to launch for 2021-2030 an International Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. As a follow-up, in December 2017, the UN General Assembly decided to proclaim the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development for the 10-year period beginning on 1 January 2021, and calls upon the IOC to prepare an implementation plan for the Decade in consultation with Member States, UN Bodies and relevant stakeholders.
The overarching goal of the Decade will be to generate the scientific knowledge and underpinning infrastructure and partnerships needed for sustainable development of the ocean, including in SIDS. As stated in the UNGA Decision, the Decade will be implemented in accordance with an Implementation Plan that will be developed during the period 2018-2020. During that period, several global and regional consultation meetings, including in SIDS regions, will be organised by UNESCO IOC and its partners to identify priority areas in terms of scientific research applied to sustainable development, capacity development needs, and to catalyse the development of partnerships in support of the decade.
Sustainable management of water resources in the Caribbean island states
The UNESCO Category 2 Centre for the Sustainable Management of Water Resources in the Caribbean Island States aims to generate and transfer scientific and technical knowledge related to sustainable water management in the Caribbean Island States to improve the capacities for a more efficient use of water resources in the region. The agreement was implemented through the establishment of a centre in the Dominican Republic, with a focus on the Caribbean Island States.
El centro para la Gestión Sostenible de los Recursos Hídricos en los Estados Insulares del Caribe (CEHICA) promotes and performs scientific research on water, facilitates applications of technology towards better use of water, coordinates research activities in cooperation with various international and Caribbean entities, implements activities for knowledge and information transfer, including training and education at different levels. More specific research activities of CEHICA have included: the simulation of climate variability effects on water balance and adaptation strategies on water use in the Yaque del Norte river basin, the conclusion of a 3 year project on watershed erosion and sedimentation of reservoirs, water quality monitoring and studies in several river basins in the Dominican Republic for INDRHI, and a 5-day training course on rainwater harvesting, followed by a period of 30 days dedicated to practical work by 30 participants from Dominica and the Dominican Republic.
In partnership with the IHP, the CEHICA centre will organize and implement activities for knowledge and information transfer, upgrading the human resource base, deliver consulting and technical advice for sustainable management of water resources in the Caribbean Island States. Furthermore, the project will promote and perform scientific research on water management in the region and hydrologic aspects and facilitate applications of technology towards better practical use of water.
Enhancing South-South cooperation for capacity building in science: Towards economic resilience to natural shocks in the Pacific and Southeast Asia
This partnership will focus on loss and damage in the agriculture and tourism sectors of the selected LDCs/SIDS in the Pacific and Southeast Asia. In order to improve knowledge and understanding of loss and damage ground realities, experiences, best practices and lessons learned, the project will undertake case study analysis in the respective countries and sectors. Regional and national consultative meetings/specialized workshops will be organized during the first and second phase of the project.
First and foremost, this collaborative project will showcase loss and damage realities and experiences in LDCs/SIDS in the Pacific and Southeast Asia regions. Furthermore, the project will present best experiences and lessons learned as well as new insights into how to strengthen existing/new tools for reducing risk to loss and damage. Additionally, the project will assess capacity needs on loss and damage in the agriculture and tourism sectors. Finally, the project will carry out capacity building and training/share information on reducing risk of loss and damage.
Since the establishment, this partnership has improved understanding of loss and damage realities and achieved experiences in LDCs/SIDS in the Pacific and Southeast Asia regions. More specifically, in 2015, research was carried out in five countries on community experiences of loss and damage. A toolkit for assessing loss and damage at the community level was developed and three regional workshops were held on the issue (in Fiji in October 2015, in Tonga in March 2016 and in Samoa in May 2016).
Harnessing science technology and innovation (STI) for resilience building of SIDS
Initiated in 2014, this partnership aims to provide technical assistance to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) with knowledge and skills in strengthening national governance mechanisms for promotion of long-term plans and strategies in addressing development challenges of climate vulnerability, human capital development, economic growth and youth employment. The SIDS in SADC namely, Comoros, Mauritius, Seychelles and Madagascar are fragile and prone to climate change variation. Growth and sustainability of these economies can be achieved by sustainably harnessing the ocean potential through development of appropriate STI policy system and governance and local indigenous knowledge to launch and sustain emerging economy sectors and resilience building.
The modality of actions will consist of building on knowledge, experience and good practice reinforced through mobilisation of regional science networks and targeted capacity development and policy advice. Capacity building training workshops related to the impacts of global changes, development of SIDS-based knowledge networks and databases to support sharing of local experiences will be pursued. Capacity will be strengthened in Mapping of the STI potential of SIDS to identify gaps and opportunities for creating a critical mass of experts with skills and knowledge in science, engineering and technology capabilities and STI Policy design, implementation and M&E in STI policy system and governance. Creation of synergies among science, engineering, technology and Innovation (SETI) Institutions and SIDS for sharing of results, implementation of policies and foresight planning in STI for sustainability and resilience building.
Since the establishment of this project, at least three SIDS have developed appropriate STI Policies. Furthermore, at least six institutions in SIDS have been trained in mapping STI Policy system and governance using UNESCO GO-SPIN Platform. Finally, more than 30 experts including youth have been trained in STI Policy system and governance to enhance resilience in four SIDS.
Climate Change Education
Promoting South-South cooperation through climate change education in Asia-Pacific SIDS
This partnership aims to enhance regional cooperation on sustainability challenges by leveraging the resources and expertise of UNESCO and the Malaysian Higher Education Leadership Academy to build the capacity of teacher training institutions in small island pacific states to deliver locally relevant Climate Change Education. The partnership will build upon prior and ongoing initiatives in CCE in Asia-Pacific SIDS, with the ultimate goal of upstreaming CCE approaches and materials to pre- and in-service training provided through MoEs.
The main outputs of the project include Needs and Gaps Analysis, Training Materials on CCE and the Training of Trainers. The Teacher Training Materials for CCE were produced based on the Needs and Gaps Analysis of CCE of five targeted SIDS countries, namely, Fiji, Niue, Palau, Tonga and Tuvalu. These Training Materials were used to train two key government officials responsible for teacher training and professional development, who were nominated by National Commission for UNESCO of Fiji, Niue, Palau, Tonga and Tuvalu. In addition, this project also conducted a National Training of Teachers on CCE in Fiji and sixty key teachers were nominated to attend this training in Lautoka and Suva, Fiji. This training contributed towards increasing the knowledge on Climate Change and pedagogical techniques to conduct follow-up training on CCE in their home countries. The Training Materials contain Lesson Plans and Activity Sheets for students. These trained government officials have committed to conduct follow-up training in their home countries.
Sandwatch is an activity-oriented program, operational for 17 years, in which children, youth and adults work together to scientifically monitor, design and implement practical activities and projects to address particular issues facing their beach environment and build resilience to climate change. The Sandwatch approach is called MAST: Monitoring, Analysing, Sharing information, and Taking action.
The UNESCO Sandwatch project has so far produced considerable results since its implementation, including; cooperation with local communities and Government officials, data collection, integration of Sandwatch in national curricula in the context on education for sustainable development, students involvement in the management of the coastal environment as well as student proposals for decision-makers on the sustainable development of coastal areas. More specifically, the project has developed training videos, website, global database, coastal monitoring protocols, networks in all SIDS regions and last but not least manuals (in several languages).
In 2017, the project has been expanded in additional schools in the participating countries in the Caribbean, the Pacific, and the AIMS region. In addition, a UNESCO Sandwatch regional workshop for the Caribbean was held in Trinidad in October 2017. 40 representatives from Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, Guyana, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago, learned how to enroll young people, their parents and communities, in the protection and preservation of their coastal areas, including their related waterways and wetlands through the Sandwatch MAST (Measure, Analyze, Share, Take action) methodology. The objectives were to provide participants with the necessary training and capacity-building on the necessary tools which will enable them to: i) enhance their communities’ resilience in the face of climate change; ii) train school students in the scientific observation and measurement of beaches; iii) and assists school students to scientifically collect data and use the results of their scientific monitoring to manage the region’s beaches, by designing and implementing small projects to improve and enhance their coastal environment.
Bridging the gap: Driving partnerships for the global action programme (GAP) on education for sustainable development (ESD)
The Global Action Programme on ESD pursues the overall objective to use ESD as a key driver for contributing to the resilience and sustainability of Societies. The Partner Networks of the Global Action Programme will bring together ESD stakeholders from different world regions to exchange experiences and learn from successful cases in implementing ESD in national education systems. SIDS have been a priority target group of UNESCO's Climate Change Education country programmes in 2012-2015. Recommendations and lessons learned from these activities provide an important knowledge pool to draw upon. Based on their rich experiences and knowledge, SIDS stakeholders are expected to play an important role in further accelerating ESD action. Apart from interlinking and scaling up existing networks, the GAP aims at triggering further commitments to new ESD action in line with one or more of the five Priority Action Areas of the GAP.
Achievements obtained in numerous SIDS since the beginning of the partnership include: In Tonga, a workshop to train teachers and curriculum staff on integration of ESD elements such as cultural knowledge, healthy lifestyles, sustainable livelihoods and climate change into secondary school curriculum was completed in June 2015. Vanuatu was also supported in the capacity development of key secondary teachers (where curriculum integration was most relevant) to plan for and deliver Climate Change Education and Fisheries Education (14 participants, 57%female). In Tuvalu, climate change education workshops have been conducted (20 participants, 60% female and 27 participants, 70% female). These focused on teachers developing effective and creative ways to deliver lessons pertaining to climate change impacts. The second workshop gave an opportunity for new teachers to also participate. Youth were also invited to some workshop sessions as young community leaders so that the learning could be taken beyond the formal education sector. Fiji completed in May 2016 the development and official launch of the Resource Book on climate change and disaster risk reduction using traditional knowledge. A total number of 140 primary schools were selected for training, the resource book and a workshop was conducted in June for all primary level teachers in Vanua Levu island on integrating the resource book into their planning and classroom activities. Niue completed the translation of their literacy and numeracy standards into Vagahau Niue in efforts to enhance transmission of indigenous language. Support was also given to the printing of journals for junior secondary levels (Y7-10) in the vernacular to increase student access to relevant written resources in Vagahau Niue. As a follow up, and to maintain momentum, in-service workshops were conducted to reinforce important elements and values of the uniqueness of being a Niuean teacher not only towards improving teachers understanding of their culture, heritage and language, but its importance in building identity and resilience in the young people of Niue (10 participants, 90% female).
Supporting comprehensive sexuality education in the Pacific
The project supports Ministries of Education and other Institutions to provide quality and comprehensive approaches to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) education at primary and secondary school levels. The program will contribute to the development of future Pacific Island leaders who are sensitized to the issues of SRH and gender equality.
A UNFPA led proposal of five components has integrated the Family Life Education proposal jointly developed by UNESCO and UNFPA in 2014 and successfully been submitted to DFAT for funding in 2018. UNESCO will now work with UNFPA to disburse the funding of the Family Life Education component and commence the activities.
In Samoa the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (MESC) developed a national violence-free schools policy in the late quarter of 2015, which was finalized in 2017. This policy was used as an entry point for the UNESCO Purple My School campaign highlighting stigma and discrimination against LGBTI students and ways to address this issue. Three workshops were held targeting teachers and health service providers in Upolu in the year 2015-16.
University Consortium of Small Island States (UCSIS)
On 14 January 2005, as part of the high-level segment plenary session during the Mauritius International Meeting, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed on the setting up of the University Consortium of Small Island States. The Memorandum was signed by representatives of five founding member institutions: University of Malta, University of Mauritius, University of the South Pacific, University of the Virgin Islands, University of the West Indies.
The main aim of the consortium is to strengthen the national capacity of small-island states to implement the Barbados Programme of Action (BPoA). In addition, the mission of the University Consortium of Small Island States is to enhance graduate education institutions in Small Island States by facilitating the development of the capacity needed to implement the Barbados Programme of Action. The objectives for this project is to improve information flow among members on courses offered facilities, student needs and relevant documents. Furthermore, the project aims to improve the cooperative curriculum development, research, indigenous knowledge management and outreach in the key areas of sustainable development of SIDS by supporting resilience building for sustainable development.
Improving transitions from school to work through engaging youth in policy dialogue
The objective of this partnership is to achieve improved youth transitions between education and the world of work through engaging youth in policy dialogue on TVET. Whilst youth are a huge asset for sustainable development, too many young people experience difficulties making school-to-work transitions. Sustainable development in SIDS depends to an important extent on how well SIDS take account of and engage with the aspirations of youth. This partnership aims to strengthen engagement with youth in policy dialogue and formulation processes, in order to shape future skills, improve transitions and to advance sustainable development.
In this framework, UNESCO co-hosted the Third Caribbean Conference on Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) with the School of Education of the University of West Indies (SOE/UWI) in Montego Bay, Jamaica, in May 2017. In coordination with ILO, UNESCO organized a webinar on the of “Designing effective programmes to promote youth entrepreneurship” for the Caribbean practitioners by mobilizing expert presenters from Europe and the Caribbean who shared a number of promising practices, sub-regional and global trends. In the area of youth, UNESCO has promoted youth citizen entrepreneurship, coordination of youth networks, provided upstream advice on youth policies, and formal participation in Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Organization of Eastern Caribbean Sates (OECS) policymaking on youth issues.
Specifically, UNESCO and the Commonwealth supported for the finalization of the draft National Youth Policy in Saint Kitts and Nevis, as well as the elaboration of an Action Plan for its implementation. Following the revision made by the Federal Youth Policy Steering Committee and further technical personnel, on March 2017, a culminating Federal Youth Policy Consultation inclusive of all stakeholders and youth-serving agencies in the Federation was held.
SIDS Youth Network
The vision of this partnership is to create a sustainable network that promotes and facilitates knowledge sharing, youth participation, collaboration and friendship within and between SIDS. This project focus on facilitating concrete action by young people on the ground in the way that Youth Visioning for Island Living supported youth developed and led activities in SIDS following the Mauritius Conference. The types of projects that are supported include; on-ground actions for sustainability such as tree planting, reef protection, waste management, training of young people to build skills for advocacy, project management, and technical areas related to sustainable development. UNESCO support in coordination inter- and intra-regional exchange to build collaboration between and within the regional groupings. Since the establishment, this partnership has created online forums on SIDS Youth issues through SIDS Youth Website.