A Year of Reefs and Resilience


The SIDSletter is a monthly publication of the Centre of Excellence (COE) for the Sustainable Development of SIDS . The COE aims to 'collect', 'connect', and 'collaborate' with stakeholders from SIDS from around the world to catalyze innovation, resilience and sustainable development.

As coral reefs are increasingly threatened by climate change due to increased sea surface temperatures and acidification of the oceans, it is highly appropriate that this year has been named  The International Year of the Reef (IYOR), a year-long campaign of events and initiatives to promote coral reef conservation. Climate change, through its impacts e.g. on the tourism sector, threatens the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal and the COE will continue to support SIDS in addressing these threats.

For example, the COE is currently delivering, together with Hamburg University, a free 5-week online course on the topic of sustainable energy specifically designed for busy SIDS policymakers ( It currently has over 350 participants. We are now considering a similar course on Sustainable Tourism. We have also continued our series of in-country assistance missions. Please read about the mission to Antigua that focused on waste management in the latest SIDS Times magazine.

Additionally, the COE is co-organizing with Ernst & Young Caribbean an event in the spirit of Climate Change Adaptation and Building Back Better: A  "Do-Tank" which will take place on St. Maarten  from March 16-18, 2018 with outcomes intended to benefit SIDS around the world. The Do-Tank (a hackathon-like Think-Tank) will be a 48-hour event to boost actionable ideas around key topics for recovery and reconstruction.
See more here

Please help spread the word on these initiatives, let us know what you think, and follow us on our Twitter account @COE4SIDS with hashtag #SustainableSIDS. We look forward to supporting you with your SDGs and helping you to build back better as we continue to bridge islands of knowledge.

Best wishes,

Oranjestad, Aruba

ps. feel free to forward this newsletter to colleagues who may not yet be on our list. 


  Let's Collaborate...
The COE actively seeks collaborations to support islands in becoming more sustainable and resilient. Due to their geographic isolation and shortage of local teachers, online learning is particularly effective for professionals in SIDS. 

In light of recent natural disasters in the Caribbean and Pacific regions, the importance of energy security for policymakers in SIDS is key. The COE is currently delivering a free online course on Sustainable Energy for SIDS policymakers in collaboration with Hamburg University from 5 February to 11 March, with now over 300 people participating. Below are some observations by our online facilitators.
Observations from the online course on Sustainable Energy for SIDS Policymakers
"There are 344 participants from around the world (mostly from islands but also people from other regions) who registered for the course. The first two weeks have been very interesting and interactive. We had 97 posts in the discussion forum in week 1 and 77 posts in week 2. This demonstrates the interest in the course. Moreover, I have observed that once the learners gain an insight of the topic through the training materials and video, they are very motivated to share their own experience in their respective countries/regions." -  Dinesh Surroop
"One of the strengths and most valuable aspects of the course is its ability to connect people. We have passionate and engaged learners from really  diverse backgrounds and geographic locations across the world’s SIDS, with really interesting policy environments. I personally enjoy the discussion forums where learners can share knowledge from their own experiences and support each other in learning more about this important topic." - Fran Curran
"The course seems to have attracted a diverse mix of learners from government policy analysts to entrepreneurs who want to learn and make a difference. This is certainly enriching the course discussions through shared perspectives. I am also impressed with the level of detail and information and first hand insight that I can gain from learners who are in their particular island environments. They are sharing first hand insights and information that are very helpful for us (as researchers) in this field." Anirudh Singh
When it comes to relevant knowledge for SIDS policymakers, the COE casts a wide net, because frankly, valuable insights may come from anywhere, from Grenada to Korea...
  • The COE recently signed an MoU with GABI - the Global America Business Institute from Korea to develop relevant case studies for SIDS, amongst other activities.
  • The COE is also working with Belmont Estate from Grenada, winner of the Caribbean Tourism Organization's "Bridging Islands of Knowledge" award, to develop a case study on the how they have become a successful and sustainable enterprise in agri-tourism. Read more here.

 Photo: MoU sigining between COE and GABI, with Arno Boersma of COE, Florence Lowe-Lee of GABI, and Andy Lee, Minister Plenipotentiary of Aruba.

  Let's Connect...
Please find below a selection of upcoming events relevant for SIDS policy makers:

The Global Festival of Action for Sustainable Development I Bonn, Germany I 21- 23 March, 2018
The Global Festival of Action for Sustainable Development is “powered by the UN SDG Action Campaign” with the support of Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. The Festival will focus on three core themes in 2018: Innovation and disruptive change; Citizen engagement; and Communicating the SDGs. The festival will seek to recognize and celebrate “innovators, conveners and breakthrough actors” on the world's intractable development problems, and will showcase the latest innovations, tools and approaches to SDG implementation.

7th International Conference on Environmental Future (7ICEF): Humans and Island Environments I Honolulu, Hawai'i I 16 - 20 April, 2018
Organized by the Foundation for Environmental Conservation, East-West Center, and University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, ICEF7 seeks to advance the global and multi- disciplinary conversation around environmental futures with a specific focus in 2018 on ‘Humans and Island Environments’. The conference will be held from the 16 - 20 April 2018 in Honolulu, Hawai'i, at the East-West Center's Imin International Conference Center. A diverse group of islanders, scientists, managers, and policymakers from around the world will discuss the pressing environmental issues islands are facing. 

Smart Island World Congress I Mallorca, Spain I April 23 - 24, 2018
Smart Island World Congress brings together experts from all around the world to explore the opportunities that can arise from the unique challenges facing islands in areas such as efficiency, urban planning and economic and social development in the global era. For two days, the most innovative and inspirational experts will debate and discuss practices, solutions, and the present state and future course of island management across the globe. 

Sustainable Futures for the Caribbean International Conference I Montego Bay, Jamaica I April 25 - 27, 2018
In celebrating the University of West Indies 70th Anniversary, the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies issued a call for papers for its 19th Annual Conference with the theme: Sustainable Futures for the Caribbean: Critical Interventions and the 2030 Agenda. The conference takes place from April 25-27, 2018 in Montego Bay Jamaica. It is focused on the Caribbean region, but will have relevance for all SIDS. Scholars, practitioners, policy makers and students as well as the general public, will seek to provide analyses of the multiple political challenges and prospects for sustainable social and economic growth by 2030 and beyond.

Sustainable Energy 4 All Forum I Lisbon, Portugal I 2-3 May, 2018
Organized by the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) Partnership, this annual event provides a marketplace for leaders from government, business and civil society to discuss ideas for providing access to affordable and clean energy for all and supporting a revolution in energy productivity. The event will also feature the launch of the fourth edition of the Global Tracking Framework on trends in energy access, renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Join us to help SXM Build Back Better
and work together for a resilient future.

(You will also be able to connect virtually to the event; insights will be captured
and shared on the COE virtual platform


  Photo: Information session about the Build Back Better week SXM with interested stakeholders (from amongst others: GLISPA, The Nature Conservancy, FAO, World Bank Group, and EDF) on February 28th, at the World Bank Group in Washington, DC

  Let's Collect...
A key goal of the COE is to capture good practices and lessons learned in sustainable development from SIDS from around the world and share them for the benefit of all.

Essential to the implementation of the SDGs in SIDS is a strong data and monitoring system. Below is a relevant UNDP publication on recommendations on innovative data systems for implementing the SDGs. 

Additionally, the COE is developing an online toolkit for implementing the SDGs in SIDS. Please find the beta version at  which will be evolving and populated on a continuous basis. Also please reach out to us if you have relevant material to share on the toolkit (and let us know what you think! email to:
A Guide to Data Innovation for Development
This guide will provide practical guidance in designing a data innovation project, as well as tools for recruiting allies both within and outside of your organization.

SDG Implementation Corner

The COE closely follows the SDG Aruba team to capture lessons and insights from their SDG implementation journey that can benefit other SIDS. In this corner we provide a monthly update as well as other related news relevant to SIDS.

From Goals, to Targets, to Indicators to Data - The ECLAC visit

In January of 2018, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) visited Aruba on a ‘Planning for the Implementation of Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development in the Caribbean’ mission. This programme of support is financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)/German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) and entails that six Caribbean countries, one of which is Aruba, will benefit from receiving technical assistance from ECLAC with it’s main objective to strengthen the capacity of Aruba to incorporate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in their planning, management and monitoring processes in accordance with Aruba’s national priorities.
A lot of emphasis was made on the development of a National Statistical Service (NSS) in Aruba in order to be able to produce the necessary data on the various indicators. It is becoming increasingly important for there to be access to and have the ability to monitor the progress and impact made of implementing the SDGs in Aruba. During the various meetings held during ECLAC’s visit with the various public bodies that play essential roles in collecting data relevant on their own field of work, the ECLAC mission has triggered a bigger discussion on how data is being organized, shared, creation of a national data platform and the role data could play in spurring on innovation in a multitude of other sectors on the island.

Photo: Stakeholder engagement workshop during the ECLAC mission with ms Ruiz-Maduro, minister of Economic Affairs of Aruba, ms Croes, Chair of the National SDG Commission, and mr Blewitt, UN Resident Coordinator.

A workshop was organized allowing for civil servants to discuss amongst themselves about key data issues between their departments and to come up with a mutually agreed upon way to move forward. Additionally, there was a public workshop organized inviting those organizations, NGOs and individuals on the island who are interested in the data revolution of Aruba.
As became apparent during the visit is that both the dedicated Indicator Working Group (IWG), the SDG Aruba Commission and the many stakeholders that the development of a NSS is of key importance during this phase of the SDG implementation process for the island.

For more information, please check the website, email them at and follow them on Facebook@SDGAruba & Twitter@SDGAruba

  Also good to know...

Can you see?
 The International Year of the Reef 2018
See an awareness raising video from an NGO from island Curaçao

& learn more about why reefs are threatened here
Can you see - Music Video
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