2018: the Year of Sustainability, Resilience, and Innovation for Islands?

2017 was quite a year for islands. With the UN International Year of Tourism, the Ocean Conference, devastating natural disasters, and COP23 hosted by Fiji (to name a few) it certainly was. And with a renewed focus on climate change and resilience, 2018 will not be any less active.

It was also the Centre of Excellence (COE) for the Sustainable Development of SIDS'  first year since inauguration: 11 SIDSletters with updates at the crossroads of SDGs and SIDS; 5 Webinars on different SIDS relevant topics such as UNDP MAPS missions, Sustainable Tourism and Innovation on Islands; 6 Case studies on PPPs, Renewable Energy and more; 4 SIDS in-country visits, to Jamaica, Vanuatu, Antigua & Barbuda and Seychelles, and more to follow; 2 SIDS side-events at UN conferences; to name some highlights.

And we are not slowing down in 2018! An online course on Renewable Energy for SIDS policymakers will be launched, as well as an online toolkit for implementing the SDGs in SIDS, among other things. So stay tuned, spread the word, and follow us on our Twitter account @COE4SIDS with hashtag #SustainableSIDS

We wish you a great 2018, hopefully filled with sustainability, resilience and innovation. 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. 


A New Year's Refresher: 
Understanding the Dimensions of the SDGs
Understanding the Dimensions of Sustainable Development
Stay Tuned for what 2018 will bring... 

  Let's Collaborate...
The COE actively seeks collaboration to support islands to become more sustainable. In light of this, we presented a "Bridging Islands of Knowledge" award to a project that has been exemplary in knowledge sharing at the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Climate Smart Sustainable Tourism Forum held in St.Kitts from 12-13 December 2017, under the theme “Good for us, better for all”.
Climate Smart Collaboration
It’s no surprise: we love to collaborate. It’s a way for us to do more with less and avoid reinventing wheels. One such collaboration – in this year of Sustainable Tourism for Development - has been with the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and their Climate Smart Sustainable Tourism Forum and corresponding Annual Awards. The event on St. Kitts was rescheduled to December due to hurricane Irma, also making disaster resilience a key topic at the Forum. Other tourism-related topics covered were health care, access to finance, coastal management and meteorological data. In other words: a wide array of topics which is fitting for a sector that touches all others like no other.

The COE presented its work for SIDS and in particular our efforts to promote sustainable tourism. Like our case study of Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort,  one of the world’s most sustainable resorts, our contribution to the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism conference, and our in-country technical assistance offered.

The event also presented several awards to initiatives for their sustainability efforts. The COE presented a special award “Bridging Islands of Knowledge for an initiative that went above and beyond to share what they had done, through an open approach, internships, partnerships and learning opportunities. The winner was Belmont Estate, an agri-tourism initiative in Grenada. The COE and CTO will now explore how best to disseminate all the best practices that were submitted for the benefit of islands around the world.

It was an insightful event, and it was luckily rescheduled as opposed to postponed. Yes, air travel should be much more sustainable, but despite all the online tools available, there is still no better way to connect to expert peers than in-person at events like this forum. Please find an article about the Forum here.

Mr Hugh Riley, Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO),
and Mr Arno Boersma, Manager of the Centre of Excellence for SIDS (COE).

  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. 

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.

The 4th World Conference on Marine Biodiversity I Montréal, Québec, Canada I 13-16 May , 2018
This meeting will bring together scientists, practitioners, and policy makers to discuss and advance our understanding of the importance and current state of biodiversity in the marine environment. Conference themes include: Climate change impacts on marine biodiversity; Cumulative impacts of human activities on marine biodiversity; Marine ecosystem safety; Role of systematics in understanding ocean change; Bioinformatics and data delivery; Analytical approaches in marine biodiversity science; Integrative frameworks for linking environmental and biological drivers of biodiversity; Linking biodiversity to ecosystem function and services; Blue biotechnology and marine genetic resources; Marine policy and law; Marine biodiversity and human health; Marine biodiversity education and outreach; and Strategies for conservation of marine biodiversity.

  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. Below is a selection of our recent activities that could be of interest. We would be pleased to send you more info upon request (email to:

The Knowledge in Motion Workshop connected professionals interested in the renewable energy sector, both to each other and to key knowledge organizations. The goal? To spark collaboration in renewable energy and to gain actionable insights. The organizers COE, CARILEC, and Rocky Mountain Institute-Carbon War Room (RMI-CWR) first explained what they do for the renewable energy community. Then, by way of live mobile polling, the participants had their say, giving their opinion on everything from 'Where do you get your knowledge?', 'What are the knowledge gaps?', to 'What are your suggested actions for better knowledge sharing?'. This lead to a rich discussion and solid foundation for follow-up and we are happy to share the resulting action document by email to anyone interested.

Ms Laurena Primus (CARILEC) and Mr Martyn Forde (RMI-Carbon War Room) presenting at the 'Knowledge in Motion' workshop.

At another insightful event, the Knowledge on a Mission Conference, the COE had the privilege to take its 'knowledge on a mission', by presenting its  knowledge challenges together with minister plenipotentiary for Aruba Andy Lee.  The conference was hosted by the World Bank Group - IFC, and led by Neesham Spitzberg of IFC. The participants were then asked to brainstorm to address the COE's 3 key knowledge challenges:
   1) Engaging our geographically spread target audience of policy makers;
   2) Leveraging our portfolio of on- and offline communication channels;
   3) Managing the breadth of our topics within the SDG framework.
All of this problem-solving was facilitated by an all-star team of Knowledge Management experts. The COE is grateful for the many insights and we are happy to share the resulting action document by email to anyone interested.
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.

Government of Aruba appoints first ever Chief Innovation Officer (CIO)

Ms. Varelie Croes, Prime Minister Mrs. Evelyne Wever -Croes, Minister of Justice Andine Bikker and Tristan Every, co-founder ATECH Foundation.

The Government of Aruba has created a position that is rare among SIDS: a Chief Innovation Officer. Mrs. Varelie Croes is the co-founder of ATECH Foundation, a non-profit platform that has been a voice for entrepreneurs and an advocate for building innovation ecosystems on islands.

The COE had the privilege to speak to Mrs. Varelie Croes on innovation ecosystems for sustainable development on islands. Enjoy this bite-sized webinar on and learn more on building platforms, opportunities for entrepreneurs and about the 'Atech code'.

Link for the 'Atech Code':…/the-atech-guide-to-growing…

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

  Also good to know...

The SDG Academy
The SDG Academy will be delivering the following online courses in 2018...
  • Natural Resources for Sustainable Development 
    February 5
  • Environmental Security and Sustaining Peace
    March 1
Also to come courses on...
The Sustainable Development Goals...
Sustainable food systems...
Global health...
... and more!
SDG Academy trailer online course
Environmental Security and Sustaining Peace – Trailer
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