October 2018 I SIDSletter #20

From New York to Samoa:
SIDS on the Agenda  


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

The 73rd session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) is behind us with various relevant interventions from SIDS leaders as well as SIDS-relevant events such as the launch of IRENA's Lighhouse Initiative 2.0 and the UNDP and Government of Aruba's side-event on Social Innovation for the SDGs, to name a few. Check out the SDG Corner below for more detailed insights.

Now our focus shifts from New York to Samoa, where soon the inter-regional preparatory meeting will take place for the Mid-Term Review of the SAMOA Pathway, the Samoa Partnership Dialogue, and other related meetings and side-events by stakeholders. It will take place in Apia, Samoa, from 29 October – 1 November, 2018.

As always, the COE will aim to identify actionable insights for SIDS - from New York to Samoa and beyond - and share them across our various channels. We'll be sure to keep bridging islands of knowledge.

Enjoy this latest SIDSletter.

Best wishes,

Oranjestad, Aruba

ps. Feel free to forward this newsletter to colleagues who may not yet be on our list. Also, please help spread the word about our activities, let us know what you think, and follow us on our Twitter account @COE4SIDS with hashtag #SustainableSIDS. 


  Let's Collaborate... that together we can support islands in becoming more sustainable and resilient.

Youth-led Data Collection
for the SDGs in Seychelles

Using diverse technologies such as AI, drones and mobile apps

by Angelique Pouponneau, co-founder of SIDS Youth AIMS Hub (Seychelles) and Rohit Pothukuchi, Founder and Executive Director of Verdentum

2015 was an important year for all countries in the world with the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement; but it was particularly important for SIDS as the SDGs and the Paris Agreement set the world in motion to ensure the survival of island nations. Although SIDS are always willing to show their support and propel the international community forward, often flexibility is embedded into the agreements to take into consideration the national contexts of SIDS, such as, the limited human capacity and resources for the additional burden. An example of this can be seen in the Paris Agreement where there are some reporting obligations such as the adaptation communication where SIDS are provided some flexibility with such a reporting obligation. Similarly, annually during the United Nations High Level Political Forum (HLPF), countries voluntarily present their voluntary national review (VNR) and some SIDS have presented these so far. However, from the reporting obligations to voluntarily committing to show how far you are with the SDGs, these seem like daunting tasks. Due to SIDS' small size, it may be assumed that it would be easy to collect data, with very few people, relatively small governments and the scale of any programmes or projects. However, limited human resources and lack of tools have meant people do not have time for data collection for various international frameworks.
To address this challenge, the SIDS Youth AIMS Hub – Seychelles, a youth-led NGO promoting and advancing sustainable development through youth-led projects, recently launched the Climate Accountability Advocates whereby a pool of young people responsible for tracking whether the Seychelles is fulfilling the climate pledges (nationally determined contributions) it made in Paris in 2015 and four other sustainable development goals (SDGs): SDG 7 (clean energy), 13 (climate action), 14 (life below water) and 15 (life on land). Through this initiative, it seeks to add human capacity to what could be a one-person office.
The initiative uses a tool for project coordination, impact analysis and data collection through a mobile app: Verdentum.


Verdentum has focused on addressing the difficulty associated with reporting and impact analysis of development sector projects across the 17 SDGs. The Verdentum platform is designed to help everyone from large international organizations and nations, to small volunteer groups to launch, coordinate and track impact on their projects. The platform was created out of the need to better understand progress of projects in real-time and connect everyone involved, from senior policy makers to ground level staff. The app is designed for easy field use, including by young students and volunteers who may have no formal monitoring & evaluation training. The platform also seeks to use artificial intelligence (AI) features and data from a range of devices to increase the quality of impact analysis. Verdentum currently has users in over 30 countries and engages with some of the world’s leading international organizations including the Commonwealth Secretariat, numerous UN bodies and non-profits across continents.
The platform has been specifically configured to collect and analyze wide-ranging types of data from various stakeholders involved with climate change mitigation in the Seychelles, for example:

  • SDG 13: The Seychelles considers itself a net sink but how are we ascertaining whether we are increasing our forest cover.  There are numerous organisations that engage in tree planting activities in the private sector as a team- building activity but the data is not collected. The app provides them the platform to upload the number and type of trees planted and calculates the CO2 offset. The platform also has the ability to integrate data from satellite imagery to cross-verify reported data.
  • SDG 14: The Government of Seychelles has designated a number of marine protected areas (MPAs) within the Exclusive Economic Zone and recently designated an MPA equal to the size of Great Britain that took us beyond our Aichi obligations and significantly contributed to SDG 14. Projects aimed at preserving the MPAs can report through the platform. Drone-captured images and footage can also be integrated with the platform to better monitor designated areas.
Continue reading here...

 Let's Connect... that we don't miss opportunities to meet, discuss, and explore sustainable solutions for a more resilient future.

Inter-regional SAMOA Pathway Review I Samoa I 29 October - 1 November, 2018
In September 2019, member states will convene a one-day high-level meeting at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to review progress made and where the preparatory meetings will feed into. For this, preparatory meetings are taking place in 2018.
Read more ...
Our Ocean Conference  I  Bali, Indonesia  I  29 - 30 October, 2018
The Government of the Republic of Indonesia will host the fifth Our Ocean Conference in Bali on 29 and 30 October 2018. Our Ocean Conference is focused on generating commitments and taking actions to maintain the sustainability of our oceans. Since 2014, Our Ocean Conference has successfully generated commitments totaling around 18 billion dollars (USD) and 12.4 million square kilometers of marine protected areas. Our Ocean Conference 2018 will convene participants from countries across the globe to ensure diverse perspectives from various stakeholders, including governments, commercial sectors, financing entities, scientific communities, civil society organizations, and young leaders. Heads of States, Ministers, and champions from various backgrounds will also be invited to influence concrete and actionable commitments to preserve the oceans' health.

CALL FOR PAPERS "Sharing Stories of Island Life, Governance and Global Engagement" I Oranjestad, Aruba I DEADLINE 31st October, 2018
“The 1st International Conference on Small Island States (SIS) and Subnational Island Jurisdictions (SNIJs) Governance". The University of Prince Edward Island and University of Malta whom hold the UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability are collaborating with the University of Aruba and the COE to deliver a conference on island governance on Aruba on 26 - 28 March of 2019. How do the institutional structures on Small Island States and Territories assist or limit the ability to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals?

CALL FOR PAPERS "Knowledge Islands"  I  Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain  I  20-22 November, 2018
The 11th Knowledge Cities World Summit (KCWS-2018) will be held in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. Tenerife is the largest and most populated island of the seven Canary Islands. The island receives about five million tourists annually, and it is one of the most important tourist destinations in Spain and the world. Tenerife has been investing on knowledge economy for quite some time and the summit will help strengthening its knowledge island endeavour and strategies. The Summit aims to contribute to the discussion on the importance and trends of knowledge-based development theory and practice.

COP24  I  Katowice, Poland  I  3-14 December, 2018
COP24 is the informal name for the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC is a “Rio Convention”, one of three adopted at the “Rio Earth Summit” in 1992. The UNFCCC entered into force on 21 March 1994. Today, it has near-universal membership. In the course of the 2018 Climate Summit Poland would like to demonstrate how neutrality in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, i.e. a balance between CO2 emissions and its sequestration by soils and forests, can be attained. 

 Let's Collect...
... so that we do not reinvent the wheel or repeat mistakes,
but rather build and improve on the best practices of others. 
            On September 27th we celebrated World Tourism Day.
With tourism being a key economic sector for SIDS, the COE considers it one of its key focus areas for identifying, collecting and sharing good practices. Please find below two COE case studies on Sustainable Tourism.

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 they provide a monthly update as well as other related news relevant to SIDS.

The SDG implementation process in Aruba continues...

Aruba attends the 73rd General Assembly of the United Nations
Aruba attended the 73rd General Assembly of the United Nations during the week of the 24th to the 28th of September. The Prime Minister of Aruba led the delegation during this week with a focus on SDGs and how, through a human-centered approach, the implementation of SDGs can be further propelled in Aruba.
The Government of Aruba together with UNDP hosted a side-event in the margins of the General Assembly titled Social Innovation: A Human-Centered Approach toward SDG Implementation. The session served to provide insight on Aruba’s process until now on implementing the SDGs, and the Roadmap for SDG Implementation, that was developed in partnership with UNDP, has served as a guiding document to direct the development Aruba’s national strategic plan on reaching the goals.

Video: side-event en marge of the General Assembly ‘Social Innovation: A Human Centered Approach toward SDG Implementation’.
Aruba understands that to strive for SDG implementation strong participation of its citizens at all levels is key to drive the success in every area, and thus the human-centered approach is catalyzed by an ambitious whole-of-society innovation strategy. The session also presented how the human-centered approach is being utilized by the private sector (Repsol), academia (Columbia University) and by other countries (Moldova) that are implementing the SDGs. A comprehensive conclusion of the session was made that ascertaining the involvement, co-creation, collaboration and coherence in the implementation of all stakeholders in society is needed to drive SDG implementation on a national scale.

                   Photo: Prime-Minister of Aruba Mrs. Evelyn Wever-Croes at 73rd UNGA

The SDGs and innovation go hand-in-hand and many new insights were garnered by attending the multitude of side-events during the UNGA, that will be incorporated into shaping the SDG implementation process for Aruba.

Main take-aways:
  • the adoption of new methodologies and technologies throughout the SDG implementation process is a necessity; 
  • a multi-pronged approach through coherence, collaboration and complementarity elements will move the needle in an accelerated manner; 
  • partnership creation with both local and international stakeholders are able to enhance an enabling ecosystem through which transformative change can be achieved; and
  • data is of essential importance for how everyone can track progress and their impact towards the SDGs.

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

 Also good to know...
UN launched the Youth2030 Strategy at UNGA

Provided by: UN Office of the Secretary - General's Envoy on Youth


The GEF's Independent Evaluation Office published its approach paper for its evaluation on SIDS as a strategic country cluster


Provided by: Independent Evaluation Office - Global Environment Facility
Some extra news..

Remember our Build Back Better SXM event after the hurricanes on St.Maarten? There has been much follow-up activity, such as the launch of the winning idea GreenBox, as well as an upcoming follow-up event - SMILE - where stakeholders will meet to catalyze innovative ideas together.

And lastly, in case you missed our earlier announcement...

Do check out the SIDSxSDGs Toolkit that aims to help SIDS policy-makers with practical information on SDG implementation in an island context. 

Search by Phase, Goal, SIDS or Type of Resource. 

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