The Wisdom of Islands

Ever heard of the wisdom of crowds? That all of us are smarter than any one of us?

It is an important perspective that we at The Centre of Excellence (COE) for the Sustainable Development of SIDS believe in whole-heartedly. But we’d like to consider it the ‘wisdom of islands’, and often ponder to ourselves: If only we (SIDS) would know what we know… Imagine our thriving sustainable development if we could consistently learn from each other.

That is, of course, one of the reasons of our existence: to facilitate the sharing of practices - those that work and why others don’t - and building on each other’s lessons. In that regard, we have a few interesting case studies in the pipeline, about lionfish, tourism development, and - with the OECS - on marine protected areas and water drainage.

And it’s not just about ‘collecting’ wisdom. It’s also about ‘connecting’ the wise. As some would say: it’s not what you know, but who you know. Hence we are participating in various events in the coming months, from the Climate Smart Sustainable Tourism Conference, to a side-event at the upcoming UN General Assembly session, and the ‘Sustainability in Motion’ Green Aruba Conference, to name a few.

We also look forward to meeting some of you ‘on the ground’, as we are preparing several in-country technical assistance missions to SIDS, such as Samoa and Vanuatu, in collaboration with the applied knowledge organization TNO.

We will do our best to bring the wisdom of islands to life. Please do reach out to us if you’d like to share your wisdom.
The COE Team
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 promote ways for islands to become more sustainable. For example, we recently connected with Mr. Ed Spitzberg, an experienced nonprofit executive and afterschool educator, to present at our monthly Global Live Q&A Webinar. Held at the University of Aruba, his session focused on the benefits of Afterschool Programs for SIDS. See below for the live recording.

Afterschool programs can be a catalyzing approach for small island states to solve many of the challenges of the islands’ youth – including improving youth career readiness, reducing juvenile crime, and helping working families. But developing and running these programs can be difficult, from volunteer management, to adequate funding, diversity in program offerings and training of educators.

As these programs address various SDGs (e.g SDG4 Education, SDG 3 Well-being and SDG 11 Sustainable Cities), the COE was pleased to host Ed Spitzberg, an experienced afterschool educator, NGO executive and strategic education consultant. This session aimed to inspire SIDS policy-makers who are involved with afterschool programs, based on experiences from the US afterschool field and model; and in particular on its impact on children and families and the problems afterschool can address, the challenges the system has faced and faces, and examples of success at both the system and individual afterschool program level.

For example: Did you know that in the U.S. every $1 invested in afterschool programs saves $9 in tax dollars?

The presentation was followed by reflections from Aruban stakeholders, as well as Q&A from the audience.

Please find the presentation here

Afterschool Programs: Inspiration for Islands

  Let's Connect...
There are many interesting events relevant to SIDS happening this Fall, many around Sustainable Tourism in light of the Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. And of course there is COP 23, hosted by Fiji. Please find below some upcoming events where SIDS policymakers will connect:
Climate Smart Sustainable Tourism Forum | St.Kitts | September 6-8, 2017 
The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the St.Kitts Ministry of Tourism will host a Climate Smart Sustainable Tourism Forum from 6-8 September 2017, under the theme “Good for us, better for all”. The conference brings stakeholders together to lead positive change in the development of climate resilient and sustainable Caribbean tourism.
Read more…

Pacific Tourism Insight Conference | Vanuatu | October 25, 2017
Vanuatu will host the first iteration of the Pacific Tourism Insight Conference. The conference will focus on the future of tourism in the Pacific and the framework needed to support its development. At this conference, stakeholders will come together to discuss the goals set in the Pacific Tourism Strategy 2015-2019 as well as to network among both regional and international participants.
Read more…

COP 23 | Bonn | November 6-17, 2017
The UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn is the next step for governments to implement the Paris Climate Change Agreement. COP 23 which will be presided over by the Government of Fiji with support by Germany. The Paris Agreement came into force last November and 160 Parties have ratified it. It will be a place to highlight the particular challenges that climate change presents to SIDS around the globe.

Sustainability in Motion - Green Aruba Conference | Aruba | November 15-17, 2017
The Green Aruba conference will focus on what it takes to move from talking about sustainability to doing things in a more sustainable manner. In the context of creating sustainable partnerships, the conference will be hosted in collaboration with CARILEC, the leading association of electric utilities and industry partners in the Caribbean.

Sustainable Tourism in SIDS | Seychelles | November 22-24, 2017
Seychelles will host a conference on sustainable tourism from 22-24 November 2017 addressing protected areas and tourism’s social responsibility in regards to SIDS. Tourism professionals, academics, and practitioners from other SIDS and the region are invited to discuss an integrated practical approach to sustainable tourism in SIDS.
Read more…

Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism | Jamaica | November 27-29, 2017
The conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism will be held in Jamaica on 27-29 November 2017. The aim of the conference is to foster collaborative relationships for inclusive economic and social development via tourism as well as achieve tangible results in the form of practical plans.
Read more…

  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. 

This month we'd like to highlight an inspiring initiative by the South Pacific Tourism Organization (SPTO) a blog series about the link between tourism and each of the 17 Global Goals. A very timely series in light of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

For more information on the blog series click here

Additionally, the SPTO, in collaboration with Sustainable Travel International (STI) is  developing an online toolkit that makes it easy to track a business’ consumption and production performance against a number of sustainability indicators. The toolkit will provide businesses with the insights to understand their impact.

For more information on the online toolkit click here

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.

SDG Aruba partners with the Labor Department

The Aruba SDG Commission was invited to the  2017 “Labor Expo” organized by Aruba's  Labor Department, where job seekers from all over the island  came to learn about the different possibilities and opportunities in the labor market. Labor Expo aims to give jobseekers an opportunity to visit booths and attend important workshops and lectures in a short period of time. More than 40 companies participated at the event. The Aruba SDG Commission was tasked to relay the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in general, and go more in-depth on the interlinkages between SDG 8 (Decent work and Economic growth) with the others SDGs, including what role of an employee or employer in helping to achieve the SDGs by 2030.

Labor Expo paid close attention to youth and millennials this year by creating specific workshops and lectures geared toward this specific group. This provided the Aruba SDG Commission (represented by the Chair of the Commission, Ms. Jocelyne Croes) with a great opportunity to introduce the SDGs to this specific group of people. Youth was identified as a key accelerator in the roadmap produced by UNDP MAPS mission to Aruba. Hence it was a good opportunity to create awareness on the subject. In the end, the Labor Expo provided SDG Aruba a great opportunity to portray a more specific approach to the SDGs and how it relates to the importance of the tourism sector, its opportunities and limitations for the labor market.   

The SDG Aruba Brand goes live

After much work by the SDG Aruba team and the dedicated volunteers, is up and running. Inspiration came from the official SDG websites from the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany. On this web page, the focus will initially be on awareness-raising work being done, including by partner NGO’s, and to give a more detailed description of what SDG Aruba does. This is also displayed on Facebook. An even greater outreach to a wider audience than through the Facebook page was also a determining factor for developing the website. In support of the current media outlets, there is an improved logo and slogan. The logo is similar to other national SDG initiative logos that with the outline of Aruba positioned within the iconic SDG wheel. SDG Aruba’s slogan tries to capture the entirety of the SDGs in a few words and localizes them to the Aruban reality.
The words “Pa Un Dushi Tera”, translates to “For A Beautiful Land” and has its roots entrenched in Aruba’s national anthem, the “Aruba Dushi Tera”. Attaching the SDGs to the national anthem, was considered to be the surest way of being inclusive of people living on Aruba. We invite everyone to come check out our website.

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

  Also good to know...

Looking for SIMPLE ways
to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals?
Check out "The Lazy person's guide to saving the world" 


For more information click here
Stay tuned, we're at work for you... 
  • The COE will be contributing to the Climate Smart Sustainable Tourism Forum from 6-8 September 2017, under the theme “Good for us, better for all”, where we will present, be part of the awards jury and collaborate as the sponsor of the "Bridging Islands of Knowledge" award in the field of sustainable tourism.
  • The COE is collaborating with Hamburg University and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in developing an insightful free Online course on Sustainable Energy for SIDS Policymakers, to be delivered in the fall of 2017. Highlights of the course will also be presented at the Green Aruba conference.
  • The COE is developing two new case studies together with the Organization for Eastern Caribbean State (OECS); Eastern Caribbean Marine Managed Areas Network Project (ECMMAN): Moulinere Marine Protected Area (MPA) in Grenada; and Reduce Risk to Human and Natural Assets resulting in Climate Change (RRACC): Mero Drainage Project in Dominica.
  • Lastly, the COE is creating an SDG Implementation Toolkit specifically for SIDS Policy-makers to be launched in the fall of 2017. A first glimpse will be presented at a co-hosted SIDS side-event at the UN General Assembly session.
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