Innovation, a driver for
the Resilience of SIDS


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.

Ensuring small island states are more resilient in the face of climate change requires a change from business-as-usual; a change in mindset to foster innovation and to make use of cutting edge science and emerging technologies. This change also requires collaboration across all sectors of society.

To use innovation to promote resilience, the COE recently organized a 3-day hackathon-like event on St.Maarten together with Ernst & Young Caribbean and various other organizations. In the spirit of "Build Back Better SXM", the event boosted innovative, actionable ideas around key topics for island resilience. The outcomes will be shared for the benefit of SIDS around the world. In parallel, trade missions from other islands were organized.

Participants varied from public to private sector and from young to experienced. The Prime Minister of St.Maarten shared that the ideas flowing from the conference will be taken into account into the national rebuilding efforts.

In just 3 days, Build Back Better SXM event brought together:

  • 166 participants
  • 21 hackathon teams
  • 45 international companies
  • 11 different countries
  • 1 NextGen mobile Social Contract Commitment aka "SoCoCo" Wall
  • 100kg of trash collected during a beach cleanup
  • 8 expert sessions on topics ranging from renewable energy to sustainable tourism for building back better

What’s Next? Stay tuned! See the BBB SXM facebook page for follow-ups 

Staying on the topic of innovation, the COE will be contribute to various sessions at the Smart Island World Congress in Mallorca, Spain, April 23 - 24, 2018. The Smart Island World Congress brings together experts from all around the world to explore the opportunities to face the unique challenges of islands. For example, the COE  will organize a workshop with the Aruban team behind the 'Isla Innovativo' initiative, elaborating on the island's  innovation and digital transformation journeyRead more about this upcoming conference... and see a brief interview re "Innovation on Islands" with Aruba's new Chief Innovation Officer Ms. Varelie Croes.

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. We look forward to supporting you with your SDGs and helping you foster innovation for resilience 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 is always on the lookout for collaborations to support islands in becoming more sustainable and resilient.
The COE recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Aruba to reaffirm our continued collaboration, and to work together to develop the future SISSTEM (Sustainable Island Solutions through STEM) Faculty.

The University of Aruba is developing the SISSTEM Faculty with EU-funding to enhance the disciplines of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in the context of the sustainable development of islands.

 Photo: MoU signing between University of Aruba Rector Dr. Glenn Thodé and COE Manager Arno Boersma

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

2018 Understanding Risk Forum I Mexico City, Mexico I 16 - 19 May, 2018
UR is a global community of 7,000+ experts and practitioners active in the creation, communication, and use of disaster risk information. Members share knowledge and experience, collaborate, and discuss innovations and best practice in risk assessment. The community convenes every two years at UR Forums – five-day events that highlight groundbreaking work, facilitate nontraditional partnerships, and showcase new technical know-how in disaster risk identification.

Financing the Resilience of SIDS I Antigua I 21-22 May, 2018
The governments of Belgium and Antigua & Barbuda, together with the Centre of Excellence (COE) for SIDS, plan to organize a two-day seminar that will focus on financial aspects of resilience, on Disaster Risk Reduction and management, on climate resilient infrastructure, on the inclusion of the Private sector through PPPs. Target audience are the permanent representatives to the UN  of the AOSIS countries. For more information, please contact Mr. Andrzej Bielicki of the Belgian Mission to the UN at

  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. 

We are about to publish 2 new case studies developed with Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), and are preparing our next in-country technical assistance missions (to Nauru and Dominican Republic)... So stay tuned!

In light of recent natural disasters in the Caribbean and Pacific regions, the importance actionable ideas that contribute to resilience of SIDS is key. Here we present the Winning idea: Green Box of the Build Back Better SXM week. How to stimulate recycling and improve waste management? How to change mind-sets, behavior and create a culture of conscious consumption?

Interested in the other 20 ideas and follow-ups? Follow the Facebook page of BBB SXM and read the Key Highlights & Follow-ups coming from the event.
Photo: the winning hackathon-team Green Box receives the award for first place from the Prime Minister of St Maarten, Ms Leona Romeo-Marlin (on right)
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.

Ongoing meetings of the SDG Commission on the implementation of SDGs

In the past month, the SDG commission of Aruba met weekly to align the various activities at the different levels of implementation (policy, statistics and communication). A key  focus of these meetings was the timeline and the development of an Expert Working Group (EWG) to start the development of a National Development Plan (NDP) 2018-2021 by DEZHI (Department of Economic Affairs). This National Development Plan will flow from a participatory approach that will help Aruba realize the vision and agenda of SDG by 2030.  
Another working group that met weekly was the Indicators Working Group (IWG), after the ECLAC visit to Aruba in January 2018. The purpose of these meetings was to work on an action plan for the basic study on the state of affairs regarding SDGs before May of 2018, based on the regional Caribbean indicators by ECLAC. ECLAC and CARICOM reached a consensus on 109 indicators proposed by ECLAC.
A third group, the Awareness Working Group (AWG), also met regularly. Last month, the focus of these meetings was on the implementation of the communication plan, promotional material and videos for raising awareness and for promoting the SDGs on Aruba.
Other meetings that were crucial were meetings with regard to the Secretariat of the SDG Commission for setting-up the institutional framework and corresponding working groups. This followed a meeting held with the Council of Ministers end of February. The latter meeting was important for the involvement and the approval of the government on the accelerators that are included in the “Roadmap for SDG implementation in Aruba” (December 2017).
Finally, it is important to mention that various sessions where held during the past month with civil society organizations, for example with the Hope Foundation, Youth Parliament and CEDE Aruba.

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

  Also good to know...
The COE recently delivered, in collaboration with Hamburg University, a free 5-week Online Course on Sustainable Energy specifically designed for SIDS policymakers (see here

The course had close to 400 participants and lively online discussions among them !

We are currently working on evaluating the course for possible improvements in future learning offerings. Initial feedback has been very positive, such as from participant Asenaca Vakasevuraki from Fiji:

"Thank you all for the opportunity to take the Online Learning course. It was a very interactive and accessible way of knowledge-transfer and sharing from various countries. I do applaud the facilitators, the support team and technicians who helped make the Sustainable Energy for SIDS program possible." 

STAY TUNED: We are now exploring the development of a similar course on Sustainable Tourism
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