A Wake-up Call

As a knowledge institution focused on sustainable development of small island developing states, we have been deeply moved by the destruction to many SIDS by the recent hurricanes. We can only hope that the devastating effects on the islands’ people, society, environment, infrastructure and economy is a wake-up call that will catalyze urgent action to increase resilience and together fight climate change.

As world leaders came together for the UN General Assembly, many expressed solidarity and those more closely involved expressed their strong views. For example the Prime Minister of Dominica, H.E. Roosevelt Skerrit, in his address to the General Assembly: “To deny climate change is to procrastinate while the earth sinks. It is to deny a truth we have just lived.”

Another Prime Minister of an island, luckily not affected by the hurricanes, but who rang the alarm bells all the same, was H.E. Mike Eman of Aruba, who pleaded in a recent article: “Islands are not responsible for climate change, yet they are the first to suffer from its effects and have few resources to defend themselves… Each country, no matter how small, can contribute to the fight against climate change… We believe that small islands can be laboratories to demonstrate how this transition can occur…”

The extreme weather events put climate change even more firmly on the agenda at the UN, making many climate-related side events timelier than ever. For example the session "The ‘Islands COP’ 2017: 1.5°C science, significance and ingredients for success" organized by Climate Analytics, which underlined with data how islands are at grave risk if we cannot transition to cleaner energy sources (see presentations here). And the focus of our own co-organized side-event on SDG implementation in SIDS, shifted to the topic of resilience, as soon as it was opened by Prime Minister H.E. Eugene Ruggenaath of Curaçao and Ms Jessica Faieta, UN Assistant Secretary-General & UNDP Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. In other words: progress on SDGs is essential, but what if one storm wipes away all that progress?

Let’s hope the hurricanes have made even more transparent the vulnerability of small islands in the face of extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change. The COE will continue to play its part in facilitating knowledge exchange so we can together come up with better solutions for all.
Arno Boersma
Manager, COE

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  Let's Collaborate...
The COE actively seeks collaborations to promote ways for islands to become more sustainable. We recently connected with Mr. James Ellsmoor, director of Solar Heads of State, a passionate advocate for sustainable energy and  SIDS.
on Islands' Leadership in Renewable Energy
Islands across the world are making headlines with ambitious renewable energy projects. The Pacific nation of Tokelau became the world’s first country to be 100% solar powered in 2012 by launching a pioneering project to ditch its diesel habit.
This project helped to persuade many other island nations of the need to go renewable, and now have ambitious renewable energy goals are widespread. From Fiji to the Seychelles to Jamaica, SIDS are launching ambitious programs to revolutionize economies through renewables, many with goals of reaching 100% by 2030. In Aruba, the goal is an even more audacious 100% by 2020.
In SIDS, many citizens pay 5 to 10 times the price paid in continental areas. Even if the consumer is saved this expense, the government often picks up the tab with hefty subsidies.
Islands typically have extremely high energy costs due to a lack of economies of scale and expensive fuel imports. On many islands, inefficient diesel generators have traditionally generated electricity. The high cost of diesel is an incentive to innovate new solutions.
With these high prices, renewable energy projects on islands can pay for themselves in as little as three years and free up capital in the long run for other needs. This means that renewable energy is justifiable in most SIDS on economics alone.
Additionally, SIDS were some of the important vocal players at the Paris Climate Summit and continue to be leaders in calling for emissions cuts. By making groundbreaking efforts to convert to renewable energy, SIDS are also changing the discourse on renewables.
Most islands are heavily dependent on their coastal resources and impacts include an increased risk of natural disaster, warmer temperatures, coral bleaching and new diseases. Perversely, island communities are also the smallest contributors to global carbon emissions.
This means that islands have an incentive to demonstrate leadership and provide solutions that can be replicated worldwide. Acknowledging that their efforts have minimal impact on global emissions, islanders want to lead by example to gain the moral high ground at international climate negotiations. Conspicuous sustainability allows islands to gain leverage on the international stage and makes both economic and political sense. Read more...

James Ellsmoor is a renewable energy advocate and Director of Solar Head of State. You can connect with him on LinkedInTwitter and Instagram.
Starting soon, the free online course:  
"Sustainable Energy for SIDS Policy Makers"

The COE, in collaboration with Hamburg University of Applied Sciences and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), is soon offering an insightful free online course on Sustainable Energy for SIDS Policy Makers. The course has been tailored specifically to policy makers, ensuring learning is condensed to limited time investment but with a high return.

Learn more and register:

  Let's Connect...
There are many SIDS-relevant events happening this fall, most notably COP 23, hosted by Fiji. Please find below some upcoming events where SIDS policy makers will connect:

Global Climate Change Week I October 9 - 15, 2017
Global Climate Change Week aims to encourage academic communities – including academics, students, and non-academic staff at universities – in all disciplines and countries to engage with each other, their communities, and policy makers on climate change action and solutions.

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. The COE will co-organize a workshop on putting "Knowledge in Motion".
Read more...  &  see a video invitation

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.


Given recent events with the devastation caused by hurricanes Irma, Jose & Maria, the COE is highlighting relevant publications on the topic of Climate Change & SIDS, from forecasting, to creating resilience and enabling financing. Please find  list of corresponding publications below:
"Everything has changed from the certain to the uncertain..."
"...wiped out almost 1/3 of our GDP" in Fiji due to

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 and the National Library presents SDG 2 to Schools

SDG Aruba was invited to present the Sustainable Development Goals at the National Library of Aruba’s Sixth Green Education Symposium. This year’s main theme was “The Climate is Changing, Food and Agriculture must Change, too” and had obvious overlaps with SDG 2: No Hunger.

Aruba being a small, dry and salt-swept but developed tourism destination, importing nearly all of its food, means that food sovereignty is arguably one of the bigger overarching issues for the island. Over 1000 elementary, middle, high and technical school students and 100 adults took turns in participating in the week-long event. The invited international guest speakers included GEF Small Grants Programme of Barbados’ Mr. David Bynoe, the Colombian Cultural and Ecological Foundation’s president, William Michaels Guerrero, and the University of Minnesota’s Outreach and Instruction Librarian, Mrs. Kristen Mastel. SDG Aruba decided to focus on expanding the student’s imagination and tackle some commonly held beliefs about consumption, nutrition, food sovereignty, food security and waste management.

The SDG commission partnered with a local entrepreneur and visionary cricket farmer, who cooked up a selection of locally sourced and home-grown crickets. The reaction of the students ranged from excitement, disgust, laughter and curiosity. It became clear that innovative ideas and partnering up with local initiatives opens up multiple ways to create awareness on the SDGs. It is a matter of finding a good entry point and create the necessary curiosity. It is therefore highly recommend for other islands to come up with their own innovative ways for introducing individual SDGs for students. The SDG commission in Aruba is more than willing to share its experience of the SDG 2: No Hunger / Crickets presentation.

Research workshop on SDG 14, Life Below Water

A workshop on SDG 14 was held with key stakeholders on the island of Aruba to deepen knowledge to support informed policy formulation on one of the most important SDG Goals for SIDS. The workshop on SDG 14, Life Below Water had the purpose to gather local expertise on the Island of Aruba to identify the dependencies and hindrances of SDG 14 with some other SDG goals. The main focus was to compare SDG 14 with SDG 6, 13, 14 and 15. The purpose of the comparison is to evaluate the directional relationship of the first SDG target to the second target and evaluate if the situation on the island is a co-benefit, neutral or a trade-off relationship. This analysis helps to set up a prioritization list to support future policy making. The government can have a clear view on the order in which things should be worked on and what the influences are. This evaluation is done by using the framework from the study “A rapid assessment of co-benefits and trade-offs among Sustainable Development”. Another purpose for this workshop was to train the different departments of local expertise on the use of this framework for future research of the SDGs on the Island.

The workshop was organized by the Meteorological Department of Aruba with funding of the National  UNESCO commission and the research conducted by research fellow of the Nereus Program, Mr. Gerald Singh at the University of British Columbia.

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

ATECH Conference: Also on Aruba, the COE will facilitate a workshop on "How the SDGs can Benefit Start-ups" at the ATECH Conference, which focuses on tech entrepreneurship. For start-ups: ATECH is still taking applications for the Start-up Pitch Competition. Check it here. For participants: use code 'SIDS' and get 15% discount when registering before October 15th.

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Check out some recent articles we found worth reading...
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