"Insights for Islands"
from a conversation with
H.E. Mike Eman, Prime Minister of Aruba

The UNDP's Khadine Smith sat down with Prime Minister Mike Eman of Aruba, together with UN Resident Coordinator Richard Blewitt,  for a conversation about sustainable development, islands, and... carnival.
A few excerpts (a link to the full interview can be found below):

Khadine Smith, UNDP: What is key to establishing successful partnerships to achieve the sustainable development goals?
Prime Minister Mike Eman, Aruba: “…sometimes you have to start the discussion at a small-scale. For example, we are building a project called ‘smart community' and we are bringing all the stakeholders together: energy, waste management, land, water, even food and transportation... We are focusing on how to convert one neighborhood into becoming totally sustainable… and once you have created a level of confidence and relationship, then bonds starts growing among the stakeholders, and you can scale up with more trust and understanding... This has been an eye-opener for us: through small-scale projects you can build a partnership, then bring it up to a national level. If you can start a discussion that is smaller, it is less threatening to all the partners.”

KS: What advice do you have for others SIDS that have similar sustainable development goals?
PM: “I believe what has really worked for us is to set clear objectives: a clear focal point where you want to go, when you want to achieve it. It has a very impressive effect, gets people mobilized. Take a Caribbean reality: carnival season! It has a date, a day when every float has to be ready, every costume has to be ready, every musical performance has to be ready… and it is ready because we know we have a date. And when you look at what we put on the streets, in creativity, in efforts, in organizational skills, in energy... it’s amazing. The real drive is a lot of pleasure and happiness, but also having clear dates. And I think this is no different from setting dates and getting everybody excited about reaching the (sustainable development) goals.”

KS: What are the benefits that you see in establishing the Centre (of Excellence) in Aruba?
PM: “The challenge comes when you have to make the choices… there is so much on offer in the world, and when an island has gone through a process already, others can learn a lot. Not only from the successes, but also from the mistakes. There are great insights to share... For example, it is quite easy to say ‘I want to become totally energy sustainable by 2020’, but how do you deal with the utility companies that might say this is a threat to their existence? How do you create support and consensus? What types of vehicles, platforms can you create for dialogue among the stakeholders? You won’t get there by copying from a book… it is from the experience that you will learn. And the Centre will help share that experience.”

Have your own insights about making SIDS more sustainable? 
However big or small, if it is relevant to SIDS, we’d love to hear about it.

Let's be in touch and together bridge islands of knowledge!

The COE Team
ps. please forward this newsletter to interested colleagues who may not yet be on our list.  

Interview with H.E. Mike Eman, Prime Minister of Aruba and Richard Blewitt, UN Resident Coordinator
Interview with H.E. Mike Eman, Prime Minister of Aruba and Richard Blewitt, UN Resident Coordinator

  Let's Collaborate...

The UN SDG Action Campaign - an Innovative Space for Global Collaboration on Citizen Input 
The Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development held in Germany 01-03 March featured the launch of the UN SDG Action Campaign and Global Campaign Center in Bonn It is designed to provide real-time cutting-edge advocacy support, "Big Data" expertise and analytics to national governments and multi-stakeholder partners across the globe.
Initiatives of the UN SDG Action Campaign:
  • MY World 2030: Citizens can take the UN global survey for a better world, this citizen-generated data is then visualized
  • Humans of MY World: Linking citizen-generated data to human faces and storytelling initiatives
See video below on the launch of the UN SDG Action Campaign platform
Launch of The UN SDG Action Campaign
and Global Campaign Center
Launch of the UN SDG Action Campaign & Global Campaign Center
Data drives decisions... here are two great resources:

Webinar on "Big Data": What is it and how can it contribute to Sustainable Development 

The UNSSC Knowledge Centre for Sustainable Development & DATA-POP Alliance are delivering as a part of the SD Talks a Webinar Special Series on "Data for Development". Learn more here.

World Bank Group’s 2017 Atlas of SDGs

With over 150 maps and data visualizations, the new publication charts the progress societies are making towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more here.

  Let's Connect...
Below are some relevant events where SIDS policy-makers will meet:

International  Ocean Colour Science Meeting | PORTUGAL 15-18 MAY 2017
With the team “Exploring New Capabilities for Global Ocean Colour Observation, this meeting aims to nurture a strong global user community for ocean colour science and applications. Learn more here.

India - Pacific Islands Countries Sustainable Development Conference | SUVA-FIJI 25-26 MAY 2017
In keeping with the growing ties with the Pacific Island nations, India will organize the Sustainable Development Conference for the Pacific Islands on May 25 and 26, 2017 in Suva, Fiji. The Conference is being held under the aegis of the Forum for India Pacific Islands Co-operation (FIPIC). Learn more here.

World Ocean Festival   | NEW YORK 4 JUNE 2017
In connection to the major conference on the protection and sustainable use of the planet’s oceans, The Ocean Conference, the UN announced that the inaugural World Ocean Festival will kick off the week-long event with activists and enthusiast taking to the streets – and waterways – of New York City. Learn more here.

Symposium on Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Strategies in Coastal Communities | SAMOA 5-7 JULY 2017
This symposium expects to draw the participation of researchers, NGO's, UN representatives, social movements and civil society. It will focus on “managing climate change in coastal regions” meaning that it will serve the purpose of showcasing experiences from research, field projects and best practice to foster climate change adaptation. Learn more here

  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 is done through various ways such as case studies, interactive sessions and interviews. This month we do it by way of some key questions posed to Dr. Asif Chida, of the UNDP.

Dr. Asif Chida, Regional Inclusive Growth Team Leader and Private Sector Development Specialist with the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji

The COE spoke with Dr. Chida, who has more than twenty years’ experience in 30 Small Islands Developing States in the Caribbean and the Pacific, and asked him about some of his key insights related to sustainable development for SIDS policy makers.
(Read the full text and Dr. Chida’s full bio


What do you consider the most critical component for implementing the SDGs in SIDS?

Dr. Asif Chida: “The most critical component of SDG implementation in SIDS will be financing. Huge investments are needed to attain the SDGs, and fulfil the aspirations of the SAMOA Pathway, over the next fifteen years.  Such financing will come from a variety of public and private sources. Much of this will be debt finance which could pose a challenge for SIDS, especially those with already fragile debt positions. In addition, it will be vital to strengthen SIDS’ capacities to develop high quality 'bankable projects' to take advantage of new financing opportunities in the post 2015 period.”

If you could give 3 suggestions for SIDS policy makers to enhance their sustainable development, what would they be?

Dr. Asif Chida: “SIDS policy makers need to shift from reactive policies to more solutions-based and transformative policies which can be achieved through collective action, peer reviews and south-south cooperation. I would suggest to focus on areas such as the localization of the SDGs, the vulnerability index for SIDS to access concessional finances, and inclusivity of whole society for sustainable economic growth.”

Can you give a few practical examples of inspiring development projects?

Dr. Asif Chida: “Three projects that come to mind that would be good to share:
  1. UNDP’s Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (,  a Pacific-wide programme that helps low-income households gain access to financial services and financial education.  Among the many PFIP’s innovative initiatives linking ICT to ordinary citizens, is the expansion of digital government-to-person (G2P) and person-to-government (P2G) transfers and payments.
  2. Farm to Table - Engaging Youth in Organic Farming, a programme that aims to create employment opportunities for youth in organic agriculture through a value chain approach of public private partnerships in the key economic sectors of agriculture and tourism—from the certified organic farmers to Women in Business Development to restaurant owners and managers. Details of the project in Samoa can be seen in  here
  3. Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO) ( which is the premier private sector representative body in the Pacific Islands region, set up to be the representative body of the Pacific region’s private sector and to ensure dialogue between public and private sectors for strengthening regional policy making, building private sector competitiveness and encouraging south-south exchange programmes with SIDS-Caribbean private sector.
SDG Implementation Corner

The COE closely follows the SDG Aruba team to capture lessons and insights on their SDG implementation journey that can benefit other SIDS.

Inclusiveness and prepping for the MAPS Mission

The SDG Aruba team  is continuously striving for inclusiveness throughout the national SDG implementation process. Another step in enhancing this was to create a monthly SDG Commission+ session. The SDG Commission+ sessions aim to reach a higher level of inclusiveness of perspectives within the SDG implementation process by engaging with key stakeholder on a monthly basis. The key stakeholders are briefed and consulted on the progress of the SDG implementation on the island and have the opportunity to provide their inputs and feedback..

Stakeholder engagement with University of Aruba students visiting the Parliament and the Cabinet (Photo credit: University of Aruba)
Collecting, monitoring and assessing data

The Indicators Work Group (IWG), the data branch of the SDG Commission of Aruba - with its own ministerial decree at its inception - has the essential role of collecting and translating local data for baselining and monitoring purposes. Using a framework similar to the one developed by Colombia’s Inter-Agency Commission for the Preparation and Effective Implementation of the Post- 2015 Development Agenda and the SDGs, the IWG has set out to locate and retrieve raw and stored data and translate them to an SDG friendly context. This data will help serve the UNDP MAPS Mission Team in their evaluation of Aruba’s current state when they visit in May, as well as help monitor and evaluate progress in the years to come, until 2030. The core members within the IWG include representatives from the Office of Foreign Policy and Public Diplomacy, the Department of Economic Affairs (DEZHI), Commerce and Industry (DEACI), and the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS).

For more information, please check and follow them on

  Also good to know...
May 11 2017 | How Can Business and The Private Sector Participate in the Upcoming Ocean Conference? Learn more here.

May 11 2017 | Role of Local and Regional Authorities for Circular SMEs. Learn more here

Economic Benefit  to SIDS, LDCS and Small-Scale Artisanal Fisheries

Online discussion on increasing economic benefits for SIDS and LDC and providing access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets. Learn more here.

Insightful website on ocean conservation and related funding:
See where and how organizations around the world are protecting oceans and marine life. Explore the map to see the types of questions the map can answer. Learn more here.
"Waters of Paradise"
A video about how the Maldives is adapting to climate change
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