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Nurturing the democratic debate.  
Spotlight on small island developing states
Editorial Contact: Peter Coles, Bureau of Public Information, Editorial Section, tel: +33-(0)1 4568 1710 - Email

21-01-2004 3:00 pm Paris, January 21 Small island developing states (SIDS) are particularly vulnerable to natural hazards, as well as to the negative impacts of global change, whether these are environmental, cultural, social or economic. As part of an international strategy to address these issues, defined during the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development and in which UNESCO is actively involved, a meeting of some 300 stakeholders from island states in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, South China Seas, and the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans is being held in Nassau (Bahamas) from January 26 30, in preparation for a major ministerial meeting on small islands in Mauritius later this year. On January 7 this year, cyclone Heta virtually wiped out island infrastructure in Niue, in the South Pacific, with its remaining 1500 inhabitants facing the prospect of abandoning their island forever. And, while a significant rise in sea level as a result of global warming would cause problems for all coastal states, it could entirely submerge many of the coral atolls comprising the Maldives (in the Indian Ocean). Meanwhile, as tourism becomes the economic mainstay of many small islands, unchecked development brings the risk of environmental degradation and the loss of indigenous knowledge, customs and languages.

Later this year (August 30 September 3), at the ministerial meeting in Mauritius, the unique vulnerabilities of small island developing states (SIDS) will come under the spotlight. Decisions taken at the preparatory meeting in Nassau next week will influence what is on the agenda in Mauritius, and also what new and emerging issues go into an implementation strategy for the sustainable development of small island developing states. A first programme of action was set up ten years ago in Barbados.

Together with other UN institutions, UNESCO is working with local stakeholders to address the challenges faced by small islands in all regions, such as a shortage of freshwater, coastal erosion, isolation, high communication and energy cost, as well as threats to their unique, but fragile biological diversity. Other UNESCO activities are focusing on issues that are familiar to industrialising countries everywhere, yet are often amplified in small, remote islands, such as the empowerment of young people, school drop-out, growing crime and violence, HIV/AIDS education, using new information and communication technologies, and promoting cultural diversity(for details see: http://portal.unesco.org/islandsBplus10).

The Nassau meeting will be held at the Radisson Cable Beach and Golf Resort.
Journalists wishing to cover this meeting must be accredited
Contact (in the Bahamas) Bahamas Environment, Science & Technology (BEST) Commission Tel. +1 (242)-322-4546, Fax: +1 (242)-326-3509, http://www.best.bs

Source Press Release N 2004-05

 ID: 18058 | guest (Read) Updated: 03-02-2004 11:34 am | © 2003 - UNESCO - Contact