||UNESCO Implementing Mauritius Strategy
| ||UNESCO at Mauritius '05|
| ||From Barbados'94 to Mauritius'05|
| ||UNESCO and Barbados+10|
|During the last decade, the special problems associated with the sustainable development of small islands were given a spectacular push forward at the UN Conference on Environment and Development at Rio in June 1992 and in the process associated with the preparation, convening and follow-up of the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States held in Barbados in April-May 1994.
On its side, and perhaps not too pretentiously, UNESCO might claim to have had projects specifically focused on small islands for more than thirty years, as reflected in a chronology of selected UNESCO activities related to small islands. These projects have touched on many areas of education, environment and resource use, natural and social sciences, culture and communication. Examples from the 1970s included a UNDP-UNESCO project for curriculum development at the University of the South Pacific, work on the ecology and rational use of island ecosystems within the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, a World Bank-UNESCO study on the social and cultural effects of tourism in developing countries, and the training of broadcasters in the Asia-Pacific region.
An account of some of these projects was compiled as part of UNESCO’s own preparations for the Barbados Conference of April-May 1994, and published in the 131-page Island Agenda: An overview of UNESCO’s work on island environments, territories and societies.
Subsequent to the Barbados Conference, the different sectors and units of UNESCO reviewed their programmes of work relating to SIDS, in the light of contributing to the implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action. Relevant activities and projects have spanned a wide range of technical fields and areas of concern, including distance education, basic and life-long education, environmental education and education for sustainable development, freshwater resources, global sea-level monitoring, renewable energy, natural hazards and disasters, coastal area management, local and indigenous knowledge, biodiversity conservation, tangible and intangible cultural heritage, tourism and its environmental and socio-cultural effects, use of modern communications technologies to mitigate problems of geographic isolation, and so on
At the regional level, several strategic planning efforts have been mounted in the second half of the 1990s, through such initiatives as Focus on the Pacific, Focus on the Caribbean, and the Indian Ocean Forum. These various regional consultations have built on experience gained in earlier cross-cutting regional projects, such as that in the Pacific on ‘Vaka Moana – The Ocean Roads’. In promoting the Organization’s programmes in these different regions, a major role has been that of the relevant field offices of UNESCO.
As another response to the Barbados Conference – and in recognition of the special importance of intersectoral action for coastal regions in general, and for SIDS in particular -- the General Conference of UNESCO at its 28th session in 1996 established the intersectoral Coastal Regions and Small Islands (CSI) platform. Sustainable island living, planning for changing coastlines, traditional knowledge and management practices, poverty alleviation and freshwater security are among the major foci of CSI actions involving the different programme sectors and intergovernmental undertakings of UNESCO, as well the various field offices serving the main oceanic regions. Among the principal new initiatives generated within CSI are a web-based discussion forum on wise coastal practices(currently with 19,000 correspondents) and the use of new and existing communication technologies to promote the effective participation of civil society, including young people, in sustainable island development, through the Small Islands Voice initiative (currently with 16,000 correspondents).
More recently, in October 2003, the UNESCO General Conference at its thirty-second session adopted a resolution (32 C/R 48) specifically addressed to the “Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States: further implementation and review of the Barbados Programme of Action (Barbados+10)” (32 C/R 48).
The draft of this resolution was submitted by 15 of UNESCO’s Pacific Member States, supported by Member States in other regions, and was considered by each of the five substantive programme commissions of the UNESCO General Conference. As subsequently adopted by the plenary of the General Conference, the resolution includes operative paragraphs addressed to Member States and Associate Members, non-governmental organizations in official relations with UNESCO, and the Director-General, and addresses the continued implementation of the BPoA, participation in the preparations for the international meeting with high-level segment to be held in Mauritius (10-14 January 2005), and reporting to UNESCO’s governing bodies on the planning, outcomes and follow-up of the Mauritius meeting.
As called-for in 32 C/R 48, UNESCO has continued to participate in the Barbados+10 (B+10) review and Mauritius 2004 (M’04) forward-planning process. As part of that process, UNESCO has
Within the UNESCO Secretariat, a process has been initiated to strengthen contacts between staff members working on and interested in small islands in different sectors, programmes and units, through a bottom-up, step-by-step, feedback driven approach. A series of informal open planning meetings entailing have been organized, on a near-monthly basis, with a first such meeting in late May 2003. Conference-call facilities have been used for linking-up with colleagues in field offices, with a summary record of each monthly meeting being made widely available through electronic means.
- designated a Focal Point for B+10/M'04,
- continued to develop the present web-site for the B+10/M'04 process,
- participated in various UN and AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States) preparatory activities for B+10/M'04,
- initiated a substantive review of recent and ongoing UNESCO activities relating to sustainable development in small islands, with special emphasis on SIDS,
- prepared a forward-looking discussion document on "Small islands: Looking Forward - Beyond 2004",
- started to compile a forward-looking planning document, setting out how UNESCO plans to assist SIDS beyond Mauritius '04, defining the mainstream UNESCO activities in terms of the specific needs of SIDS and the possibilities of meaningful UNESCO action,
- prepared an "Informal UNESCO Contribution to Panel Discussions" for the inter-regional preparatory meeting of SIDS in Bahamas (26-30 January 2004),
- contributed to the consolidated report that the UN Secretary General prepared for consideration by the Commission on Sustainable Development (at its April 2004 session) on the outcomes of the preparatory and experts meetings as well as the contribution of UN institutions to the implementation of the BPoA.
Most recently, in February 2004, the Director-General decided to create a high-level intersectoral and interregional Working Group (WG-SIDS), with the charge of further promoting and co-ordinating UNESCO-wide contributions to the B+10/M’04 process (DG/Note/04/07). The first meeting of the WG-SIDS, jointly with the tenth open planning meeting, took place on 4 March 2004.
Of special importance in UNESCO’s contribution to the B+10/M'04 process is the building of bridges and networks of various kinds, in promoting effective collaboration between societal/organizational sectors (intersectoral cooperation), between regions (interregional cooperation), and between generations (intergenerational cooperation). The Organization also has special responsibilities in highlighting the importance of such perspectives as culture and education in working towards a new vision and commitment for small islands.
With this as context and background, information on UNESCO projects and activities geared to the needs and interests of individual SIDS and regional groupings of SIDS are provided under a dozen technical areas listed left under ‘UNESCO and SIDS’.
The information presented under these various headings will be updated and complemented in the weeks and months leading up to the Mauritius meeting (10-14 January 2005). Readers of the present web-site are cordially invited to send corrections and suggested additions to the site webmaster.
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