for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS)
(Mauritius, 10-14 January 2005)
Outcomes of the SIDS Mauritius Meeting and Proposed Way Forward for UNESCO
2. UNESCO Preparations for the Mauritius International Meeting
3. The Mauritius International Meeting ... At A Glance
4. UNESCO’s Contributions to the Mauritius International Meeting
5. Principal Outcome Documents of the Mauritius Meeting
6. Implications to UNESCO: Preliminary proposals for UNESCO follow-up
UNESCO has contributed distinctively to the review and forward-planning process associated with the 1994 Barbados Programme of Action (BPoA) for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and to events connected with the international meeting in Mauritius (10-14 January 2005), in such fields as culture, youth, communities in action, and ocean and coastal management. The principal negotiated outputs of the Mauritius International Meeting – a strategy document and a political declaration – call for action in many fields related to UNESCO’s concerns, programmes and priorities. In terms of follow-up, the Director General proposes a two-pronged approach. First, a mainstreaming approach should be taken to address the needs of SIDS in all the Organization’s activities. At the same time, it is important that UNESCO continues to promote holistic, integrated approaches to sustainable living and development in SIDS, through nurturing intersectoral cooperation, with an intergenerational dimension, at the interregional level, via the proven platform approach. In this, particular attention needs to be given to the easily marginalized or more difficult dimensions, components and locations, such as culture, local knowledge, indigenous people, youth and outer islands.
In October 2003, the UNESCO General Conference at its thirty-second session adopted a resolution (32 C/Res. 48)1 specifically addressed to the “Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States: further implementation and review of the Barbados Programme of Action (Barbados+10)”. 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 an international meeting with high-level segment (Mauritius, 10-14 January 2005), and reporting to UNESCO’s governing bodies on the planning, outcomes and follow-up of the Mauritius meeting.
2. UNESCO Preparations for the Mauritius International Meeting
As called for in 32 C/Res.48, during the 15-month period October 2003-December 2004, UNESCO participated actively in the Barbados+10 (B+10) review and Mauritius International Meeting (MIM) forward-planning process. As part of that process, UNESCO:
designated a Focal Point for B+10/MIM, who also served on the dedicated Interagency Task Force (IATF) set-up by the United Nations for the process;
continued to develop an interactive cross-sectoral web-site2 for the B+10/MIM process;
participated in various UN and AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States) preparatory activities for B+10/MIM;
contributed distinctively, in particular through two internet-based discussion forums3 with over 35,000 e-recipients, to the evolving SIDS agenda (e.g. in terms of incorporation in 2004 of dimensions such as cultural diversity and economic opportunities of island cultures, as well as the role of youth);
prepared overviews of recent and ongoing UNESCO activities relating to sustainable development in small islands, with special emphasis on SIDS (e.g. small-island dossiers in the ‘New Courier’ and ‘A World of Science’, Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD) Brief on SIDS);
undertook a substantive review of recent, ongoing and planned UNESCO activities relating to sustainable development in small islands, with special emphasis on SIDS;
continued to hold a series of informal open planning meetings on a near-monthly basis, following a first such meeting in May 2003, alternating since May 2004 with four meetings of the high-level intersectoral Working Group on SIDS (reference DG Note 04/07 of 10 February4), including one joint meeting with the Paris-based Group of SIDS Ambassadors and Permanent Delegates and two meetings with the Director-General (summary records of these meetings available on the dedicated web-site5).
Underpinning these various UNESCO activities in the lead-up to the MIM, special importance was given to 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 took on special responsibilities in highlighting the importance of such perspectives as culture, education and youth in working towards a new vision and commitment for small islands
3. The Mauritius International Meeting ... At A Glance The International Meeting to Review the Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States took place in Port Louis, Mauritius, from 10 to 14 January 2005. It was attended by 18 Presidents, Vice-Presidents and Prime Ministers, some 60 ministers and nearly 2,000 delegates, civil society representatives and journalists from 114 counties and by 15 UN or multilateral agencies. The five-day conference hosted by the Republic of Mauritius was held in a new conference centre built with the assistance of India.
Paul Bérenger, Prime Minister of Mauritius, was elected President of the MIM by acclamation. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan took part in the two-day high-level segment of the meeting, starting on 13 January. The Secretary-General of the MIM was Anwarul Chowdhury, UN Under-Secretary General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.
The major outcome documents of the conference are the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action, and the Mauritius Declaration (see section 5 below)
An informal summary of the MIM is provided in a 16-page Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) dated 17 January.6 The document includes a brief history of the BPoA and a six-part report of the MIM (Plenary, High-Level Segment, Main Committee, Closing Plenary, Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the PoA for the Sustainable Development of SIDS, Political Declaration).
For more complete information, the United Nations Webcast7 includes texts and videos of interventions to the high-level segment (13-14 January), by Heads of State and Governments, Ministers and Heads of Delegations (including the intervention of UNESCO’s Director-General), in addition to videos of the five Panels, two Round Tables, the Youth Visioning Statement and other contributions.
4. UNESCO’s Contributions to the Mauritius International Meeting UNESCO’s contributions to events in Mauritius focused on a handful of activities consistent with the Organization’s mandate and comparative advantage, and through working closely with the Mauritius National Commission for UNESCO and other collaborating institutions.
UNESCO Head of Delegation. The UNESCO delegation was headed by the Director-General. During his two-day (12-13 January) visit, the Director-General (a) took part with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Mrs Annan in the closing ceremony of the Youth Visioning for Island Living event (see below), (b) gave a widely reported press conference8 on UNESCO’s projected role in setting up a global tsunami warning system and (c) made an intervention to the high-level segment9 which addressed the tsunami disaster and its follow-up as well as UNESCO’s recent, ongoing and proposed future work relating to sustainable development of SIDS. The Director-General also undertook a series of bilateral discussions with the Mauritius authorities,10 and hosted a luncheon meeting with members of the UNESCO-sponsored Plenary Panel on the ‘Role of Culture in the Sustainable Development of SIDS’ (see below). An overview of the Director-General’s participation in the SIDS-MIM is given as Flash Info no. 008-2005.11 Earlier in the week, on 10 January, the Chair of the UNESCO Working Group on SIDS (the Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences) had intervened in the discussions within Plenary Panel One on Environmental Vulnerabilities of SIDS, (a) flagging UNESCO’s proposals on the setting-up of an early warning system on natural disasters in the Indian Ocean region, (b) indicating that further information would be made available later in the week by the Director-General and (c) emphasizing the critical importance of partnership arrangements in addressing issues related to environmental vulnerability of SIDS.
Plenary Panel on ‘The Role of Culture in the Sustainable Development of SIDS’. As part of the preparations for the MIM, UNESCO proposed through its Focal Point this plenary panel to UN-New York and was subsequently invited to take the lead in its organization. Under the leadership of the Culture Sector, the panel was planned with a view to examining the broad, holistic definition of culture embraced by UNESCO. Plenary Panel Three took place on 11 January. It featured experts in small-island cultural development, who were invited to provide incisive viewpoints from their specific fields and propose concrete actions for follow-up and consideration by Ministerial Round Tables later in the week.
With Rachmat Witoelar (State Minister for Environment of Indonesia) as Chair, an introductory presentation by the Moderator (Dame Pearlette Louisy, Governor-General of St Lucia, specialist in ‘comparative education’) was followed by contributions from five panellists:
Philippe la Hausse de Lalouvière, President of the Société de l’Histoire de l’Ile Maurice (the largest historical NGO in Mauritius) and chairperson of the National Heritage Fund Board;
Adi Meretui Ratunabuabua, Principal Cultural Development Officer with the Fiji Government Ministry of Fijian Affairs, Culture and Heritage and Regional Development;
Ralph Regenvanu, anthropologist, Director of the Vanuatu Cultural Centre and member of the Vanuatu National Commission for UNESCO;
Keith Nurse, Senior Lecturer at the Institute of International Relations, and coordinator of the post-graduate diploma in Arts and Cultural Enterprise Management, University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago.
Sydney Bartley, Director of Culture at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture in Jamaica, involved in activities within UNESCO’s Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity.
As an ensemble, the panellists provided an overview of the importance of culture for the sustainable development of SIDS, emphasizing the issues of cultural identity and diversity, the protection of the tangible and intangible heritage, the incorporation of local languages and traditional knowledge in formal education, as well as the economic opportunities provided by culture, in particular through cultural industries.
Ten speakers took part from the floor in the ensuing debate, from Barbados, Cook Islands, Fiji, France, Jamaica, Mauritius and Morocco as well as the Caribbean Development Bank and NGO groups representing youth and women. All expressed strong and enthusiastic support for the recognition of culture as an indispensable and all-pervading component of human living and development. Mention was also made of ‘Culture’ as a fourth pillar of sustainable development. Several speakers expressed support for an international normative approach to protect cultural diversity, endorsing the drafting process (currently underway) of a Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and Artistic Content. The two-hour panel presentations and discussions are available on video.12 Further information is posted on the ‘UNESCO at Mauritius’ webpage, including (a) the text of a UNESCO information paper on ‘What Role for Culture in the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States?’,13 (b) the official background paper for the panel prepared by UN-New York,14 (c) the synthesis of panellists’ proposed priority actions,15 and (d) the Chairman’s Summary of Discussions.16 ‘Youth Visioning for Island Living’. This special event brought together youth from the different island regions of the world to discuss their perceptions and aspirations for the future of their islands. Taking part were 96 young people from 31 Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and six island territories with other affiliations. Meeting at Pointe aux Sables, from 7-12 January, discussions were organized around three main themes: Life and love in islands (island lifestyles and cultures); My island home (safeguarding island environments); Money in my pocket (economic and employment opportunities).
Conclusions of the Youth Visioning event are encapsulated in a four-page Declaration that includes commitments for follow-up action by the youth, and was presented to the Plenary of the MIM on the morning of the 12 January. On the afternoon of the same day, at the Community Vilaj at Freeport Exhibition Centre, the young people were joined in their closing ceremony by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Mrs Annan and UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura. This provided an occasion for the young people to make known some of their thoughts and aspirations and intentions for follow-up activities in their countries, as well as to enter into a short question-and-answer dialogue with the honoured guests.
The whole Youth Visioning for Island Living event17 represented a partnership activity involving UNESCO (through the Coastal Regions and Small Islands (CSI) Platform and the Bureau of Strategic Planning’s Section for Youth) and the Mauritian authorities (particularly through the National Commission for UNESCO, the Ministry of Education & Scientific Research, the Ministry of Youth & Sports, and the Ministry of Social Security), as well as a range of other regional and international partners, including the Lighthouse Foundation, Indian Ocean Commission, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Caribbean Community, UNICEF, and the international youth NGO TakingITGlobal.
‘Small Islands Voice’. A SIV parallel event was organized as part of core activities at the UNDP-led Community Vilaj at the Freeport Exhibition Centre in Port Louis. The aim was to provide an opportunity to explore the breadth and scope of Small Islands Voice activities with delegates, visitors and residents of Mauritius. The event consisted of a permanent exhibition and associated workshops, around an overall theme of ‘Communities in Action’. The event18 incorporated different aspects of sustainable development – environment, culture, education, planning and the social dimension – from a community perspective. Issues addressed included: Learning from the past; Connecting islands via the internet; Eco-friendly practices for sustainable development in small islands; Community visioning in small islands. Among field projects featured were those on glass recycling (St Vincent & the Grenadines), zero-tolerance for litter (Maldives-Seychelles) and island memories (Cook Islands). Many of those taking part in the SIV events attended the MIM in other capacities, as members of delegations to the main international meeting and as resource persons for the Youth Visioning event.
Civil Society Forum. UNESCO provided financial and technical support to the Civil Society Forum (6-9 January), through the NGO responsible for its organization, the Centre for Documentation, Research and Training on the South West Indian Ocean (CEDREFI). UNESCO also contributed one of the panellists at a Forum workshop on 7 January on ‘Culture – its social values and potential for economic development’. The three-page Declaration of the Mauritius Civil Society Forum19 was presented to the Plenary of the MIM on 10 January.
‘Ocean and Coastal Management’. On 11 January, a parallel event20 was held on ‘Mobilizing for Further Implementation of Ocean and Coastal Management in SIDS’, a joint initiative of the International Ocean and Coastal Organization (ICO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), the Global Forum on Oceans, Coasts and Islands, and other partners.
Small Island States Universities Consortium. On 14 January, as part of the high-level segment Plenary session, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed on the setting up of a Small Island States Universities Consortium. The MOU was signed by representatives of five founding member institutions: University of Malta, University of Mauritius, University of the South Pacific, University of the Virgin Islands, University of the West Indies. The main aim of the consortium is to strengthen the national capacity of small-island states to implement the Barbados Programme of Action (BPoA).
The consortium is a product of a UNDP Ministerial Round Table hosted by Jamaica in May 2002. Development of the consortium has been supported by UNDP through its Capacity 2015 initiative. UNESCO was represented at a planning meeting held in the US Virgin Islands in August 2004, with preliminary proposals for the consortium being examined by representatives of interested universities at an informal meeting held at UNESCO House on 4 November during the ‘University Community and Education for All’ meeting. Subsequently, in December, draft proposals were circulated by proponents on possible affiliation of the consortium with UNESCO’s UNITWIN network, and informal discussions held on possible links with the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.
'Lest We Forget: The Triumph Over Slavery'. As one of the ancilliary events organized by the national authorities in relation to the MIM, two exhibitions on slavery were displayed at the Mauritius Institute, National Museum, Chaussee, Port Louis. The core comprised an exhibit made available by UNESCO’s Culture Sector: specifically 'Lest We Forget: The Triumph Over Slavery'. This exhibition was prepared as a partnership activity by UNESCO and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York, as part of activities to mark the observance of 2004 as International Year for the Commemoration of the Struggle Against Slavery and its Abolition. Complementing this exhibition was a more regionally focused display 'The Long March'. In displaying the two exhibitions, the National Museum made a special effort to encourage and animate visits by groups of secondary school pupils.
UNESCO information materials. A range of information materials was made available to delegates participating in the MIM, including a substantive report on the Small Islands Voice initiative, a SIV brochure (‘The Word on the Street’), several recent reports within the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), and a 48-page booklet (‘Island Agenda 2004+: Coping with change and sustaining diversities in small islands) that provides glimpses into the concerns and activities of UNESCO house-wide in small island developing states.21 Most of these materials are available in English and French.
Media coverage. UNESCO contributed noticeably to media coverage of the MIM and its follow-up. A journalist from the Bureau of Public Information covered the MIM, with the Director-General’s press conference on 12 January generating wide media interest. Other events organized or facilitated by UNESCO also triggered considerable coverage by the media, both national and international, as reflected in a sampling of press clippings.22 In addition, UNESCO supported the participation of a journalist from the Pacific region in the MIM. A DVD of the Youth Visioning event is planned, as a joint initiative with the Mauritius College of the Air.
5. Principal Outcome Documents of the Mauritius Meeting Mauritius Strategy. The 30-page Mauritius Strategy23 for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDS is one of two negotiated outcomes, which was adopted by delegates at the conclusion of the MIM. The introductory paragraphs describe the overarching issues that concern the implementation of the PoA for the sustainable development of SIDS. They also address, inter alia, South-South and SIDS-SIDS cooperation, culture, the role of youth, and gender equality.
The Strategy document then elaborates on a wide range of actions under 20 broad headings: Climate change and sea-level rise (paras 16-18); Natural and environmental disasters (para 19); Management of wastes (para 20); Coastal and marine resources (paras 21-26); Freshwater resources (paras 27-31); Land resources (paras 32-40); Energy resources (paras 41-44); Tourism resources (paras 45-47); Biodiversity resources (paras 48-50);Transport and communication, including the development of ICTs and community multimedia centres (paras 51-56); Science and technology (paras 57-62); Graduation from least developed country status (paras 63-64); Trade: globalization and trade liberalization (paras 65-67); Sustainable capacity development and education for sustainable development (paras 68-70 ); Sustainable production and consumption (para 71 ); National and regional enabling environments, including involving youth in visioning sustainable island living (para 72); Health, including support to address HIV/AIDS (paras 73-74); Knowledge management and information for decision-making (paras 75-76); Culture, including recognition of the importance of cultural identity in advancing sustainable development, the need to develop cultural industries and initiatives, the development and implementation of national cultural policies and legislative frameworks, and measures to protect cultural heritage (para 77); Implementation (paras 78-100).
Mauritius Declaration. The 23-paragraph Mauritius Declaration24 reaffirms the continued validity of the Barbados Programme of Action as the “blueprint providing the fundamental framework for the sustainable development of small island developing States”. Reiterating that the acknowledged vulnerability of such States will grow unless urgent steps are taken, it reaffirms the international community’s commitment to support the efforts of small island developing States for their sustainable development through the further full and effective implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action.
The Declaration further reaffirms that small island developing States continue to be a ‘special case’ for sustainable development. It recognizes that the tragic impact of the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami and the recent hurricane season in the Caribbean and the Pacific highlight the need to develop and strengthen effective disaster risk reduction, early warning systems, emergency relief, and rehabilitation and reconstruction capacities. The text welcomes the declaration of the Special ASEAN Leaders Meeting held in the aftermath of the recent disaster that proposed establishment of a regional natural disaster early warning system for the Indian Ocean and the Southeast Asia region. Further, it commits to full implementation of the Framework Convention on Climate Change and to further promotion of international cooperation on climate change.
The Declaration recognizes that particular attention should be given to building resilience in small island developing States, including through technology transfer and development, capacity-building and human resource development. It further recognizes that international trade is important for building resilience and sustainable development and, therefore, calls upon international financial institutions to pay appropriate attention to the structural disadvantages and vulnerabilities of small island developing States. The Declaration also underscores that attention should be focused on the specific trade- and development-related needs and concerns of small island developing States to enable them to integrate fully into the multilateral trading system in accordance with the Doha mandate on small economies. The text goes on to address women and youth, conservation of island and marine biodiversity, the importance of cultural identity, HIV/AIDS, and commits to timely implementation of the Mauritius Strategy.
Reports of Panels, Round Tables, etc. This third outcome of the meeting is under preparation by UN-New York. In the meantime, informal summaries and daily accounts are available via the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (footnote 6).
6. Implications to UNESCO: Preliminary proposals for UNESCO follow-up
The principal negotiated outputs of the Mauritius International Meeting – the Strategy document and the political Declaration – call for action in many fields related to UNESCO’s concerns, programmes and priorities.
In the Mauritius Declaration, the participants at the MIM, “the representatives of the people of the world”, through the Declaration’s penultimate paragraph, “Express appreciation for the efforts of the United Nations and its specialized agencies in helping to advance the sustainable development of small island developing States, and invite them to strengthen their support to the (Mauritius) Strategy through enhanced coherence, coordination and appropriate monitoring”.
In responding to this invitation, the Director-General proposes that a two-pronged approach be followed. First, a mainstreaming approach should be taken to address the needs of SIDS in all the Organization’s activities. In this regard, through the high-level intersectoral Working Group on SIDS and other means, he is instructing the different sectors, programmes, units and field offices to review their programmes of work relating to SIDS, with a view to contributing optimally to the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy.
At the same time, the Director-General underlines the importance for UNESCO to continue to promote holistic, integrated approaches to sustainable development in SIDS, through nurturing intersectoral cooperation, with an intergenerational dimension, at the interregional level, via the proven platform approach. In this, particular attention needs to be given to the easily marginalized or more difficult dimensions, components and locations, such as culture, local knowledge, indigenous people, youth and outer islands.
The underlying challenge is that of building capacities, bridges and encouraging networks, in promoting problem-solving actions that cut across societal sectors and institutional specialities, that mobilize key actors and constituencies (including youth), that generate effective momentum and impact, that are culturally sensitive and scientifically sound, that take advantage of the opportunities opened by modern information and communication technologies, and that promote the exchange of information and experience within and between regions and between islands of different affiliations.
Within such a context, SIDS programme planning and implementation increasingly call for approaches that connect entities in mutually supportive ways – facilitating actions that are intersectoral, interregional and intergenerational in nature, that will often and increasingly take advantage of the opportunities offered by internet, with the whole process designed to contribute optimally to sustainable island living and development.
In closing, the Director-General reiterates the importance of follow-up implementation. The WG-SIDS will be maintained after the Mauritius International Meeting, its task (as per 32C/Res.48) being to analyse the outcomes of the meeting and translate them into proposals for implementation in SIDS of the work programme for 2006-2007 as well as for helping shape the 2008-2013 strategy of the Organization,
3 Developed within the Coastal Regions and Small Islands (CSI) Platform, the two discussion forums are Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development (WiCoP, http://www.csiwisepractices.org ) and Small Islands Voice (SIV, http://www.smallislandsvoice.org).
17 For further information on the Youth Visioning event – including the final Declaration, the list of participants, and country commitments for follow-up work – see the ‘UNESCO at Mauritius’ web-site http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=24318&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html
18 Additional information on the Small Islands Voice event is accessible through the ‘UNESCO at Mauritius’ web-site, footnote 17 above.