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What is
Small Islands Voice?

Simply, people from small islands speaking
their mind and making a difference

For thousands of years, islands have
inspired writers, poets and painters,
and are seen by many as paradise on

While it’s true that there are many positive
aspects about islands, the people who
live on islands cope with a range of daily
challenges, such as limited access to
goods and services, high costs of living,
limited job and schooling opportunities,
and inadequate health services. And
issues like improper waste management,
fragile ecosystems, over-dependence on
tourism, loss of traditional values, and
increased crime and violence, add to the
pressure of small island living.

However, islanders have a lot to say on
what it’s like to live in a small island - the
good and the bad - and the kind of things
that could be improved.

Through Small Islands Voice (SIV), which
has been running since 2002, islanders
from the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and
Pacific have been speaking out about
changes that have been taking place in
their countries and how they would like to
see their islands develop in the future.


Ongoing and planned activities of Small
Islands Voice, ranging from HIV/AIDS
awareness campaigns to helping
communities plan the future of their
neighbourhoods, aim to encourage
islanders to play an active role in
determining their islands’ progress.

And enhancing channels of
communication, at all levels, from the
personal to the international, and from
simple speech to high-tech transmissions,
is crucial to this goal. In these ways,
islanders can directly contribute to
positive, long-lasting development in their
islands for themselves and the generations
to come.


How Small Islands Voice



  obtaining islanders’ views on environment and development issues at the local level through meetings, opinion surveys, talk shows and other activities. These are supported by radio, television and print media   encouraging young islanders to discuss environment and development issues among themselves using new technologies

username: view, password: only






identifying key issues emerging from these debates and channelling them back to the local level for action on-the-ground, and towards the global level, especially international programmes dealing with sustainable development of small islands

  debating these issues regionally and globally through internet-based discussions






“I thank you for the forum as I think it gives a great insight
into the concerns of us all in small island territories.”

Anthony Garland, Turks & Caicos Islands, June 2003, http://www.sivglobal.org

Do you live in a small island?

Tell us what you
think, at SIV global forum:


Judging how the broader community
feels on a given topic can often be hard
to gauge. One way is to take the time
to talk with individuals and record their

Key issues covering environment, health,
culture, tourism, development and others,
are discussed in detail on the SIV global
internet forum (www.sivglobal.org) with
many thousands of readers from islands in
the three regions and beyond.

Opinion surveys have been conducted
in Cook Islands and Palau in the Pacific,
Maldives and Seychelles in the Indian
Ocean, and St Kitts & Nevis and St Vincent
& the Grenadines
in the Caribbean; 1% of
each territory’s population was sampled. The
issues identified were then listed in order of



of the people
Issues common to all
three regions (Caribbean,
Indian Ocean and Pacific),
expressed by islanders

Economy: high cost of living, high taxes,
reduced spending power, increased
poverty, sluggish economy, economic
stress, national debt, economic stability,
shortage of foreign exchange, foreign

Increased crime and violence: increased
crime rates especially violent crime (a
majority of forum respondents considered
that societal changes including education
were necessary to solve the problem),
public safety, revised penalties for

Employment: lack of jobs, little job
security, low wages and salaries, unfair
hiring practices, increased number of
foreign workers

Tourism: over-dependence on tourism and
foreign ownership of tourism enterprises
(65% of forum respondents considered that
large-scale foreign investment does not
benefit small islands)

Health care: inadequate public health
facilities, little attention devoted to mental
health, increasing rates of HIV/AIDS

Education: schools and facilities in need
of upgrading, expansion of educational
opportunities at all levels, access to
tertiary education in islands, vocational
training and special needs education

Decline in moral and/or traditional
breakdown in moral fibre of
society, eroding traditional values and
practices, decline in traditional leadership

Infrastructural development: upgrading
and construction of new houses, roads,
airports, seaports, and telecommunication
facilities are much appreciated but still not
sufficient for growing needs

Environment: waste management,
pollution, deforestation, drainage,
coastal erosion (most respondents to
the global forum consider that, provided
environmental concerns are taken into
account, new infrastructure is beneficial)

Good governance: political corruption,
political greed, political victimization; as
well as events in larger countries, and a
desire for international peace



“Through the process of open discussions and
free exchange of ideas we can all work together
to make our island and our nation a better place –
to live and to visit.”

Students from Nukutere College, Cook Islands, www.sivyouth.org
Young and living on an island?

Check out: www.sivyouth.org
username: view, password: only

and www.islandyouth.org

Young islanders have specific and very
real concerns of their own. Through
talking and listening, via workshops,
national surveys and an internet forum, the
concerns of youths are taken into account.

The Small Islands Voice youth internet
forum is a way for young islanders to
share ideas, discuss and learn about each
other’s way of living across the three
regions. The forum involves 38 schools
in 12 islands throughout the Caribbean,
Indian Ocean and the Pacific. Students
have been discussing subjects ranging
from hydroponic agriculture and teenage
to the dangers of asbestos and
the loss of island traditions.


Some of the main issues of concern
expressed by young islanders are:


speak up and be heard!
Sexual issues

Early sexual activity is often seen as
prestigious among young people and this
exposes them to grave health risks. HIV/
AIDS is a serious concern in all the islands.

“In Palau, teenage pregnancies are almost
a tradition – the kids are then raised by the grandparents. This has to change, starting with the (grand)parents.”
Jonathan Isechal, Palau, November 2002

Other aspects of sexual behaviour that are
of concern include incest, molestation,
prejudices with regard to homosexuality,
indecent dress and a rise in prostitution
among schoolgirls.

The islands are attempting to tackle these
problems in a variety of ways through
youth activities, education and family life
programmes. For instance, in Seychelles,
the government provides some measure of
support to young girls after having a baby so that they can continue their school studies.

“In St Kitts & Nevis, and in other Caribbean islands also, parenting leaves much to be desired. Parents often focus on protecting girls and they leave boys to their own devices; young men are lured to drugs by promises of money and material goods.”
Dauna Manchester, St Kitts & Nevis,
November 2002


Young males at risk

The issue of young males at risk received
great attention in the forums and surveys.
Young males are more likely to drop out of
the education system especially after the
age of about 14 years.

In outer islands where there may be no
secondary schools, e.g. Maldives and Cook
Islands, students have to move to a more
central island for secondary education, and
then the dropout rate among males and females may be very high.

Various efforts are being made to target males at risk, but with limited success. This is due to the fact that often the males who abandon the school system do not take part in organised youth activities or sports. Technical and vocational courses, special skills training, acting and music groups are all being tried in an
effort to address this problem.

Youth Visioning for Island Living

Young islanders are invited to take part
in the ‘Youth Visioning for Island Living
process, whereby they can articulate how
they want their islands to develop in the
future and how they plan to help make this
happen. Launched in 2004, the visioning
centres around three broad themes:

username: view, password: only

For more details, see: www.islandyouth.org



“When small island issues are presented in international fora, they take on a glossy, non-urgent character. They don’t have the same impact anymore. I am hoping that Small Islands Voice can help take us back to basics.”
Lolita Gibbons, Palau, November 2002

Over the years there’s been a lot of talk at the international level about small islands and the kind of challenges they face, ranging from rising sea levels to the limitations of small market economies.

In response, an international conference was held in Barbados in 1994 so that small islands could better plan for their future. This event resulted in a Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States.

In 2005, the international community is meeting in Mauritius to review progress since 1994 and to plan future action. In this regard, Small Islands Voice is playing an important role by ensuring that the collective concerns of the general public of small islands are given due consideration in the 2005 meeting, and in the all-important follow-up phase.



in small islands
The future is in our
hands ...
sentiment expressed by islanders
across the Caribbean, Indian Ocean
and Pacific (via national opinion surveys
and internet discussion forums at
www.sivglobal.org  and www.sivyouth.org) was that the general public should take an
active role in planning for their island’s
future development.

“We are starting the programme with
a pilot group of seven volunteer hotels,
ranging from veterans like the Northolme
and Coral Strand on Mahe to newcomers
like Lemuria on Praslin. They will help us
establish a more integrated, proactive
approach to beach management by
regularly measuring the profiles of their
respective beaches.”
Ronny Jumeau, Minister of Environment,
Seychelles, July 2003
An ‘active role’ need not involve lots of
money nor resources. Passion, creativity
and commitment to a vision for a desirable
long-lasting island existence are essential.
Small Islands Voice has highlighted many
positive examples of local action.
“We are now swimming in excessive garbage, with the threat of epidemics that will be harmful to our children, youth and older people without any appropriate management in sight. For this reason, I ask ‘Isn’t there some way in which, especially the Caribbean islands, could work together and cooperate in solving the threatening garbage problems in our islands?’”
Dulph W. Mitchell, San Andrés
Archipelago, Colombia, May 2004,
“We do some recycling of our own by reusing glass bottles found around the school compound to make benches and we also make use of salvaged wood to make the back and sitting rest for these benches. These benches are made simply from crushed glass, cement and cinnamon wood. They are used by students for eating lunch, studying or just to relax. We also use plastic bottles from soda beverages to mark the perimeter for the athletic track for sports.”
Students from Bequia Community High School, St Vincent & Grenadines, April 2003,



“Parents have a pivotal role to play in helping us to reclaim our country. They need to talk to their children and encourage non-violent methods to resolve differences.”
View from a Caribbean island, July 2003, www.sivglobal.org

As a part of Small Islands Voice, specific
activities have been taking place in
The Bahamas, Cuba, Dominica, St Kitts &
, St Vincent & the Grenadines and
the San Andrés archipelago of Colombia,
with the assistance of local co-ordinating
committees. And through the Small Islands
Voice global forum (www.sivglobal.org),
all the Caribbean countries have been
exchanging and discussing ideas.

In the Caribbean region, the main priority
concern – based on opinion surveys,
meetings and internet forums – was
identified as a group of social issues
covering drug abuse, crime, violence
and especially gang violence, and
unemployment. Another important issue is
the sale of land to foreigners.

“As more and more of our island’s land is sold to foreigners, we are pushed out. Building their homes and acting as property rental caretakers for these homes does provide an income for islanders - but we want to be able to have some land for ourselves and our grandchildren, too!”
Students from Hopetown School, Abaco, The Bahamas, March 2004, http://www.sivyouth.org/phase3/?read=1

username: view, password: only


“From the establishment of the Dubique telecentre to its operation today, great progress has been made. Individuals and the community have benefited by learning, in this ever changing world, about basic computer skills. The joy of learning these skills has been expressed by the recipients through their constant use of the equipment.”
Jerminia Dennis, Dominica, December 2003

Besides collecting grassroots opinions on environment and development issues, and involving the islands in the youth internet forum, several activities have been organized in each island, including establishing and strengthening internet centres in San Andrés, Dominica and St Kitts & Nevis; conducting a youth visioning activity in The Bahamas, and collaborating with the Hotel and Tourism Association in St Vincent & the Grenadines to monitor marine activities in Admiralty Bay, Bequia.



Key issues in the Caribbean region*
! social issues: drug abuse, violence especially gang violence, unemployment
! economy: high cost of living, high taxes, national debt
! health care and HIV/AIDS
! education
! impacts of development on the environment, e.g. habitat destruction, pollution,
foreign ownership of beachfront land

*As determined by opinion surveys, local meetings and forum discussions

“We agree with you that drug abuse is a very serious issue that needs a lot of attention. Here in Bequia illegal and legal drugs are no strangers to our land. The use of marijuana and cocaine are becoming very rampant each and every day in a small society like ours.“
Form 4, Bequia Community High School, St Vincent & the Grenadines, June 2003, http://www.sivyouth.org/phase2/?read=124

username: view, password: only

To get involved, contact:
UNESCO Kingston Office
The Towers, 25 Dominica Drive, Kingston 5, Jamaica
T: + 1 876 929 7087/88/89 F: + 1 876 929 8468 E: kingston@unesco.org

UNESCO Havana Office
Calzada 551 - Esq. a D, Vedado, Havana, Cuba
T: + 53 7 833 34 38 F: + 53 7 833 31 44 E: habana@unesco.org



“By using the concept of ‘sustainability’ in every approach to social and economic development, small island states will be able to address the issue of illegal long-line fishing in their territories successfully.”
Alex Perrine, April 2004, Rodrigues,


Various Small Islands Voice activities have been taking place in four Indian Ocean islands: the Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, and Zanzibar with the assistance of local coordinating committees. And other islands have been exchanging views and discussing ideas through www.sivglobal.org.

In Mauritius, a civil society workshop was held in late 2003 to review progress on the Programme of Action for Small Island
Developing States
. This was organized by the Centre for Documentation, Research and Training on the South West Indian Ocean and involved representatives from Comoros, Maldives, Mauritius, Réunion and Rodrigues. Participants from trade unions, fisher associations and human rights groups, among others, pledged to play an active role in the Programme of Action.

Discussions and consultations have also been held in the Seychelles and, in addition, hotels have been involved in implementing a national beach monitoring programme, and newsletter and pamphlets have been published. A workshop was organised with youth workers to find out the most pressing issues facing young islanders of today. These included sex, access to recreational activities and facilities, drugs and alcohol, employment, politics, culture, education and the environment.

“Development should be done in harmony with the environment and also take into account the social fabric and culture of the country. A very good example is the Seychelles where the environment is of prime importance and development projects are implemented in harmony with nature.”
Rasack Nayamuth, Mauritius, October 2002,

Activities in the Maldives have focused on Baa Eydhafushi where waste management has been identified as a major problem. Before deciding on the most appropriate action, young people on the island will undertake a survey of the types of waste produced. the types of waste produced.



Key issues in the Indian Ocean region*
! health facilities
! sanitation and waste disposal
! social issues: loss of community spirit, substance abuse and violence, unemployment
! economic concerns: foreign exchange, the need to attract more investment and
! environmental concerns: beach erosion, drainage, pollution

*As determined by opinion surveys, local meetings and forum discussions

“A large number of islanders leave the islands every year to find work and a better lifestyle overseas. Many of them never return to reside. The key to technical and skilled jobs lies fundamentally in the educational system; people have to be brought in from
overseas to play these roles. Industries and factories are lacking, so every consumer good is imported, and therefore
tends to be very expensive.”
Students from Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll Education Center, Maldives, November 2003, http://www.sivyouth.org/phase2/?read=180

username: view, password: only

AIMS region: Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and South China Sea
The international community has come to know this group of seas and oceans as the ‘AIMS region’. While the focus
of Small Islands Voice activities has largely targeted the Indian Ocean, people from the other areas are involved in online discussions via the global forum:

To get involved, contact:

UNESCO Dar-es-Salaam Office
PO Box 31473, Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania
T: + 255 22 266 66 23 / 71 65 F: + 255 22 266 69 27

UNESCO New Delhi Office
B5/29, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi, India
T: + 91 11 671 3000 F: + 91 11 671 3002



“... I am very much for improving the quality of life for those who choose to live on Aitutaki, Cook Islands. For me the issue is more about sustainability in 20 years time when I still intend to be here.”
Michael Henry, Aitutaki, Cook Islands, November 2003, www.sivglobal.org

Small Islands Voice has been active in the Pacific in a number of ways: the establishment of island committees in Cook Islands, Fiji, Palau, and Samoa to co-ordinate and implement actions on-the-ground; country-wide opinion surveys on environment and development issues; and inventories of existing communication channels. And through the Small Islands Voice global forum (www.sivglobal.org), the exchange of ideas has involved islanders in many other Pacific islands as well.

In the Cook Islands, the participation of the outer islands in the youth internet forum has proved a real success. In particular, Mangaia College (the island of Mangaia is 200 km from the main island of Rarotonga) became the first school without internet access to participate in the forum by fax. According to the school’s Principal, Ms Sue Ngatokorua, “Our students are gaining a lot from the Small Islands Voice project and it is a tremendous educational opportunity for them.”

In Fiji, the Pacific Centre for Sustainable Development at the University of the South Pacific has developed a partnership with Small Islands Voice, the Chemistry Outreach to Schools and the Ocean Futures Society, to find out community concerns and assist with appropriate activities, e.g. ‘Clean X concept’ where X may be a school, a community area, or a park.

Another partnership, also in Fiji, has been established with Live and Learn Environmental Education, an organization
focusing on ‘education through participation’ in Fiji and several other Pacific islands.

The Palau Conservation Society, with the support of Small Islands Voice, is undertaking a process of community visioning. The idea is that each community participates in ‘visioning’ the type of development it wants to see in the future. Then, through a collaborative process involving government and communities, master land-use plans will be prepared and implemented with the support of the community.



Key issues in the Pacific region*

economy: high cost of living, economic downturns and migration, jobs and foreign

! eroding traditional values and leadership, loss of respect
! health care
! education
! environment: solid waste and pollution, deforestation, erosion

*As determined by opinion surveys, local meetings and forum discussions

“At least 40-50% of people in Raki Raki receive dirty water daily. Some health effects derived from this are skin diseases such as scabies, which is very quick to spread. Another problem is that villagers often wash their clothes in the river, which flows towards the water pump. For the past few weeks a body of a dead man was found decaying and floating in the same river. After two days we came to know that we actually have drunk that water.”
Students from Raki Raki Public High School, Fiji, September 2003, http://www.sivyouth.org/phase2/?read=149
username: view, password: only

To get involved, contact:

UNESCO Apia Office
PO Box 5766 , Matautu-Uta, Apia, Samoa
T: + 685 24 276 F: + 685 22 253/26 593


     talk into action

“... now is the time to act and to stand up to save
our islands.”

High Chief Vaasiliifi ti Moelagi Jackson, Savaii, Samoa, April 2003, www.sivglobal.org

In November 2002, the Small Islands Voice inter-regional workshop was held in Palau, bringing together islanders from the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and Pacific - representing government, non-governmental organizations, youth, schools, and community groups. Together, they developed key elements for
turning talk into action ...

Present a unified front for small islands
Small islands need to present a strong, unified front with a shared voice, while also respecting differences and diversity

Implement good governance
This requires a shared vision and a framework for collaborative decision-making for government and the general public, and
should include educating and empowering women, youth and children as part of the process

Promote greater self-sufficiency
In a world undergoing globalization, promote an overall ethic for greater self-sufficiency in relation to population growth, economic
consumption and energy use

Strengthen social responsibilities and ethical codes
Halt the decline in the moral and social fabric of society by developing, strengthening and enforcing social responsibilities, codes of conduct, and codes of ethics

Preserve traditions and culture
Maintain and, in some cases, restore identity, dignity and self-esteem, by ensuring traditions and culture are upheld and citizenship is respected

Improve education systems
Improve and strengthen job training modules, job placement programmes, mentoring, career guidance programmes, and school curricula

Address environmental issues at a local level
While there are many environmental issues requiring attention, solid waste disposal was identified as common to all small islands. Effective action at the local level can reduce the scale of this and other environmental problems, although in the small island context it is not always possible to be profit-driven.

For more information:
To get involved, contact:
Claire Green
UNESCO-CSI, Paris, France
T: +33 1 45 68 40 43
F: +33 1 45 68 58 08
E: c.green@unesco.org
Gillian Cambers
PO Box 783, Rincón, Puerto Rico 00677
T: +1 787 823 1756 F: +1 787 823 1774
E: g_cambers@hotmail.com

E: gilliancambers@aol.com

To view this booklet online, please see:
www.sivglobal.org  and www.sivyouth.org (username: view, password: only) have been established with the assistance of Scotland On Line.
Photographs: Gillian Cambers, Farida Camille, Peter Coles, Claire Green
Design: Eric Lodde
Web version: Claire Blackburn