Ahead of The Ocean Conference, OHRLLS Director stresses importance of partnerships and coherence at Wilton Park meeting for small islands


Tortola, November 2016 - OHRLLS Director Heidi Schroderus-Fox presented at a meeting organised by Wilton Park from 7 – 9 November in the British Virgin Islands. The meeting entitled “Diversification and resilience: a blue, digital and green future for small islands and micro-states,” brought together experts from the three SIDS regions as well as international organisations, business community, academia and civil society around focused discussions on building resilience and diversifying the blue, green and digital economies in this group of countries.

Director Schroderus-Fox presented on the role of international institutions and the United Nations in particular towards creating the enabling environment for partnerships to flourish by harnessing the full potential of engagement between governments, businesses, civil society, academia and a wide range of stakeholders. Among the extensive partnerships emanating from the 2014 SIDS Conference, the Director elaborated on the roles of the: SIDS Action Platform, SIDS Global Business Network and the need for coherence in other initiatives being established to support SIDS; such as the Commonwealth Small States Centre of Excellence, the Small Island Developing States Centre of Excellence and the University Consortium of Small Island States. Noting the challenges SIDS face in accessing concessional financing – including for climate change adaptation, emphasis was placed on the need by international institutions, particularly IFIs to implement more effective and streamlined support measures for small islands. Coherence between the 2030 Agenda and SAMOA Pathway is crucial and international institutions have an important role to play in this regard. Building resilience and diversification will also be important considerations for the upcoming UN Ocean Conference – June 2017 – where stakeholders will look to foster partnerships that support the oceans agenda for SIDS.

The meeting also saw discussions on policy descriptions and technical solutions to support island economies in developing resilient and transformative pathways for sustainable development. Strengthening the enabling environment for diversifying SIDS economies and expanding partnerships, fostering entrepreneurship and innovation, capacity building and skills training were seen as critical elements. In particular, the opportunities offered by further investment in digital provision, the blue economy and environmental technologies to support sustainable development and long term growth were examined in detail. Lessons were also shared on how governance structures in SIDS can work with business and multilateral agencies to develop investments that are economically resilient and at the same time protect fragile ecosystems.

As a supporting partner to the meeting, OHRLLS is looking to continue its collaboration with Wilton Park and other stakeholders in ensuring that the sustainable development of SIDS remains high on the international agenda including towards effective implementation of SDG 14 on oceans.

Copyright 2016 United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs