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Global issue 20

network Colloquia Living on an island commonwealth A Small Island Developing States (SIDS) conference in Samoa in late 2014 shone a spotlight on the issues faced by these nations. Young people living in, or near, SIDS share their thoughts about the challenges ahead IT IS NOT uncommon for SIDS to feel THE SIDS 2014 conference in Apia, like David standing in front of Goliath. Samoa, presented a perfect opportunity There are currently 52 SIDS in three geographic for the international community to show regions, with a combined population how serious it is about working with of 63.2 million people. So if we SIDS to pursue a plan of action to deal put them all together, they would still with the shocks of climate change. be four times smaller than the United May and June 2014 were the hottest States. They would, however, be about on record since record keeping began in the population of Britain or France. 1880. Yes I live in the tropics where it’s These developing island states, sunny all year round, but everyone notices though, are scattered in remote locations around the world. this is not the regular kind of warm weather; this is hot, too Their populations range from a few thousand to just over a million. hot! Climate change and its effects are here staring us in the face. The size and resources of these nations make issues such Rain is a luxury we pray for. And as the earth dries, we hear increasingly as water, food and waste a frightening challenge even in the of bush fires. Water lock-offs are too frequent, while 21st century. farmers struggle to deal with drought. How prepared are we if If, in every community, men and women can be taught how and when the rains come in abundance and flooding occurs? to help themselves by operating the necessary water-related Yes, systems are in place in most SIDS, but the capacity for equipment, then we will not find ourselves helping those affected addressing risks is not yet fully or adequately developed. This is by poor water sanitation, but instead working with them where the international community comes in, as partnership is to achieve a common goal. fundamental for sustainable development. Ryan Bachoo, 25, Trinidad and Tobago Tamara McKayle, 25, Jamaica SUSTAINABLE ENERGY, ONE of the DEVELOPMENT IS A word that has been in topics addressed at the United Nations’ use from time immemorial to describe the economic third international conference on SIDS and social landscape of our communities. in Samoa in 2014, at first glance may We are all striving to develop in some way seem to be a very narrow and technical or fashion in our lives. SIDS are a group of topic for such a format. islands that have been striving for such development In fact, the energy sector has a great – they are faced with social, economic impact on many other aspects of life, and environmental vulnerabilities. including the environment, social and As of 2013, youth unemployment in Barbados economic development, and international relations. As such, it is stood at 30 per cent and general unemployment at 11.6 crucial for SIDS to treat the topic with careful thought, perhaps per cent. For a country of our size, this is not good. Will the even more so than developed or larger nations, because these amount of investment on the way cause a reduction in these islands are in the unique position of being affected most gravely figures? by climate change caused by the fossil fuel industry, while being Many of our young people have branched off into entrepreneurship without the economic luxury of investing in sustainable energy. during the recession, but securing funding has been It is only in the last decade that sustainable energy has become proving difficult. This has caused many of our young men to a consideration for SIDS. The 2013 Achieving Sustainable Energy go into crime as a way to access a source of income. As well for All at the SIDS Conference, held in Barbados, concluded as that, we have seen many of our young women delving into with the adoption of the Barbados Declaration. The declaration providing unethical services to succeed in life, an alternative acknowledges the importance of sustainable energy to SIDS by which has spurred the growth in health issues including STDs. discussing the dependence on imported oil and other fossil fuels How do we move on from here? Having our representatives for transport and electricity, as well as the resulting economic engage in dialogue continually at conferences? vulnerability. A plan has been drafted and set in motion and we The formula is “Delegates + Citizens’ concerns + Genuine must now ensure that the objectives are accomplished. Partnerships = Success despite challenges”. Samantha Khan, 21, Trinidad and Tobago Lyn-Marie Blackman, 27, Barbados 86 l www.global -br ief ing.org f i rst quar ter 2015 global


Global issue 20
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