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Global issue 20

THE PROCESS OF evolution, spanning millions of years, has led to a fascinating diversity in fauna and flora on the planet. An interesting group among these are the endemic species occurring on various islands. With restrictive habitats, however, most of these species lack the ability to adapt to rapid changes in the surrounding environment, and are therefore at risk from fluctuating conditions brought about by various anthropogenic and environmental pressures. Besides contributing towards maintaining a stable ecosystem, endemic species are beneficial to the inhabitants of these islands in that they are an important economic resource. In addition to being utilised for consumption, many island species promote tourism, which contributes to the revenue of their respective island economies. Marine resources, in this regard, are often more beneficial than terrestrial resources and, if utilised properly, could contribute effectively to sustainable development. With the inhabitants of SIDS heavily dependent on biodiversity resources for their survival and income, it is imperative that steps are taken now to protect this rich heritage. Coral reef restoration, stricter laws pertaining to wildlife protection, strategies for coastal zone protection and ecologically sound land reclamation practices need to be advocated to prevent these island nations from environmental threats to their existence. Shomira Sanyal, 20, India SIDS ARE A community of low-lying island nations that share common barriers to development. Samoa is on the cusp of change. At the beginning of 2014, we graduated from UN Least Developed Countries status. It marks the beginning of a transformation that depends largely on the community. In 1962 Samoa became the first island in Polynesia to declare her independence from New Zealand. Unfortunately, initial good times were short-lived. In 1990 Samoa was struck by Cyclone Ofa, leaving a quarter of the population homeless overnight. A year later, Cyclone Val devastated the island causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. Hopelessness encouraged an exodus, and my parents were among the thousands who fled for nearby New Zealand. But ties to the homeland were never severed. If I were prime minister, I would disaster-proof all construction projects in Samoa from this point forward. I would ban all construction projects on coastlines with no exception. I would only allow donor countries to build schools and hospitals in partnership with local tradesmen to avoid having to send for someone from China or Japan to fulfil repair jobs or much-needed maintenance further down the track. I hear it often, the belief that “this is as good as it gets” for an island in the middle of nowhere. I detest the resignation. My father, and the thousands that left with him, detested it too. Fale Lesa, 24, New Zealand/Samoa www.global global f i rst quar ter 2015 -br ief ing.org l 87 commonwealth network Colloquia To learn more about the Commonwealth Correspondents, a youth network supported by the Commonwealth Young Programme, visit the webpage at www.thecommonwealth.org/our-work/youth I AM WOMAN. I am youth. I am a small islander. In a world where we are often framed by our characteristics instead of our character, what do the elements of me that I see beauty in mean for my future? For other youths in SIDS? Other women? Others vulnerable to social stigma and threats because of age, gender or birthplace – attributes not chosen but given? Youths in SIDS are faced with issues such as poor access to quality education, unemployment, sexual abuse, drugs, suicide and violence at home, school, in the community. They must deal with poverty, illiteracy, incest, sexually transmitted diseases, human trafficking, malnutrition and physical disabilities. SIDS need business incubators that motivate innovation and entrepreneurship in value-added sectors and green business, healthy environmental practices, transparency, accountability and strengthened youth representation, along with women’s involvement in governance. They require national legislation that mandates gender equality in top organisational positions, affordable and accessible education, and an overarching multi sector partnership. Notwithstanding this, we must each take personal account of our lifestyles, as our future is reliant upon us. Khadija Holder, 24, Trinidad and Tobago IN MAY 2014 the #YesAllWomen social media campaign took flight on Twitter, a grass-roots response to the 2014 Isla Vista killings and other publicised acts of discrimination and gendered violence towards women. In a watershed moment, women globally used Twitter as a vehicle for revolutionising the way society talks about sexual discrimination and gender inequality. This raised awareness of women’s shared experiences and quickly garnered international media attention. But, as quickly as it had come, the #YesAllWomen conversation had gone out with the social media tide. The conversation was over before many groups of women were able to participate, including those facing the most critical forms of social exclusion and disempowerment. As a young Australian re-imagining the boundaries of the #YesAllWomen message for the post-2015 development agenda, nowhere is this more relevant than in our own backyard. For the SIDS of the Pacific, the need for collaboration around gender equality and sustainable results is acutely felt. #YesAllWomen – let’s continue the conversation. Stephanie Carter, 24, Australia


Global issue 20
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