ISLANDS Web Site

ISLANDS


 

Access to information on islands and small island developing States (SIDS)
especially from within the United Nations system

[THIS SITE IS MAINTAINED FOR ARCHIVAL PURPOSES, BUT HAS NOT BEEN UPDATED SINCE 2006]
 

Introduction to the Islands Web site
Action by the United Nations on islands
Environmental Vulnerability Index developed for SIDS
 

Island Directory (compilation of geographic, environmental, and socio-economic information on some 2,000 islands and over 150 countries, territories and administrative units with islands)
[A new Global Island Database is under development at the UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre for launching in 2010]

Small island environmental management
A do-it-yourself course and training programme for people living on islands.
Includes 46 units explaining the basic principles of island environmental management.

United Nations Documents on Islands
Islands in Agenda 21, the Barbados Conference, reports to the Commission on Sustainable Development, results of the Mauritius International Meeting, etc.

Other islands documents


LINKS to other web resources on islands

UNEP is collaborating with the
Global Islands Network - the primary information source about islands worldwide.  Global Islands Network



Relevant UNEP-related web sites:
UNEP home page  
UNEP Geneva home page  
UN System-wide Earthwatch
International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN)
ICRI Forum
Global Island Partnership (GLISPA)
Regional Seas
UNEP Coral Reefs


United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 1998-2006
Site created by Arthur Dahl, Geneva, Switzerland (now retired)  -  dahla @ bluewin.ch
Content last updated 22 June 2006, notices updated 22 March 2010

INTRODUCTION to the Islands Web site

Islands have long had a romantic attraction for people for many reasons, including beauty,  environmental interest, recreational opportunities, security and uniqueness, and this is the foundation for island tourism.  For island inhabitants, there are both advantages and disadvantages to island life.  Because they have many features in common that set them apart from other geographic areas, islands and small island States are increasingly recognized as a special category worthy of distinctive treatment.

Environmentally, islands are noted for their unique fauna and flora which are particularly vulnerable to disturbance and destruction by human activities.  Socially, they exhibit many unique cultures and special human adaptations to island life. Economically, there are limitations of small scale, remoteness and vulnerability to outside influences that present special challenges for their sustainable economic development within limited island resources.  With the increasing rate of global change, islands represent some of the most fragile and vulnerable resources on the planet.

This Islands site, hosted by UNEP and assembled by Arthur Dahl, Senior Adviser to the United Nations Environment Programme, provides access to a number of resources concerning islands, primarily from within the United Nations system, that are otherwise rather scattered and difficult to obtain.  It includes basic UN documents or extracts from documents relevant to islands, educational materials concerning islands, and a directory listing some 2,000 islands and giving their basic geographic, environmental and socio-economic characteristics.  Other information or links will be added as appropriate.

Action by the United Nations on islands

The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution in 1989 at its 44th session (GA 44/206) on possible adverse effects of sea-level rise on islands and coastal areas, particularly low-lying coastal areas.  Agenda 21 adopted at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 features a programme area on Sustainable Development of Small Islands (Chapter 17G), and this was followed by the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, held in Barbados in 1994, which adopted a Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States.  The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Division for Sustainable Development, has created a Small Island Developing States Unit to oversee the implementation of this programme of action.

Progress in implementing some thematic areas of the Programme of Action was reviewed by the Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD) at its 4th session in 1996, and by the UN General Assembly Special Session on the implementation of Agenda 21 in 1997. Progress in the remaining thematic areas was reviewed by the CSD at its 6th session in April 1998.  There was a full review 5 years after Barbados at a special session of the UN General Assembly in September 1999 after preparatory discussions at the 7th session of the CSD. Islands also featured prominently at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in August-September 2002.

The International Meeting to Review the Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (Barbados +10) was held in Port Louis, Mauritius on 10-14 January 2005. It adopted the Mauritius Declaration (pdf) and the Mauritius Strategy for the further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (pdf). The official web site for the Mauritius International Meeting is at http://www.un.org/smallislands2005/. More general information on SIDS is at SIDSnet.

The UNEP Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (UNEP GPA) based in The Hague is leading UNEP action for SIDS. See the UNEP SIDS web site at GPA.

The Regional Seas Programmes of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) include all of the small island developing States, and have done much to encourage regional cooperation among islands on environmental issues, such as through the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP).

As part of its Global Environment Outlook (GEO) reporting process, UNEP, in cooperation with the European Union, prepared a first series of Environment Outlook reports for the major small island regions of the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific in 1999, with the participation of regional institutions. A new set of reports was prepared for the SIDS International Meeting in Mauritius in 2005 and launched on 6 January 2005, including the Caribbean Environment Outlook, Pacific Environment Outlook and Atlantic and Indian Ocean Environment Outlook.

UNEP is also collaborating with the Global Islands Network in building an information system to support all small islands. This site is one part of that collaboration.

UNITED NATIONS DOCUMENTS
Agenda 21, Chapter 17G, Sustainable Development of Small Islands (1992)

The Barbados Declaration (1994)
Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (1994)  with links to subsequent progress reports on each action area [156 KB]

Report of the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (Barbados, 1994)  The full report of the conference, including the Barbados Declaration and the Programme of Action [257 KB]

Reports to the 4th Commission on Sustainable Development (1996)
- Management of natural and environmental disasters in small island developing States
- Sustainable development of energy resources in small island developing States
- Sustainable tourism development in small island developing States
- Maritime transport in small island developing States
- Sustainable development of air transport in small island developing States
- Development of communications in small island developing States
- Coastal area management in small island developing States

Report to the 5th Commission on Sustainable Development (1997)
- Progress report on the implementation of the Programme of Action

Extract on small island developing States from the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 (UN General Assembly Special Session, 1997)

Report of the ad hoc expert group meeting on vulnerability indices for small island developing States (New York, 15-16 December 1997)

Reports to the 6th Commission on Sustainable Development (1998)
- Progress in the implementation of the Programme of Action
- Climate change and sea level rise
- Management of wastes in small island developing States
- Freshwater resources in small island developing States
- Land resources in small island developing States
- Biodiversity resources in small island developing States
- National institutions and administrative capacity in small island developing States
- Regional institutions and technical cooperation for the sustainable development of SIDS
- Science and technology for small island developing States
- Human resource development in small island developing States
Decision 6/4 of the Commission on Sustainable Development (1998): Review of the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States

Report to ECOSOC (1998)
- Development of a vulnerability index for small island developing States

Reports to the 7th Commission on Sustainable Development (1999)
- Status of Implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action (E/CN.17/1999/6)
- Climate Change and Sea Level Rise (E/CN.17/1999/6/Add.1)
- Management of Wastes
- Freshwater Resources (E/CN.17/1999/6/Add.3)
- Land Resources (E/CN.17/1999/6/Add.4)
- Biodiversity Resources (E/CN.17/1999/6/Add.5)
- National Institutions and Administrative Capacity (E/CN.17/1999/6/Add.6)
- Regional Institutions and Technical Cooperation (E/CN.17/1999/6/Add.7)
- Science and Technology (E/CN.17/1999/6/Add.8)
- Human Resources Development (E/CN.17/1999/6/Add.9)
- Coastal Zone Management (E/CN.17/1999/6/Add.10)
- Sustainable Tourism (E/CN.17/1999/6/Add.11)
- Energy Resources (E/CN.17/1999/6/Add.12)
- Natural and Environmental Disasters (E/CN.17/1999/6/Add.13)
- Telecommunications (E/CN.17/1999/6/Add.14)
- Air Transportation (E/CN.17/1999/6/Add.15)
- Maritime Transportation (E/CN.17/1999/6/Add.16)
- Current Donor Activities for Small Island Developing States (E/CN.17/1999/7)
[these documents are available as pdf files at the UN web site]

Reports from the Global Environment Outlook Programme of UNEP:
- Caribbean Environment Outlook 1999
- Pacific Islands Environment Outlook (pdf) 1999
- Western Indian Ocean Environment Outlook (pdf) 1999
- Caribbean Environment Outlook - 2004 (pdf on UNEP web site)
- Pacific Environment Outlook - 2004 (pdf on UNEP web site)
- Atlantic and Indian Ocean Environment Outlook - 2004 (pdf on UNEP web site)

Reports for the Barbados +10 review - 2004
considered at the Preparatory Meeting at CSD-12 on 14-16 April 2004
- Implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action - Report of the Secretary-General (pdf on CSD web site)
- AOSIS Strategy for the Further Implementation of the BPOA - (pdf on sidsnet web site) [basis for negotiations]
- UNEP's Assistance in the Implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (pdf)

Reports from the Mauritius International Meeting - 2005
- Mauritius Declaration (pdf)
- Mauritius Strategy for the further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (pdf)
 

United Nations General Assembly Resolutions on Small Island Developing States (1999)
- GA 54/224 - Implementation of the outcome of the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States
- GA 54/225 - Promoting an integrated management approach to the Caribbean Sea area in the context of sustainable development

OTHER ISLANDS DOCUMENTS

Traditional environmental knowledge and resource management in New Caledonia, A.L. Dahl (1989) reviews the wide range and great sophistication of indigenous knowledge about small island management

ENVIRONMENTAL VULNERABILITY INDEX

The South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) has developed an Environmental Vulnerability Index (EVI) which was presented to the Mauritius International Meeting on 12 January 2005. The project responded to the request of the 1994 Barbados Programme of Action for SIDS to develop a vulnerability index, and complements work on economic and social vulnerability that has already demonstrated the disadvantages suffered by SIDS. The SOPAC project is now completed, and goverments are encouraged to trial the EVI at the national level pending further international implementation.

BASIC DOCUMENTS ON THE EVI
EVI Final Report 2005 (pdf 1,732 kb) - explains the EVI
EVI Descriptions 2005 (pdf 1,378 kb) - descriptions of each indicator
EVI Country Classification (pdf 22 kb) - shows EVI ratings for all countries
EVI Summary of Global Scales (pdf 62 kb) - map with distribution of EVI scores
EVI Status of Global Data and Scores (pdf 17 kb) - graphics of data holdings and scores

EVI Frequently Asked Questions (pdf 5,480 kb)

TECHNICAL DOCUMENTS
EVI Manual (pdf 16,854 kb) - How to use the Environmental Vulnerability Index
EVI Calculator (Excel file 1,071 kb) - data entry form

OTHER USEFUL DOCUMENTS
EVI 2004 Technical Report (pdf 27,030 kb) - detailed documentation of methodology
EVI Think Tank II Report (pdf 670 kb) - latest expert peer review of the EVI

PREPARATORY PROCESS
A first proposal for an Environmental Vulnerability Index appropriate for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) was released by SOPAC on 4 February 1999. This work was further developed at an Environmental Vulnerability Index (EVI) Think Tank, 7-10 September 1999 in Pacific Harbour, Fiji. In a second phase, the index was tested in 5 countries, and a workshop to expand application of the EVI to a representative set of countries around the world was hosted by UNEP in Geneva, Switzerland, on 27-29 August 2001. Work then continued refining the index and assembling the necessary data sets, leading to the launching of a preliminary EVI based on 50 indicators at the 12th UN Commission on Sustainable Development in New York on 15 April 2004 and a second EVI Think Tank in Suva, Fiji, 4-6 October 2004, before the final presentation at the Mauritius International Meeting on 12 January 2005. More than 300 experts contributed to the development of the EVI. While further refinements and improvements will always be necessary, the index is now ready for application at the country level. It is designed for use in all countries, not just small island states.

SOPAC has established a website for the Environmental Vulnerability Index at http://www.vulnerabilityindex.net/ where the full results and various reports on its development can be obtained.

See also the Report of the ad hoc expert group meeting on vulnerability indices for small island developing States (New York, 15-16 December 1997)

Indicators relevant to the environmental vulnerability of islands can also be found in the Island Directory. These are specific to individual islands, rather than aggregated at the national level for SIDS.

For further information on islands, contact:
Arthur Lyon Dahl  
12B Chemin de Maisonneuve
CH-1219 Ch‰telaine, Geneva
Switzerland
e-mail: dahla @ bluewin.ch [no spaces]
http://yabaha.net/dahl

Background photograph of Carrie Bow Cay, Belize Barrier Reef, © by Arthur Lyon Dahl


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Last Updated 22 March 2010