Island Resilience Initiative
Against the backdrop of the “big four” international agreements in recent years - the SAMOA Pathway, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement on climate (COP21), and the Habitat III New Urban Agenda - implementation of resilient, sustainable and equitable development at a local level and strong partnerships are critical to achieving the international community’s shared global agenda.
Islands are on the frontline of global changes and feel the impacts very directly - from climate change and resource depletion, to urban growth, health threats and food pressures. From the densely populated urban centers of the Philippines, Taiwan and Hawai’i to the atolls and archipelagos of the Caribbean, Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean, never before have the 600 million plus people living on islands been so at risk. Some of these islands may quite literally disappear. We need a new model centered on strong multi-sectoral partnerships if islands are to both survive and thrive.
Problems in islands are interconnected and require multi-sector solutions. For instance, poor water quality can cause health problems, discourage tourism, and contribute to the decline of coral reefs. Disappearing reefs harm fisheries and also impact tourism. Improving water quality requires investments in energy-intensive infrastructure (like water treatment plants). But energy in the islands is expensive, because it typically is produced by importing fossil fuels. Current development approaches tend to be “siloed,” though, and treat each of these problems in isolation.
To counteract these impacts, over the past decade, there has been a groundswell of island economies that have launched visionary commitments that are delivering significant progress on building resilience and sustainability. Island-led solutions such as Palau National Marine Sanctuary, the Blue Economy vision and Seychelles Debt for Adaptation Swap, the Aloha+ Challenge and the Micronesia Challenge are locally and culturally appropriate models supported by strong partnerships that are driving implementation of the SDGs and other key agreements.
Over the past ten years, the island leaders and their supporters have come together to develop specific, scaleable and replicable solutions and models that are overcoming today’s problems and catalyzing local action. These proven local to regional models can be scaled and adapted by cities, states and countries globally to locally deliver in a culturally appropriate way on the SDGs and other global agreements.
"This Initiative will support islands by helping to establish cohesive and aligned policy efforts around the globe."
H.E. Tommy E. Remengesau, President of Palau and Global Island Partnership Leader launching the Island Resilience Initiative at the Pacific Island Conference of Leaders, 30 August 2016.