Promoting action to build resilient and sustainable island communities

Exec Director Kate Brown reviews GLISPA Highlights, May 2019…

We are already nearly half way through 2019. Coming up in July, our Partnership’s Annual Members Teleconference will take place on Thursday, July 25th 2019. This GLISPA conference call is an opportunity for GLISPA Members to contribute to the development of GLISPA’s 2019-2020 Strategy and upcoming activities. An invitation to this call will be sent out shortly.

Recently, two exciting things happened that help bring islands into the conversation and advance island interests in Washington DC:

Furthermore, this month, we saw the release of Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). This report provides very sobering reading: one million species are currently threatened with extinction and we are undermining the entire natural infrastructure on which our modern world depends.

This is the most comprehensive assessment of global biodiversity ever undertaken. Among other things, it identifies that goals for conserving and sustainably using nature whilst achieving sustainability cannot be met by current trajectories. Goals for 2030 and beyond may only be achieved through transformative changes across economic, social, political and technological factors. We know that the unique characteristics that make island biodiversity so special also leave it particularly fragile and vulnerable. As recognised in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) on Island Biodiversity - despite the high levels of biodiversity and the prevalence of endemism, island species are present in relatively small numbers, making them very vulnerable to extinction.

Furthermore, because island species have diminished dispersal capability and evolve in competition with relatively few other species, they develop survival strategies based on interdependency, co-evolution, and mutualism rather than defence mechanisms against a broad range of predators and competitors. As a result, many island species have become rare or threatened, and islands have a disproportionate number of recorded species extinctions when compared to continental systems. As of 2006, of the 724 recorded animal extinctions in the last 400 years, about half were of island species. At least 90% of the bird species that have become extinct in that period were island-dwellers. The sobering IPBES report reminds us that globally the situation is dire, we can intimate that it’s likely worse for island biodiversity. At the same time, the very same report does give us hope that transformative change as well as concerted and ongoing action can bring about positive outcomes.

RECOGNITION
Congratulations to current GLISPA Chair President Danny Faure of the Seychelles and former Seychelles President and GLISPA co-founder James Michel, who jointly were awarded the National Geographic 2019 Planetary Leadership Award. This award recognizes a world leader who has successfully established globally significant protected areas, such as national parks, wilderness areas, or marine reserves, that are fully shielded from exploitation.

Congratulations also to GLISPA Board Member Kimo Goree who has inspired all of us by spending the last few months cycling across the US from California to Florida.

I also had the opportunity to attend the Washington D.C. Goldman Prize Ceremony (following the announcements in San Francisco) which has a category for Islands and Islands Nations. This year’s winner, Jacqueline Evans of the Cook Islands received this award for leading a five-year grassroots campaign to protect the Cook Islands’ marine biodiversity. Due to her tireless and persistent organizing, in July 2017, the Cook Islands enacted new legislation—Marae Moana—to sustainably manage and conserve all 763,000 square miles of the country’s ocean territory, including the designation of marine protected areas (MPAs) 50 nautical miles around the islands, protecting 125,000 square miles of ocean from large-scale commercial fishing and seabed mining. This is the first Prize for the Cook Islands and Jackie accepted it on behalf of all those that have contributed to the establishment of Marae Moana, Kevin Iro, Prime Minister Henry Puna, Kaumaiti Tou Ariki,Traditional Leaders, Civil Societies and the people and government of the Cook Islands. Congratulations to Jackie and the Cook Islands. Read more: https://www.goldmanprize.org/recipient/jacqueline-evans/

NEW GLISPA BOARD TREASURER ELECTED: DR. SPENCER THOMAS, GRENADA
Spencer Thomas 1During our last Board Meeting, Dr. Spencer Thomas was elected to join GLISPA’s Board as Treasurer. Dr. Thomas has been Grenada’s Ambassador and Special Envoy for Multilateral Environmental Agreements since 2008. He has been involved extensively in GLISPA’s founding, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Programme of Work on Island Biodiversity, the Climate Change Convention, and most recently, he chaired the budget discussions for both the International Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and the Convention on Biological Diversity Conference of the Parties (CBD COP 14) in Egypt last year. He has also been a regional councillor for IUCN and was involved in the Caribbean Challenge Initiative.

The GLISPA Board looks forward to the rigor and enthusiasm that Dr. Thomas will apply to his new role.

GLISPA AND HAWAII GREEN GROWTH WORKING TOGETHER ON LOCAL 2030 HUBS
In 2018, GLISPA together with its member Hawai‘i Green Growth strategically aligned efforts to mobilize more implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) when Hawai‘i Green Growth was recognized as a UN Local2030 Hub — the first Island Hub together with GLISPA. GLISPA has always supported Hawaii’s efforts on Aloha+Challenge because we saw the potential for political leadership on a broader sustainability agenda in islands. Together GLISPA and the HGG Local2030 Islands Hub with public and private sector, philanthropic, and non-governmental partners will work to catalyse and support a network of

Local2030 hubs on islands that:

  • Engage political leadership in joint commitments for sustainable development across social, economic, environmental and equity priorities.
  • Identify local public-private partnerships - or Local2030 Hubs – that will convene and/or strengthen multi-stakeholder and participatory processes to develop locally and culturally appropriate metrics and indicators to achieve the UN SDGs.
  • Build an online Dashboard through a known technique that tracks progress, increases risk awareness, provides accountability and drives action through behavior change, including through citizen science, local and indigenous knowledge, mobile-based apps and storytelling.
  • Develop concrete projects that build resilience that can be replicated and scaled globally.
  • Engage next generation island leaders and create educational policy pathways from the local to global context

STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS UPDATE
Welcome to Safiya Sawney who is doing some work with GLISPA as a Senior Adviser, particularly helping us with engagement with UN/NYC activities in 2019. Safiya is originally from Grenada and has worked for Ambassador Dessima Williams when Ambassador Williams was chair of AOSIS, worked on the Caribbean Challenge Initiative (CCI) and on Grenada’s Blue Innovation Institute and Blue Network, with Parley for the Oceans, PangeaSeed Foundation, Climate Analytics among others.

Thanks to other Senior Advisers - Audrey Newman, Floyd Homer and Scott Hajost for your continuing support.