Governance, Institutions and Resource Use in Small Islands: Developing A Conceptual Framework was the theme of a workshop held at the University of Waterloo, Canada from 23-25 October 2017.
Academics and sustainability practitioners from the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus Jamaica; Yale University, USA; Alpen Adria University, Vienna; the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Greece; UN Environment Caribbean Regional Office and TAMCC Grenada, joined colleagues at the University of Waterloo to discuss and develop a working paper that will chart the way forward for the framework.
Drawing on the emerging ide of Political Industrial Ecology, these practitioners and scholars took on the herculean task of attempting for the first time, to integrate the themes of governance and resource flows, into a practical and useful framework for application within small islands.
The implications for such a framework are far-reaching, especially as island leaders and academics grapple with the challenges posed by climate change. Disasters caused by frequent and more intense hurricanes, due in the main part to climate variability and climate change, has sparked deeper planning for increasing the resilience of islands. A critical discussion in this regard is how to manage and improve the flows and accumulation of physical stocks, such as buildings and roads. Are the stock levels in this regard, too little, too much or optimum for the service they are intended to provide? Can these stocks be easily recovered and reused quickly in the aftermath of a hurricane? And even more critically, how do decisions influence these flows and stocks? If successful, some of these questions and more may be answered by this international team working for the next year or so on this project.
A key highlight of the 3-day workshop was a panel discussion titled: ‘Sustaining Small Islands in the Context of Global Environmental Change’. The panel, consisting of the team members from the international organisations listed above, spoke to a very enthusiastic audience of about 50 persons. Dr John Telesford from the School of Continuing Education, TAMCC, spoke on the topic: ‘The role of small-medium enterprise in the sustainability of small island.’ He drew on the SDGs and especially SDG 8: ‘promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full productive employment and decent work for all,’ and highlighted how this SDG integrates with others such as reducing poverty.
Driven by this integrated approach, SMEs can be born from what can be referred to as ‘island sustainability entrepreneurs’, who will have the passion for solving social and environmental problems on islands. Dr Telesford drew attention to potential innovations and small business opportunities in sectors such as agriculture, climate-smart agriculture and the energy-distributed and micro-grid applications using renewable technologies. However, he warned that these ideas must be driven by the need to solve environmental and social problems, while operating a viable small business. Training and financing he concluded will be critical to the success of such endeavours.
The TAMCC has created, but is yet to establish the TAMCC Research Institute (TARI). This proposed institute (still on paper), drew on 2 years of field research, in collaboration with a partner institution in Canada. One of the focuses of the TARI is to support research and innovation for the sustainable development of Grenada and the wider Caribbean. TARI therefore can play a significant role in stimulating the creation and launch of SMEs that are focused on the pillars of economy, society and environment. In this regard, training, research support and other key support services can be provided to the wider public by the TARI.
Dr Telesford is now a part of this international research group that is working to assist with the sustainable development of islands, in the face of climate change and climate-related disasters.