Representatives of about thirty small island developing states (SIDS) attended last week’s training on Aruba to learn about roadmaps for sustainable development. It was organized by the Centre of Excellence to help them towards a sustainable future.  During his opening speech Prime Minister Mike Eman pointed at the importance of the relationship between economic and social development.

,,Aruba has prospered due to  tourism over the past thirty years. When we took office in 2009 as a government, we decided to let the population share more in this prosperity than before. Quality tourism must go hand in hand with quality of life for citizens, otherwise you cannot speak of sustainable development”, Eman said.

The Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Small Island Developing States, developed in collaboration with the United Nations in Aruba, is a reality as of November 2016. The initiative aims to disseminate knowledge and best practices that have to do with the implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) which constitute the agenda of the UN member states for the period up to 2030. ,, The CoE can be important for small Islands as it will stimulate collaboration as a solution for lack of scale. Knowledge is the most renewable resource: it increases by sharing,  unlike many other resources, “ said Arno Boersma manager of the CoE.

,, With the help of the University of Aruba we drafted three best practices. To jumpstart  the CoE, we used examples of successful Aruban projects. The dossier sustainable tourism describes how Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort became one of the most  sustainable resorts in the world. The Green Corridor is an excellent example of a public-private partnership, a way for SIDS to realize major infrastructure projects. The third example on renewable energy, explains the RAS-framework which stands for Reliability, Affordability and Sustainability. We did our best to write the cases in a way that policy makers from other islands are able to customize the information to their own unique context, “ Boersma explains.

The CoE is also developing a virtual platform where policy makers can contact colleagues from other SIDS and find relevant publications.

To ensure that the 38 UN-member island states learned about the COE and  the platform, the CoE-team organized the training ‘Building Sustainable Development Roadmaps for SIDS’.  The training focused on roadmaps for sustainable development so that SIDS can apply them for  their own route for implementation. ,,Aruba is taking the lead by sharing some of the island’s knowledge and experiences through the CoE. Other SIDS can follow suit so small countries can learn from each other and can work together towards One Happy Planet, ” Boersma said.

Participant Omar Bafakih, from Comoros, a small island state near Madagascar, did not regret the long trip to the Caribbean. ,,The training was very useful. Our country is struggling with the implementation of the SDG’s. In Aruba we learned to create a policy and a roadmap for that. The island also gave us hope, seeing how far Aruba is with sustainable energy.” Bafakih emphasized that the training was not a onetime thing for him. ,,We met a lot of interesting people. Now we say goodbye, but will keep in touch with them.” His testimonial underlined the spirit of the Centre of Excellence. As Boersma said: ,,We must collaborate and share solutions.”

PMO Staff