Statement at opening of SIDS Universities Consortium

2004-08-03 Ambassador Jagdish Koonjul Download PDF

Topic: Sustainable Development

Your Excellency Mr Turnbell, Governor of the United States Virgin Islands,
Honourable Senators,
Ms Ragster President of the University of Virgin Islands,
Distinguished Representatives of the Universities of SIDS
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure and an honour to be invited to say a few words at this opening ceremony.
Many of you will recall the UNDP sponsored vulnerability workshop, held in Montego Bay in
2002 when the idea of SIDS University Consortium was first raised. Few SIDS professionals are
actually engaged in Island vulnerability work or on sustainable development, and precisely
because of that the need for the SIDS universities to play a more active role in that area was
The AOSIS Summit in Johannesburg encouraged networking among SIDS Universities and
provided further impetus to the Consortium Project.
More recently the expert meeting held at the University of the South Pacific in December 2003
discussed this matter again, and reached an agreement to form a core group of Universities
comprising the University of Malta, the University of the West Indies, the University of the
South Pacific and the University of the Virgin Islands to develop the practical aspects of
cooperation within the consortium. I warmly welcome the decision that the University of the
Virgin Islands would act as coordinator and judging by the commitment demonstrated by
President LaVerne Ragster to SIDS-SIDS cooperation, I feel very confident that under her wise
guidance and efficient leadership, this project will successfully attain its objectives.
Distinguished University Representatives, today you are laying the foundations for what should
one day become a very important network for information processing, experiences exchanges
and research in island development in all its aspects, culture and education in general. The
Alliance of Small Island States commends this initiative and will give you the political support
that is needed to fully use the potential you represent. As you are aware, we are currently
engaged in the ten year review of the BPOA and at the International Meeting which will be held
in Mauritius in January next year, we would like to see, apart from a greater commitment on the
part of development partners for the full and effective implementation of the outcome of the
Mauritius Meeting, a more significant cooperation within the SIDS regions and the SIDS
themselves. And here SIDS Universities have an important role to play not only in helping to
forge such a cooperation but also to assist SIDS government in their efforts to pursue their
sustainable policies.
From the viewpoint of AOSIS, we believe that the Consortium can engage in activities that
(1) maximize the in-house academic expertise of SIDS as a group,
(2) expand on the available training and educational opportunities available to SIDS students
at these institutions. For example, a student at USP should be able to have access to
economics and trade courses at the University of Malta without traveling there.
(3) promote other sustainable development activities such as cultural enterprise and
(4) Create an appropriate network that would allow career development among SIDS
academics and professionals so as to ensure that they remain within the SIDS regions and
not seek advancement in other countries.
As we build such a network it would not be unreasonable on our part to, some day in the future
expect an arrangement where SIDS Universities would distribute among themselves areas of
specialisation so as to make the optimum use of capacities in our respective countries.
In the area of technology development and adaptation for example, the consortium represents an
enormous potential. Issues of direct concern to SIDS such Climate Change, rising sea levels,
waste management and renewable energies for example can be better addressed through such a
consortium and eventually by such specialisation.
From the political and diplomatic angles, this particular potential is of the greatest significance.
SIDS, despite their difficulties come up every now and then with tentative new technological
developments but we never seem to be able to connect the research with the people who can
develop and market them. A case in point is the technology to use coconut oil as a diesel
substitute whose success has been established. The problem now will be to find the right
entrepreneurs who would be prepared to set up units at local levels and start the operations. In
this regard the Consortium would be well placed to exchange and disseminate experiences within
the SIDS and thereby enrich further the SIDS SIDS cooperation. And of course this cooperation
can eventually cover the whole range of issues of interest to the Small Island Countries.
I am sure that in the discussions which you will have over the next few days, you will give
consideration to these aspects of our cooperation.
From AOSIS side I can assure you of our full support and collaboration and I would be happy to
take back your recommendations to the group.

Sub Topic: SDGs

Forum: None