Learning from the Sharp End of Environmental Uncertainty in Small Island Developing States: Implications for Sustainability and Education for Sustainable Development

Project Details


Recent research across many disciplines shows that small island states are finding themselves at the sharp end of the impact of global climate change, although they are often overlooked when it comes to participation in the international policy deliberations and decisions. As researchers in the “North” continue to grapple with the concepts of climate change adaptation and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), this project emerged from a belief that the international community can learn much from the experiences of small island states. For more details on our research in this area, please follow the provided links to our recent post on the PolicyBristol blog, our article which appeared in the International Journal of Educational Development (2013), and videos and materials relating to a major international conference held in collaboration with the Cabot Institute and the Graduate School of Education (GSoE) at the University of Bristol in July 2014.

This successful event was titled “Living at the Sharp End of Environmental Uncertainty in Small Island States”, and involved an international day conference followed by a related one-day research pump-priming workshop. This was designed to strengthen international awareness, recognition and understanding of the small states’ experience with climate change adaptation and ESD from multidisciplinary perspectives, at local, national and international levels.

The initial day conference brought together researchers, policy makers and practitioners working on the topic of environmental uncertainty in small island states from the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and South Pacific regions. Activities included panel discussions, round table presentations and workshops. The Keynote Address was given by Dame Pearlette Louisy, Head of State and Governor General of Saint Lucia, and other plenary contributions were made by personnel from the University of the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean Commission ISLANDS project, teachers from Zanzibar and Wales, international agencies and interdisciplinary researchers.

Please have a look at the provided links to learn more about our research and the July 2014 event’s speakers and participants. You will also find informative conference videos and highlights, including Dame Pearlette’s full Keynote Address.on the environmental challenges and strategies faced by Saint Lucia and the Caribbean.

Key findings

-Almost immediate recognition in the form of the UN accreditation of a new international research and development partnership that emerged from the Bristol Conference and Research Workshop. This is titled “Learning from the Sharp End of Environmental Uncertainty in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and was formally launched at the 3rd UN International Conference on SIDS that was held in Samoa during September 2014.

-The publication by Sprague et al 2014 of the article “At the sharp end: Education for sustainable development in small states”, designed to inform and engage with high-level policymakers across the Commonwealth, including for the 2015 Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (CCEM) to be held during June 2015 in the Bahamas.
Effective start/end date1/01/131/01/14


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