They’re Small Island States, but Big-Thinking Nations

July 3, 2020
David Oswald
A shot of the ‘Pitons’ and the dramatic landscapes of Saint Lucia

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are some of the most vulnerable countries on the planet when it comes to the threat of climate change, but they are also thinking big about solutions, actively innovating, and building a prosperous and resilient future.

For the past eight years my team at DE Design + Environment Inc. and I, with regional partners (Mona Geoinformatics Institute), have been working in the Caribbean region on various mandates focused on analyzing environmental data and developing information management systems to help decision-makers understand and adapt to environmental change.  These countries are referred to as SIDS (Small Island Developing States) in climate policy circles, but they are anything but small in terms of the actions they are taking to fight climate change.  Their governments and regional organizations are exercising visionary leadership to help their citizens thrive in the green and blue economies.

Most recently we have worked closely and collaboratively with various governmental ministries in Saint Lucia to develop a National Environmental Information System to improve the efficiency and efficacy of their reporting to the three United Nations Rio Conventions for biodiversity (UNCBD), climate change (UNFCCC) and land degradation (UNCCD).  Saint Lucia’s NEIS is now live and the country is actively working to improve reporting and mobilize their citizens to work towards sustainable development through sound environmental management. 


You can watch footage of the project here:

But what does this have to do with Royal Roads University? … These countries are so far away!

Well, it has everything to do with two of RRU’s founding principles: empowering leadership and sustainable development.  The very ideas that we are researching and teaching in courses such as Environmental Management Tools, Sustainable Development: Ideas and Applications, and The Biosphere and Sustainability in the School of Environment and Sustainability are being put into action on such projects.  With very modest means, countries such as Saint Lucia are greatly improving their resilience and showing how to sustainably move forward and prosper.  Canada and the rest of the developed world can learn from these examples and see that with vision, perseverance, and the right knowledge, sustainability can become part of everyday reality for all citizens.