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Small Islands Big Picture

Why do small islands matter?

Season 1, Ep. 1

Small Islands, Big Picture” is a new podcast from The Resilient and Sustainable Islands Initiative (RESI) and ODI which will shine a spotlight on the unique challenges and remarkable resilience of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) around the world. Hosts and RESI directors Dr Emily Wilkinson and Dr Matthew Bishop will be joined by expert guests from the Caribbean, Pacific and beyond to discuss the political, economic, social and environmental issues facing SIDS today.

In this first episode, Emily and Matt explain the ways in which SIDS are some of the most distinctive societies on earth – and why a podcast that helps to amplify SIDS' voices is needed. In "Island Voices", Courtney Lindsay explains why the RESI programme is important. In "The Big Picture", Michai Robertson speaks from behind the scenes at the Bonn Climate Conference. In "No Stupid Questions", Emily and Matt debunk the all-too prevalent myth that many SIDS are not deserving of international aid.

Featuring:

  • Emily Wilkinson (host) | RESI Director and Senior Research Fellow at ODI
  • Matthew Bishop (host) | RESI Director and Senior Lecturer at the University of Sheffield
  • Courtney Lindsay | RESI Director and Senior Research Officer and ODI
  • Michai Robertson | Antigua-Barbuda negotiator at the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS)

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  • 7. Are changes in global shipping generating better connectivity for Small Island Developing States??

    36:56
    Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are, by definition, highly dependent on shipping and other forms of connectivity. As geographically small land masses, SIDS have a high propensity to import things, and as islands, all imports, exports and travel must be done by sea (or air). However, SIDS are at the mercy of the global shipping industry, over which they have little control – an industry prone to shocks, spikes in prices and rapid technological change. In this episode of "Small Islands, Big Picture", Emily and Matt discuss: why SIDS are so dependent on shipping; how these small states are experiencing recent transformations in inter-island and international maritime industries; and whether changing patterns of ownership and control, multilateral governance of the high seas, or technological innovation – for example, through Artificial Intelligence – represent positive or concerning developments for SIDS. In “Island Voices”, Viliame Kasanawaqa talks about the importance of sea connectivity to Pacific nations. In the “Explainer” section, Professor Liam Campling, co-author of the prize-winning book Capitalism and the Sea, discusses why SIDS are so vulnerable to corporate concentration in the global shipping industry. In “The Big Picture”, Captain Orlando Allard tells us how small states have done much to shape global maritime governance. Finally, in “No Stupid Questions” Matt and Emily answer “Why don’t SIDS just set up their own shipping lines to reduce dependence on the global shipping lines?". Featuring:Emily Wilkinson (host) | RESI Director and Senior Research Fellow at ODIMatthew Bishop (host) | RESI Director and Senior Lecturer at the University of SheffieldViliame Kasanawaqa | RESI Affiliate and Director of ShipWrecked Lab, FijiLiam Campling | Professor of International Business, Queen Mary University of LondonCaptain Orlando Allard | Dean, Faculty of Engineering and Technology, Universidad Santa Maria La Antigua, Panama and Former Panamanian Ambassador to the International Maritime Organization Resources:Programme page | Resilient and Sustainable Islands Initiative (RESI)SIDS Future Forum | Recordings of Future Forum sessions at Island InnovationLiam’s Book | Capitalism and the Sea (Verso, 2021, co-authored with Alejandro Colás)
  • 6. Will the Fourth UN International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS4) generate ‘resilient prosperity’?

    41:11
    Each decade since the mid-1990s, the United Nations has convened a high-level international summit – bringing together small-island governments, large-state donor partners, international organisations and representatives from civil society – to agree the next ten-year agenda for Small Island Developing States’ (SIDS) development diplomacy. The fourth of these conferences (SIDS4) will take place in Antigua-Barbuda in May 2024, under the theme ‘Charting the Course Toward Resilient Prosperity’.SIDS4 is the most important of these decennial conferences so far, taking place at a critical juncture in the global context and at an especially challenging time for small island states. Consequently, Emily and Matt devote the entirety of this episode to a roundtable discussion with three key protagonists in the SIDS4 process:Tumasie Blair, Antigua-Barbuda’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UNAmbassador Fatumanava-o-Upolu III Dr Pa'olelei Luteru of Samoa, Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and Permanent Representative of Samoa (the 2014 host state)Dr Simona Marinescu, Senior Advisor on SIDS at the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS)The episode explores what will happen at SIDS4, how the agenda has been developed, and in which policy areas SIDS will make the biggest demands of the international community. Looking ahead to the new 10-year agenda that will replace The SAMOA Pathway, Emily and Matt ask 'What can we expect from the Antigua-Barbuda Accord for SIDS (ABAS) 2024-34?' and, crucially, 'How will it deliver genuinely “resilient prosperity"?'.Featuring:Emily Wilkinson (host) | RESI Director and Senior Research Fellow at ODIMatthew Bishop (host) | RESI Director and Senior Lecturer at the University of SheffieldFatumanava-o-Upolu III Dr Pa'olelei Luteru | AOSIS Chair and Permanent Representative of Samoa to the UNTumasie Blair | Deputy Permanent Representative of Antigua-Barbuda to the UNSimona Marinescu | Senior Advisor on SIDS, UNOPSResources:Programme page | Resilient and Sustainable Islands Initiative (RESI)RESI policy brief | A Global Bargain for Resilient Prosperity in SIDSSIDS4 website | 4th International Conference on Small Island Developing StatesRESI summary on SIDS4 preparatory process | Preparatory meetings for the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States: participation, priorities and outcomesSIDS Future Forum information | ODI webpageRegister to attend the SIDS Future Forum | Island Innovation’s website
  • 5. Who is responsible for high debt burdens in SIDS?

    43:52
    This episode of "Small Islands, Big Picture" explores debt in SIDS – a critical challenge with no easy solutions. Emily and Matt explain why many island states have built up such large debt burdens in the first place, how this impacts SIDS in different ways, and why it is so difficult to reduce. They discuss what can be done to augment SIDS’ ‘fiscal space’, whose responsibility it is to help them achieve this, and how new financial mechanisms might help.In “Island Voices”, Rachid Bouhia talks about how better international support is critical for alleviating debt. In the “Explainer” section, Gail Hurley – who specialises in the finance challenges of SIDS – provides 10 reasons why debt is so pressing, but also why we should remain hopeful and continue pushing for global change. In “The Big Picture”, Enrico Gaveglia and Shakira Mustapha discuss the challenges of alleviating debt burdens on the ground. Finally, in “No Stupid Questions”, Matt and Emily answer ‘Why is the issue of debt in SIDS not as simple as just paying down the debt?’.Featuring:Emily Wilkinson (host) | RESI Director and Senior Research Fellow, ODIMatthew Bishop (host) | RESI Director and Senior Lecturer, University of SheffieldRachid Bouhia | RESI Director and Economic Affairs Officer, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)Gail Hurley | Independent Advisor and Senior Researcher on Debt and Development FinanceEnrico Gaveglia | Resident Representative, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) MaldivesShakira Mustapha | Research Lead at the Centre for Disaster ProtectionResources:Programme page | Resilient and Sustainable Islands Initiative (RESI)RESI policy brief | A global bargain for resilient prosperity in Small Island Developing StatesSIDS4 website | Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing StatesEmily and Rachid’s blog | Small-Island Developing States need urgent support to avoid debt defaultsEmily and Kanni Wignaraja’s Project Syndicate article | Credit Ratings and Climate ChaosShakira’s paper | Innovations in sovereign debt: taking debt pause clauses to scale
  • 4. Can we find solutions to climate change-induced sea-level rise?

    41:03
    This episode of "Small Islands Big Picture" Emily and Matt discuss the problem of sea-level rise, the challenges it poses to sustainable development – especially for low-lying island nations – and what might be done about it. Ian Fry explains why sea-level rise is such a multifaceted problem. In "Island Voices", Dr Michelle Scobie talks about the critical role of environmental governance. In “The Big Picture”, Dr Tammy Tabe and Professor Jon Barnett talk us through why conventional responses to sea-level rise – such as resettling people – often ignore the desires and adaptation plans of island communities. In "No Stupid Questions", Matt and Emily ask "How might the world better cope with climate-induced migration?".Featuring:Emily Wilkinson (host) | RESI Director and Senior Research Fellow at ODIMatthew Bishop (host) | RESI Director and Senior Lecturer at the University of SheffieldDr Michelle Scobie | RESI Co-Director, Senior Lecturer in International Law and Global Environmental Governance at the University of the West Indies, and Advisor at the Commonwealth SecretariatIan Fry | UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in the Context of Climate ChangeDr Tammy Tabe | Oceania Research Fellow at the East-West CenterProfessor Jon Barnett | Professor and Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow at the School of Geography, Melbourne UniversityResources:Programme page | Resilient and Sustainable Islands Initiative (RESI)RESI policy brief | A global bargain for resilient prosperity in Small Island Developing StatesConversation blog | Why a chain of tiny Pacific islands wants an international court opinionIan’s papers on climate litigation | Legal options to protect human rights of displaced persons and Promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate changeEmily’s documentary | Climate Blueprint: Dominica
  • 3. What are the distinctive challenges faced by small non-sovereign islands?

    39:21
    In this episode, Emily and Matt discuss a special group of small islands: non-independent territories or "sub-national island jurisdictions" (SNIJs). They explain the great diversity that exists amongst these non-sovereign islands in terms of levels of development and depth of integration with metropolitan powers like Britain, France, the Netherlands and the United States. Professor Jack Corbett, RESI Co-Director and Head of the School of Social Sciences at Monash University in Australia, talks about the trade-offs and tensions that typify life as a SNIJ.In "Island Voices", we hear from Dr Genève Phillip, Interim Provost and Vice-President of Academic Affairs at the University College of the Cayman Islands. In "The Big Picture", we have two guests: Benito Wheatley, Special Envoy of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) Government and Professor Peter Clegg, Head of the School of Social Sciences at the University of the West of England. Finally, in No Stupid Questions, Emily and Matt ask 'Why are non-sovereign territories not becoming independent?'.Featuring:Emily Wilkinson (host) | RESI Director and Senior Research Fellow at ODIMatthew Bishop (host) | RESI Director and Senior Lecturer at the University of SheffieldJack Corbett | RESI Co-Director and Head of the School of Social Sciences at Monash University in AustraliaGenève Phillip | Interim Provost and Vice-President of Academic Affairs at the University College of the Cayman IslandsBenito Wheatley | Special Envoy of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) GovernmentProfessor Peter Clegg | Head of the School of Social Sciences at the University of the West of EnglandResources:Programme page | Resilient and Sustainable Islands Initiative (RESI)Peter's report | Global Britain, contested spaces, and the UK Overseas Territories“Small Islands, Big Picture” is a new podcast from the Resilient and Sustainable Islands Initiative (RESI) and ODI which will shine a spotlight on the unique challenges and remarkable resilience of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) around the world. Hosts - and RESI directors – Dr Emily Wilkinson and Dr Matthew Bishop will be joined by expert guests from the Caribbean, Pacific and beyond to discuss the political, economic, social and environmental issues facing SIDS today.
  • 2. How can the UN Multidimensional Vulnerability Index help small island states?

    39:36
    In this episode of "Small Islands, Big Picture", Emily and Matthew look at the United Nation's new Multidimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI), how it relates to age-old debates about small-state vulnerability, and why it could lead to a long-overdue shift in the allocation of international aid. In "Island Voices", Theresa Meki speaks about the meaning of vulnerability and George Carter highlights different aspects of SIDS' vulnerability that need to be considered. In "The Big Picture", Fatumanava-o-Upolu III Dr Pa'olelei Luteru reports on how work on the MVI is proceeding. In "No Stupid Questions", Emily and Matt answer "Does thinking of Small Island Developing States through the prism of vulnerability risk infantilising them?".Featuring:Emily Wilkinson (host) | RESI Director and Senior Research Fellow, ODIMatthew Bishop (host) | RESI Director and Senior Lecturer, University of SheffieldGaston Browne | Prime Minister of Antigua-Barbuda and Co-Chair, UN High-Level Panel on the MVIFatumanava-o-Upolu III Dr Pa'olelei Luteru | Permanent Respresentative of Samoa, UN High-Level Panel on the MVITheresa Meki | Department of Pacific Affairs, Australian National UniversityGeorge Carter | RESI Co-director and Department of Pacific Affairs, Australian National UniversityResources:ODI event | Putting the Glasgow Climate Pact into action: accounting for vulnerabilityProgramme page | Resilient and Sustainable Islands Initiative (RESI)Policy brief | A global bargain for resilient prosperity in Small Island Developing StatesUN website | Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States“Small Islands, Big Picture” is a new podcast from The Resilient and Sustainable Islands Initiative (RESI) and ODI which will shine a spotlight on the unique challenges and remarkable resilience of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) around the world. Hosts - and RESI directors – Dr Emily Wilkinson and Dr Matthew Bishop will be joined by expert guests from the Caribbean, Pacific and beyond to discuss the political, economic, social and environmental issues facing SIDS today.