Recent Annual Reports are available as downloadable .PDF brochures:
The Year 2004 In Review
Small Island Survival
It is now ten years since the attention of the international community focused on small island developing states (SIDS) at a UN Global Conference convened in Barbados. At that time, an impressive blueprint for action was adopted, and the special needs of small island states, seeking a better balance between conservation and development, were placed firmly on the agenda of the global community. Since then, the ecological richness of insular environments–endowed with exceptional biodiversity and high levels of endemism–has been well documented. There has also been considerable interest in identifying and addressing insular "vulnerability" concerns, such as sea level rise and globalization, as these threaten island communities, their economies and environment.
Yet, despite a broader and firmer articulation of island issues by both islanders and the international community, we know that development pressures continue to intensify in small island states, populations are expanding, and climate change presents new challenges. It is also clear that island ecosystems continue to be over-exploited and natural habitats to be seriously eroded. The United Nations Environment Program reports that the Caribbean's natural resources are diminishing at an alarming rate and that, despite more than 300 protected areas having been designated in the Wider Caribbean in the last 20 years, only about 30 percent are effectively managed.
The international community is about to assemble again -- this time in Mauritius in January of 2005 -- to reconsider the island agenda first developed in Barbados in 1994. The forum will provide an opportunity for a ten-year review of sustainable development strategies for SIDS, while a key concern of islanders will be the lack of adequate funding to implement the ambitious "Barbados Program of Action". And, as in 1994, one fundamental question remains: can small island states find ways to achieve truly sustainable development?
Island Resources Foundation --Conservation and Sustainable Development in the BVI
In July of 2003, the late Laurance Rockefeller provided funding for a 2-year conservation and institution-strengthening program in the British Virgin Islands, to be coordinated by Island Resources in collaboration with a number of BVI institutions, most particularly, the National Parks Trust (NPT).
The program was designed to support the ongoing development and operation of parks and protected areas in the BVI, while also providing a framework for the future management of Sandy Cay–a small island located between Tortola and Jost Van Dyke, owned and maintained by Laurance Rockefeller for more than three decades as the oldest private-but-open-to-the-public, marine wilderness park in the Caribbean.
During the last year, a collaboration of individuals and institutions has carried the project forward within ten interactive program components, including: revision of the National Parks Act, staff and board training, exploration of new environmental monitoring strategies, NPT financial operations review, and assistance in upgrading basic park management tools such as the System Plan and site management plans.
These and other activities will continue during the second and final year of the program.
People & Activities from 2004
Eighth Islands of the World Conference
The Eighth Islands of the World Conference of the International Small Islands Study Association (ISISA) was held on Kinmen Island in Taiwan in November, with over 120 papers presented in the sparkling new Kinmen Island Social Welfare and Convention Center. Major themes of the meeting focused on governance and decentralization for small islands and eco-tourism, including the special Taiwanese addition to the field: "military eco-tourism".
According to IRF president Bruce Potter, who attended the "Islands VIII" conference with his wife Kincey, hospitality for the 80 foreign participants was unrivaled. The conference closed with approval of the eight-point "Kinmen Declaration", to be presented at the Mauritius Meeting of Small Island Developing States in January of 2005. The 2006 meeting of ISISA will be held on the island of Maui, Hawaii.
The Global Islands Network (GIN) took advantage of the attendance of a majority of its Directors (including IRF's Bruce Potter) at the ISISA meeting to convene its own board meeting in Taipei. GIN is a worldwide Internet-based information network that was established to provide easy access to available information on sustainable island development. Current members of GIN number over 125 (IRF is a charter member), including UNESCO, UNE P, and IUCN. Many of GIN's future projects and prospects are linked to insular biodiversity conservation and to the development of an Island Atlas, both of which will be advanced at the January 2005 SIDS meeting in Mauritius.
Establishment of the Judith A. Towle Fund for Environmental Studies in the Eastern Caribbean
Since 1991, IRF vice president Judith Towle has served on the board of the Mukti Fund, a private, U.S.-based philanthropic foundation, which, for two decades, has concentrated its long-term grantmaking program in the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts and Nevis. Over the years, Island Resources Foundation has also enjoyed a close working partnership with the Mukti Fund that both furthered Mukti's goals in St. Kitts and Nevis and supported IRF's ongoing work with conservation NGOs in the Eastern Caribbean.
Judith Towle retired from the board of the Mukti Fund this year, and in appreciation for her contributions, the Mukti Fund made a $70,000 grant to the Community Foundation of the U.S. Virgin Islands for establishment of the Judith A. Towle Fund for Environmental Studies in the Eastern Caribbean. The Fund will honor her work, interests and commitment to advancing conservation and sustainable development in the Caribbean. As administered by the Community Foundation, the Towle Fund will provide annual grants for environmental studies, internships, workshops, and related activities in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and in St. Kitts and Nevis, the Caribbean islands that most reflect
Judith's long-term interests and work in the region. The first Towle grant will be awarded by the Community Foundation in 2005.
A new history of the Mukti Fund, entitled The Mukti Fund in St. Kitts and Nevis, 1983-2004: How A Small Foundation Can Make A Difference, is available upon request. Contact Judith Towle at email@example.com.
- Congratulations to Dr. Joth Singh, the 2004 recipient of the Euan P. McFarlane Award for Outstanding Environmental Leadership in the Insular Caribbean. Since 1988, Island Resources Foundation has annually presented this $1,000 award to an exceptional conservation leader in the Caribbean. Dr. Singh, a national of Trinidad and Tobago, currently serves as the executive director of the Barbados-headquartered Caribbean Conservation Association, an assignment that continues a career dedicated to environmental work in the Caribbean.
- A prior-year recipient of the McFarlane Award is Alissandra Cummins (honoree in 1991), currently director of the Barbados Museum, founding president of the Museums Association of the Caribbean, and recently elected new president of the International Council of Museums, the first Caribbean official to hold this prestigious post.
- Congratulations to IRF's Carlos Ramos-Scharrón, who this year fulfilled requirements for a Ph.D. degree from Colorado State University. His dissertation–Measuring and Predicting Erosion and Sediment Yields on St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands–was based on studies carried out earlier under IRF's auspices in St. John.
- At year's end, IRF's Board of Trustees welcomed two new members. Barbara Lausche, an internal environmental lawyer formerly affiliated with the World Wildlife Fund and the World Bank, has most recently worked with IRF in the British Virgin Islands, where she drafted a new National Parks Act. Nicolas Drayton is currently head of The Ocean Conservancy's Caribbean office in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands and in December was named the 2004 Coastal Zone Person of the Year by the Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands.