Promoting action to build resilient and sustainable island communities

Articles Tagged ‘Island Resilience’

Building Island Resilience in Hawai’i

Date: 30 August to 10 September 2016
Location: Pacific Island Conference of Leaders and IUCN World Conservation Congress
Strategic Priority: Building resilient and sustainable island communities

Celebrating 10 years of Island Leadership

Date: 4 to 17 December 2016
Location: Thirteenth Convention on Biological Diversity Conference of the Parties (CBD COP-13), Cancun, Mexico
Strategic Priority: Building resilient and sustainable island communities

Front-line Cities and Islands

Front-line Cities and Islands

Frontline-cropped Photo: Centre President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. of Palau with Mayor Perla Cecilia Tun Pech of Cozumel. Centre Left to Right: Assistant Minister Lorna Eden of Fiji, UN Special Envoy on Oceans Peter Thompson, Steve Gawler and Yunus Arikan of ICLEI. Centre right to Right: Councillor Penny Hulse of Auckland Council, BMZ Franz Marré and the Mayor of Honiara Andrew Mua united in climate and resilience action and solutions.

Islands are at the front-line of climate change impacts. In parallel island urban settlements are rapidly growing and as they grow attention is needed to ensure this growth does not exacerbate vulnerabilities. Resilience building in island towns and cities is critical. Driven by determination and necessity, islands are also at the front-line of spearheading integrated solutions to climate change and sustainable development. This is evident through Fiji’s leadership to mobilize oceans and climate action through to Seychelles pioneering the world’s first blue bond and debt-for-adaptation-swap, to efforts by Cozumel to move towards an innovative sustainable development and smart island model as response to climate change mitigation and adaptation and Hawaii’s statewide efforts as an early leader on how a subnational entity can effectively implement their own climate and sustainable development priorities. These islands can and are building resilience to stressors and shocks and more can be done. They need to learn from what each other are doing but also from others in similar situations including other cities. They can share experiences on integrated water-energy-food nexus projects given their smaller scale, as well as share, aggregate and package together innovative financing and green investment activities that by their nature are discrete but when packaged together are significant, impactful and investment scale.

The Opportunity

During the UNFCCC COP23, mayors and leaders of islands at the front-line of climate change, from the President of Palau to Mayor of Cozumel (Mexico), came together with mayors and leaders of cities around the world to join forces in taking action to address climate change and build resilience through launching Front-line Cities and Islands. 

Front-Line is championed by COP23 President Fiji with the Presidents of Palau and Seychelles, Prime Minister of Grenada, Premier of British Virgin Islands as the Leaders of the Global Island Partnership and mayors and leaders of ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability including the Mayors of Cozumel and Auckland to elevate the importance of sustainable urbanization in building resilience across islands and lay the groundwork for targeted and joint action across all islands. 

Front-line Cities and Islands builds a movement of mayors and leaders of island economies at the front-line of climate change impacts with mayors and leaders of resilience working together to champion local action in urban areas to deliver scalable, integrated solutions to urgently build resilience: on islands and globally. 

WATCH the President of Palau launch Front-line Cities and Islands at the GLISPA “Leaders in Island Resilience” high level reception


  • To create a network of coastal cities / municipalities within GLISPA, ICLEI and other regional and international entities to highlight islands and island economies, particularly urban areas, cultivate city-to-city and island-to-island learning and strategic partnerships, determine priority issues that they can work on together, share solutions that have been undertaken and identify and develop funding sources and innovative financing mechanisms for the long term.

  • To develop a special pathway through UNFCCC and other multilateral and donor processes for coastal cities, municipalities and settlements for funding in the short and medium term.

  • To promote dialogue and agreement aimed at achieving innovative resilience solutions.

The Partners

Front-line emerges through two long-standing partnerships - the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA) and ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability - joining forces to support cities and islands on this bold action plan. Through their respective networks Front-line is championed by Fiji with the Presidents of Palau and Seychelles, Prime Minister of Grenada, Premier of British Virgin Islands and mayors and leaders of islands from Nadi, Suva and Lautoka (Fiji), Cozumel (Mexico), Honiara (Solomon Islands), Castries (St Lucia), Vacoas Phoenix (Mauritius), and many others.  This influential collective of mayors and leaders will build a coalition of global resilience champions at the front-line to deliver scalable and integrated solutions to implement the SAMOA Pathway, Sendai Framework, Paris Climate Agreement, SDGs and the New Urban Agenda. It provides a platform to identify, learn from and scale solutions from islands and member cities providing greater momentum on resilience building to all engaged. 

The Initiative

GLISPA and ICLEI will work together along with partners on promoting sustainable island and urban development through sub-national and city leadership on a range of issues important to islands including amongst others: resilience and systems planning, climate change and clean energy, healthy oceans and near-shore coastal fisheries management, resilient infrastructure and innovative finance, ecosystems services for resilience and post disaster recovery and sustainable tourism. 


This would include Island champions and leaders from islands

  1. City-To-City twinning and learning.  ICLEI and GLISPA will match island cities with other cities from the ICLEI global network and GLISPA network, from global north and south, particularly coastal and island communities.

  2. Identifying and partnering with local public-private sector platforms, initiatives and collaborations that can engage communities, provide local context and accelerate action.

  3. Developing action plans and project mobilization to support island implementation of sustainable development priorities including through innovative financing.

  4. Mobilising implementation focussed measurable leadership commitments on island urban sustainable development and resilience with a mechanism to support implementation.

  5. Supporting advocacy and outreach on the initiative and relevant issues through the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy and other relevant global processes.

  6. Measuring progress - monitoring and reporting of progress will be conducted in reference to the relevant international frameworks, particularly the SAMOA Pathway, Sendai Framework, Paris Climate Agreement, SDGs and New Urban Agenda.

Call for Supporters

Fiji as COP 23 President with the Leaders of the Global Island Partnership and Mayors of ICLEI calls on the support of endorser and founding financial partners as well as prospective members cities and islands to support the design and implementation phases of this Initiative. In securing preliminary financial partners, this Initiative would continue to be implemented toward 2030. 

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The voyage to a resilient and sustainable future is not one that is taken alone, but by a movement of cities, states, islands and countries working together to shape the future we want.”

H.E. Tommy E. Remengesau Jr., President of Palau and Leader of the Global Island Partnership


Island Resilience Initiative

Island Resilience Initiative

Against the backdrop of the “big four” international agreements in recent years - the SAMOA Pathway, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement on climate (COP21), and the Habitat III New Urban Agenda - implementation of resilient, sustainable and equitable development at a local level and strong partnerships are critical to achieving the international community’s shared global agenda.

Islands are on the frontline of global changes and feel the impacts very directly - from climate change and resource depletion, to urban growth, health threats and food pressures. From the densely populated urban centers of the Philippines, Taiwan and Hawai’i to the atolls and archipelagos of the Caribbean, Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean, never before have the 600 million plus people living on islands been so at risk.  Some of these islands may quite literally disappear. We need a new model centered on strong multi-sectoral partnerships if islands are to both survive and thrive.

Problems in islands are interconnected and require multi-sector solutions.  For instance, poor water quality can cause health problems, discourage tourism, and contribute to the decline of coral reefs.  Disappearing reefs harm fisheries and also impact tourism. Improving water quality requires investments in energy-intensive infrastructure (like water treatment plants).  But energy in the islands is expensive, because it typically is produced by importing fossil fuels.  Current development approaches tend to be “siloed,” though, and treat each of these problems in isolation. 

To counteract these impacts, over the past decade, there has been a groundswell of island economies that have launched visionary commitments that are delivering significant progress on building resilience and sustainability. Island-led solutions such as Palau National Marine Sanctuary, the Blue Economy vision and Seychelles Debt for Adaptation Swap, the Aloha+ Challenge and the Micronesia Challenge are locally and culturally appropriate models supported by strong partnerships that are driving implementation of the SDGs and other key agreements.

Over the past ten years, the island leaders and their supporters have come together to develop specific, scaleable and replicable solutions and models that are overcoming today’s problems and catalyzing local action. These proven local to regional models can be scaled and adapted by cities, states and countries globally to locally deliver in a culturally appropriate way on the SDGs and other global agreements.


"This Initiative will support islands by helping to establish cohesive and aligned policy efforts around the globe."

H.E. Tommy E. Remengesau, President of Palau and Global Island Partnership Leader launching the Island Resilience Initiative at the Pacific Island Conference of Leaders, 30 August 2016. 

Framework: The Island Resilience Initiative will be based on an axis of six pillars that reinforce the global agreements, with a resilience and precovery lens to promote island futures and best practices, primarily at the action and project level -- energy, food, water, community, equity and environment. These six pillars will reinforce ambitious but appropriate and “right-sized” projects and solutions on islands that can be scaled and financed globally. It will also provide a platform for the establishment of larger, innovative impact dashboards and national and regional interventions.

Objective: Work with at least three Pacific islands, and a small number of island champions in other regions, to build capacity for public-private partnerships and local SDG/global agreement implementation, leveraging proven island models to:

• Identify, support and strengthen local collaborative public-private partnerships that can serve as a backbone organization focused on system-level change.
• Initiate the framework to implement SDGs locally, which includes a longer-term process to set high-level goals, develop shared measures to be tracked on an online platform, and develop a project pipeline to achieve 2030 goals.
• Launch a project pipeline development process, the Island Resilience Solution Prize, to catalyze innovative investments in integrated infrastructure on islands that can be financed through sources such as the Green Climate Fund and be a catalyst for public-private partnerships and a financing pipeline.
• Launch a peer-learning network coordinated by the Global Island Partnership and Hawai‘i Green Growth to support island backbone organizations, high-level goal development and commitments as well as public-private partnerships.


The Island Resilience Initiative was announced by the President of Palau during the Pacific Island Conference of Leaders on August 2016.  The project pipeline development process, the Island Resilience Challenge, was first announced by Palau as part of the UN Secretary General’s resilience initiative at the UNFCCC COP21, Paris and as a commitment at the five year anniversary celebrated by the White House in Washington D.C. The Island Resilience Initiative has initial financial support from the partners below.

Global Island Partnership, led by the Presidents of Palau and Seychelles as well as the Prime Minister of Grenada, promotes action to build resilient and sustainable island communities by inspiring leadership, catalyzing commitments and facilitating collaboration. The Partnership is an umbrella peer-learning network for islands and their supporters to take collective action. The Partnership has received funding support from the European Commission for the Island Resilience Initiative: GLISPA Impact Dashboard.

Hawai'i Green Growth launched on the margins of the 2011 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Honolulu. Hawai'i Green Growth is a public private partnership that coordinates across government, the private sector and civil society to achieve Hawai'i’s 2030 statewide sustainability goals and serve as a model for integrated green growth. Hawai'i Green Growth is a member of the Global Island Partnership.

The GEF Small Grants Programme implemented by UNDP provides financial and technical support to projects that conserve and restore the environment while enhancing people's well-being and livelihoods, through “thinking global, acting local.” The Programme is committed to supporting Small Island Developing States around the world to build resilience and is a network partner of GLISPA.

Italian Development Cooperation is a founding member and active supporter of the Global Island Partnership. Italy has a dedicated Global Island Strategy with an overarching approach for investment and engagement in islands, which aims to promote and support sustainable development initiatives on islands and SIDS through technical and financial assistance. 
Further resources are needed to support the implementation of this initiative to 2020.

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