Small Islands Voice Global Forum
Choosing a simpler lifestyle
Responses to the question about whether very small outer islands (with populations of less than 1,000 people) can be viable in the 21st century were almost all positive. Here are some of the ideas.
John Bungitak writes: You hit the nail on the head, so to speak! The issues you mentioned are so scary, yet real, and all we need is great leadership among our leaders to steer our small islands to a course that is sustainable and promising for our people. With very limited resources and a growing population, our small islands will soon reach their maximum carrying capacity, and thus self-destruction of our fragile environment will be inevitable. I agree with the idea that leadership training and public awareness may provide solutions, but I would also like to include "code of ethics" as part of the leadership training.
Ginny Nakamura from Palau (Pacific) suggests emigration as a way of addressing the problems of so few job opportunities in very small outer islands: Perhaps, we should follow what The Philippines is doing. The Philippines has over 80 million people with few job opportunities for their people. Their President is encouraging them to migrate to other countries to work and send money home to help their families and the economic development of their country. Why are we confining ourselves to our little island? Economic development could be attained like that of the Philippines. It is up to our leaders to seriously put time and effort into economic development of our small islands rather than putting funds into infrastructures that are not beneficial to the lives of the people. It is also time for the young people to take their future into their own hands and help the government in finding the most suitable solutions to the problems. Tomorrow is not for the old (parents and grandparents), tomorrow is for the young and the generations to come. Establish your group to be part of the solutions for your country. Do not be a spectator, be a part of the solution. Small communities are much easier to work with. Take that opportunity and start a group to help address and seek solutions to your community issues. No man is an island and therefore, you need assistance and cooperation from the community to make a difference.
From the Seychelles (Indian Ocean) K.D. Pillay describes their situation regarding outer islands: Seychelles is a group of many islands (96) with a total population of about 80,000. Five to six islands have airstrips and communications connection with the main island, Mahe. Ten to fifteen islands have a small workforce to maintain the islands. Most of the islands are uninhabited. At present, the problem we are facing with the world bodies is that we are not recognised as an undeveloped country because our GDP (Gross Domestic Product) ranks high in the international index. So we are not getting the concessions, financial help, grants and other facilities given to the undeveloped countries. It is time to organise a conference to deal with the issues faced by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) as early as possible.
And finally some suggestions from Ioannis A. Economides from Cyprus (Mediterranean): I think that if small island communities have managed to be viable in the 20th century there is no reason not to be able to be viable in the 21st century. As a matter of fact, in this era of the information technology revolution and the internet, it is generally perceived that smallness is much less of a handicap than what it was during the industrial revolution. The reasons can be attributed to the dramatic reduction of some external transaction costs. It costs much less to do business and obtain information through the internet, than any other existing internal or external channel today. As a result there are more opportunities for small communities in the 21st century than any time before, as long as they are connected with the rest of the world. Cell phone technology has become much better and cheaper than it used to be and could be the ideal solution for groups of small islands. I think that if small island communities can manage to find solutions for better education and telecommunication infrastructure, then they can be more viable than any time before, even with smaller populations. Emigration is not necessarily bad, if high population densities are perceived to be a problem. Better educated and connected islanders will make better leaders as well as more successful emigrants. What I think is important is to ensure that those that do stay on the islands do so out of choice for a simpler more natural lifestyle, not because they cannot do any better somewhere else. I think that the ultra-small island lifestyle will always be in demand and I hope I get the opportunity to someday experience it during my lifetime.
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