Small Island Development States (SIDS) were first recognised as a distinct group of countries at the United Nations at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. There are currently 39 SIDS spread out across the Caribbean, the Pacific, Indian Ocean and South China Sea, which are home to over 63.2 million people. They are a very diverse group making up countries such as Comores with a GDP per capita of $830, to Singapore where it is $51,000.
The SIDS have their own peculiar vulnerabilities and characteristics, so that the difficulties they face in the pursuit of sustainable development are particularly severe and complex. Their unique characteristics can also present benefits and make ideal locations for pilot projects in renewable energy. For example, the island of Tokelau recently began producing 100% of its energy from solar sources.
2014 is the International Year of Small Island States, an opportunity to appreciate the extraordinary resilience and rich cultural heritage of the people of SIDS. To celebrate this, we feature three schools making a difference in the field of responsible business, in their respective SIDS countries: Trinidad and Tobago, Singapore and the Dominican Republic.
The Sustainable Renewable Energy Business Incubator Initiative at Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business aims to grow and nurture companies operating within the emerging sustainable energy sector in Trinidad and Tobago, through the provision of business support, facilitation of access to markets and access to finance, as well as technology transfer and joint ventures. The incubator has hosted a range of companies including photovoltaic panels for solar generated energy, recycling and proper tire disposal for generation of supplemental fuel substitute, and power generation using tidal power.
The school continues to partner with the Energy Chamber in promoting responsible business on the island, through the annual CSR Leadership Awards intended to recognise companies of all sizes that demonstrate a deep and genuine commitment to sustainability. It also organises the Social Enterprise Hive, an annual event that highlights Social Enterprise within the community. Participants in this programme learn how to develop and maintain ethical practices by using role models from the community to connect what socially responsible practices look and feel like.
The Lien Centre for Social Innovation at Singapore Management University was established in 2006 with the vision of being a thought leader and catalyst for positive social change in Singapore and beyond. The Centre connects with the community through its publications, its education programmes, open forums, and competitions. One of these programmes is iLeap, a professional education course for non-profit leaders, run annually since 2010 and consisting of 14 modules over 14 weeks. The course is designed to enhance the strategic leadership, governance, and operational management capabilities of non-profit executives, in collaboration with select community partners.
In 2013, the university launched a values-based education programme called SMU LifeLessons, that is implemented through co-curricular activities. Undergraduate students participate in the programme throughout their years at the university. Various topics—such as personal values along with business values, purpose, mission, conflict management, and developing a world view—are covered across different years using instructional methods that include case studies, journaling, and group discussions.
Barna Business School launched the first Chair of Sustainability in the Caribbean region as part of the VICINI Center for Research on Sustainability, which aims to foster joint interests and to produce cutting-edge research, case studies and best practices that help organisations gain competitive advantage and be active agents in their quest to develop. Faculty at the business school are assessed against a learning outcome specifically related to Sustainability, and are developing a range of new case studies around the topic of sustainability and the local context.
Barna has also developed a think tank made up of the individuals responsible for sustainability at some of the leading companies in the Dominican Republic, who meet regularly to discuss to share their experiences. A Sustainability Club has also been put in place to engage alumni in these topics.
The International Year of Small Island Development States coincides with the 2014 Conference on Small Island Developing States in Apia, Samoa from 1 to 4 September. For more visit http://www.sids2014.org.