Education for Cultural Change

“Throughout 2020, our lives and communities have been turned upside down due to the challenges and disruptions surrounding COVID-19, global protests around racism and racial inequality and political polarization. All pose a direct threat to local community well-being, our wider society, and to the collective, democratic processes by which we achieve local development”.  Kate Berardi et al

Fig 1 Rebuilding  communities with empathy

1 Growing an island mentality

Culture is the fabric of work relations, dictating the rules for social interaction.  A cultural island is a portion of Earth’s biosphere occupied by a unique, permanent, human settlement. It is a landmark of community vitality with a culture that is generated from interactions with the local ecology that support human relationships to each other, to the environment and to made things.  Therefore, cultural ecology is a subset of anthropology that concentrates on relationships and patterns within the overall human/environment system where skills are learned, careers developed, ideas transferred, money flows and prosperity grows. Cultural ecology is a knowledge framework that can take into account this wide range of human activities and non-monetary values.  It is centred on the concept of biospheres as model regions for sustainable development.  In particular, biosphere reserves successfully balance the interests of the livelihoods of people with those of nature conservation, building on local initiatives to create a culture of sustainability based on applying UNESCO’s Agenda 2030 to day to day living with empathy (Fig 1).

Cultural landmarks can be either water-islands or land-islands.   A land-island culture characterises a community surrounded by people expressing a different cultural ecology. Both kinds of islands are associated with an island mentality, which is a psychological state, i.e. more than a geographic state, of a person.  It is a belief in a community’s specialness compared to other communities.  With respect to origins and development, an island’s uniqueness is the result of an historical happening where the norms, rules, interests and virtues of a culture can be suspended to try something new, because the environment is exceptional enough to allow for it.  In this connection, community vitality is defined as the collective capacity to respond to change with an enhanced level of participation and aspirations for an outcome or shared vision of success.  In this respect, ‘Radical Hope’ is an idea that helps to better understand how people can recover after a traumatic experience, such as the loss of their culture.  After the 19th Century destruction of the buffalo herds the Crow Nation was faced with the end of their traditional way of life and had to reimagine their culture. Philosopher Jonathan Lear illustrates the idea of radical hope with the leadership of the North American Crow Nation by Chief Plenty Coup.

In general, where cultural change is clearly an ecosystem-based adaptation that makes a  community largely self-sufficient with respect to its natural resources, such a community is described as an ecumene. Ecumenes are dynamic self contained space‐times of human settlement within which amity and enmity arise and identity politics are forged or falter. The prime historical examples are small coastal communities consisting of self-sufficient families dependent on low impact inshore fishing . 

History tells us that, starting from this kind of self-sufficiency baseline, industrialisation of an ecumene’s production increases jobs and local wealth until the natural resources are exhausted or production becomes uncompetitive.  Then there is a shift from the mass processing of raw materials in a monolithic manufacturing economy to a diverse services economy.  The cultural-island’s uniqueness disappears and it can become an island of cultural devastation.  Such has been the fate of fishing, mining, steelmaking, shipbuilding and motor manufacturing in the West.   With cultural dereliction exclusion and intolerance will prevent progress reaching everyone.  Intolerance of others in all its forms, legal, social or coercive, is antithetical to human development. 

Sharing the biosphere’s resources equally is becoming an imperative for human survival. It is against this backdrop that action and collaboration are imperative in achieving the global goals of sustainable development. 

2  Grimsby: a Case History of Radical Hope

Fig 2 North East corner of Lincolnshire

Grimsby is a small cultural land-island situated in the northeast corner of Lincolnshire, bounded to the North and East by the Humber estuary and to the South and West by a culture based on intense arable agriculture (Fig 2) .  Its name indicates it was the settlement of a clan of Scandinavian seafaring pirates and traders who raided and settled in many parts of north-western Europe in the 8th–11th centuries. Their Grimsby settlement site was a small tidal creek cut through an extensive salt marsh on the southern bank of the Humber estuary.  A branch, The Riverhead, was fed by fresh water from local springs, called blow wells.  The main body of the creek was the River Freshney which emerges about ten miles inland to the West, where the water table of the chalk Wolds comes up against the coastal clays at Wellbeck Springs, The Freshney Creek, a tidal feature, was developed as the Grimsby Haven Lock, which was built in 1798-9 by John Rennie, engineer, for the Grimsby Haven Company. This lock separated the tidal haven from the Humber estuary, creating Grimsby’s first community-led infrastructure. The Haven Dock initiated the building of flour mills, maltings warehouses and timber yards along its quaysides.  Economic migrants were housed in densely populated terraces built on marshland on either side of the Haven, which to this day define the distinct East and West Marsh communities.  

Fig 3  Right to left: Ivy Kemp (washerwoman) and Alice Kemp (net braider) with their husbands, Alf, a foreman lumper and Ossie, an iceman, on holiday in Yarmouth. Alice and Ivy were born in Yarmouth and migrated to the East Marsh development with their father, a master mariner in the Baltic timber trade.

Before the creation of the Haven, Grimsby was but one of many small fishing communities situated around Britain’s coastline.  It  quickly became the dominant North Sea fishing community with respect to growth and ideas about the expansion of offshore fishing, which started with the arrival of family-owned sailing trawlers from Southern ports equipped with the new ‘beam net’. Both Barking and Brixham claim the first use of the beam trawl. These Southern trawlers made Scarborough the centre of seasonal, commercial fishing taking advantage of vast fish stocks of the Dogger Bank and the Silver Pit, discovered by the Scarborough fleet. Good prices were to be had for fish in the coastal resort of Scarborough during the tourist season. The Scarborough fishing boom lasted between 1830 and 1840, after which Grimsby took the lead in developing the North Sea fishing industry using its new South and West fast railway links for the mass transport of iced fish to the Midlands.  Two new docks were quickly built, the first completed in 1856 and the second finished in 1877.  Both were built within land reclaimed from the sea. In 1934 a third fish dock was built on more reclaimed land from the Humber. Known as the Pontoon, it was manned by ‘lumpers’, the local name for dockers who handled fish.  It substantially expanded the port’s docking facility because the floating pontoon was available to land fish at any state of the tide.  The fish docks and nearby dock estate were devoted to the landing of fish, and maintenance, supply and repair of the Grimsby fishing fleet for almost a century.

In the 1930s, and for a short time after the Second World War, Grimsby maintained the largest fishing fleet in the world, having over 500 craft regularly sailing in and out of the port.  In just four days of March 1937 vessels came home to Grimsby with 6,266 tons of fish, an all-time record for the port.  In one day alone Grimsby saw a record catch landed consisting of more than 2,000 tons landed, boxes of it being stacked eight feet high in places on the dock estate.  The catch overshadowed a previous best of five years earlier, when in just three days, vessels from the port landed 4,450 tons of fish with over 100 vessels bringing in 1,600 tons in just one day.  More than 80,000 fish, mainly cod, were laid out on the pontoon, which required 400 fish wagons and 15 trains to carry them to market.  An idea of the size of the fishing industry at that time can be given by the fact that in those remarkable three days 235 trawlers landed almost 500,000 boxes of deep water fish.

Twelve years later, April 1949 saw Grimsby set up a new record, this time for the amount of fish dispatched to other parts of the country.  In just two days, nine special trains carried 1,734 tons of fish to between 3,000 and 4,000 stations in England and Wales, sufficient to feed 13,000,000 people.To clear the landings that Easter 130 dockers had to be transferred to the fish docks to help the lumpers. The Grimsby Telegraph reported that, in total, 6,180 tons of fish were landed, enough to feed 27,686,400 people, over half the UK population.

The human cost of industrial fishing is highlighted by the fact that that the main fishing ports of Grimsby, Hull, Fleetwood and Aberdeen lost 125 fishing boats between 1946 and 1975 and many hundreds of men died from collisions, fires, being swamped by stormy seas, sinking (leaking boats, (Fig 4) and vessels running aground. Perhaps the commonest cause of death is listed as “lost overboard”. This is because the nets were hauled on board where the boat had the lowest freeboard (the area between the deck and the sea) and many fishermen were vulnerable to being swept overboard. 

Fig 4 Report in the Grimsby Telegraph

Grimsby’s fishing culture at he turn of the 19th century was a male affair based on the boat owners, the skippers, the deckhands, the lumpers, the merchants, the barrow boys (who delivered the boxed fish to the trains) and the wives and daughters at home, who weaved the nets. To this list can be added the boxmakers, the boat builders, the lighterman (who delivered coal to the steam trawlers) and those involved with processing fish, namely the filliters, icemen, salters, driers and smokers, codiver oil refiners and the fishmeal makers (who converted guts, skins and bones to fertilizer).  Finally, there were the apprentice fisher-lads, many from the Midlands, who were inhabitants of Grimsby’s two institutional ‘orphan homes’.  Pauper boys as young as seven could be apprenticed as fishermen and Grimsby bound more than half of the total British sea fishing apprentices from the second half of the 19th century.  

The heart of this culture is pictured in “THREE-DAY MILLIONAIRES” a DVD story about Hull’s trawlermen, but equally applicable to Grimsby.  At home between fishing trips to the dangerous Arctic waters lucky crewmen often had lots of money to spend in a short time and lived life to the full in and around the pubs of Grimsby’s Freeman Street. After three hectic days spending their earnings they were off to sea again. Their story is based upon interviews with fishing families who vividly recall the men’s flamboyant suits, wild pranks, backhanders, taxi rides between pubs and humorous nicknames. Set against these joys are the woes of landing in debt, drunkenness, worried wives, trawler tragedies, and love-hate feelings about life at sea. Drinking was not allowed on board fishing vessels, but boats would set off to Iceland with many of the crew suffering the effects of a 3 day binge. All members of the crew were needed, and failing to turn up for a voyage was a criminal offence, the individual being described in reports of the local magistrates court as a disobedient fisherman.  It was not unknown for a vessel to sail without a cook for example, and feeding the crew was left to those who thought they could do it. Health and safety regulations in the 1950’s were rudimentary and it was only after a campaign by Hull’s ‘trawler wives’ that radio operators were made compulsory. There was no requirement for on-board doctors, a role usually provided by a skipper with a little knowledge of first aid. Crewmen often suffered grievous injuries, such as the loss of a finger, but in order to obtain a share of the settlings, the crewman would remain on board until landing in the home port, rather than be hospitalised in Iceland or Norway.   Wages were paid depending on the size of the catch, catch very little fish and hardly any or no wages, catch plenty and if other trawlers had good catches there may be a glut on the market so prices fell, the result again being a low wage. For a 120 hour week in the 1960s a fisherman would probably be paid about ten pounds. The trawlers had to self-finance, no profit, no wages, only the owners made money.  A few self-made millionaire trawler owners did exist, but most of Grimsby’s menfolk were the sons of economic migrants who flocked from the countryside and gave up being agricultural labourers to settle in the town as dock labourers and shop assistants. Their wives were homemakers who might labour part time in Tickler’s jam factory or work as home-braiders making fishing nets.

Mass fishing was ended for Grimsby in the 1970s by the loss of fishing grounds imposed by Iceland’s claim on its territorial waters. In many ways this exclusion was more about oil resources than fishing. Fishing limits followed shoreline and continental shelf “ownership” and were extended from an original 3 miles, to 12 and then to 200 to protect marine ownership. For Grimsby boats, the remaining deep sea fishing grounds were too far away and productivity was too unreliable to be commercially viable. The first quota rules were created in 1970 when the original six Common Market members realised that four countries applying to join the Common Market at that time (Britain, Ireland, Denmark including Greenland, and Norway) would control the richest fishing grounds in the world. The original six therefore drew up a Council Regulation giving all Members equal access to all fishing waters, This was adopted on the morning of 30 June 1970, a few hours before the applications to join were officially received. This ensured that the regulations were being enforced before the new members joined, obliging them to accept the regulation. In its accession negotiations, the UK at first refused to accept the rules but by the end of 1971 the UK gave way and signed the Accession Treaty on 22 January 1972, thereby bringing Grimsby into a joint quota-management system with an estimated four fifths of all the fish caught off Western Europe.

By 2013 only five trawlers remained, whereas 15 vessels were being used to maintain offshore wind farms in the North Sea. At its peak around 50,000 people were associated with fishing and its ancillary activities.  Now it is served by a tenth of that number. The town still has the largest fish market in the UK, but most of what is sold is brought overland from other ports or from Iceland by containerisation. Of the 18,000 tonnes of fresh fish sold in Grimsby fish market in 2012, almost 13,000 tonnes, mainly cod and haddock, came from Iceland. Bizarrely, it makes economic sense to send these fish to Poland for filleting and returned to Grimsby to be packaged for the supermarkets. 

Today, Grimsby is home to around 500 food-related companies, giving it one of the largest concentrations of food manufacturing, research, storage, and distribution in Europe. The local council has promoted Grimsby as Europe’s Food Town for nearly twenty years.  In 1999, the BBC reported that more pizzas were produced in the town than anywhere else in Europe, including Italy.

For a snapshot of Grimsby’s culture of devastation in the first quarter of the 21st century we can turn to Nunsthorpe, an estate with c. 2,400 households.  Following the end of the First World War decent homes were needed for the returning servicemen. House building was started by Grimsby County Borough Council in 1920 on farmland along its Western boundary. Originally called the Laceby Road Site until 1923 the new Nunsthorpe housing estate, with its modern conveniences and large gardens was known gradiosly as Garden City and sometimes in derogatory terms as ‘The Nunny’.  During the late 1920s a maternity hospital was established using converted council houses. This was incorporated into a new building which opened in 1933.  Another bout of house building was set in motion after the 2nd World War (Fig 5)

Fig 5 Semi-detached homes in Nunsthorpe, late 1940s..  Each semi housed two families

There are over 2,400 homes on the estate, mostly former council properties now owned by the Lincolnshire Housing Partnership. There is a small area belonging to the Havelok/Northern Counties housing associations and a small area of private sector housing. There are a number of privately owned former council houses purchased under the Right to Buy scheme. To the west lies the Bradley Park Estate which contains around 430 dwellings, also mostly LHP properties. The combined population of Nunsthorpe and Bradley Park is approximately 8,000.  It is situated about as far as one can get from the docks and the old town centre.

Nunsthorpe has no secondary school, and just a few shops. It’s in the top 3% for multiple deprivation and just 49% of its 16-74 year olds are employed.  Poverty has reached levels not seen for a generation due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Nurses, mechanics as well as labourers have joined struggling families queuing at food banks just to keep hunger away.

The impact of the pandemic from the lockdowns, job losses and being placed on furlough, has caused the deprivation gap to widen, and the pace is alarming health chiefs.

Regarding the old heartland of the docklands fishing culture, North East Lincolnshire Public Health has analysed the impact of the pandemic on deprived areas of Grimsby.The report shows East Marsh, West Marsh, South, Sidney Sussex and Heneage – are in the most deprived 10 percent of wards in England with East Marsh and West Marsh being in the most deprived one per cent

Figures, released by the End Child Poverty coalition in 2018, show there are six wards in North East Lincolnshire where more than a third of children are now growing up in poverty, based on the proportion living in low income households after housing costs.  Poor families are deeper in poverty than they were seven years ago, a new study suggests.

After housing costs are taken into account, poor families are now on average £73 a week below the poverty line, up from £56 in 2012/13, said the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG).

The number of children in poverty in households where all parents work full-time has doubled to 400,000 in the same period, according to the report. CPAG chief executive Alison Garnham said: “We know that the number of children in poverty is rising – and at risk of reaching a record high – but poor families are also deeper in poverty than they were just seven years ago.  This means families in poverty are further away from escaping it. Many of these families are living well below the poverty line.

Those whose needs are reflected in the 2030 Agenda include all children, youth, persons with disabilities (of whom more than 80% live in poverty), people living with HIV/AIDS, older persons, indigenous peoples, refugees and internally displaced persons and migrants.

Regarding the East Marsh, the housing development associated with docklands,the key messages of ‘East Marsh An Integrated Impact Assessment’ published in 2018 by Sheffield Hallam University are, “Grimsby’s East Marsh neighbourhood has been caught in a vicious cycle of decline for the past 30 years”, and “The designation of a Neighbourhood Renewal Area creates an opportunity for optimising investment to enhance the social and economic life of east Marsh Residents”.

This review reflects the cultural crisis Grimsby finds itself in today and needs to be seen in the context of a world where the political and economic elite seem unwilling to overcome their addiction to fossil fuels. Coal, oil and petrol form the basis of our material life, housing, transport, food and clothing, among other things.  The economic stimulus packages being offered by various governments are geared towards rebuilding the economy on hyper-capitalistic and consumptive pre-COVID-19 lines.     

3 Incentives for a conservation culture 

After World War II, bringing up several children was encouraged in the UK to restore the birth rate and in 1945 the Family Allowance was introduced to provide benefits for second and subsequent children. This set a precedent for Government intervention in the tax system to change the behaviour of households. Between 1977 and 1979, child benefit replaced the Family Allowance and Child Tax Allowance.  In July 2020, The Green Homes Grant was announced by the Government to help kickstart the economy in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak and begin to tackle the profligate use of carbon-based energy.  Up to 600,000 homes are expected to benefit from the scheme which provides a grant of up to £5,000 for homeowners and landlords in England to cover at least two-thirds of the costs of certain energy-saving improvements for the home. The poorest households could access up to £10,000 in total.   The Green Homes Grant shows how the government can make it easier for people to use energy more efficiently by applying behavioural insights to overcome barriers to being more energy efficient.  Many new approaches are required to seek rewards for individuals taking concerted action now to transfer to a zero growth economy, helping them to lower carbon emissions in the longer term.  Such actions fall into the category of biosphere allowances.

A biosphere allowance:

  • helps ensure the environmental, economic, and social sustainability of the biosphere segment occupied by the household, by reducing its use of natural and human resources.
  • provides practical ways to resolve land use conflicts and to protect biological diversity.
  • gains access to information, expertise, support and funding through national and international networks.
  • encourages diverse local economies to revitalize rural areas.

The biosphere concept can be used as a framework to guide and reinforce projects that enhance people’s livelihoods and attract academic and government research activity that addresses local issues and problems by promoting a culture based on recycling..  It serves as a learning focus to explore and demonstrate approaches to conservation and sustainable development providing lessons which can be applied elsewhere and highlights the distinctiveness of the area and help foster a sense of place amongst residents and visitors.  Overall, the allowance can raise awareness among local people, citizens, and government authorities on environmental and development issues and provides a focus for stakeholder cooperation and volunteer involvement to reduce the carbon footprint of households. 

 In 2018/19 the UK government helped fund two million trees through woodland creation schemes.  Vouchers for tree planting is a practical route for people to make a direct impact on emissions. Across the UK there were 27.2 million households in 2017, according to the Office for National Statistics. Of these 22.7 million households have a garden. If all of these households planted two trees each, this would total more than 45 million.This is about 3% of the total number of trees the Woodland Trust estimates the UK needs to plant by 2050 in order to reach net zero emissions.

Thus, a biosphere allowance is based on a recycling unit for trees and households (RUTH), backed with financial incentives designed to persuade households and waste producers to reuse and recycle more.  This helps prevent the generation of waste and can help contribute to financing waste management activities. Incentives include both rewards and charges (e.g. pay-as-you-throw PAYT, and deposit refund schemes). Rewards are given to the users to encourage people to recycle more, typically with vouchers for individuals, vouchers for communities or payments to individuals. In addition to direct incentives in the form of vouchers, an effective recycling incentive is also the reduction of waste fees for residents willing to separate more waste at source, or when waste recycling targets at local level are achieved.

4 Making  a Culture of Critical Hope

The classical nineteenth-century definition of culture by anthropologist E. B. Tylor is still being referenced as “that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and habits acquired”. The same is true of UNESCO’s definition of culture in the Preamble to the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity as the “set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual, and emotional features of society or a social group… it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs.”  The features listed in both definitions are the outcomes of education in homes, communities and institutions.

In the face of such general statements, most analysts define culture in a broad and a narrow sense. Broadly, culture is a system of meaning, its social construction, articulation, and reception, including religion, ideologies, value systems, and collective identity. More narrowly, it refers to the arts. that is, what artists create and what is regarded, preserved, exchanged, and consumed as cultural artifacts. Straddling both notions are concepts such as cultural diversity, cultural expression, and the creative or cultural economy.

Cultural ecology is a practical subset of anthropology, also defined as environmental ethnography, aimed at cultivating social change from the ground up. The aim is to create an equitable society of individuals, culturally, intellectually, spiritually, and materially committed to caring for all elements of the biosphere. 

Thomashow contends that learning about ecological identity explores “how people learn about ecology, how people perceive themselves in relationship to ecosystems, how an understanding of ecology changes the way people learn about themselves, and how and ecological worldview promotes personal change”.

The practical objective of radical hope is to devise an ethical, invigorating, creative curriculum that encourages citizens everywhere to shake off the status quo and devise a more ecologically viable vision for the future.

The Oxford English Dictionary says that hope is the “expectation of something desired; desire combined with expectation….” Margaret Somerville’s view is that, “sometimes courage is necessary if we are to find hope”. Hope requires a sense of connection to the future, and if it is linked to the future, then hope is linked to potentialities and possibilities.

The idea of critical hope can be traced to the educationalist Paulo Freire in the 1980s, who, with respect to education for change, said,  “…hope is necessary, but it is not enough…We need critical hope the way a fish needs unpolluted water”.  So, the implementation of a syllabus for sustainability requires a critical view of hope to counter the despair generated by powerful hegemonic forces that maintain a global fossil fuel economy, preventing change. This means that such a syllabus for critical hope has to be outside the education system and presented in the context of life-long learning.

5  Critical Hope: A Syllabus

In early July 2017, the Rachel Carson Center, together with University of Austin, Texas hosted a two-day workshop on “Radical Hope.” It brought together 21 people from a variety of continents and disciplinary perspectives to explore and exchange ideas on that renewable and essential resource: hope. A Syllabus for Hope framed by the conference consisted of 17 sections each of which was defined by an essay, with references, submitted by the conference attendees. It was presented for feedback as a global online educational resource by International Classrooms On Line.

Section 1: Listening Carefully

Section 2: Forging relationships

Section 3:  Sources of inspiration from politics to poetry

Section 4: Optimism in the Conservation Movement

Section 5: Role of Art in the Dissemination of Radical Hope

Section 6: The Art of Protest

Section 7: Recurring Earthquakes and the Rebirth of Hope

Section 8  Infrastructures of Hope

Section 9: Air Pollution: Issues and Solutions

Section 10: Thrifty Science

Section 11: Environmental Education for the Present & Future

Section 12: Environmental Security

Section 13: Phytoremediation in an Italian Steel Town

Section 14: A Syllabus of Radical Hope

Section 15: On Love and Property

Section 16: Design, Hybridity and Just Transitions

Section 17: Grassroots Technological Networks of Wind Energy

The syllabus is introduced with Alina Scott’s essay, ‘Living In Good Relation with the Environment: A Syllabus of Radical Hope’. She defined radical hope as a conscious effort to acknowledge the degradation of culture or environment, secondly, a willingness to educate oneself and others, and finally, a belief in humanity and the application of sustainable environmental practices. Radical hope requires some level of thinking beyond the present, acknowledging the failures and successes of the past, and being open to the action that knowledge demands. For Alina, Jonathan Lear’s book, Radical Hope (2006) opens the door to the discussion of vulnerability and ethics in the face of cultural devastation. The vulnerability facing the indigenous North American Crow Nation featured in Lear’s work can be applied to broader discussions of environmental degradation and change that is often accompanied by despair. Rather than dwell in despair, Carsten Wergin, who’s essay Listening Carefully defines Section1 of the syllabus,  suggests respectful and careful listening to others. Alina would like to suggest turning our ears toward the Garifuna peoples of Belize as the representation of radical hope and persistence.

6 Education For Sustainability: The French Model

The 2030 Agenda organizes action around five pillars: planet, people, prosperity, peace and partnership.  Protecting the planet is essential to address the needs of current and future generations. This requires preserving air quality, sustainable access to food and water, and rich and resourceful biodiversity. Containing climate change is necessary to achieve these goals and protect citizens from climate disasters.  The sustainable development of States relies on the principles of equality and dignity of people. Combating poverty, ensuring universal access to health care and food, and guaranteeing quality education and gender equality are prerequisites for a fair, sustainable society.  The development of States must establish inclusive, environmentally-friendly prosperity. In order to ensure peace and prosperity, science, technologies and innovation should serve everyone, for development on a human scale.  Reducing conflicts and building and consolidating peace are essential for establishing prosperous and sustainable societies, as development is impossible without security and security is impossible without development.  The fulfilment of the SDGs requires a new system of global solidarity and partnership. Inclusive partnerships, built on a common vision and shared goals focused around people and the planet, are essential at the global, regional, national and local levels. This solidarity is needed not only between nations but also with civil society, NGOs and the private sector.

Considering the involvement of civil society, the private sector and citizens to be essential for the successful achievement of the SDGs, France is working for ever more inclusive decision-making and action processes. The National Council for Development and International Solidarity (CNDSI) and the National Council for the Ecological Transition (CNTE) are the two preferred forums for liaison on the implementation of the SDGs.

The organization of a day of collaborative activities on the SDGs on 18 April 2016 also helped continue regular discussions with civil society regarding the implementation of the SDGs, with a focus on co-construction and collective intelligence for a collective mobilization to achieve the Goals.

In July 2016, France presented its report on the implementation of the SDGs (.pdf) at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), alongside 21 other volunteer States (China, Colombia, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Madagascar, Mexico, Montenegro, Morocco, Norway, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Samoa, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, Togo, Turkey, Uganda and Venezuela).

France’s national review was focused on climate and the Paris Agreement, women’s empowerment and education. It also highlighted the horizontal nature of the agenda, to which France is particularly sensitive, such as combating climate change, the ecological transition, and efforts in support of employment and the reduction of inequalities.

This year, 44 countries have volunteered to present their national review at the HLPF which will meet in New York in July

The new framework provided by the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs is a unique opportunity for all citizens to contribute to the creation of a sustainable world. To address the current environmental challenges, political and financial solutions are not enough. The achievement of the SDGs requires a change in our ways of life and our production and consumption patterns. That is why sustainable development education at all levels and innovation are central to development policies. The European Sustainable Development Week, from 30 May to 5 June, is a key time in the year to continue discussions and thinking around the SDGs.

7 Lessons From Small Island States

‘Islands First’ is an NGO working on behalf of the Small Island Developing States to confront the challenges of climate change, the depletion of ocean resources (including ocean acidification and biodiversity loss), and ocean level’s rise.  Small island countries have been the first to suffer the negative consequences of climate change and global warming, despite bearing little responsibility for creating the problem. (Fig 6) Islands First seeks to foster an appreciation for the need to rapidly cut carbon dioxide emissions with international policy makers.

Fig 6 The water level of Langa Langa Lagoon in the Solomon Islands’ Malaita Province almost reaches the veranda of a Busu village house on November 4, 2017. The South Pacific islands are experiencing some of the worse effects of sea level rises in the world due to climate change. Photo: Kyodo.

Islands First’s mission is to help the small island states, who represent nearly one-quarter of the votes at the United Nations.  They need to become effective and vocal advocates for change by building the capacity of their UN missions to influence environmental policy. At over 40 nations strong, the Small Island States can become a formidable political force within the UN system. Islands First will help them realize that potential.

Islands First proposes to empower the small island states to influence environmental policy through the use of some of the methods wielded so effectively by the wealthy nations. 

Islands First will assist the small island states by;

  1. Building the capacity of their UN missions by providing highly trained, professional advisors,
  2. Creating and sustaining strategic networks of scientific, environmental, and policy experts in order to share information and coordinate activities, and
  3. Devising comprehensive political strategies for advancing their environmental agenda.

As of 2020, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, UNCTAD, lists 52 small island developing states. These are broken down into three geographic regions: the Caribbean;[4] the Pacific;[5] and Africa, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and South China Sea (AIMS).,[6] including Associate Members of the Regional Commissions. Each of these regions has a regional cooperation body: the Caribbean Community, the Pacific Islands Forum and the Indian Ocean Commission respectively, which many SIDS are members or associate members of. In addition, most (but not all) SIDS are members of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), which performs lobbying and negotiating functions for the SIDS within the United Nations system. The UNCTAD website states that “the UN never established criteria to determine an official list of SIDS” but UNCTAD maintains a shorter, unofficial list on its website for analytical purposes.[7]

The COVID-19 pandemic will have profound, long-term consequences for economies and societies, including the future of work.  As part of The Great Reset needed to support the transition to a fairer, more sustainable post-COVID world.  Governments, organisations, communities and individuals have a responsibility, and a rare opportunity, to rethink their roles as core drivers of long-term resilience and future success. Leaders are now called on to build on what they have learned from the immediate crisis response to define their 2030 work agendas and lead the way towards a better and more human-centric global culture.  Every one of the following small island states has a strategy for reaching the Agenda 2030 targets.  But none of them have produced a syllabus to integrate a syllabus of critical hope into all levels of education to manage the cultural changes that are already underway.

CaribbeanPacificAfrica, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and South China Sea (AIMS)
Anguilla[a][b][c] American Samoa[d][e][c] Bahrain[a][e]
Antigua and Barbuda Cook Islands[c] Cape Verde[e]
Aruba[f][g] Federated States of Micronesia Comoros[h]
Bahamas Fiji Guinea-Bissau[h][e]
Barbados French Polynesia[a][b][c] Maldives[g]
Belize Guam[d][e][c] Mauritius
British Virgin Islands[a][b][c] Kiribati[h] São Tomé and Príncipe[h][e]
Cuba[e] Marshall Islands Seychelles
Dominica Nauru Singapore[e]
Dominican Republic[g] New Caledonia[a][b][c]
Grenada Niue[c]
Guyana Northern Mariana Islands[a][e][c]
Haiti[h] Palau
Jamaica Papua New Guinea
Montserrat[a][c] Samoa
Netherlands Antilles[d][g][c] Solomon Islands[h]
Puerto Rico[a][g][c] Timor-Leste[h][a][g]
Saint Kitts and Nevis Tonga
Saint Lucia Tuvalu[h]
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Vanuatu[h]
Trinidad and Tobago
United States Virgin Islands[d][e][c]

8  Internet References

Radical hope 1 

Radical hope 2

Radical hope 3

Hope in dark times

Suffolk Kemps

Five pillars of 2030 Agenda (France)

Cultural  Education, Heritage, and Citizenship

Community fishing heritage

Belonging Together in Nature

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