A lack of international support for research and innovation in small island developing states (SIDS) is holding back development agendas, government ministers from Mauritius and the Seychelles island have told scientific publication SciDev.net.

Mauritius and Seychelles are often seen as success stories among other island nations due to their high levels of human development and GDP per capita.

According to the Seychelles Minister of Environment and Energy, Rolph Payet, the island nation’s progress is being hampered by lack of international support for SIDS-based research that will help to shape vital policies on issues such as adapting to climate change.

Speaking to SciDev.net, Payet said that research opportunities at the University of Seychelles, the archipelago’s first and only university, of which he is also the pro-chancellor, have been severely hampered by a lack of funding and international collaboration.

“When it comes to climate change, we need good science and today all the good science is done in developed countries,” Payet said.

“Strengthening tertiary education and research capacity for universities in SIDS should be a big priority for the next conference because of the implications for better decision-making, planning and investments, which will be critical for the future,” he further added.

This lack of funding and support for research has led to what Mauritius Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Arvin Boolell, has termed a ‘technology vacuum’, adding that current innovations in sustainable energy and waste management were unsuitable for small-scale island operations.

Thus, giving islanders the tools and support to find their own solutions for their own unique problems would be one of the best ways to help SIDS become both self-sufficient and sustainable.

In order to ensure this, Payet thinks it is the oceans that hold the key to securing the future of small island nations.

Moreover, he is working with international counterparts to define a Sustainable Development Goal for the world’s oceans.

For his part, Arvin Boolell agrees wholeheartedly with Seychelles point of view, saying that the oceans are the key to food, energy and water security as well as fuel innovation and would be the “next frontier” for the development of SIDS.

Finally, governments of both the island economies plan to highlight the issue at the upcoming UN summit in Apia, Samoa from September 1 to 4, 2014.

The final preparatory work for the conference including finalizing the outcome document, which has been critised by some experts as it lacks due references to science, is underway this week at the United Nation (UN) headquarters in New York.

The Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States will aim to identify the unique needs and vulnerabilities of island nations and opportunities for international support.

Image (Board of Investment, Mauritius): Mauritius Foreign Affairs Minister Arvin Boolell echoed Seychelles, saying the oceans are the key to food, energy and water security as well as fuel innovation and would be the “next frontier” for the development of SIDS.

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