ORANJESTAD ― The first “International Conference on Small Island States and Subnational Island Jurisdictions” was hosted March 26-29, 2019 by the University of Aruba, in collaboration with the Centre of Excellence for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (COE) and the UNESCO Chair in Island Studies and Sustainability, which is shared between the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) in Canada and the University of Malta.
The theme of the conference was “Island States/Island Territories: Sharing Stories of Island Life, Governance and Global Engagement.” The conference appealed to scholars, policy-makers, NGO representatives, students and members of the general public who networked and shared knowledge on Sustainable Development on islands. In total the conference had approximately 100 participants. Several geographic regions were represented, including the Caribbean, Pacific and Africa, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and South China Sea (AIMS), Australasia and the North Atlantic. We had 18 local conference presenters, with a multi-disciplinary participation, which included local lecturers from three University of Aruba faculties: The Faculty for Accounting, Finance and Marketing of the University of Aruba (FEF), the Faculty of Arts and Science (FAS) and The Faculty of Hospitality & Tourism Management Studies (FHTMS). The conference also awarded 6 international Student Travel Scholarships and 20 local University of Aruba students joined the sessions as part of their curriculum.
The international participants enjoyed an Aruban Welcome with a conference dinner at the Old Cunucu House Restaurant and a field trip to Aruba’s San Nicolas district where they also visited the Industrial Museum to get to know about Aruba’s island history.
Additionally, we are very proud to have had two female Heads of Government as keynote speakers addressing integrity in governance and the resilience of islands; both the Honourable Evelyna C. Wever-Croes, Prime Minister of Aruba & Minister of General Affairs, Integrity, Energy, Innovation, & Government Organization, as well as the Honourable Leona Romeo-Marlin, Prime Minister of Sint Maarten & Minister of General Affairs, graced us with their insights.
The community enjoyed a free public lecture by Dr. Godfrey Baldacchino organized alongside the conference on the evening of March 28th, whereby the University was honoured to receive the attendance of the Governor of Aruba.
The conference’s international planning committee is chaired by UNESCO co-chair, Dr. Jim Randall (UPEI). Local co-hosts included Deborah Alexander from the Centre for Lifelong Learning at University of Aruba, Glenn Thodé, Rector of the University of Aruba, Patrick Arens, Business Director of the University of Aruba, and Arno Boersma and Francielle Laclé from the COE. The planning committee comprises scholars from several academic institutions including the University of the West Indies, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, University of Malta, Leiden University, and the University of the West of England.
Jim Randall noted that this was a wonderful opportunity to showcase the intellectual capacity and hospitality of the University of Aruba and the island in general. “Several first-time international delegates said to me that this will not be the first time they plan on visiting Aruba,” he said.
The Planning Committee is grateful for the contributions made by the sponsors to this event. These include The Dutch Ministry of Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations, Guardian Group Fatum,University of the West of England, Aruba Tourism Authority, Think to Do Institute, Smith & Dorlas , Aruba Aloe.
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