The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jean-Paul Adam, has called for a more transformative approach to development for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) during a lecture he delivered at the Berlin International Economics Congress 2011 (an International Conference on the Future of Global Politics, Nation Branding, Tourism, and International Investment in a Globalized World) called Nation Branding in Small Islands – turning globalization into an opportunity on Friday last week in Berlin.
Minister Adam attended the event, which took place over four days, and is pegged as a leading global conference on international economics and relations with nation branding, at the invitation of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (ICD).
The Ministers address, which he delivered to an audience comprising of post-graduate interns from a cross-European network and high-level government officials from Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean region, among which was the Seychelles Founding President Sir James Mancham, spoke of issues relating to the plight of small island states to be recognized as more than sun, sand, and sea.
“Small islands have to shout to be heard – if they are heard at all,” said the Minister.
“Recent crisis have further emphasized their vulnerabilities. But we are not afraid to shout. We are not embarrassed to scream. We have something worthwhile to say. We offer ideas. We can offer inspiration.
“Small islands have to act like they are bigger than they really are. Our national brand is a tool that we must use to accelerate our own development… [And] it is more than the idyllic paradise that you see in the glossy brochures. It is a vision of a small island, which wants to make a difference in the conduct of international relations… It is a vision of a proud culture that is determined to turn globalization into an opportunity. We are small, but we will not accept to be victims of global forces.”
Minister Adam discussed the struggle of small islands such as Seychelles to be seen as serious and valuable actors on the global stage and the efforts of Seychelles to diversify its image and brand beyond the idyllic holiday destination towards becoming a beacon of stability and a proud example for Africa, with a lot more to contribute to the international community.
In terms of globalization and development, Minister Adam argued that small islands are the ideal barometers by which to measure the successes of development, however, he said the international frameworks of development are currently leaving islands behind and are not being dynamic enough in their facilitation of small island development.
“In the context of existing development architecture – islands have a delicate balancing act in terms of their positioning. Their relative development success is something which does allow them a certain space in the international arena to have their voice heard. While at the same time, they have to plead for special considerations for their circumstances,” said the Minister.
“In terms of how Seychelles projects its foreign policy, we often find ourselves having to aggressively promote our success while at the same time sending out a plea for help. These contradictions are embedded in the international system in which we operate and also in the inherent vulnerabilities that island economies have. Our efforts at national branding through our foreign policy seek to transcend this dichotomy.”
The ICD has an academy which specializes in strengthening intercultural understanding through various seminars, events, and a Masters Program, and it aims to analyze and raise awareness of the practice of cultural diplomacy by governments and non-state actors.
Former speakers of the ICD include an array of global personalities among which are former Presidents, Minister, diplomats, professors, and other leading figures from various sectors.