Session 10b


Sustainable Urbanisation in Small Island Developing States – The Caribbean

held on

Friday 28 August 28th 2020 at 13:00 AST, 18:00 BST, 17:00 UTC


The programme of events associated with a Call to Action on Sustainable Urbanisation in the Commonwealth was launched on Wednesday 24 June 2020 under the leadership of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the Commonwealth Association of Architects, the Commonwealth Association of Planners, and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, with support from The Prince’s Foundation and the Government of Rwanda.

This event was jointly hosted by the Commonwealth Local Government Forum and the Commonwealth Association of Planners. It debated strategies for addressing rapid urbanisation in small states facing the specific challenges of remoteness, vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters, and the capacity needed to deal with these and other constraints. The session drew on experiences from small states across the Commonwealth, share innovations and highlight the specificities of managing sustainable urbanisation in a small state context. 

The session was chaired by Dr Eris Schoburgh, Associate Dean in the Faculty of the Social Sciences and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Government at the University of the West Indies. The panel will include: 

  • Mayor Khalid Belisle, Mayor of Belmopan, Belize
  • Dr Carol Archer, Professor in Urban Planning and Public Policy, University of Technology, Jamaica
  • Mr Clive Edwards, Project Manager, Local Government Reform Programme, Ministry of Local Government & Community Development, Government of Jamaica
  • Dr Angus Friday, Climate Change Expert

The event attracted over 66 attendees from 26 countries with circa 31 also watching the Vimeo livestream. Questions to the panel together with expressions of support came from variety of sources including from Akin Looby, Vice President of the Commonwealth Association of Architects for the Americas and Vice President of the Trinidad and Tobago Institute of Architects, and Eric Sanchez from the CAP Young Planners Network in Belize. The live recording of this session is available to watch by clicking on the image at the top of this webpage.

key messages

  • SIDs have specific vulnerabilities relating to their size, but they are also particularly vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters. 
  • It is important to focus on appropriate solutions and appropriate urbanisation in small states, and local communities should be fully engaged in planning and decision making 
  • We must work towards more collborative governance in small states to maximise  benefits to local communities and to address the challenges of rapid urbanisation 
  • The private sector should play a key role in supporting the build-back better/green recovery in small states across the Commonwealth
  • Small states face significant challenges in financing urban development. Many small states are facing increasing debt, and with the impact of COVID 19 on tourism income, in particular, the public sector will be under further threat. Since many small states are seen as middle income countries their ability to draw on development funds is also limited so we must look to alternative financing solutions.
  • There is real scope for regional/Commonwealth networks to ensure accessible technical and professional capacity is available in SIDS

presentations and resources

A copy of Mayor Khalid Belisle’s presentation can be found here.
A copy of Dr Carol Archer’s presentation can be found here.
A copy of Dr Angus Friday’s presentation can be found here.

further information 

If you are interested in the issues raised in the programme and/or would like to become involved in a Call to Action, then please contact us at