Sustainable islands and Small Island Developing States

Sustainable islands and Small Island Developing States

Islands are particularly vulnerable to climate change and the consequences it already has on global temperatures, sea-level rises and extreme weather events.

For islands and coastal areas, the threat does not stop at being submerged by the ocean. It also implies the risks of greater saltwater contamination of crops, hence making the soils a lot less productive. For SIDS, the 2-degree Celsius cap for global warming is not sufficient to maintain livelihoods and ensure the survival of all communities and ecosystems. SIDS must be a priority for action by developing local plans for marine management, increasing resilience and, putting in place long-term adaptation strategies that include ecosystem based adaptation.

In numbers:

  • It is estimated that, under a business-as-usual scenario, sea levels might rise by one meter by 2100, and by 3 meters by 2300. Despite producing only 0.03% of global CO2 emissions, Pacific islands are some of the most vulnerable countries to climate change effect.
  • The World Bank notes that only 14% of the Overseas Development Aid going towards SIDS address climate change impacts and natural disasters, despite an increasing number of extreme weather events and increasingly impacted communities.

SIDS are comprised of fifty-seven island states located in the Caribbean, Pacific and Atlantic oceans, Mediterranean and South China seas. Despite having very different demographics, sizes, development status and others, SIDS development is often hindered by shared issues, including being prone to natural disasters, limited access to international finance mechanisms, rapid population growth and, high costs of building resilient infrastructures. Access to finance is a central issue for SIDS. The Global Ocean Forum’s 2016-2021 roadmap further recommends the creation of a financial tracking mechanism for funds going into SIDS (and other vulnerable LDCs and developing countries). Such a mechanism would allow decision makers to have a clear and transparent vision on current funding flows and identify gaps in finance as well as develop new financial tools for mitigation and adaptation.

© F.Aurat/ Tara Expéditions

The SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) pathway urges actors from across the world to support SIDS on their path to sustainable development. It addresses issues going from education, tourism, jobs to building resilience, international cooperation, addressing climate change and issues related to oceans health. It calls for support in improving monitoring, access to international climate finance, technical assistance for enhancing resilience, mainstreaming policies in relation with disaster risk management etc. The SAMOA pathway refers specifically to the importance of healthy ocean ecosystems for having resilient coasts and coastal populations.


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