SIDS are the small islands of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. The development of these isolated small island states is often hindered by top-heavy and expensive and often ineffective administrations as well as their heavy reliance on international trade.
The UN set about recognising the plight of the small island states at their Conference on Environment and Development in June 1992. Not only were they identified and named but programmes were set in motion to address the need for sustainable development.
Tourism was seen as the catalyst to solving the economic problems of the island countries, and a concerted effort has been made to nurture the industry and improve infrastructure. However, tourism is not a consistent and reliable contributor to the GDP of the islands, as its volumes consistently fluctuate and are greatly influenced by world events or natural disasters, to which these island states are particularly vulnerable. Nonetheless, the efforts are made to develop the industry has provided in many instances a well-managed and sustainable infrastructure which has significantly enhanced sustainability amount these small countries.
Costs incurred by Small Island Developing States.
Natural Disasters and a fragile environment add to the difficulties faced by the island countries. Global warming accounts for rising ocean levels which erode the coastal areas and eat away at the island’s land mass. The islands suffer as much from cyclones and hurricanes as they do from frequent droughts, and the cost of rehabilitation is high.
There is also the problem of pollution caused by the use of fossil fuels and oil spills caused by oil tankers.
Waste disposal is another issue these small countries are endeavouring to solve. As the populations grow, the amount of land available for landfill sites shrinks and the contamination by toxic and hazardous waste increases. Again the cost to the islands of solving these problems is high and directly impacts their economies.
Fresh Water the cost involved setting up infrastructure to safeguard watershed areas and avoid contamination of groundwater. Because of regular droughts, the protection of water supplies is paramount to economic sustainability.
The high cost of importing fossil fuels made the creation of economies of scale virtually impossible, and the UN highlighted the need to change to low-carbon-emitting renewable energy. The almost all-year-round sunshine enjoyed by these island states meant that renewable energy was a practical and cost effective solution. The lower cost of solar energy would stop the ongoing bleed of GDP.
The Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA) which was adopted in 1994 has been so successful that it is now used as the model for the ongoing creation of sustainability although it was upgraded and amended at the Mauritius conference (The Mauritius Strategy of Implementation (MSI)) in 2005.
In 2014 Apia Samoa hosted The Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States which drew the world’s attention to the plight of these small island countries and set in motion.
The SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA Pathway) whereby units were established within the UN not only to monitor successful moves toward sustainable development but also to provide technical assistance and advice.
Many of these island countries have made real progress in solving their difficulties. However, they all continue to struggle as world crisis after crisis negates their efforts and further widens the gap between rich and poor.
List of SIDS
Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and South China Sea: (AIMS Region)