Small Island Developing States to Draw Attention to Climate Change Vulnerabilities

Addis Ababa — The Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States will be held from 1 to 4 September 2014 in Apia, Samoa, to be preceded by activities related to the conference from 28 to 30 August 2014, also in Apia, Samoa. It will focus the world’s attention on a group of countries that remain a special case for sustainable development in view of their unique and particular vulnerabilities.

As part of its contribution to this process, the Economic Commission for Africa’s African Centre for Climate Change Policy (ACPC) is preparing a study that takes a comprehensive look at climate and development challenges, using some key human development and wealth profile indices, rather than a focus only on a trail of natural catastrophes that most SIDS are subjected to.
Rather than point exclusively to the perennial vulnerability differential that most SIDs have to contend with, the study under preparation speaks to the unique opportunities that can be harnessed in key sectors such as ecotourism, agriculture and fisheries. It also attempts to analyze strategies that will translate current vulnerabilities into concrete opportunities in ways that will lead to structural and institutional transformation.
According to ACPC, this study marks a significant departure from the current SIDs literature in analyzing the urgency for an “institutional renewal” – a process that will present policy and economic windows that will allow SIDs to graduate out of a Least Developed Countries (LDCs) status.
“It is one of the great paradoxes of the climate change narrative that the countries that suffer the most from natural disasters and extreme events are those that contributed the least to the problem; It is reported that out of the 25 countries that are subjected to the harsh vagaries of climate change impacts, 13 are from the small island developing states,” said ECA’s Executive Secretary, Mr, Carlos Lopes.
The distribution of climate change impacts is not even and small island developing countries are exposed to multiple vulnerabilities beyond their immediate challenge of insularity, remoteness and a geographical location that is often conducive to natural disasters.
Small island developing states (SIDs) in Africa tend to have distinctive geographic, social, demographic and economic characteristics which affect their development strategies and prospects in significant ways.
Vulnerabilities related to climate change can further result in loss of lives, and damage to property and infrastructure that can easily cripple their small economies.
Background: The United Nations General Assembly resolution called for “a concise, focused, forward-looking and action-oriented political document.” The small island developing States have also expressed their desire to highlight successful partnerships and areas of innovation.
A dedicated Secretariat is responsible for coordinating and facilitating inputs to the preparatory process from all UN bodies. In November 2012, the UN Secretary-General nominated Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, as the Secretary-General for the Third International Conference on SIDS.
The Conference will seek to achieve the following objectives:
a. assess the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation;
b. seek a renewed political commitment by focusing on practical and pragmatic actions for further implementation;
c. identify new and emerging challenges and opportunities for the sustainable development of SIDS and means of addressing them; and
d. identify priorities for the sustainable development of SIDS to be considered in the elaboration of the post-2015 UN development agenda.
Issued by:
ECA External Communications and Media Relations Section