Island nations on climate crisis frontline ‘not sitting idly by’

UNDP/Dominic Davis Rural communities in Jamaica have harvested rainwater in order to irrigate their crops.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.

Small island nations are “not sitting idly by” but are emerging as “frontrunners” in the fight against climate change according to Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu, the UN High Representative for Small Island Developing States.

On Friday, they will be centre stage during the General Assembly’s big opening week, when countries will discuss progress made since the landmark SAMOA Pathway agreement was reached, five years ago.

The 38 countries designated by the United Nations as Small Island Developing States, or SIDS, are amongst the most vulnerable countries in the world. Situated in the Caribbean, Pacific and Atlantic Oceans as well as the Indian Ocean and South China Sea, they are bearing the brunt of an increasingly extreme and unpredictable global climate. As well as the environmental challenges, SIDS face a unique set of issues relating to their small size, remoteness, and exposure to external economic shocks.

Most island nations tend to confront similar constraints in their efforts to develop sustainably, such as a narrow resource base, small domestic markets and heavy dependence on a few external and sometimes remote markets. They also generally face high costs for food, which often has to be imported, as well as energy, infrastructure, transportation and communication. Those challenges are further complicated by the difficulties they face mobilizing development finance on affordable and appropriate terms.

Ms. ‘Utoikamanu has been speaking to UN News about the challenges faced by SIDS.

How are SIDS being impacted now?

Island communities are on the frontlines of the climate emergency and often have little resilience to disasters. Earlier this month, the Bahamas, one of the wealthier SIDS, was devastated when Hurricane Dorian swept across parts of the Caribbean archipelago. On a visit there, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres said it was “impossible not to be horrified with the destruction” he saw, dubbing the Category 5 hurricane, “Category Hell.” He added that the extreme weather had been “powered by climate change.”

The Bahamas is not alone. Pacific island states have been particularly susceptible to climate-related changes. The melting of glaciers in the Arctic and Antarctic caused by higher global temperatures has led to rising sea levels which has significantly impacted low-lying island nations. In May, the Secretary-General visited Tuvalu and said that sea level rise in some Pacific countries is “four times greater than the global average”, adding that it poses “an existential threat to several island States”.

Those climate shocks and the unique make-up of the SIDS means that many are finding it difficult to develop in a sustainable fashion and improve the lives of their citizens.

How does this concern the rest of the world…isn’t this a problem that SIDS need to work out?

The SIDS are the countries most affected by climate change but, given that they are generally producing little of the harmful greenhouse gases that are fueling climate change, they are also the countries least responsible for the problem. So, all nations, especially industrialized ones which have generated most of these harmful gases, have a moral responsibility to act.

And while island nations are clearly on the frontline of the climate crisis, as global warming worsens, the effect is being felt around the world in developing and developed countries. So, it’s a global issue which concerns people everywhere.

So what solutions are being found?

The greatest challenge faced by Small Island Developing States is the fall-out from climate change, and they need to not only adapt to this new threat but also find ways to develop sustainably. In short, they need to build both economic and environmental resilience.

SIDS are not sitting idly by; many for instance are emerging as frontrunners in the pursuit of renewables-based energy systems building on abundant local and natural resources. While they recognize that they contribute little to greenhouse gas emissions, they recognize that they themselves can help set examples for the rest of the world.

Here are some of the ways that organizations and individuals are, often with support from the international community, finding ways to respond effectively to the crisis.

In the Comoros, in the Indian Ocean, farmers are adapting to dramatic shifts in the climate, namely a rise in temperatures and a reduction in rain fall.

In Papua New Guinea, local conservationist Alfred Masul is working to build resilience to extreme weather and rising sea levels. He is protecting the fragile coast of his island home by planting mangrove trees, which will also encourage fish to return to local waters and provide a valuable source of food.

In Jamaica, in the Caribbean, which has been suffering from drought in recent years following a 30 per cent drop in rainfall, communities are learning to harvest rain water, an exercise which can build resilience and aid development by helping to shore up food security and create jobs.

So, what will the SIDS hope to achieve in New York this month?

Climate-related disasters are growing in frequency and severity, so the risks facing people living on islands and to development overall will only intensify.  The global community will join the small island developing states at a high-level summit at the UN in New York to assess how SIDS are boosting sustainable development whilst confronting the new climate reality. They will focus on one key instrument, the SAMOA Pathway, a blueprint for sustainable development for island nations which was agreed five years ago in the capital of the eponymous Pacific Ocean country.

It is hoped that new steps will be taken on climate action, that the oceans and seas which surround the islands can be better conserved and that public health systems can be strengthened. The SIDS will also look at scaling up new opportunities for economic growth as well as the Pathway suggests “forging genuine and durable partnerships for sustainable development.”






the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

ECOFIN: Protecting bankers and tax-evaders

Young people meet in Malta to shape the future of Europe

Iraq: Over 150,000 children endangered by ‘freezing’ temperatures, warns UNICEF

The COP24 Agreement: Yes, it happened at last

‘The time for action is now’ senior UN peacekeeping official says, urging support for regional force combating Sahel terrorism

Migration surge leaves children stranded, begging on Djibouti’s streets

The West – the EU and the US – is writing off Turkey’s Erdogan

IMF: When high yield goes boom

Climate adaptation could make the world more peaceful

“Asia-Pacific takes stock of ambitious development targets”, written by the Heads of UNFPA and ESCAP

Brexit: European Commission recommends the European Council (Article 50) to endorse the agreement reached on the revised Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland and revised Political Declaration

UN Chief ‘strongly rejects’ Guatemala decision to expel anti-corruption body

G20 GDP growth nudges up to 1.0% in the second quarter of 2018

Huge data gaps’ hampering ‘evidence-based’ national migration policies

EU: 13 major banks may pay fines 10% of worldwide turnover

In DR Congo, UN Security Council says December polls are ‘historic opportunity’ for country

Nauru President warns of possible climate change ‘economic Armageddon’

The last goodbye of JADE’s Executive Board 2019

The revenge of the fallen

INTERVIEW: Poverty, education and inclusion top new General Assembly President’s priority list

GSMA Mobile 360 – Africa on 16-18 July 2019, in association with The European Sting

EU allocates €50 million to fight Ebola and malnutrition in the Democratic Republic of Congo

EU economy: Between recession and indiscernible growth

UN experts cite ‘possible exploitation’ of workers hired to clean up toxic Japanese nuclear plant

More hiring freedom can reduce teacher shortages in disadvantaged areas

Brexit negotiations: Can May’s Britain bounce back?

Ensuring the ‘lungs of the planet’ keep us alive: 5 things you need to know about forests and the UN

Real EU unemployment rate at 10.2%+4.1%+4.7%: Eurostat Update

Africa’s future is innovation rather than industrialization

Seaweed, enzymes and compostable cups: Can ‘Big Food’ take on plastic and win?

Sweden must urgently implement reforms to boost fight against foreign bribery

Can China deal with climate change without the U.S.?

Lessons from the Global Entrepreneurship Index

UN expert ‘shocked’ by Egyptian reprisals against human rights defenders she met

What’s happening to Greenland will affect the whole world – and our leaders need to understand why

Claude Akpokavie, Senior ILO Adviser:“Engaging in policy debates and organizing workers, are two key challenges faced by unions in Export processing zones”

This 12-year-old built an underwater robot to fight plastic pollution

Saudi Arabia expresses ‘regret and pain’ over Khashoggi killing, during UN rights review

EU shapes its ambitious strategy on India

UN agency chiefs condemn Saudi-coalition led air strike that killed dozens in western Yemen

The EU approves a new package of budget assistance to the Republic of Moldova to support rule of law and rural development reforms

EU supports recovery and resilience in Nigeria with additional €50 million

Protecting farmers and quality products: vote on EU farm policy reform plans

Fairer and clearer rules on social benefits for EU mobile workers agreed

How to help companies become global defenders of LGBTI rights

Costa Coffee products (Copyright: Costa Coffee; Source: Costa Coffee website, Press area)

The start of the “Caffeine rush”: Coca-Cola acquires Costa Coffee days after Nestlé-Starbucks deal

5 things you probably didn’t know about global health

The Government of China and UNIDO partner to develop technical guidelines for standards of small hydropower development

5 lessons for the future success of virtual and augmented reality

The Commission tells Berlin it is legally obliged to help Eurozone out of stagnation

Climate change: won or lost in cities or by cities?

More refugees being helped by family, work and study permits, finds OECD and UNHCR study

EU unveils plan to accelerate Capital Markets Union ahead of London’s departure from the bloc

Parliament demands ban on neo-fascist and neo-Nazi groups in the EU

2014 will bring more European Union for the big guys and less for the weak

EU’s tougher privacy rules: WhatsApp and Facebook set to be soon aligned with telcos

Draghi: A bridge from Brussels to Berlin

Six ways to cut through the Middle East’s geopolitical fog

Boardroom warriors: how CEOs are becoming champions of change

New state aid rules: Commission increases national support to farmers up to €25,000

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s