Issue 66 | 6 November 2022

On the frontlines of climate change, SIDS don’t have the luxury of time. Yet, the age of data and automation offers new promise for urgency in climate action. The acceleration of data utilization for SIDS in governance and monitoring is partly out of necessity, as SIDS’ dispersion renders energy grid optimization more complex, supply chain challenges more pervasive, and climate resilience through rapid response and monitoring systems more urgent. 

Increasing data collection and disaggregation to enable more updated, robust, and representative data will be essential to bring the full benefits of digital transformation into climate policy. As His Excellency Mr. Azali Assoumani, President of Comoros, highlighted in our exclusive interview for this bulletin, “the integration of data streams through digital infrastructure is being accelerated as SIDS share knowledge and innovations, rising up together to build sustainable and resilient futures.” 

In line with these priorities, this bulletin also features an exclusive interview with the climate advocate, TEDx speaker, and Global Youth Ambassador at TheirWorld, Mr. Yuv Sungkur, who gives us insights on the role of youth in fighting climate change and building resilient SIDS. We also feature SIDS’ leadership in harnessing the potential of blue economy, and how SIDS are integrating digital transformation and innovative solutions into their ambitious energy transition plans.

Image: Alex Mustard/Ocean Image Bank

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Keywords: Rising Up For SIDS, COP27, loss and damage, climate finance, digital economy, digital transformation, ocean economy, indicator frameworks, sustainable fisheries, biodiversity, marine protected areas, SDGs, disaster recovery, climate security, blue economy, livelihood empowerment, innovation, renewable energy.
Country Corner
Image: Flickr / Prayitno

Creative and cultural industries have special importance for SIDS. Linked to indigenous cultural talents and wisdom, these industries have a significant potential to drive innovation and value-creation. These industries are valuable lifelines to address SIDS’ challenges in terms of natural, human and technical resources, including by improving employment and resilience especially for youth and women. Scaled-up technical assistance and SIDS-SIDS triangular cooperation will be key to develop this cultural entrepreneurial framework for SIDS, including by developing models for creative industries, innovation networks, and creative clusters. 

In this regard, St. Kitts and Nevis (KNA) has embarked on an ambitious endeavor to accelerate and preserve their creative and cultural industry. KNA is pursuing a distinctly SIDS-associated cultural and creative entrepreneurship policy in order to bolster cultural identity and intangible cultural heritage. This approach is focused on supporting an ecosystem of creative and cultural industries, including by advancing technical and institutional capacity and pursuing innovative financing. Education and training in arts administration, heritage management, and cultural entrepreneurship will also be essential for capacity-building. As KNA and other Caribbean SIDS continue to diversify their economies beyond tourism and fisheries, adaptation of cultural policies will be essential to meet the opportunities and challenges presented by SIDS’ digital transformation. Additionally, improving data collection on national cultural heritage and socioeconomics will continue to support creative entrepreneurship. 

Image: Caribbean News Global

Navigating energy transitions is a key issue for COP27 and many SIDS have set bold targets for a net-zero future. With most SIDS heavily dependent on fossil fuel imports for energy, the renewable energy agenda is a critical factor in reducing economic vulnerability while also contributing to climate change mitigation. However, a recent ECLAC Caribbean study and working group found that more emphasis needs to be given to the role of science, technology and innovation in advancing the growth and development of the energy transition and electricity sector within the region. The study acknowledged that while some Caribbean governments are recognizing the importance of science and technology policy and creating thematic ministries and specialized institutions, the broader institutional frameworks have stalled with respect to integrating technology and innovation into national sustainable development priorities. A recent UNDP-supported study for developing an Innovation Hub for Grenada discusses the transformative impact of technology and innovation can have in SIDS and offers guidance for leveraging resources and expertise across global networks and the Diaspora.  

Supporting policy frameworks will also be key to supporting this transition. For instance, the Barbados National Energy Policy (BNEP) was designed to meet the country’s ambition to be net-zero by 2030, with key programmes such as the Barbados’ Residential Energy Efficiency Programme (REEF) to offer incentives to bring all households on board to benefit from their “Right to Renewable Energy”. Depending on the energy usage and the size renewable solution installed at the residence, many homeowners can expect to realize a net monthly revenue gain which is guaranteed, subject to energy usage, well into 2030. These policy frameworks and incentives spur the development and availability of renewable energy solutions and innovation to accelerate the transition.  

In the News
Image: John B. Weller

An integrated ecosystem-based approach to the management and governance of marine and coastal ecosystems is paramount for realizing a sustainable blue economy. An increasing number of tools have been developed over the years that support the application of integrated, ecosystem-based approaches. These include Integrated Coastal Management (ICM), Marine Spatial Planning (MSP), and Marine Protected Areas (MPA). MPAs - which can provide a wide range of positive ecological and social outcomes – can also significantly contribute to both mitigation and adaptation according to a recent literature meta-analysis. In fact, this study reveals that MPAs deliver climate benefits through four climate pathways: carbon sequestration (including in seabed sediments), ecological adaptation (by increasing biodiversity), social adaptation, and income (both by increasing catch per unit effort). However, mitigation or adaptation benefits were only observed with high levels of protection, positively correlated with the age of the MPA. 

The ocean-climate nexus is now widely recognized, and “blue” solutions are being more and more considered in climate action, namely in nationally determined contributions (NDCs) for climate mitigation and adaptation. As global leaders are currently meeting at the most important annual climate-related conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, more ambitious mitigation and adaptation objectives are expected. For SIDS, custodians of 19.1 percent of the world’s Exclusive Economic Zones, MPAs are part of the solution. However, as the rates of water warming and acidification accelerate, these MPAs have to be climate-resilient, which requires both capacity and additional funding

SIDS Perspective

"The integration of data streams through digital infrastructure is being accelerated as SIDS share knowledge and innovations, rising up together to build sustainability and resilient futures." 

In an exclusive interview, His Excellency Mr. Azali Assoumani, President of Comoros, highlights the pivotal role of digital transformation and data in building resilient SIDS and will strengthen SIDS' response to climate change. 

Q) Earlier this year, in preparation for the 4th UN Conference for SIDS, delegates to the Wadadli action platform emphasized data collection gaps within SIDS. How is data essential for effective climate action? 

A: Data plays a key role in supporting the structural, financial, and technological transformations needed for SIDS to respond to the Paris Agreement, 2030 Agenda, and the SAMOA Pathway. Investment decisions of both private and public sectors are driven by data. As a critical component of climate action, data is at the center of effective governance, participatory decision-making, resource management, monitoring, and to enable broader innovation ecosystems.

However, several challenges continue to limit the availability and the value of data in SIDS - in particular, data capacity and completeness. For example, there is not enough data on marginalized populations to effectively design policies and interventions for equity and social inclusion. Administrative data, socioeconomic indicators, and geospatial data all play a key role vulnerability assessments, accountability and transparency, and monitoring development progress. For example, Comoros is already utilising drones integrated with GIS to accurately and quickly measure forested areas.

Q) How are SIDS uniquely positioned to leverage the potential of data and digital analytics? 

A: Digital transformation has been enabling us as SIDS to leverage the unique benefits of our countries and communities. As Large Ocean States, SIDS’ Exclusive Economic Zones are often hundreds of times larger than our land areas, making traditional monitoring and surveillance methods ineffective. This requires a new approach to economic and climate risks, including in mitigation and adaptation to sea-level rise and extreme weather events.

Since SIDS can face challenges in achieving economies of scale, data science and automation tools can be powerful assets in enhancing the effectiveness of local statistical offices. An investment in technical education and infrastructure will be essential, along with public-private collaboration and innovative finance. For example, the provision of grant financing and technical assistance for the collection and international exchange of weather and climate observations will strengthen SIDS' response to climate change by filling data gaps and supporting adaptation to increasingly frequent extreme weather events. 

Q) As governments are meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh to accelerate efforts to confront the climate crisis, what is the role of emerging data technologies for SIDS’ digital transformation? 

A: The network of SIDS can be made more powerful when connected and innovating as a global island community.  The integration of data streams through digital infrastructure is being accelerated as SIDS share knowledge and innovations, rising up together to build sustainable and resilient futures. Comoros has set up six protected areas on sea and land, and is preparing to utilize these new technologies. However, for inclusive and equitable development, open data infrastructure needs to be developed in parallel with legislation that ensures data privacy and security can protect the rights of individuals and interests of SIDS.

A data community in SIDS can be further enabled through the provision of digital tools, open data, capacity-building workshops, training curriculums, and finance mechanisms. In this regard, we greatly value the leadership and concrete support UNDP has shown through the development of the SIDS Data Platform. Monitoring, implementation, and strengthening of national and regional statistical systems have been at the forefront of our recent discussions, and the SIDS Data Platform has set the direction we need to go in data collection and in building SIDS data systems. This support in data capacity-building and development of digital tools specific for SIDS is in direct response to calls to action we made at COP26.

Image: Muazaoir Abdallah – TARTIB


The SIDS Data Platform has been developed to provide policymakers, research institutions, UNDP country offices, and other development agents with freely available access to updated, standardized, and comprehensive data. The database of country-level indicators is compiled from 22 databases and research studies and presented alongside analytic tools, country profiles, and through a customizable  Multidimensional Vulnerability Index. The GIS portal features over 80 research studies and databases, with visualization and analytic tools to allow development agents to been able to discover, access, and export this data. Custom machine learning models have been developed to impute the indicator datasets to provide an interactive interface for testing modeling approaches for filling in gaps in the database. 

Image: Asad Photo Maldives/Pexels

SIDS have been leveraging the potential of innovative technology and digital transformation in order to foster their development. Despite their vulnerabilities, SIDS are able to shape a comparative advantage in the field of innovation and digitalization. This article shows how small states have been capitalizing on technological innovations and sets a great example for other SIDS to invest in their innovation to leverage opportunities that could positively impact the livelihoods of SIDS’ communities. The article further highlights that technological advancements and digital transformation in small states will require collective effort by both the governments and private sector.  

Image: FAO

Fisheries are a key blue economy sector in most SIDS by feeding people, providing jobs, and supporting economic growth. This is well recognized in the SDGs through indicator 14.7.1 Sustainable fisheries as a percentage of GDP in Small Island Developing States, least developed countries and all countries. However, over 90 percent of fish stocks worldwide are fully exploited, overexploited, or depleted. Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a major cause of overfishing. A recent report of the Financial Transparency Coalition, investigating IUU globally, has revealed that Guinea-Bissau was among the 10 most affected countries globally (2010-2022). In Asia, Timor-Leste was identified as the 3rd most affected country. To end IUU, the report recommends a series of measures including: more transparency on national beneficial ownership registries to end the use of shell companies, the publication of up-to-date list of IUU vessels, and the improvement of monitoring capacity by coastal states. In SIDS, this last recommendation could be accelerated through the use of digital innovations. 

Youth Perspective in SIDS

"We – the youth – were born into a world where the climate crisis was already affecting us. Instead of lamenting our position, many youth are taking action for their future by building incredible innovations to tackle the climate crisis."   

In an exclusive interview, the climate advocate, TEDx speaker, and Global Youth Ambassador at TheirWorld, Mr. Yuv Sungkur, gives us insights on the role of youth in building resilient SIDS communities, and how to support youth in becoming effective climate leaders.

Q) During a recent TEDx talk, you’ve stated that there is an intergenerational difference in perspective when it comes to climate change. What are the main causes of this discrepancy? 

A: The first cause is that the level of urgency around the climate crisis has dramatically increased with time. The previous generations grew up with climate change as being something that will happen, and not something that is happening right now. On the other hand, we – the youth – were born into a world where the climate crisis was already affecting us. We are seeing, feeling, and experiencing the consequences of the previous generation’s inactions and we are left without any solutions but to demand appropriate actions.   

I would also argue that the second cause of this discrepancy is the generation’s difference in priorities. On one hand, the more mature generation’s focus is mainly on economic development, national priorities, and individuality. On the other hand, the new generation is ready to put climate at the forefront of their policies and transform their habits. This generation’s focus is on creating a vibrant community, with shared values all while promoting carbon-free technologies.  

Both views are correct and necessary – we should stop thinking that it is either a white or black solutions and try and merge both generations’ focus to create a healthy, responsible, and inclusive future.  

Q) Moving beyond politics into action, how can youth be part of the solution to actively build climate adaptation and resilience in SIDS? How can leaders help them to be effective in these efforts?  

A: First, we need to be seen and recognized as active members of the solution. Currently, we are building up our voices independently, waiting for our leaders to listen to us. Through social media, but also through various initiatives and conferences built by the youth, for the youth, we can ensure that our voice matters. But this only goes to a certain extent. This is only the first step. For our voice to go further, we need to direct it to the people in power that are making the decisions. We need from our leaders the recognition that our voices are being listened to, that our work is not being done in vain, and that our demands are being put on the table.  

Second, we are creative. Instead of lamenting ourselves that we are at the forefront of the crisis, many youths are taking action and building incredible innovations to tackle the climate crisis. These ideas have a lot of potential but can only go a certain way if the government does not put the right measures in place for us to strive. Financial support for climate innovative start-ups and projects is crucial for SIDS. This aspect needs to be enhanced.  

At the end of the day, we are asking for support, recognition, and the clarity of mind that our leaders are doing what is necessary to protect our future.  

Q) The ocean-climate nexus is more and more recognized by decision-makers. As we head to COP27, what would be your most urgent ask to global leaders to safeguard a healthy ocean that would support sustainable growth in SIDS? 

A: While it is being increasingly discussed, I would like for leaders to reassure their commitments to promote blue economy.  

In the last years, SIDS have been actively promoting and engaging into blue economy projects. For example, the ECOFISH program installed by the Indian Ocean Commission and the European Union contributes to promoting sustainable fisheries management in the Indian Ocean islands, while generating growth and employment in the region. In SIDS, fishing remains a driving sector of our economies and contributes significantly to the food and nutritional security of the populations. 

At COP26, advocacy for the ocean-climate nexus has been increased, especially by SIDS political leaders. This year, I would love to see leaders from the Global North harness the opportunity of COP27 to show their engagement and support towards Blue Economy initiatives from our islands.  

The SIDS Youth Survey on Digital Futures is a new UNDP survey of young people (aged 18-35 years old) in SIDS around the world. The survey aims to explore the hopes, aspirations, and concerns of young people relating to digital and digital technologies. The survey is running on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger in the form of an interactive chatbot, and will take approximately 10 minutes to complete

The survey can be completed at either of the following links by initializing the chat here:
Further Resources

Recovering from COVID-19: How to enhance domestic revenue mobilisation in small island developing states

At a time when small island developing states (SIDS) are being acutely affected by the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, this paper takes a broader perspective to explore how the revenue effects of this crisis in SIDS are connected to their unique financing challenges. It also suggests how SIDS governments and development co-operation providers can better partner together to strengthen mobilisation of domestic revenues –in particular tax revenues –in the recovery post-COVID-19. 

Nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement 

This report synthesizes information from the 166 latest available nationally determined contributions communicated by 193 Parties to the Paris Agreement and recorded in the registry of nationally determined contributions as of 23 September 2022. A total of 39 Parties have communicated new or updated NDCs since 12 October 2021 (the cut-off date for submissions covered in the previous version of this report), 24 of which after COP26.  

Upcoming SIDS events at COP27

How SIDS are using data to respond to climate change 

To explore the challenges and opportunities related to data science for SIDS, this event will strive to identify data challenges facing SIDS including data gaps and limitations in technical capacity, as well as the importance of data innovations for building forward bluer and greener in SIDS, especially in the context of climate change. The panel discussion will discuss the strengthening of national and regional statistical systems for enhanced climate action, especially in terms of emerging data technologies including artificial intelligence, geospatial technologies, and digital infrastructure. Additionally, the panelists will explore the role of the new UNDP SIDS Data Platform in response to the priorities of SIDS in the context of the Paris Agreement and the SAMOA Pathway through improved discovery and access to data and development of analytic and visualization toolkits.

When: 9 November 2022, 4:00 - 5:00 PM (EET)
Venue: UNDP Pavilion

Island Pavilion at COP27: Sharing Climate Change Messages from Islanders to the World 

During COP27, Island Innovation plans to create an “Island Space” where key insights and developments related to remote, rural and island communities will be shared. Island Innovation wants to ensure that SIDS communities are represented, and that relevant information is made available. Given that 20% of UN member states are part of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), it is expected there to be a number of conversations relating to islands. Register here 

When: 6-18 November 2022

Ocean Knowledge for Climate Resilience 

Healthy coastal and marine ecosystems have a vital role to play in climate mitigation and adaptation, particularly in vulnerable regions across Africa and SIDS. When used in conjunction with other resilience solutions, sustainable restoration and management of marine and ocean ecosystems will allow them to contribute to resilience objectives, and also generate significant social, ecological and economic co-benefits. This event will look at the factors hindering the ability of ecosystems to fully play their role in climate adaptation and mitigation. It will explore the role of multi-partner initiatives and frameworks to address these gaps at different scales. 

When: 08 November 2022, from 2:30 – 3:30 (EGY time) 

Venue: Bellona Pavilion, Blue Zone 

UN4NAPs: A one-UN approach to advance adaptation 

LDCs and SIDS are invited to discuss and share interlinked, cascading climate risks and challenges in the context of their NAPs, that require cross-sectoral collaboration and innovative approaches, which the technical backstopping initiative UN4NAPs seeks to advance. 

When: 09 Nov 2022, 11:30—13:00 
Venue: Khufu (300)

Youth as Key Leaders in Transforming Climate Promises into Inclusive Action 

An intergenerational dialogue showcasing youth-led capacity-building and education initiatives to facilitate the participation of global youth, particularly from Africa and SIDS, in climate decision-making spaces, in ensuring youth and gender inclusive NDCs, and as climate negotiators 

When: 09 Nov 2022, 13:15—14:45 PM 

Venue: Hatshepsut (300) 

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