Issue 61 | 01 August 2022

As the 2024 sunset for the SAMOA Pathway approaches, SIDS are already identifying the action areas for their new development pathway that will be adopted at the fourth International Conference on SIDS in 2024. At the same time, SIDS are leading the world in climate action and ocean management. As SIDS have been experimenting with a digital reimagining of their blue economies as an avenue for a bluer and greener transition, they have helped to center the oceans at the forefront of many recent global dialogues.

As part of the 2022 HLPF, the 2022 Global Multi-Stakeholder SIDS Partnerships Dialogue on 11 July at the UN Headquarters in New York built on the momentum from the 7th Ocean Conference in Palau and the 2nd UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon. Based on analysis of the implementation of SDG 14, SIDS discussed recommendations on private-public partnerships in the ocean sector, COVID-19 recovery, ocean energy, and sustainable tourism, and access to innovative finance and debt relief instruments.

In this context, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda in its capacity as Chair of AOSIS will convene the “Wadadli Action Platform” in Antigua from 8 to 9 August 2022. Wadadli”, means “our own”, and signifies the leadership of SIDS in pioneering sustainable solutions including through local and traditional knowledge. This Action Platform aims at examining both vulnerabilities and opportunities for development, establishing new or enhanced partnerships, and examining the challenges and proposed solutions for SIDS, especially in securing finance. These elements are key to building social, economic and environmental resilience in SIDS.

In this bulletin, we focus on SIDS’ leadership in finding innovative solutions to combat sea-level rise, achieve sustainable tourism and ocean trade, develop integrated policy for agriculture and climate action, and promote gender equality to enhance clean energy development.  


Image: Getty

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Keywords:   Rising Up For SIDS, ocean trade, ocean equity, ocean economy, biodiversity products, ocean financing, sustainable fisheries, biodiversity, blue finance, marine protected areas, SDGs, data infrastructure, disaster recovery, gender equality, blue economy, climate action, digital transformation, water solutions, blue bonds, livelihood empowerment, innovation, renewable energy
Country Corner
Image: Mauritius Chamber of Agriculture

SIDS are in the midst of a 'Triple C' of crises - Climate Change, COVID-19, and Conflict. These shocks have caused disruption to the global trade and value chains which have triggered an increase in food prices worldwide. With the persistence of such shocks, the trade-dependent islands are at higher food security risks. Mauritius, for example, produces less than 25 percent of its food products, which makes the island in critical need of finding solutions to address food security and manage the rising number of food-insecure households among its population. Also, the Ukraine-Russian war is having severe implications on Mauritius' agricultural sector, as the island purchases 61 percent of its fertilizers from Russia. Due to the disruption of supply and demand on global fertilizer markets, Mauritius is facing a significant increase in the price of fertilizers, which is foreseen to affect future harvests. 

In the current context, local innovative solutions are being further explored by SIDS to recover better and increase resilience. Seaweed farming and the use of organic waste as compost could be smart alternatives to synthetic fertilizers and possible solutions that could be adopted to face food insecurity and low fertilizer stock in Mauritius. Through partnership and SIDS-SIDS cooperation, these solutions can have greater reach through refinement across various island contexts and through the innovations of the UNDP Accelerator Labs.

Image: Maldives Floating City

SIDS have shown great leadership in their fight against climate change, yet they are still threatened by its continued devastating impacts and consequences. The Maldives is one of the world’s most exposed countries to the threat of climate change and specially the rising sea levels, with 80 percent of the island country at just one meter above sea level.

The Maldives has come up with an innovative sustainable solution to adapt to climate change and the rising sea levels by developing plans to build the first floating city using floating technology in the world, modeled on the human brain-like shape of a coral reef. The floating city will be formed of 5,000 housing units that will be connected and tethered to the floor of a 500-acre lagoon. The floating city’s design has been inspired by a nature-based structure of water canals and roads, reflecting the magnificent way in which real brain coral is organized. Such innovative solutions of a floating city have inspired other countries like South Korea, showing how the climate emergency is transforming SIDS into innovation leaders for the global benefit.

Image: Westend61/Getty Images

Mauritius is leading Sub-Saharan Africa in the Global Innovation Index, and moved up from the 82nd to 52nd position globally from 2019 to 2020. Access to electricity in Mauritius was reported at 100% of the population in 2019 according to World Bank, with an internet access of 64.9 percent of the population. 

To digitally transform the tourism industry and bring inclusive economic growth, Mauritius is working to create an interconnected policy environment within the sectors of technology, environment, and culture. Efforts are underway to minimize unsustainable coastal development and promote eco-accommodations and sustainable co-living spaces. It is also essential to simultaneously reimagine health infrastructure to support digital nomads and silver tourists, as well as invite in accessible and inclusive mobility with eco-friendly modes of transportation.

The tourism sector has been a central economic pillar for many SIDS over the past 10 years, providing them a lifeline for growth and connection to the global economy. However, the COVID-19 pandemic proved the fragility of this singular focus of SIDS economies and highlighted the essential step to reimagine the tourism sector in our digital age. Digital upskilling and reskilling of workers will be necessary for the full integration of MSMEs into the value chain of the local tourist industry. For SIDS who are accelerating their digital transformations like Mauritius, this offers great opportunity for economic diversification. 

In the News
Image: World Trade Organization-Singapore

Women are a driving force for SIDS’ clean energy development and for building islands’ resilience to climate change. However, in many SIDS, they face barriers in becoming active participants in climate action. For example, rural women are largely responsible for managing household energy, and can play a major role in the adoption of clean household solutions. And are therefore, a key component of the sector's sustainability and must be fully integrated in the decisions and solutions related to the clean energy sector. 

One of the main barriers is women entrepreneurs’ access to financing, which is critical to the development of SIDS’s renewable energy sector. Even though gender equality and diversity are important to funders, the amount of funding committed to support women entrepreneurs is too small to bridge the existing financing gap necessary to address the climate challenge in SIDS.  

According to His Excellency Chad Blackman, Permanent Representative of Barbados to the UN, women account for 80 percent of people displaced by climate change crisis, and thus they are most vulnerable to the escalating impacts of climate change in SIDS.  A lot can be done to address this gender imbalance. Policymakers must help to support the role of women as critical actors in the transition to clean energy. Governments should improve and enhance the educational opportunities to women and girls and raise the status and visibility of successful female models working in the sector. 

The active participation of women is extremely important for SIDS' transition to Sustainable Energy For All and to achieving SIDS Dock goals of 25-50-25 by 2033 in order to raise energy efficiency by 25 percent (in comparison to a 2005 baseline). It will also help in the generation of at least 50 percent of electric power from renewable resources and reduce conventional transportation fuel use by 25 percent by the year 2033. Therefore, women integration and investment in clean sustainable energy is extremely crucial for SIDS to achieve greener and more resilient economic and climate recovery, as highlighted at the heart of the 'Rising Up For SIDS' offer.

Image: Jamie Oliver

Fisheries, tourism, ports, and shipping represent lifelines for the economies of many Large Ocean States. Tourism accounts for an average of 11.7 percent of SIDS’ GDP. Fisheries contribute to an average of 5 to 10 percent of the GDP in SIDS. In Singapore, more than 5,000 maritime establishments contribute to about 7 percent to the country’s GDP.  Tourism has been hit badly by the COVID-19 crisis. In 2020, international tourist arrivals declined by 74 percent globally and 82 percent in the Pacific. 

Nevertheless, a recent UNCTAD analysis showed that trade in ocean-based goods showed resilience to the COVID-19 crisis. While LDCs and SIDS together represented less than 0.5 percent of total exported goods, mainly frozen fish, and some processed products, one SIDS in particular, Singapore, ranked amongst the top 10 exporters of ocean economy good in 2019. This rank was mostly achieved due to high technology and ship and ports equipment. SIDS can thus propel the benefits from their blue economies by shifting from exporting primary commodities to niche value-added ocean-based goods. For example, seafood processing could represent an opportunity to add value and facilitate sales in new distant markets. 

Against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, possible disruptions of the seafood products markets due to volatile costs of inputs and operations are expected. This could affect the trade of ocean goods, and seafood more particularly. According to FAO’s State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2022, countries should aim at diversifying their markets and sources of fisheries and aquaculture inputs (energy, feed), accelerate the digital trade, ensure social security to those in need, and further promote locally and regionally produced seafood. This is particularly relevant for many SIDS whose economies rely to a great extent on fisheries. 

Image: Getty Images

SIDS are working to develop strategies and policies that build forward better through sustainable solutions that simultaneously advance digital transformation and their Blue Economy. Food systems, nutrition, and health are all impacted greatly by the impacts of climate change, so policy frameworks need to have a focus on integration across thematic policy approaches. This integrated way of addressing climate change branches across levels of governance (vertical governance) and across sectors (horizontal governance) in order to harmonize cross-sectoral development priorities. 

Through an analysis of timeline of the policy architectures of Fiji and Vanuatu, a new study explores the evolving policy landscape considering integration as a key component rather than only a means of coordination. For example, Fiji’s proactive response to the ratification of the Paris Agreement led to a development of many climate change planning documents, and The Green Growth Framework for Fiji was developed even prior to the agreement in 2014. In Vanuatu, the main development planning instrument is the National Sustainable Development Plan launched in 2016.  

The integrated approach at the heart of the 'Rising Up to SIDS' offer is built on the concept that solutions crosscutting across areas of development are more powerful when considering whole-of-society approaches. Identifying policy gaps and opportunities early through analysis of the integrated policy landscape can allow alignment and coherence to be addressed in early planning design stage and better integrated into monitoring and evaluation frameworks. 

Image: Hannah McNeish / UN Environment

Pacific SIDS (PSIDS) consist of 98 percent ocean and only 2 percent of land and they rely heavily on ocean resources for their livelihoods, security, and wellbeing. The impacts of climate change endanger whole nations and atolls in the PSIDS, despite them having the smallest carbon footprint. Rising sea level and ocean acidification in the PSIDS will reduce coral reefs’ roles in vanishing 97 percent of the wave energy impacting SIDS shorelines, which will increase the severity of tropical cyclones. According to the Paris Agreement on climate change, there is a need to build resilience to climate impacts and ensure a just transition for workers and communities affected by climate action.

For the PSIDS to achieve their climate ambitions laid out in their NDCs, a more holistic, comprehensive concept of sustainability finance is required. Furthermore, there is a great need for global, regional, sub-regional and national efforts to measure and collect data on climate change impacts. Minister Silk from the Republic of Marshall Islands stated that he would like to “see donors and development partners significantly increase and simplify access to climate financing for the ocean and coastal climate monitoring and research, risk assessments and remediation or adaptation measures”.

The Systematic Observations Financing Facility (SOFF), that will strengthen SIDS’ weather and climate observations, improve early warnings, protect livelihoods, and underpin climate adaptation for long-term resilience in the next five years. The SOFF, through the provision of grant financing and technical assistance for the sustained collection and international exchange of surface-based weather and climate observations, will strengthen SIDS' response to climate change by filling the data gaps on climate change issues, helping them adapt to extreme weather events. 

With rising global temperatures and declining flows of financial capital to developing states, engaging private capital in addressing the existential threats faced by SIDS comes at an opportune moment, signaling major opportunities for the private sector. Indeed, the share of foreign direct investment to structurally weak, vulnerable, and small economies fell from their 2020 levels, with FDI to SIDS constituting 0.2 percent of global FDI flows in 2021.3 Against this backdrop, the SDG Investor Map, a market intelligence tool developed by UNDP, serves as a vital piece of market intelligence for identifying concrete, investable solutions and translating SDG needs and policy priorities into actionable data on promising SDG-aligned investment opportunities. For SIDS, the SDG Investor Maps take a deeper thematic dive into key sectors that contribute to a country’s adaptation and mitigation plans and explore innovative and investible business models in the areas of renewable energy, agriculture, infrastructure, and transportation. 

Climate finance themes have already emerged in SDG Investor Map implementations across the globe, with maps identifying 120 Investment Opportunity Areas (IOAs) that could directly or indirectly contribute to SDG 7, Access to Affordable Clean Energy, and SDG 13, Climate Action (this corresponds to approximately 35% of the total IOAs hosted on the SDG Investor Platform). In Mauritius, draft findings show that eight out of 17 IOAs focus on the green or blue economy, signaling the critical development relevance for the private sector. 

Moreover, the SDG Investor Maps allow for exploring viable business models in line with the governments’ economic diversification and private sector development objectives, which is crucial in the SIDS context where oftentimes limited activity exists beyond tourism and fisheries.

In a previous issue of the bulletin, we have discussed how an integrated approach is key to effective ocean management. An increasing number of approaches, tools and methodologies have been developed to support integrated, ecosystem-based approaches to ocean governance. One tool that continues to be adopted by SIDS for such approaches is Marine Spatial Planning (MSP). In front of such prominence, an international team of researchers has performed an analysis to identify enabling or disabling conditions of MSP within four major categories: Plan Attributes, Legal Context, Plan Development and Social Context, and Integration. The authors have also developed a methodology for MSP outcome evaluation. 

The framework can not only be used to guide plan adaptation but can also promote learning across the MSP community. This would be of particular value to SIDS who could learn from each other’s experiences in applying an integrated approach to the management of human activities in their Exclusive Economic Zones. 

Further Resources

Climate Change Challenges: A Study of Island States in the Indo-Pacific

Indo-Pacific geopolitics has usually been deliberated in terms of major powers’ equations. Factors such as the region’s economic dynamism, abundant marine and energy resources, and major powers’ constant contestations have made the Indo-Pacific the new theatre for traditional and non-traditional security challenges. This study attempts to examine issues that have been pushed to the margins. This chapter examines non-traditional security threats, explores the impact of climate change, especially on the island states in the Indo-Pacific region and focuses on how multilateral cooperation has sought to address very existential concerns of Pacific-Island Countries (PICs)—the most prominent group of island states in the Indo-Pacific—which came together to analyze the impact of climate change, such as sea-level rise, ocean acidification, water scarcity, diminishing fish stocks, and the threat to food security. 

Foundations of the Digital Economy in Small States

SIDS differ in many respects from more affluent small states; a common policy objective among the majority of small states (both developed and developing) is pursuing strategies to capture the economic growth and benefits of the digital economy. This article examines how small states can set frameworks for establishing digital infrastructure, the so-called ‘first pillar’ of the digital economy. Funding, ownership, control and competition with regard to digital infrastructure are common problems across all small states. This article considers the manner in which three small states approach the first pillar: the Kingdom of Tonga, a SIDS with a lower middle-income level; the Republic of the Seychelles, a SIDS with middle to high-income island nation and the State of Qatar, a high-income small state. For SIDS, the article finds that majority government ownership of ICT infrastructure is the critical success factor. 

Upcoming Opportunities and Events

Financing the next generation of innovative ocean finance projects

ORRAA’s mission is to drive investment into coastal and ocean natural capital through the development of innovative finance solutions that reduce vulnerability and build resilience in the most exposed and climate-vulnerable regions and communities. 

To do this ORRAA is catalyzing the investment of at least US$500 million into coastal and ocean natural capital through the development and deployment of financial products that build the resilience of 250 million climate vulnerable coastal people, by 2030. The Government of Canada is supporting ORRAA to build coastal and ocean resilience through this Call for Proposals 

The call will support a variety of projects, including the implementation and testing of innovative finance and insurance solutions, and research to expand our knowledge of ocean risk to build coastal resilience. 

When: Apply by 14 August 2022 

Virtual Island Summit: Sharing Knowledge for Resilient, Sustainable and Prosperous Islands Worldwide

The Summit will be a free event to attend in order to ensure maximum accessibility to expertise from a variety of fields. . The Summit will imitate a traditional in-person event with opportunities to interact with speakers and other attendees with the goal of creating an online community. 

Register here: 

When: 26 September – 2 October 2022 

2022 Effective Development Co-operation Summit

Taking place at the midpoint of Agenda 2030, the Summit will put a spotlight on how better co-operation strengthens trust and transforms the way we work together. Ministers and decision-makers on development co-operation policies and programs, civil society leaders, CEOs of the private sector, and other key actors from trade unions, foundations, multilateral development banks, local and regional governments, parliamentarians, and academia. 

The Summit will be a hybrid event in Geneva, Switzerland with key events taking place in the ‘Road to the Summit,’ allowing actors to engage in various events throughout 2022. 

When: 12 to 14 December 2022 

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