Issue 64 | 6 October 2022

With each UN General Assembly, the challenges facing SIDS become even more central to discussions. This shows positive momentum, but also illustrates the urgency of action, especially climate action. During the high-level opening of UNGA77, UN Secretary General António Guterres addressed Loss and Damage to the Assembly. "Today, I am calling on all developed economies to tax the windfall profits of fossil fuel companies. Those funds should be re-directed in two ways: to countries suffering loss and damage caused by the climate crisis; and to people struggling with rising food and energy prices."   

Many SIDS leaders followed with calls for urgent and innovative action. The "Rising For Nations" Initiative led by Tuvalu, Marshall Islands and Kiribati, aims towards a political declaration to preserve Pacific atoll nations and mobilizing finance for adaptation and resilience. As H.E. Kausea Natano, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, mentioned in our exclusive interview for this bulletin, "The RNI aims to establish a blueprint for a transformational and climate-resilient “Digital Nation State,” which will ensure our hopeful continuity in the digital space – and also allow a connection to the offline space. Economically, we can continue to support ourselves, including through the sustainable use of our EEZs."  

As we head toward COP27 UN Climate Conference in Egypt, SIDS are making sure that these issues remain at the center of negotiations while pushing for actionable solutions for a way forward. In line with these priorities, this bulletin features recent SIDS’ leadership, innovations and perspectives across the pillars of the SIDS Offer – Rising Up For SIDS - and their efforts towards addressing loss and damage, preparedness to climate change events, enhancement of education, and innovative solutions to generating sustainable renewable energy.

Image: Getty Images #RisingUpForSIDS #UNDP4SIDS

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Keywords: Rising Up For SIDS, marine plastic pollution, digital economy, digital transformation, ocean economy, indicator frameworks, sustainable fisheries, biodiversity, marine protected areas, SDGs, disaster recovery, climate security, blue economy, digital transformation, livelihood empowerment, innovation, renewable energy, preparedness hubs.
Calling all SIDS youth to shape their future through digital technologies

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:
Country Corner
Image: The Weather Network

Caribbean islands are at the frontlines of devastating impacts of climate change ranging from rising sea levels, marine heatwaves and ocean acidification to catastrophic hurricanes and destructive storms. Over the past 70 years, Small Island Developing States have been hit by 511 climate disasters, stressing the urgency of reinforcing capacities in emergency response. In this regard, almost 90 percent of the SIDS have identified the development of early warning systems as a priority in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDs).  

In an effort to expand their climate response capacities, Caribbean SIDS are enhancing their emergency response systems through a new disaster preparedness hub that will be established at Barbados’ international airport. The new hub aims at strengthening and reinforcing the boarder disaster management system, stocking relief supplies and equipment within the Caribbean, and enhancing the logistics infrastructure. This will result in allowing regional institutions and national governments to foster the deployment of key equipment needed in the initial phase of response to climate crisis. This initiative showcases how SIDS-SIDS collaborations could help address structural challenges linked to limited geographical areas and financial resources.  

Image: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

As the temperature of the ocean rises, sargassum is reaching historic records. In June 2022, more than 24 million tons of sargassum blanketed the Atlantic, inundating Caribbean nations and resulting in billions of dollars losses from tourism. This challenge has offered a clear opportunity for innovation to Caribbean SIDS.  Sargassum is a natural resource that has long been a staple of coastal societies as a source of energy, fodder, or biofuel - albeit one that faces several challenges in scaling to meet modern needs. In a concrete demonstration of the interlinkages between ocean action and climate action, Belize is addressing a blue economy challenge by exploring the use and valorization of sargassum for electricity generation in the Caribbean. A delegation of SIDS, led by Belize Prime Minister John Briceño, negotiated an MOU with a German technology firm to use sargassum for electricity. This technology is one more tool for the energy transition of SIDS which can simultaneously reduce the burden of sargassum overload, offer a new energy source, and reduce deforestation by offering sustainable biofuel. As Belize has shown recent leadership in digital transformation, additional renewable energy sources will be essential to support the country’s development.    

Other SIDS have also been exploring alternative uses of sargassum, including in Barbados, where a recent study explored the optimization of opportunities for sargassum in biogas, fertilizer, bio sorbents, food products, and pharmaceuticals. The study showed a few key challenges that remain in sustainable energy extraction, given low bioconversion efficiency, and showed that the co-digestion of these seaweeds with organic municipal solid waste is economically and energetically advantageous, potentially enhancing energy recovery by 5-fold. These innovations are another example of how SIDS can be innovation laboratories and turn challenges into opportunities. 

Image: International Card Manufacturers Association 

Vanuatu is transforming government services through the introduction of its new national digital ID cards. The country’s leadership envisioned the revolutionary potential of digital ID as an effort to develop a voter registry to support the electoral commission to deliver fair elections. This was rapidly scaled up to a government-wide effort to deliver digital public services, with UNDP supporting the effort from the outset. The government has been rolling out the use of biometric data such as fingerprints, which together with a unique and universal identification number, will guarantee every person in the voter register has a single identity. This is enabling the government to implement many more innovative uses of digital ID cards, saving costs and delivering services to the people most in need. For instance, the National Disaster Management Office is now using the ID Card for disaster planning and response and is able to allocate relief packages via the village locator and an individual’s exact location, while in the past duplications of deliveries and assessments were not uncommon due to inconsistencies in data. Due to its efficacy, the swift uptake of the digitized national identity card is now at about 77 percent of the population.

Enhanced data collection and synchronization are leading to better urban planning, more targeted health policies to communities in need, better allocation of public benefits and education. As we have highlighted in a previous SIDS bulletin, SIDS have been unlocking the potential of digital transformation and taking serious steps to digitalize their governmental services which is key to transform their challenges related to geographical dispersion and small population size into unique benefits.  

In the News

Investing in quality education (SDG 4) and human capital is a pivotal step towards achieving economic diversification and enhanced digital transformation to build resilience to the ongoing climate crisis, intrastate conflicts, and economic and social challenges. While significant progress has been made towards achieving SDG 4 in SIDS, with Small Island States being ranked fifth across world regions by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UN SDSN), SIDS are still facing barriers in strengthening access to and quality of education. High rates of young people are still not in the educational system, employment, or training (NEET) due to SIDS’ structural vulnerability. In Nauru, half of the young population is out of the education system or training and is jobless, followed by 47 percent in Kiribati, 43 percent in Vanuatu, and 38 percent in Samoa. A lack of youth involvement in the economy is more than just a lack of livelihoods, but instead the entire economy suffers without their innovation and creative spirit. 

In a recent interview ahead of the United Nations 77th session of the General Assembly, UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated: “if I had to choose one thing to improve the capacity of understanding of climate change and the response to clime change, that thing is education.” In this regard, world leaders gathered at the Transforming Education Summit on 19th September on the sidelines of the General Assembly with the aim to make education a top priority on the global political agenda, while guiding the discussion towards the need for mobilizing action to transform education in the digital age. Along the same agenda, the Samoa-Knowledge Society Initiative was launched with the aim of strengthening digital transformation by enabling youth with access to an online open learning and research platform to enhance their skills and capabilities. The Samoa-Knowledge Society could encourage more SIDS to prioritize investing in enhancing their youths’ educational and training capacities to build knowledge societies capable of responding to pressuring challenges and inspiring a bluer and greener recovery.  

Image: MR Roderick J. Mackenzie / New Zealand Defence Force via Getty

Climate change impacts, like sea-level rise, exceeding the coping capacity of countries, are called Loss and Damage. Over the past years, SIDS and other developing countries have been calling for financial mechanisms to support their efforts in addressing loss and damage. Ahead of the upcoming Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) in Egypt, where Loss and Damage is expected to be a key area of negotiations, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) organized a Virtual Workshop on Loss and Damage. The workshop objective was to share experiences and advance discussions among Pacific SIDS on the call for a Loss and Damage Finance Facility. The session allowed the delegates to “consider the emerging opportunities to provide a broader view on the loss and damage landscape and to encourage Pacific SIDS to organize themselves strategically for the global climate change negotiations”. In the meantime, and on the sideline of the 77th session UN General Assembly in New York, Denmark has committed about USD 13 million specifically for loss and damage. 

SIDS are particularly prone to the impacts of climate change and Pacific SIDS are no exception. Last July, the ADB published a review of evidence to inform guidance on selecting sea-level rise (SLR) projections for climate risk and adaptation assessments in the Pacific Islands Region. The document highlighted that “not only is SLR greater than 1 m (relative to the 1995–2014 baseline) conceivable at some point in the 21st century, but it is also plausible that SLR could exceed 2 m by 2100.” The review also reported that most Pacific Islands are subsiding which would magnify the impact of SLR.  

As the degradation of marine and coastal ecosystems in the Pacific and elsewhere is weakening the ocean’s ability to play its role as climate regulator, this situation not only affects SIDS, but will have global impacts. More than ever, the need for stronger global cooperation to accelerate climate action is needed.  

Image: Virtual Expo Dubai

To support SIDS in reaching their ambitious climate targets and national energy policies, capacity building, project facilitation, and access to international finance are critical. During a week-long roundtable in Abu Dhabi, SIDS from the AIS region came together to call for an increase in private sector participation as independent power producers and commitments of private capital towards renewable projects in SIDS. The event, organized by IRENA through its SIDS Lighthouses Initiative, established the priority to support enabling frameworks for the increased deployment of renewables and the development of bankable renewable energy projects that will attract more private sector participation in SIDS. 

Several SIDS including Cabo Verde, Comoros, Maldives, Mauritius, Sao Tome and Principe, Singapore, and the Seychelles, showcased the status of national energy policies, concrete lessons from project development including success stories and best practices on strengthening private sector engagement. For example, Seychelles announced the negotiation of the first power purchase agreement (PPA) with an independent power producer. This model can be replicated in other SIDS to help remove barriers and simplify the process - as expressed by Ms. Nirkita Seeburn-Sobhun from Mauritius, “We look forward to more knowledge sharing, best practices and lessons learned on the design of bankable PPAs and attracting private investment for renewable projects.”  

The roundtable, built on similar dialogues that have been organized in the Pacific region and later this year in the Caribbean, shows the importance of knowledge sharing among SIDS within and across regions in disseminating and replicating successful models responding to SIDS specific needs. 

SIDS Perspective 
"Digital will be a key tool. We have seen other countries leverage tools like the Cloud to effectively ‘backup’ their countries. But we will need to go beyond this, and potentially even conceptualise what our countries could look like – in-part – as digital entities."  

In this exclusive interview, His Excellency Mr. Kausea Natano, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, highlights how digital is central to support SIDS though the Rising Nations Initiative, helping ensure Pacific nations maintain their livelihoods and cultural heritage in the urgent face of the climate change crisis. Digital will enable a "globally-distributed diaspora", while in parallel  supporting local climate resilience. 

Q: Excellency, you’ve contrasted the climate-driven uncertainty of the future for people in most parts of the world with the uncomfortable certainty of the future for people of Pacific Atoll island countries. How urgent is the situation for your States and what does that mean for your people?  

A: Indeed, it is an extreme urgency for us. As mentioned in my remarks during the UNGA, saline intrusion is affecting our drinking water, while higher tides, stronger storms and frequent floodings are devastating our villages, slashing our crops yields and destroying our infrastructure. Marine ecosystems, on which our ancestors relied for centuries, are perishing due to ocean warming and acidification impacting food security, tourism and our cultural identity. A recent review of climate projections for the Pacific published by the ADB last July indicates that not only is a 1m sea-level rise conceivable during this century, but that a 2m rise could also be exceeded by 2100. This means that many islands will be inhabitable or faced with the bold reality of submersion. The question will not be if, but when, communities will be displaced.

Q: How do you intend to communicate the extreme urgency that the Pacific Atoll countries are facing to the international community?  

A: It is paramount that countries, international organizations, civil society, philanthropy, the private sector and all stakeholders grasp the urgency we are living in. The Rising Nation Initiative is therefore structured around three complementary pillars of action: Knowledge, Partnerships and Advocacy. The first pillar will focus on Knowledge. It will aim at developing a White Paper studying the climate impacts on Pacific Atoll countries and presenting recommendations. The partnership pillar will elevate the goals of the RNI on the international agenda and inform all relevant fora of the extreme and immediate urgency that we are facing. Finally, the Advocacy Pillar will focus on effectively informing policymakers, climate action movements and global citizens on the unprecedented urgency facing the populations of Pacific Atoll countries. This will mobilize the adequate political momentum for action. 

Q: During recent years, we have seen SIDS increasingly taking advantage of digital tools to transform their challenges into opportunities. Can you tell us what role will the digital play in the Rising Nations Initiative?  

A:  The short answer is that digital will be a key tool. We have seen other countries leverage tools like the Cloud to effectively ‘backup’ their countries. But we will need to go beyond this, and potentially even conceptualise what our countries could look like – in-part – as digital entities. Emerging concepts such as the Metaverse may be useful, but we’ll also need to use digital to engage our globally-distributed diaspora.  The RNI aims to establish a blueprint for a transformational and climate-resilient “Digital Nation State,” which will ensure our hopeful continuity in the digital space – and also allow a connection to the offline space. Economically, we can continue to support ourselves, including through the sustainable use of our Exclusive Economic Zones. Digital will allow that by making distances irrelevant, and through providing a payment architecture. This will ensure that our people can maintain their livelihoods and citizenship. Culturally, we want to establish a secure digital repository of Tuvalu’s geographies and history so as to ensure that all future generations will be able to experience the richness of their cultural heritage. But digital will not be a panacea. We must not sever the physical connection we have built amongst our people – this is a key part of our national sovereignty and identity.


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. 

As the world is suffering from the Triple "C"s crisis, reflected in the threats posed by Climate Change, COVID-19 pandemic recovery, and Conflicts, risks to human suffering and well-being and limitations to human development are increasing. The Human Development Report stresses on the fact that human development should not be the end goal but should be perceived as a means to a path forward in critical times, and that the future of nations and the way to achieving sustainable development lies in investing in humans' diversity, creativity, and innovation. The report sheds light on the Three "I"s, Investment, Innovation, and Insurance, and how these three mutually reinforcing elements can have a great impact on human security and development. 

The E-Government survey for 2022 has been launched on September 28th, with a digital government ranking of 193 UN Member States. For the first time the report includes an assessment of the most populous city in each Member State, and with more than 20 years of data, enables longitudinal analysis. The report includes SIDS as an analytical group, which can be further explored in the data centre. 24 SIDS are represented in total, with an average rank of 86.

Further Resources

Pathways to Adaptation and Resilience in Pacific SIDS - Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2022 for ESCAP Subregions  

The Pacific SIDS remain a special case for sustainable development due to their unique vulnerabilities that slows down their progress on social, economic, and environmental objectives. Climate change impacts along with the vulnerabilities stemming from the combination of physical characteristics, remoteness and poor infrastructure have a profound impact on development across all sectors in the Pacific SIDS. With a focus on the Pacific SIDS, this report provides analytics, solutions, and key recommendations to operationalize these strategic pathways in climate change and disasters and related areas of technology. 

The State of the World’s Mangroves 2022 

Healthy mangrove ecosystems are critical for global climate action – playing a key role in carbon storage and in building resilience to a rapidly warming world. Mangroves stabilize coastlines, reduce erosion, foster biodiversity growth and protect coastal communities by building their adaptive capacity and resilience. It has been estimated that mangroves prevent more than US$65 billion in property damages and reduce flood risk to some 15 million people every year. Many SIDS have taken steps to consolidate their efforts in the management of mangrove ecosystems, such as Fiji, which has been working on the re-establishment of a mangrove nursery, and has raised thousands of seedlings that will serve to restore mangrove ecosystems and prevent coastal erosion. This report is a compilation of the most current information about mangrove forests and efforts to reverse the downward trends impacting the coastal trees and the local communities who depend on them. 

Youth in Fiji and Solmon Islands

Young people all over the world are tapping into their skills to shed light on climate action, whether through science, education, law, or technology. Fiji, Solomon Islands and the wider Pacific region are experiencing a ‘youth bulge’. As such, the livelihoods pathways of youth in these countries will be a key determinant of their social, political and economic futures. This book looks at the cultural expectations of Fijian and Solomon Islander youth, as well as the socio-political positioning of youth activists. It investigates how formal and informal structures – such as education, employment and civil society – affect the ability of youth to achieve their potential and actively engage in their societies.  

Stability of coral reef islands and associated legal maritime zones in a changing ocean

In a previous bulletin, we’ve highlighted a study exploring the legal implications of sea-level rise on the maritime and legal rights of Pacific Island nations and their response to the threat, namely through the Declaration on Preserving Maritime Zones in the Face of Climate Change-related Sea-Level Rise. Recent review further considers the bio-physical processes controlling the structural integrity of coral reefs and associated coral islands in the face of climate change. More specifically, it focuses on the implications of ocean warming and heatwaves, ocean acidification, sea-level rise, and waves. It is recommended that two areas require urgent attention: i) defining baseline locations at the outer low-water reef line by geographic coordinates and ii) conducting assessments on future island habitability. 
Image: Shaun Wolfe Ocean Image Bank

Upcoming Opportunities

The Ultimate Fintech Experience

Fintech Islands will be a global event that brings together the disruptive, influential and innovative technology companies and leaders that are redefining financial services across the globe and we would love to have you join us for the event. The goal of the event is to discuss global trends in fintech, showcase new applications of technology for the financial services industry, and captivate an audience with the power to build what’s next. Fintech Islands also aims to facilitate networking and collaboration among financial institutions, technology providers, startup investors and other key players in the financial services sector. 

Register here: 

When: 5-7 October 2022

Integrated Spatial Planning

The United Nations Development Programme and PacMARA are pleased to offer a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Integrated Spatial Planning. With generous support from the GEF and Sida, this five-week course draws on the Essential Life Support Areas (ELSA) methodology, pioneered by UNDP and partners for using spatial data to identify areas where nature-based actions can support in halting biodiversity loss, addressing climate change, and fostering sustainable development based on the experiences of 12 pilot countries. This course will explain how this integrated spatial planning methodology is helping countries create their own ‘Maps of Hope’ to chart a course for action on nature, climate, and sustainable development.

Register here:

When: 17 October - 18 November 2022

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