Issue 63 | 07 September 2022

SIDS' youth are not only the leaders of tomorrow – they are actively innovating to confront the challenges of today. The new generation of dynamic leaders in SIDS have proven they have a necessary perspective bridging traditional knowledge systems and modern technologies. Youth are a large contingent of the SIDS community - in the Caribbean, 63% of the population is under 30. Collaboration between SIDS in sharing youth-led innovations is essential for addressing the geographical dispersion and lack of access to youth funding, such as regional networks like the SIDS Youth AIMS Hub that cultivate partnership and coordination mechanisms for youth. Technical capacity-building to support youth innovations is also essential, such as UNDP’s recently launched SIDS Data Platform. In order to amplify their vision, UNDP has launched the SIDS Youth Survey on Digital Futures enabling SIDS' youth to shape their own future in leading digital technologies for transformative development. 

Youth voices are key in climate advocacy, as the oceans of the future are theirs to inherit, and will be pivotal in leading the agenda with under three months before the climate negotiations at COP27 in Egypt. SIDS have emerged as leaders at global climate forums, as shown by the recent announcement that former Grenadian Minister Simon Stiell will be the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC. He will build on the leadership of SIDS who made waves last year at COP26, where Barbados PM Mia Mottley shone in her fearless and moving challenge to global leaders and Tuvalu Minister Kofe gave his unforgettable speech while standing in the water to demonstrate sea level rise.  

As the relationship between the oceans and our climate is now well established, SIDS were also strongly committed to conclude an ambitious treaty to protect marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) at the 5th Session of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC-5). This treaty is important to establish the network of MPAs needed to reach 30 by 30 target. However, despite progress, two weeks of negotiations ended in an impasse that will likely push any agreement into 2023. This is a blow to international marine protection measures, including MPAs, environmental impact assessments, ocean finance, and sharing of marine genetic resources. To highlight these types of innovations in SIDS, this bulletin features examples of SIDS’ leadership across the pillars of the SIDS Offer, including features on Vanuatu’s ambitious climate targets, a digital platform for fisheries in Seychelles, initiatives in innovative finance and digital economy, and other key methods SIDS are accelerating their development.

Image: Mark Okon/Unsplash


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Keywords:   Rising Up For SIDS, data science, digital economy, climate finance, ocean economy, indicator frameworks, ocean financing, sustainable fisheries, biodiversity, blue finance, marine protected areas, SDGs, disaster recovery, gender equality, blue economy, digital transformation, blue bonds, livelihood empowerment, innovation, renewable energy, SIDS health systems
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. It is your generation that will shape the next generation of technology, and this survey will be important in guiding efforts to best support digital development in small states — placing the hopes, dreams, and considerations of young people at the fore.

The survey will be running on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger in the form of an interactive chatbot, and will take approximately 10 minutes to complete. The survey will only be running until 18th September, so please do respond today or as soon as possible!

The survey can be completed at either of the following links by initializing the chat here:
Country Corner
Image: The Global Green Growth Institute

Since the UN climate summit in Glasgow, Vanuatu is one of only 12 countries to have submitted revised NDCs. Its ambitious targets have been praised by regional experts as setting an example for the rest of the world. Tagaloa Cooper-Halo, the director of the climate change resilience program at the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), commended Vanuatu’s “monumental effort by their government and all the stakeholders, because it takes a lot of work and coordination to arrive at that announcement.” Vanuatu is already a carbon-negative country absorbing more emissions than it produces, but has committed to going further, by phasing out fossil fuels entirely to become 100% renewable in its electricity generation by 2030. According to the government, the costs of achieving Vanuatu’s revised commitments are estimated at $1.2bn by 2030, which will require SIDS-SIDS cooperation and innovative finance mechanisms including blended finance approaches and risk-mitigating solutions as well as catalysing private sector investment for infrastructure through green bonds. 

Vanuatu, the nation rated by the UN to be the most vulnerable nation to climate risks, is also pushing for a loss-and-damage finance facility to be established to support vulnerable communities. Vanuatu was the first nation to call for climate polluters to pay for climate-related harm 30 years ago, and now climate-related harm will be an important point of discussion at COP27 to be held in Cairo in November of this year. Vanuatu is showing their leadership by pushing for the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to hand down an advisory opinion on climate-related harm. According to the Vanuatu government, more than 80 nations support this pursuit for an advisory opinion from the ICJ ahead of a vote at the UN General Assembly. An advisory opinion from the ICJ could set a powerful precedent, also tied to the recent UN resolution establishing a healthy and sustainable environment as a human right

Image: Joe Laurence/Seychelles News Agency

Fisheries are central to the economies of many Small Island Development States. For example, they provide between 30 and 80 per cent of exports in Pacific SIDS. In a previous bulletin, we’ve highlighted how Pacific SIDS have worked together to make the Western and Central Pacific Ocean tuna fishery the only major ocean area where all tuna stocks are harvested at sustainable levels.  

Fisheries are also important for SIDS in the Atlantic, Indian Ocean, and South China Seas. For many of them, supporting sustainable fisheries and aquaculture development for food security is crucial for their development. Seychelles’ leadership in the blue economy space is well acknowledged among other coastal nations. In Africa, under the leadership of Seychelles, SIDS of the African Union set up a fisheries platform to address food and nutrition security through fisheries and aquaculture development. As reported by the Seychelles News Agency, Roy Clarisse, Principal Secretary for fisheries in Seychelles, explained that the platform will allow to discuss common strategies and prepare bilateral and regional agreements negotiations.  

As reported in our special SIDS bulletin on blue economy, South-South and triangular collaborations are key in building the needed capacity to accelerate the blue economy transformation in SIDS. In addition, the need to integrate processes and share knowledge and experience on best practices among SIDS are needed to facilitate the development of innovative solutions adapted to their needs and opportunities. 

Image: Viator
Digitization is key to improving the resilience and response to climate change risks and natural disasters, which is thus essential to guard the blue economy through disaster management systems. In the context of e-governance, digital transformation can play a key role in effective governance, participatory decision-making, resource management, proper monitoring, information gathering and distribution, cultivation of innovation ecosystems, and real-time data collection that are essential to enhancing green and ocean economies. In this regard, Belize is transforming its public services and building capacity of all its ministries to fast-forward towards a fully digitized government. 

As part of 'Rising up For SIDS', the course on Inclusive Digital Transformation in SIDS provides the foundation for this four-week course, where participants come together in-person and on-line to explore the various pillars and considerations that such a transition requires, while exploring the challenges and the many benefits that the Government of Belize will derive from taking this crucial step. Additionally, the course offers insights into the small steps already taken within ministries and governmental departments to become more efficient and effective in their service delivery. The practical approach to learning allowed the opportunity to use digital tools in order to assess the digital readiness of the public service and to provide recommendations on how to enhance public service delivery through digitalization efforts. Graduates of the course will become digital ambassadors, to champion the government’s move towards a Digital Belize. The whole-of-government implementation is well underway, with the first cohort of 40+ participants graduating in mid-July 2022, the second cohort has been launched on 16 August 2022, and a third and possibly fourth planned for the fourth quarter of this year. By integrating digital transformation planning and learning within their ministries, the course aims to drive rapid improvement in the resilience and efficiency of government services as they shift towards fully digitized government. 

In the News
Image: SVG Europe

SIDS are developing innovative partnerships to bring climate action to the forefront of global discourse. In April 2022, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) and FIFA signed a two-year partnership to combat climate change during the FIFA Congress in Doha. In July 2022, Pacific Islands Forum Leaders declared a climate change emergency in the Pacific, and the dialogue supported new ways of elevating regional climate change priorities to the international community. Now, PIFS and FIFA have jointly launched a 12-month plan to implement their partnership and turn their commitment into concrete climate action through an innovative approach to climate advocacy leveraging the global influence of football. 

The partnership will be focused on using football diplomacy to educate and raise awareness on climate change and disaster resilience, as well as improving infrastructure through the lens of football. One component will be in creating a climate change literacy program for schools, including training to support climate change awareness by FIFA Legends. This will also include a joint communications and advocacy plan leading up to COP 27 and the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. This partnership is an example of SIDS enhancing their existing infrastructure to make it more climate resilient, with a focus on climate proofing football development to mobilize finance for building resilience in the region, including support for the Pacific Resilience Facility fund. 

Image: Velvet

As we highlighted in our previous special edition bulletin on digital transformation, SIDS are leading the implementation of digital in the context of the SAMOA Pathway, the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement, and in pursuit of national development goals and other global priorities. Digital is already a key driver of SIDS' development, foundational to tackling climate change, and a key tool that can shape new industries and opportunities in SIDS as digital technologies can enhance SIDS’ participation in global and regional markets. Digital can also catalyse the Blue Economy, public services, and digital products and services which could continue to improve financial inclusion across SIDS.  The integration of sustainable development in digital is key to fostering a green recovery that drives inclusive digital capacity and access, enhances open data, and accelerates innovations that boost the efficiency of technologies and alleviate their environmental impact. 

As SIDS are in the midst of a 'Triple C' of crises - Climate Change, COVID-19, and Conflict, pre-existing bottlenecks in SIDS’ e-commerce ecosystem have been reinforced. Despite SIDS’ common challenges to digital transformation which include limited access to affordable infrastructure, SIDS are working hard to leverage the potential of digital economy. In order to foster the digital economy of SIDS, more efforts are still needed to improve financial services, promote economic empowerment of vulnerable groups, support the development of e-government, facilitate e-commerce, and boost disaster resilience.  

In order to help enhance and foster their digital economy, 38 SIDS will be working on strengthening their capacities in Africa, the Caribbean and Asia and the Pacific to adopt trade policies that develop the digital economy and enhance crisis responses. This will help in developing the skills and knowledge of targeted SIDS’ representatives with innovative approaches based on a recognized blended learning method and state-of-the-art technological solutions. It will also support SIDS’ digital development and economic growth through targeting digital identity, e-commerce and statistics' gathering and will push SIDS towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.  

Image: Wikimedia Commons

The Blue Economy provides a critical means for SIDS to accelerate development in the integrated pillars of the UNDP SIDS Offer "Rising Up For SIDS", including Climate Action and Digital Transformation. The year 2022 was declared by the United Nations General Assembly as the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture in recognition of the significant role of small-scale fishers, fish farmers and fish workers in providing healthy and nutritious food to billions of people. The need to sustainably use ocean resources for economic growth has been asserted in SDG target 14.7. UNDP’s Ocean Promise, that was launched in June 2022 at the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, has committed to deliver at least 100 Ocean Innovations by 2030, by incubating innovative solutions that are transformational, scalable and replicable. 

In this regard, UNDP launched its second cohort of 10 ocean innovators last week to tap into new technologies and approaches to end overfishing, and put an end to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices. Among the winning projects, 3 were targeting SIDS. The “Space-Based Maritime Surveillance System for Fisheries Monitoring and Anomaly Detection” project will provide a ground-breaking, nearly real-time and automated space-based maritime surveillance solution for illegal fishing, building ocean resilience by addressing the risk of overfishing, particularly for some tuna species, in the Western Indian Ocean. 

Since women fisherfolk in the Maldives often struggle with delayed and unfair payment conditions, and poor access to financial information, tools and training, the “Increasing Economic Benefits for Women Fisherfolk in the Maldives” project will give women fisherfolk direct marketing and branding control over their fish products and augment their commercial value. Finally, the “Innovative fisheries management and aquaculture practices for Caribbean spiny lobster" project aims to develop a novel genetic tool based on population structure data for Caribbean spiny lobster and its connectivity across the region, working directly with fishers to transfer the latest global grow-out aquaculture technology and management, and co-design small-scale grow-out operations for spiny lobster. 

Image Credit: Carla Schaffer / AAAS

Islands are a focal point in the global biodiversity crisis, with 40 percent of globally threatened vertebrates and 61 percent of global extinctions since the 1500s. The high rates of endemism, endangerment and extinction on islands makes them a priority target for conserving biodiversity. Invasive alien species, especially invasive terrestrial mammals, are the primary driver of native biodiversity loss on islands, including billions of USD in island-based economic losses. These losses are directly linked to declines in human health and livelihoods, especially considering the central importance of marine and coastal ecosystem services in SIDS. However, eradication of invasive species from islands has been proven to be an effective method for halting or reversing these trends.  

One of the essential tools for addressing the challenges of invasive species is the development of a global compendium of invasive species eradication efforts, essential for scaling best-practices and innovations. This standardized framework to systematically document the methods and outcomes of eradications that have been implemented worldwide. The Database of Island Invasive Species Eradications has been released as a new digital repository for advancing this effort through 100 years of invasive vertebrate eradications from islands, including 1550 eradication attempts on 998 islands, with an 88 percent success rate. This data enables research that can facilitate complimentary restoration actions such as reforestation and conservation translocations. The results serve as a guide for data-driven conservation decisions, including policy and funding that support invasive species eradications in SIDS. 

Further Resources

Resilient Transport in Small Island Developing States - From a "Call to Action" to Actions

The objective of this report, Resilient Transport in Small Island Developing States—From “A Call for Action” to Actions, is to help practitioners integrate climate resilience considerations into transport asset management and thus enhance climate resilience in the transport sector of SIDS (Phases 2 and 3 of the technical assistance). The report starts by introducing the topic of natural hazards and climate change in SIDS and how they affect the transport sector. The report describes how governments can develop resilient transport asset management systems (TAMS) and then summarizes the activities implemented in four SIDS—Cape Verde in Africa, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean, and Solomon Islands and Vanuatu in the Pacific—and shares lessons learned to improve the approach and framework.

Toolkit to Enhance Access to Climate Finance for SIDS: A Commonwealth Practical Guide

Small Island Developing States continue to grapple with challenges in effectively accessing climate finance to support resilience efforts in meeting their targets for nationally determined contributions (NDCs), implementing national adaptation plans (NAPs) and addressing loss and damage due to climate change. Whilst the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) saw progress made towards delivering the USD 100 billion climate finance goal by 2023 at latest, and countries agreed on a way forward for the new post-2025 climate finance goal, this remains inadequate as annual adaptation costs in developing economies are estimated to reach between USD 155 to USD 330 billion by 2030. The ‘Toolkit to Enhance Access to Climate Finance: A Practical Guide’ was launched to support small Commonwealth states and other vulnerable member countries to access much-needed finance to mitigate and adapt to the devastating impacts of climate change. 

Sea-Level Change in the Pacific Islands Region: A Review of Evidence to Inform Asian Development Bank Guidance on Selecting Sea-Level Projections for Climate Risk and Adaptation Assessments

Although SIDS contribute to less than 1 percent of the global Green House Emissions, they are at the forefront of climate change impacts because of their small geographical area, isolation and exposure. Adapting to the ongoing and future climate change impacts, including sea-level rise, is therefore critical for SIDS. In order to provide standards for the planning, testing, and design of sea-level change projects in the area, the Asian Development Bank has published a new resource that also reviews available evidence to explore the strengths, weaknesses, and uncertainties associated with various sources of information on sea-level rise in the Pacific islands. 

Pacific E-commerce Portal

E-commerce can bring Pacific Island Countries closer to world markets and reduce the investment cost required to start and operate a successful small business. This is why E-commerce was identified as one of the priorities of the Pacific Aid-for-Trade Strategy 2020-2025. The Pacific E-commerce Portal aims to bridge the information gap and provide a comprehensive repository of information on e-commerce in the Pacific. The portal features all the information Pacific stakeholders, citizens, businesses, and government need when thinking about e-commerce: business toolkits on moving online, training materials on e-commerce laws and regulations, up-to-date statistics on e-commerce in the Pacific, and a comprehensive directory of on-going donor funded initiatives to support e-commerce and digital adoption in the Pacific. 

UNDP SIDS Data Platform

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. 

Upcoming Opportunities

World Ocean Tech and Innovation Summit

Economist Impact’s World Ocean Tech and Innovation Summit, hosted by Canada’s Ocean Supercluster in collaboration with the Province of Nova Scotia and the Halifax Partnership, will convene innovators, business leaders, thought leaders and investors to learn about and engage with the latest “blue economy” innovators and technologies, and identify solutions that will form the roadmap to a sustainable, thriving ocean economy.

Taking place in Halifax, Canada, the two-day programme will showcase local innovations that have the potential to be scaled globally, and welcome international business leaders, investors and scientists to share learnings and unleash new opportunities for cross-border partnership and investment.

Register here:

When: 4 - 5 October 2022

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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