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Climate Change & SIDS

It is well known that SIDS have characteristics which make them especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change. These characteristics include their limited size, geographical dislocation, proneness to natural hazards and external shocks, high exposure of population and infrastructure and limited adaptive capacity.

Both adaptation and mitigation measures are central to addressing the challenges posed by climate change in SIDS. Unfortunately, these measures are constrained by inadequate data, limited financial resources, and weak technical, human and institutional capacity.

The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, WGII on small islands recognized that in most cases SIDS have low adaptive capacity, and adaptation costs are high relative to gross domestic product (GDP). The IPCC 4-AR placed a 'very high confidence' level on the probability of negative impacts imposed by climate change and sea-level rise on water resources, vital infrastructure, settlements and facilities that support the livelihood of island communities; a 'high confidence' level on the negative impacts climate change on biodiversity, tourism, agriculture, coral reefs, fisheries and other marine-based resources; and 'medium' confidence level on the negative impacts on human health.

As a result, the adverse effects of climate change and sea level rise represent some of the most immediate threats to the sustainable development of SIDS. These impacts are predicted to intensify and worsen rapidly in coming decades. For certain low lying states in particular, climate change is becoming an issue of survival. The risk of sea level rise increasingly threatens their physical existence, confronting them with the prospect of inundation.

Climate Change & its Possible Security Implications

On 3 June 2009, the relentless negotiation efforts of the Pacific SIDS paid-off as the General Assembly unanimously adopted the Resolution that focuses on the possible security implications of climate change.

The resolution invites all UN organs to appropriately address the issue of climate change within their mandates. It also requests the Secretary-General to submit to the 64th Session a comprehensive report on the implications of climate change, based on the views of Member States and regional and international organizations.