Small Island Developing States
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  • Informal Note by the Secretariat for a SIDS Partnership Framework

The Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA) adopted in 1994, further complemented by The Mauritius Strategy of Implementation (MSI) of 2005 and MSI+5 Outcome document, recognized that although they are afflicted by economic difficulties and confronted by development imperatives similar to those of developing countries generally, small island developing States (SIDS) have their own peculiar vulnerabilities and characteristics, so that the difficulties they face in the pursuit of sustainable development are particularly severe and complex.

Small size - There are many disadvantages that derive from small size, including a narrow range of resources, which forces undue specialization; excessive dependence on international trade and hence vulnerability to global developments; high population density, which increases the pressure on already limited resources; overuse of resources and premature depletion; relatively small watersheds and threatened supplies of fresh water; costly public administration and infrastructure, including transportation and communication; and limited institutional capacities and domestic markets and limited export volumes, which are too small to achieve economies of scale.

Isolation: Their geographic dispersion and isolation from markets, due to remote locations, place many SIDS at a disadvantage economically, leading to high freight costs and reduced competitiveness.

Climate change and sea-level rise: Due to the coastal zone concentration in a limited land area, the adverse effects of climate change and sea-level rise present significant risks to the sustainable development of SIDS, and the long-term effects of climate change may threaten the very existence and viability of some SIDS.

Natural and environmental disasters: SIDS are located among the most vulnerable regions in the world in relation to the intensity and frequency of natural and environmental disasters and their increasing impact, and face disproportionately high economic, social and environmental consequences.

These special vulnerabilities SIDS face accentuate other challenges facing developing countries in general. These include, among others: difficulties in benefitting from trade liberalization and globalization; heavy dependence on coastal and marine resources for their livelihood including food security; heavy dependence on tourism which can be easily impacted by climate change and natural disasters; energy dependence and access issue; the limited freshwater resources; limited land resulting in land degradation, which affects waste management, and vulnerable biodiversity resources.

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