DESA Analyzes SIDS Sustainable Development Trends

DESAAugust 2014: Despite advances toward sustainable development, small island developing States (SIDS) continue to face many challenges, according to ‘Trends in Sustainable Development: SIDS,' a publication issued by the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) Division for Sustainable Development (DSD) as an input to the Third International Conference on SIDS. The report assesses SIDS' progress in key sustainable development areas: climate change; demographics; energy; finance and trade; health and non-communicable diseases (NCDs); natural disaster management; oceans and seas; social development, including education, food security, gender equality and access to water and sanitation; tourism; and waste management.

The publication aims to raises awareness of the special case of SIDS, and highlight how their sustainable development is linked with global sustainable development. It encourages action at all levels to address SIDS' vulnerabilities and enhance their resilience.

On climate, the report finds that while SIDS are collectively responsible for less than one percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, they face “devastating effects of climate change in all aspects of their societies and all sectors of their economics." The publication describes impacts of global temperature change, rising ocean and sea levels, and mitigation and adaptation actions, noting that many SIDS have chosen to “show moral leadership” on mitigation by pursuing renewable energy and pledging to work towards national climate neutrality. It highlights Tuvalu's National Strategic Action Plan for Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management (DRM) 2012-2016.

Global climate change is also the most severe threat to SIDS' oceans and seas, according to the publication, which says rising sea surface temperatures are inducing coral bleaching, contributing to ocean acidification and more extreme and frequent weather events, all of which further threaten coral reefs. It also highlights the contributions of coral reefs to economic development, food security, livelihoods and shoreline protection and discusses marine protected areas (MPAs) and sustainable fisheries.

The energy section discusses SIDS' reliance on fuel imports, as well as their renewable energy potential, including increases in hydropower production, access to new technologies and financing. On waste management, the publication addresses the disposal of chemical and hazardous waste, including challenges related to transboundary waste from cruise ship effluents. It showcases Singapore's waste management system, where only two percent of waste is sent to landfills.

DSD collaborated with the South Pacific Community (SPC), the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and DSD's Statistics Division on the publication.

DESA also released an updated wall chart on Population and Development in SIDS, which displays indicators on demographics, economics and the environment and includes illustrations of access to improved drinking water and sanitation over time and number of people and total population affected by disasters. [SIDSnet Press Release] [Publication: Trends in Sustainable Development: SIDS] [SIDS Wall Chart]