Michael Hailu

The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2014 as the International Year of Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

Although SIDS are famous for their rich biological diversity, distinct cultural heritage and beautiful sandy beaches, they face significant environmental and economic challenges. Climate change threatens their very survival. A new report by the United Nations Environment Programme estimates that climate change-induced sea-level rise in the world’s 52 small island nations is up to four times the global average, threatening the socio-economic fabric of these nations. SIDS also face serious food and nutrition security challenges due to their increasingly high dependence on imported food at the expense of local, more nutritious diets. Their excessive reliance on tourism also exposes them to external shocks. To build resilience against economic and natural shocks, SIDS need to develop and implement ‘green growth’ strategies, which many of them are pursuing with renewed vigour. Opportunities in regional trade and value chain development need to be identified. Diversification and linking agriculture to other economic sectors such as tourism, ICTs and financial services, will be key.

The United Nations-sponsored Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States in Samoa in September 2014 will provide an excellent opportunity to focus the world’s attention on the vulnerabilities of SIDS and help marshal ideas and resources to address the challenges they face.

CTA is actively engaged with the SIDS Conference, supporting several activities leading up to and during the event in Samoa. We have organised a number of policy briefings and workshops, in collaboration with the UN and other partners, to ensure that the voices of various stakeholders are heard, including farmers, the private sector, women’s groups and the youth. We are also facilitating the sharing of lessons and experiences across the SIDS of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

Michael Hailu
Director – CTA

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