20 September 2017: A high-level event on ‘Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Responding to Climate Impacts and Planning for a Sustainable Future,’ addressed leadership, innovation and partnership in SIDS, and highlighted some of the issues of importance to them in advance of the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 23) to the UNFCCC, which will convene from 6-17 November 2017 in Bonn, Germany. The event addressed initiatives, partnerships and actions that can help realize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The event, organized by the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the EU, was held on the sidelines of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on 18 September in New York, US.
In a statement to participants, UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner highlighted the launch of a report titled, ‘Rising Tides, Rising Capacity: Supporting a Sustainable Future for SIDS.’ The publication describes SIDS’ leadership and action on climate change, showcases the results of a partnership between the AOSIS and UNDP to support efforts to increase climate action, and highlights experiences of AOSIS members that have benefited from capacity-building efforts under the partnership. Steiner noted that UNDP’s programme portfolio includes over US$300 million in projects to support action on climate change and the environment in SIDS, including two new Green Climate Fund (GCF) projects in Maldives and Tuvalu.
According to Robert Glasser, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for DRR and Head of UNISDR, the risk of wealth loss in weather-related disasters in SIDS is growing more rapidly than than the GDP per capita.
Inia Seruiratu, COP 23 High-Level Climate Champion, Fiji, urged for optimizing the technologies and initiatives brought to SIDS and for ensuring synergies between adaptation and mitigation technologies and initiatives so that local communities benefit from them. He underscored the outcomes of the Climate Action Pacific Partnership conference in Suva, Fiji, in July 2017, where participants called for: increased investment to implement and enhance nationally determined contributions (NDCs), noting they can help align climate actions and SDG strategies in different sectors; and a more defined approach to climate financing and reporting. He also supported establishing a regional NDC support mechanism in the Pacific, and called for SIDS to engage with all stakeholders in implementing, financing and evaluating NDCs.
SIDS have been particularly impacted by recent hurricanes. In a recent news story, Robert Glasser, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Head of the UN Office for DRR (UNISDR), highlighted resilience gaps in SIDS exposed by the Hurricanes Irma and Maria, where the island of Barbuda had to be abandoned after 300 years of continuous human occupation. He noted huge economic losses due to floods and tropical cyclones, and said that, for many countries, the risk of wealth loss in weather-related disasters is growing more rapidly than than the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. He called for investments that help reduce risk, and strong policies to ensure new risk is not created through “poorly informed or under-resourced” investments in tourism, education, health facilities, transport and public utilities.