Ocean Action Hub

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are a heterogeneous group of islands that share some common features that make them economically, socially and environmentally vulnerable. Spread over four regions, namely the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, West Africa and the Pacific, SIDS are particularly small, remote, insular and highly exposed to natural disasters and climate change risks. “Smallness” in terms of area, population and economies constitutes a key driver of vulnerability as it also implies small domestic markets with limited scope for exploitation of economies of scale; a narrow resource base leading to limited export opportunities; and the production of a narrow range of crops, minerals and manufactures which in turn leads to high dependence on imports (including food, fuel and manufactures). A high level of specialization in exports and dependence on imports increases exposure to global economic and financial shocks, including price volatility. Small economies and populations limit employment opportunities and can lead to high migration rates especially of skilled human resources and to a narrowing of the skill base. High migration rates can also generate a positive feedback through the remittances sent back by migrants. Meanwhile, insularity and remoteness are inherent to SIDS and contribute to heightening their vulnerability as remoteness, distance and isolation drive transport costs (UNCTAD, 2014, p.13).

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