Climate Change — The main threat faced by the Small Island States

“As an island State, we are at greater ecological and economical risks associated with adverse effects of climate change.” — R. A. Bhagwan at COP 6

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Tokelau warriors (via AOSIS)
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Fast Facts about the SIDS (Rising Tides, Rising Capacity Report, 2017)

The SIDS and the AOSIS

The SIDS were acknowledged at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Governments agreed that concerted action was needed to address development for the sake of future generations. Although the SIDS are among the least responsible of all nations for climate change, they are/will be the first group of nations to face one of the most devastating adverse effects of climate change, sea-level rise. Some scientific studies show that they and could in some cases even become uninhabitable. This is what makes them such a special case requiring the help and attention of the international community.

Maldives is one of the small states. We are not in a position to change the course of events in the world. But what you do or do not do here will greatly influence the fate of my people. It can also change the course of world history.”

- Maunmoon Abdul Gayoom at COP 3

In order to raise awareness and showcase the upcoming problems that will be faced first by these small nations, the Alliance of Small Islands States (AOSIS) was founded in 1991. The AOSIS is a coalition of small island and low-lying coastal countries that share similar development challenges and concerns about the environment, especially their vulnerability to the adverse effects of global climate change. It functions primarily as an ad hoc lobby and negotiating voice for the SIDS within the United Nations system. AOSIS has a membership of 44 States, and the SIDS communities constitute some five percent of the global population.

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Members of the AOSIS (via AOSIS)

The Threat: Sea-Level Rise

According to the IPCC , because of their low elevation and small size, many small island states are threatened with partial or virtually total inundation by future rises in sea level. In addition, increased intensity or frequency of cyclones could harm many of these islands. The existence or well-being of many small island states is mainly threatened by climate change and sea-level rise over the next century and beyond.

Written by

M.Sc Student in Environmental Engineering at UFSC. UN-SDSN Local Pathways Fellow. Global Shaper - Florianópolis Hub. Circular Economy Nucleus Multiplier.

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