Thursday, June 26, 2014

Sir Richard Branson supports Many Strong Voices

Sir Richard Branson supports Many Strong Voices

The work of MSV to help raise the profile of people in the Arctic and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and their struggle against climate change has gained the support of one of the world’s most influential business leaders.

Sir Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Airlines and a champion of green energy, has offered his support to MSV, which brings together the peoples of the Arctic and SIDS to meet the challenges of climate change.

"When it comes to climate change, arctic communities and small island states share similar struggles,” Branson said. “As they feel the impacts of rising sea levels and deteriorating coastal environments, organizations like Many Strong Voices collaborate, act and innovate to achieve lasting change.

“Their critical work fills the gap between those affected by adverse climate impacts and the political and business leaders focused on creating big picture solutions."

Branson has invested considerable time and money in supporting global initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the use of renewable resources and new technologies. Recently, he called on business leaders to take a stand against climate deniers.

MSV is coordinated by GRID-Arendal and the University College London. More

The Cayman Institute is a partner organization of Many Strong Voices


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Climate Change: Implications for Tourism

IPCC AR5: Climate Change: Implications for Tourism

June 2014

The Fifth Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the most up-to-date, comprehensive and relevant analysis of our changing climate.

The tourism industry faces profound impacts from climate change – impacts that are already being felt. It represents one of the world’s largest industries, accounting for some 9% of global GDP and generates 27 more than $6 trillion in revenues each year. This briefing reviews how climate change is already impacting the tourism industry and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. More

Download PDF


Monday, June 16, 2014

Small island developing states summit aims for alliances

The UN’s Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), in Apia, Samoa, on 1-4 September, will aim to identify the unique needs andvulnerabilities of island nations and opportunities for international support.

“The challenges facing SIDS are interlinked and cannot be tackled in silo or by one country alone,” says conference secretary-general Wu Hongbo. “This calls for collaboration and partnerships, with active engagement by all stakeholders, governmental and non-governmental.”

The conference will focus on critical areas where new global partnerships are needed, including climate change, oceans, waste, sustainable tourism and disaster risk reduction. Various voluntary commitments have already been announced. These include the creation of a Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, which is intended to tackle the challenges of access to affordable energy, energy security and climate change mitigation and adaptation. Once fully operational, which is due to happen by 2018, the centre will fall under the remit of the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). “The centre will assist energy industries in developing countries in taking advantage of growing sustainable energy market opportunities and provide a platform to promote South-South and North-South knowledge and technology transfer,” says UNIDO renewable energy expert, Martin Lugmayr.

Other new collaborative projects include the University Consortium of Small Island States, which, with the Spanish government and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, announced plans to develop a degree in sustainable development delivered internationally through an online portal. In addition, six countries and various organisations have announced support for the Coral Triangle Initiative that will protect the region, which is home to the highest coral diversity in the world.Maintaining ocean health will be a centrepiece of the conference, according to Milan Meetarbhan, Mauritius’ ambassador to the UN, who says this should lead to the development of a global strategy for a healthy ocean economy. “Given [the ocean’s] crucial importance to the international community and to SIDS in particular, the Samoa summit should consider making a clear recommendation in favour of a stand-alone Sustainable Development Goal on the oceans,” Meetarbhan says. The conference will echo and reinforce targets likely to be outlined in the forthcoming Sustainable Development Goals (a draft of which was released this week), as many of the topics addressed have global significance, says Wu. It will also contribute to an elaboration of the post-2015 UN development agenda, he adds. “In particular, [this will be] through discussions on climate change, where SIDS’ experiences are providing both an example of the devastating impacts and the outcomes of efforts to fight the phenomenon,” he says.

This will be the first SIDS conference in the Pacific. The inaugural conference was held in Barbados in 1994 and resulted in the Declaration of Barbados. This officially recognised the sustainable development needs of SIDS and called for regional and international support to deliver these. The second conference, held in Mauritius in 2005, concluded with the Mauritius Strategy, a further implementation of the Barbados plan with emphasis on the vulnerability of island nations. Wu said the outcome document for this year’s conference will outline priorities for all SIDS and provide a road map for future action to address sustainability priorities. > Link to the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States More

DESA News: Renewing Focus on Sustainable Islands

Published on Apr 30, 201 4 • "Many of the challenges facing Small Island Developing States are shared by the international community, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, oceans and seas, disasters [...]," said UN DESA's Under-Secretary-General and Conference Secretary-General Wu Hongbo, as preparations accelerate ahead of the UN Conference on Small Island Developing States in Samoa on 1 -4 September. DESA News also spoke with some of the conference bureau members who shared their hopes for this major event.

In the video [in order of appearance]: - Ali'ioaiga Feturi Alisaia, Permanent Representative of Samoa to the United Nations - Milan J N Meetarghan, Permanent Representative of Mauritius - Ronald Jumeau, the Roving Ambassador of Seychelles for Climate Change and Small Island Developing States - Karen Tan, Permanent Representative of Singapore - Phillip Taula, Deputy Permanent Representative of New Zealand

Read the DESA News feature article: hTrCki

For information on the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States:

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Islands in the spotlight - Seychelles Climate Change Ambassador speaks at UN biodiversity event

(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles Ambassador for Climate Change and Small Island Developing States issues, Ronald Jumeau, who is based in New York, has warned that traditional donor-recipient financing mechanisms are no longer enough to help island nations achieve and secure sustainability for themselves, especially in such an uncertain global economic climate.

The warning features in his foreward message, featured in the official publication of the Convention on Biological Diversity for the International Day for Biological Diversity.

Today, May 22, is the day chosen by the UN to increase understanding and awareness of the importance of biodiversity. This year, the theme chosen by the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is Island Biodiversity, in recognition of 2014 as the International Year of Small Island Developing States.

“It is consequently increasingly recognized that one of the most effective ways to protect and sustainably manage and use biodiversity for sustainable livelihoods is through genuine and durable partnerships for action,” Jumeau, who chairs the steering committee of the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA),writes in his foreward.

The Seychellois ambassador was invited to deliver a speech at a special event at the United Nations in New York to mark the International Day for Biological Diversity, an event co-hosted by GLISPA and the CBD as well as the permanent missions of Grenada, Samoa, Palau, Papua New Guinea and Mauritius.

In addition to the launch of the island biodiversity publication, the message of the UN’s Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, is also to be delivered at the event. The event will focus on the importance of biodiversity in the pursuit of sustainable development for small island states and to showcase examples of best practices in island biodiversity.

600 million islanders depend on biodiversity for livelihood

The biodiversity of the world’s islands is considered the key to the livelihood, economy, wellbeing and cultural identity of 600 million islanders, equal to one tenth of the world’s population.

GLISPA helps to promote public-private partnerships among island nations to find homegrown solutions to their own challenges where big donations fall short. The global partnership has already brought together more than $130 million for island conservation and sustainable livelihoods in small island states.

2014 being the International Year of Small Island Developing States, says Jumeau, the opportunities will present themselves, both at the on UN SIDS summit in Samoa in September and CBD COP12 in South Korea in October, to create partnerships that actually deliver on their commitments to implement island solutions.

Seychelles , a leader in conservation

The Seychelles Minister for Environment and Energy Prof Rolph Payet has also added his voice to calls for the protection of biodiversity saying this year’s theme chosen for the day ‘Island Biodiversity’ is especially relevant to the Seychelles, as a leader in conservation.

“Seychelles would not be the island paradise without its unique and spectacular beauty. We owe our tourism industry to its environment. We also owe our livelihood, our fisheries to its abundance in tropical food and fish. Our health, our water is all possible through the extensive forests we have preserved for this and future generations. Sadly with the pressure of development and climate change we need to strive for more sustainability in our actions. It is the moral duty of every Seychellois, every business and every tourism developer to respect and care for our unique biodiversity” says Payet in a message for the occasion.

“While islands constitute less than 5% of the Earth’s landmass they provide habitat for 40% of all listed critically endangered and endangered species. In Seychelles we have the highest density of endemic lizards per square meter than anywhere in the world, and the largest population of wild giant tortoises in the world. These credentials, together with the millions of birds and marine mammals that thrive freely in our territory, make Seychelles a very unique place on earth.”

Seychelles has 52 percent of its land territory protected under law as nature reserves, making it the most conservation-minded country in the world. Second after Seychelles is New Zealand, which has 30 percent of its territory protected as nature reserves. More


Renewable Islands: Settings For Success

Islands around the world are heavily reliant on costly oil imports from distant locations which can burden government budgets and inhibit investment in social and economic development.

Indigenous renewable energy resources such as hydropower, wind power, solar power, geothermal power, bioenergy and wave power can reduce these expensive imports and create important business and employment opportunities.

But how should islands go about attracting the investment to put these resources to use? The case studies in this short report are meant to show that a wide variety of islands in different locations and at different levels of development can all attract investment in cost-effective renewable energy resources through a mix of four key ingredients: » Political priority to attract investment

» Market framework for investment

» Technical planning for investment

» Capacity to implement investment

Political priority to attract investment in renewable energy on an island results from a realisation by its people, its utilities and its leaders that it is paying too much money for electricity and renewable power offers a way out. To be credible and have an impact, the political priority must be clearly articulated by ministers and embodied in legislation.

An effective market framework for investment must ensure that the electricity market is open to participation by all types and sizes of players who could profit by installing renewable power facilities. These include incumbent utilities, independent power producers, and building owners. Regulations should make it profitable for utilities to invest in cost-effective renewable power options. They should also make it possible for independent power producers to invest in such options – directly or through power purchase agreements with the utilities. And they should make it profitable for building owners to install photovoltaic power systems through net metering arrangements whereby the value of electricity they provide to the grid is credited to their electric bill.

Technical planning is needed to ensure that investment in renewable power options is consistent with the economic interests of the island and does not impair the reliability of service. Some sort of integrated resource planning should be done to ensure that an optimal mix of energy options is chosen for the island, to minimise costs within the constraints of preserving the environment, promoting public health, and serving other social objectives. And grid stability analysis is needed to ensure that the grid remains stable and service remains reliable as the share of variable renewable generation grows.

Finally, human capacity building is needed for successful incorporation of renewable power options on island power grids. A variety of skills are needed to plan, finance, manage, operate and maintain the power grid effectively, safely, reliably and economically.

Looking at islands in oceans around the world, this report shows how these four factors have combined to create successful settings for renewable power investment. Download PDF






Friday, June 13, 2014

How will geo-political unrest in the Middle East affect Cayman's Energy Security?

Will the battle for Iraq become Saudi war on Iran?

Be careful what you wish for could have been, and perhaps should have been, Washington’s advice to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states which have been supporting Sunni jihadists against Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Damascus.

The warning is even more appropriate today as the bloodthirsty fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) sweep through northwest Iraq, prompting hundreds of thousands of their Sunni coreligionists to flee and creating panic in Iraq’s Shiite heartland around Baghdad, whose population senses, correctly, that it will be shown no mercy if the ISIS motorcades are not stopped.

The outbreak of civil war in Iraq has oil traders nervous. Crude oil trading on the NYMEX Thursday gained more than $2 per barrel and has so far continued its climb Friday morning, going as high as $107.68 for WTI and Brent Crude to $113.02.

Such a setback for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been the dream of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah for years. He has regarded Maliki as little more than an Iranian stooge, refusing to send an ambassador to Baghdad and instead encouraging his fellow rulers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) — Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman — to take a similar standoff-ish approach. Although vulnerable to al Qaeda-types at home, these countries (particularly Kuwait and Qatar) have often turned a blind eye to their citizens funding radical groups like Jabhat al-Nusra, one of the most active Islamist groups opposed to Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani commented on June 12 on the latest crisis in Iraq, making it clear that Iran will intervene at the appropriate time to combat terror. According to a transcript of the speech released by the Islamic Republic News Agency, he said, "The Islamic Republic of Iran will not tolerate this violence and we will not tolerate this terror and as we stated at the UN, we will fight and combat violence, extremism and terrorism in the region and the world."

Currently on vacation in Morocco, King Abdullah has so far been silent on these developments. At 90-plus years old, he has shown no wish to join the Twitter generation, but the developments on the ground could well prompt him to cut short his stay and return home. He has no doubt realized that — with his policy of delivering a strategic setback to Iran by orchestrating the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus showing little sign of any imminent success — events in Iraq offer a new opportunity.

This perspective may well confuse many observers. In recent weeks, there has been a flurry of reports of an emerging — albeit reluctant – diplomatic rapprochement between the Saudi-led GCC and Iran, bolstered by the apparently drunken visit to Tehran by the emir of Kuwait, and visits by trade delegations and commerce ministers in one direction or the other. This is despite evidence supporting the contrary view, including Saudi Arabia’s first public display of Chinese missiles capable of hitting Tehran and the UAE’s announcement of the introduction of military conscription for the country’s youth.

The merit, if such a word can be used, of the carnage in Iraq is that at least it offers clarity. There are tribal overlays and rival national identities at play, but the dominant tension is the religious difference between majority Sunni and minority Shiite Islam. This region-wide phenomenon is taken to extremes by the likes of ISIS, which also likely sees its action in Iraq as countering Maliki’s support for Assad.

ISIS is a ruthless killing machine, taking Sunni contempt for Shiites to its logical, and bloody, extreme. The Saudi monarch may be more careful to avoid direct religious insults than many other of his brethren, but contempt for Shiites no doubt underpinned his Wikileaked comment about "cutting off the head of the snake," meaning the clerical regime in Tehran. (Prejudice is an equal opportunity avocation in the Middle East: Iraqi government officials have been known to ask Iraqis whether they are Sunni or Shiite before deciding how to treat them.)

Despite the attempts of many, especially in Washington, to write him off, King Abdullah remains feisty, though helped occasionally by gasps of oxygen — as when President Barack Obama met him in March and photos emerged of breathing tubes inserted in his nostrils. When Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi — and, after his elder brother’s recent stroke, the effective ruler of the UAE — visited King Abdullah on June 4, the Saudi monarch was shown gesticulating with both hands. The subject under discussion was not revealed, but since Zayed was on his way to Cairo it was probably the election success of Egypt’s new president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, considered a stabilizing force by Riyadh and Abu Dhabi. Of course, Sisi gets extra points for being anti-Muslim Brotherhood, a group whose Islamist credentials are at odds with the inherited privileges of Arab monarchies. For the moment, Abdullah, Zayed, and Sisi are the three main leaders of the Arab world. Indeed, the future path of the Arab countries could well depend on these men (and whomever succeeds King Abdullah).

For those confused by the divisions in the Arab world and who find the metric of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" to be of limited utility, it is important to note that the Sunni/Shiite divide coincides, at least approximately, with the division between the Arab and Persian worlds. In geopolitical terms, Iraq is at the nexus of these worlds — majority Shiite but ethnically Arab. There is an additional and often confusing dimension, although one that’s historically central to Saudi policy: A willingness to support radical Sunnis abroad while containing their activities at home. Hence Riyadh’s arms-length support for Osama bin Laden when he was leading jihadists in Soviet-controlled Afghanistan, and tolerance for jihadists in Chechnya, Bosnia, and Syria. More

One of the reasons that I have been lobbying and submitting reports on the need for an energy policy and the need for alternative energy to the Cayman Islands Government for the last seven years is because of the possibility of geo-political instability triggering conflict in the Middle East.

This may have come to pass. As you will have read above the insurgency has moved out of Syria and into Iraq. Civil war appears to have broken out, with Iraq's most senior Shia cleric has issued a call to arms after Sunni-led insurgents seized more towns. The call by a representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani came as the militants widened their grip in the north and east, having seized Mosul and Tikrit and threatened to march south, towards Baghdad.

The question is whether Saudi Arabia will offer help to the ISIS insurgents. Currently on vacation in Morocco, King Abdullah has so far been silent on these developments, but the developments on the ground could well prompt him to cut short his stay and return home. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy asserted that the Saudi military parade on April 29 marked a message to both Iran and the United States. Institute fellow Simon Henderson said this marked the first time Riyad displayed its Chinese-origin CSS-2 ballistic missile, designed to contain a nuclear warhead. King Abdullah has no doubt realized that — with his policy of delivering a strategic setback to Iran by orchestrating the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus showing little sign of any imminent success — events in Iraq offer a new opportunity. Saudi Arabia's defense budget according to Deloitt, stands at $16 billion dollars.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani commented on June 12 on the latest crisis in Iraq, making it clear that Iran will intervene at the appropriate time to combat terror. According to a transcript of the speech released by the Islamic Republic News Agency, he said, "The Islamic Republic of Iran will not tolerate this violence and we will not tolerate this terror and as we stated at the UN, we will fight and combat violence, extremism and terrorism in the region and the world."

Given that Iraq is OPEC's second largest producer and that Brent Crude is already at a nine month high, the possibility is that oil prices could rapidly escalate to $150 per barrel is high.

What effect would this have on the Cayman Islands you may ask. If we have civil war in Iraq, which already appears to be the case, and if the ISIS takes Baghdad and continues south to the oil rich areas we could see $150 per barrel oil. However, if conflict spreads further afield in the region, which conceivably could see the Straights of Hormus closed, we could see oil at $300 per barrel. Editor.



Sunday, June 8, 2014

Many Strong Voices Programme: Building Communities Capacities for Relocation

In May 2014, the New Zealand Court of Appeal dismissed a claim by Kiribati national Ioane Teitiota that he and his family are “climate refugees” and therefore should be allowed to stay in New Zealand.

Teitiota argued that sea level rise due to climate change was making his country uninhabitable and in effect forced his family to seek refuge. The court dismissed Teitiota’s request on the grounds that environmental migrants are not covered under the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

Meanwhile, as Teitiota’s claim was winding its way through the New Zealand legal system, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Fifth Assessment Report. The report provides stark details on the implications of sea level rise over the coming decades and what it means for countries like Kiribati and other islands or low-lying coastal regions. It further states that, even with lower emission scenarios, 1.3 metres of sea level rise is “locked in” over the next century, potentially making 15% of the world’s islands uninhabitable. Higher emissions will lead to more melting and will threaten more island habitats.

The IPCC report and other evidence clearly show that the effects of climate change are happening more quickly and are often more severe and unpredictable than anticipated. Among other devastating climate impacts, such as the melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, numerous studies now recognize the potential for mass displacement and relocation of peoples and communities around the world and the associated threats to the social, cultural and economic fabric of their communities. Regardless of the causes, forced displacement and relocation have predictable consequences for marginalized communities.

The 1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples in Canada found that:

The results of more than 25 studies around the world indicate without exception that the relocation, without informed consent, of low-income rural populations with strong ties to their land and homes is a traumatic experience. For the majority of those who have been moved, the profound shock of compulsory relocation is much like the bereavement caused by the death of a parent, spouse or child.

The New Zealand court decision illustrates the gap between the moral challenge we face and the legal frameworks that are inadequate to address climate-induced displacement and migration, both within and across borders. In response to this challenge, people in affected regions are combining forces and working together to achieve climate justice. One such example is the Many Strong Voices (MSV) programme, which brings together people and organizations in the Arctic and SIDS to take action on climate change and links people and regions that might not otherwise realize their common interests.

In the Arctic and SIDS, discussions are already underway. The complex interplay of extreme weather events coupled with slow onset processes, such as erosion and sea level rise, are endangering the lives, livelihoods and cultures of the inhabitants of these coastal and island communities. Accelerated rates of erosion or flooding are threatening dozens of these communities. Traditional methods of reducing vulnerability and building resilience are unable to protect communities, and therefore community-based relocation is the only feasible solution.

In September 2012, MSV launched an initiative to connect and build the capacity of communities that are facing relocation. In partnership with the Center for International Environmental Law and the Alaska Immigration Justice Project, MSV held a dialogue between community leaders from Newtok, Alaska, and the Carteret Islands in Papua New Guinea to learn how informed and participatory decision-making can guide these relocations, minimize adverse effects, and foster community resilience. The people in the Carterets, like those in other Small Island Developing States (SIDS), understand there is a direct connection between sea ice decline and other changes in the Arctic and the adverse impacts they are experiencing. This relationship between regions that might otherwise be seen as remote and unconnected is the foundation of Many Strong Voices.

Building on this initial dialogue, MSV held a global consultation, the Warsaw Dialogue, with affected peoples and communities – as well as civil society representatives, researchers and policymakers – to identify their needs as a means to develop appropriate tools and resources to assist such communities in their relocation efforts. Held on 18 November 2013 during the UNFCCC negotiations (COP19), the Warsaw Dialogue provided an opportunity to learn from those who are engaged in community relocation processes or relocation policies. The aim was to discuss the challenges communities face (as well as the opportunities) to gain a better understanding of the tools and resources needed to ensure that affected peoples and communities can meaningfully participate in relevant decision-making processes.

As one participant from the Pacific said, “We must be pragmatic in our approach, given how quickly some small islands are going under water. We need to educate people about the impacts of climate change on their lives and livelihoods.” All in all, this is the primary objective of MSV’s dialogues and consultations, for those affected to share their experiences and what they’ve learned along the way with a diverse network of people facing similar situations.

One thing we’ve learned is that, despite the devastating effects climate change is already having on coastal and island communities around the world, the stories of Newtok and the Carteret Islands and other communities are not about climate “victims” or “refugees”, but rather about problem solvers. They are about leadership in the face of extreme challenges and threats to one’s cultural heritage and survival. They are about overcoming those challenges using local and traditional knowledge and decision-making processes – and a whole lot of creativity. And they are about the strength and resilience of two communities that are taking the necessary actions to relocate to ensure the cultural resilience and long-term sustainability of their respective communities. The law will follow. More


John Crump is Senior Advisor/Climate Change, GRID-Arendal, Ottawa, Canada

Alyssa Johl is Senior Attorney, Climate& Energy Program, Center for International Environmental Law, Washington DC.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

UNFCCC Fellowship Programme for Small Island Developing States 2014

To celebrate the International Year of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) 2014, the UNFCCC secretariat is offering 2 five-months fellowships to young professionals from the region who are interested in contributing to the work on climate change adaptation or on gender and youth related dimensions of climate action. These fellowship awards are made available thanks to the generous financial contribution of the Government of Norway.


Applicants must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Be a SIDS national;
  • Be employed by a SIDS government or governmental institution/organization;
  • Be between 24 and 35 years of age;
  • Have experience or knowledge in the areas of either climate change adaptation, or gender and/or youth and climate change;
  • Have preferably completed a Master degree, or equivalent;
  • Have good communication skills in English.
  • While fellowships are awarded to individuals, the need for training must occur within their respective government.

The fellowship programme is not intended for students and does not provide financial support for obtaining an advanced university degree or PhD studies. More


On World Environment Day

Sea-Level Rise in Small Island Nations - Up to Four Times the Global Average - to Cost US$ Trillions in Annual Economic Loss and Impede Future Development: Shift to Green Policies and Investment Critical

Global Net Loss of Coral Reef Cover - Worth US$11.9 Trillion - to Severely Compound Vulnerability of SIDS

Halving Fossil Fuel Dependence by 2035 a Must and SIDS Electricity Prices Soar 500 per cent Higher than US

Bridgetown, 5 June 2014 – Climate change-induced sea-level rise in the world's 52 small island nations – estimated to be up to four times the global average – continues to be the most pressing threat to their environment and socio-economic development; with annual losses at the trillions of dollars due to increased vulnerability. An immediate shift in policies and investment towards renewable energy and green economic growth is required to avoid exacerbating these impacts, says a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

In all SIDS regions, coral reefs, the frontline for adaptation, are already severely impacted by rising sea surface temperatures. The global net loss of the coral reef cover - around 34 million hectares over two decades – will cost the international economy an estimated US$11.9 trillion, with Small Island Developing States (SIDS) especially impacted by the loss.

In the insular Caribbean, for example, up to 100 per cent of coral reefs in some areas have been affected by bleaching due to thermal stress linked to global warming. Climate threats are projected to push the proportion of reefs at risk in the Caribbean to 90 per cent by 2030 and up to 100 per cent by 2050.

The SIDS Foresight Report identifies climate change impacts and related sea-level rise as the chief concern among twenty emerging issues impacting the environmental resilience and sustainable development prospects of SIDS– including coastal squeeze, land capacity, invasive alien species and threats from chemicals and waste.

"Rio+20 emphasized that SIDS have unique vulnerabilities and require special attention during the evolution of the sustainable development agenda in order to achieve the gains required to lift people out of poverty, create green jobs and provide sustainable energy for all," said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

"For example, these 52 nations, home to over 62 million people, emit less than one per cent of global greenhouse gases, yet they suffer disproportionately from the climate change that global emissions cause."

"Fortunately, studies demonstrate that we have the tools and capabilities to head off future developmental setbacks. It is up to the international community to supports SIDS—not least through building momentum towards a robust climate agreement — to be agreed in 2015, which will cut emissions and minimize the threat of climate change for these nations," he added.

The report – launched in Bridgetown on World Environment Day – warns that the magnitude and frequency of many weather and climate-related hazards will increase as climate warming accelerates, especially in small islands. This will lead to disproportionate and compounded climate change impacts, which will adversely affect multiple sectors - from tourism, agriculture and fisheries to energy, freshwater, healthand infrastructure, unless ocean-based green economy approaches and policy options are put into action.

However, it also demonstrates that SIDS can transition to an inclusive green economy and ensure a sustainable prosperous future by taking advantage of opportunities in areas such as renewable energy, sustainable exploration of unexploited resources, developing an ocean-based green economy and leading the world in the development of inclusive indicators that go beyond Gross Domestic Product to include natural resources.

A second report, the Barbados Green Economy Scoping Study – also launched by UNEP on World Environment Day – provides a practical roadmap for policymakers and businesses on the greening of tourism, agriculture, fisheries, building/housing and transportation in Barbados—lessons that can also be applied in other SIDS.

"The issue of the Green Economy is of particular importance to Barbados given our national commitment to advance an inclusive sustainable development paradigm—in the process creating a Barbados that is socially balanced, economically viable and environmentally sound," said Freundel Stuart, Prime Minister of Barbados.

"The policy, investment and research proposals contained in the Green Economy Scoping Study will not be confined to a shelf," he added. "This can be witnessed in the integration of the green economic policy proposals into the new Barbados Growth and Development Strategy, and the mobilization of major investments that harmonize with the green economy in areas such as agriculture, tourism, waste, and water."

Disproportionate Climate Change Impacts

SIDS’ vulnerability to climate change and sea-level rise is magnified due to their relatively small land masses, population concentrations, and high dependence on coastal ecosystems for food, livelihood, security and protection against extreme events.

While the global average of sea-level rise is 3.2 mm per year, the island of Kosrae, in the Federated States of Micronesia, is experiencing a sea-level that is rising at a rate of 10 mm per year. The tropical Western Pacific, where a large number of small islands are located, experienced sea-level rise at a rate of 12 mm per year between 1993 and 2009—about four times the global average.

Among the threats are increased flooding, shoreline erosion, ocean acidification, warmer sea and land temperature, and damage to infrastructure from extreme weather events.

Apart from its direct impacts, climate change will have a compounding effect on several socio-economic sectors in SIDS.

For example, fisheries play a significant role in the economy, livelihoods and food security of SIDS, estimated at up 12 per cent of total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in some nations. In Pacific SIDS, fish accounts for up to 90 per cent of animal protein in the diet of coastal communities.

Yet climate change is expected to negatively impact fisheries, posing a clear challenge to meeting the nutritional needs of growing populations, damaging livelihoods and hampering efforts to lift people out of poverty.

Climate change will also impact tourism, which represents more than 30 per cent of SIDS total exports. For example, a 50-centimeter rise in sea-level would result in Grenada losing 60 per cent of its beaches.

Then there is the financial cost of adaptation to climate change: under business-as-usual models, the capital cost of sea-level rise in the Caribbean Community Countries alone is estimated at US$187 billion by 2080.

The report calls on the international community to gear up actions towards reducing climate change impacts, especially in SIDS, and to adopt a legally binding agreement that includes clear ambitious targets for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

In parallel to the global process, a comprehensive package that outlines agreed mitigation, adaptive, technological and cooperative measures - to implement at the earliest possible time - should be developed, the report says.

Developing Appropriate Indicators

A cross-cutting issue identified in the report is the need to develop appropriate growth indicators that take into account climate change, poverty, natural resource depletion, human health, and quality of life. According to the report, GDP-based indicators do not consider many of the features of small and limited economies, like those of SIDS.

New growth indicators already exist—including the Inclusive Wealth Index, developed by UNEP and the UN University—but they are yet to enter into widespread use, even though they clearly show that current economic growth is coming at the expense of depleting natural resources.

Given the particular vulnerability of SIDS, it is imperative that sustainable development indicators are applied to track accurately the growth of these states. The report calls on SIDS to collaborate in encouraging these efforts, which require cooperation among academics, policymakers, and other stakeholders.

Other Challenges and Opportunities

The report highlights a raft of other issues and opportunities, among them:

Harnessing Renewable Energy Opportunities

On average, more than 90 per cent of the energy used by SIDS comes from oil imports, causing a severe drain on limited financial resources and pushing electricity prices to among the highest in the world—in some cases 500 per cent of prices in the United States. At the same time, a large percentage of residents in SIDS do not have access to electricity: for example, 70 per cent of the population in Pacific Islands.

SIDS have bountiful supplies of renewable energy sources such as biomass, wind, sun, ocean, wave, hydro and geothermal. Accelerated deployment of renewable energy, prompted through appropriate policy interventions and public-private partnerships, offers an opportunity to widen access to sustainable energy and reduce the crippling costs of power.

SIDS are increasingly adopting renewable energy targets and policies, although still only 3 per cent of the energy mix in the Caribbean is from renewable sources.

Unexploited Natural Resources

Many SIDS possess unexploited natural resources in terrestrial areas as well as in their Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) and in the deep sea. Among these are minerals, potential pharmaceutical products, hydrocarbons, renewable energy resources, and fish stocks.

The exploration of these new frontiers of natural resources presents opportunities to meet a broad range of economic and social aspirations. Some countries are already expanding into these new areas, as seen in Papua New Guinea, which has embarked on exploratory activities for mining of seabed manganese nodules and rare earth elements.

SIDS have the opportunity to set a precedent for the sustainable exploration of these resources. Embarking on these new ventures will, however, come with diverse responsibilities; it is necessary, therefore, to conduct detailed scientific resource assessments to aid the development of robust guidelines and frameworks for sustainable management.

Developing an Ocean-based Green Economy

For most SIDS, transitioning to a green economy implies an ocean-based green economy because of the socio-economic importance of the ocean to these countries.

There are many practical and political challenges in this transition, and risks and opportunities must be scientifically assessed. Approaches and solutions exist that can be adapted by SIDS and governments and have an important role to play in providing the enabling conditions for this transition.

The Foresight Report was part of a wider process, which included the input of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA). A joint session with UN DESA identified 15 linked socio-economic issues that should be addressed, including diversifying the economies of SIDS, innovation in debt relief, and the future of food security.

The Barbados Example

While the Foresight Report focused on all SIDS, the green economy study focused on Barbados—although the lessons presented can be applied to many other nations.

A synthesis of the study—carried out in conjunction with the government of Barbados and the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus—was first released in 2012, and the government has already begun to act on the recommendations.

The report finds that the green economy approach offers opportunities for managing natural capital, diversifying the economy, creating green jobs, increasing resource efficiency and supporting poverty reduction and sustainable development. It shows that there is massive potential in Barbados—for example in energy, where a saving of US$280 million can be made through a 29 per cent switch to renewables by 2029.

It also finds opportunities for growth in the following areas:

Agriculture: Greening a restructured sugar cane industry and the adoption and promotion of organic agriculture.

Fisheries: An increase in the utilisation of clean technologies; the conversion of fish into fertilizer, compost and pellets for animal feed; and better collaboration on transboundary marine jurisdictions and resource-use in the region.

Building/housing: Improving resource efficiency, reducing waste and the use of toxic substances, and enhancing water efficiency and sustainable site development.

Transport: The creation of green jobs, particularly in the provision and maintenance of fuel-efficient vehicles; technology transfer and the management of an integrated public transport system.

Tourism: Marketing Barbados as a green destination, developing heritage and agro-tourism, and creating partnerships for promoting marine conservation.

Notes to Editors

To download the SIDS Foresight Report, please visit:

To download the Barbados Green Economy Scoping Study, please visit:

About the Foresight Process

The 2012 UNEP Foresight Process on Emerging Global Environmental Issues primarily identified emerging environmental issues and possible solutions on a global scale and perspective. In 2013, UNEP carried out a similar exercise to identify priority emerging environmental issues that are of concern to SIDS. The report, produced by a panel of 11 SIDS experts, presents the outcome of the Foresight exercise and is one of UNEP’s contributions to the Third International SIDS Conference, to take place in Samoa in September 2014.

About World Environment Day

For more information, please contact:

Shereen Zorba, Head of News and Media, UNEP

+254 788 526000,

Michael Logan, Information Officer, UNEP

+254 725 939 620 (mobile),

World Environment Day (WED) is the United Nations’ principal vehicle for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the environment. Over the years, it has grown to be a broad, global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated by stakeholders in over 100 countries. It also serves as the ‘people’s day’ for doing something positive for the environment, galvanizing individual actions into a collective power that generates an exponential positive impact on the planet. World Environment Day 2014 focuses on the threat to SIDS, running under the slogan Raise your voice, not the sea-level.2014 is also the International Year of SIDS. Visit the WED site at: