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World Environment Day 2014: SIDS and Adaptation

Many of the Small Island Developing States are part of the group of Least Developed Countries (LDCs).  They have limited ability to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. In recognition of this, the  Conference of the Parties established a work programme that included National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) to support LDCs in addressing the challenge of climate change given their particular vulnerability.  

NAPAs provide a process for the Least Developed Countries to identify priority activities that respond to their urgent and immediate needs with regard to adaptation to climate change. In the NAPA process, prominence is given to community-level input as an important source of information, recognizing that grassroots communities are the main stakeholders. NAPAs use existing information and no new research is needed. They are action-oriented, country-driven, are flexible and based on national circumstances.

A selection of projects undertaken by small island developing states are featured below.

Increasing Resilience of Coastal Areas and Community Settlements to Climate Change in Tuvalu



 image Tuvalu consists of nine low-lying islands with the landmass of 26 km2 in the vast ocean of the South Pacific. While most news headlines on climate change tend to emphasize, quite rightly, the existential threats on this tiny nation from sea-level rise, there are many other aspects of climate change impacts that have received less attention by the international community than they deserve, but have extraordinary impacts on communities' vulnerability.
View video "Essential Adaptation: Planning for Climate Change"

Haiti Experiences with the NAPA Process


Located on the western side of the Hispaniola Island which it shares with the Dominican Republic, Haiti is a mostly mountainous country. The country has lost most of its forest cover and is thus prone to erosion processes. It has also been increasingly affected by natural disasters such as hurricanes and tropical storms and also by floods and droughts, the impacts of which are aggravated by unsound urbanization practices, the use of natural resources and waste management. The population, two thirds of which depend on the agricultural sector, is highly vulnerable to climate variations. Haiti is still recovering from its most severe earthquake in 200 years, which hit the country in January 2010. The most vulnerable sectors to climate change are: agriculture and land degradation; coastal zones; and water management. More

Adapting Water Resource Management in Comoros to Increase Capacity to Cope with Climate Change


Climate change is likely to adversely affect the Comoros by resulting in: i) changes in rainfall levels and patterns; ii) increased temperatures; iii) sea level rise and iv) an increased frequency of climatic hazards such as tropical cyclones, droughts, episodes of heavy rainfall and flooding. Exacerbating these climate change impacts are the inherent environmental vulnerabilities of SIDSthe Small Island Developing States (SIDS) (including small land area, susceptibility to natural disasters, geographical isolation, limited natural resources and sensitive ecosystems) of which the Comoros is part. This, superimposed on existing anthropogenic practices (such as the quickening pace of deforestation rates for agricultural production), threatens water security, food security, economic growth and the livelihoods of communities within the Union of the Comoros. More

Kiribati Experiences with the NAPA Process


Kiribati is located in the central Pacific region and is comprised of 33 atolls with approximately 800 km2 of land area. The maximum height found on any of the atolls is 4 m, which makes the country vulnerable to sea level increases, saltwater intrusion and floods. The vulnerability and adaptation studies carried out in the country showed that the largest impact of climate change would be loss of coastal infrastructures due to inundation. Moreover, bleaching of coral reefs would result in loss of fish production. The combined effects of coastal erosion due to sea level rise, precipitation changes and higher temperatures would result in considerable reduction of the thickness of water lenses. Climate change would be likely to increase the epidemic potential of dengue fever and the incidence of tropical diseases. Sea level rise would also affect agriculture due to saltwater intrusion and loss of coastal land, thereby reducing land available for agriculture. More

Enhancing the Climate-resilience of Tourism-reliant Communities in Samoa


The objective of this project is to increase the resilience of the tourism sector of Samoa through mainstreaming climate risks into tourism-related policy and adaptation actions in coastal communities and tourism operators. Tourism is a vital economic force in Samoa representing around 30% of GDP, and providing a livelihood to many local businesses in the accommodation, catering and transport sub-sectors, providing broader income opportunities through its knock on effects in the tourism value chain, such as handicrafts and agricultural production. The benefits from tourism nationally and for local communities go well beyond direct economic impacts. More

Sao Tome and Principe Experiences with the NAPA Process


The archipelago of Sao Tome and Principe is located off the western coast of Guinea and is comprised of two main islands and four islets. The country’s economy revolves mostly around agriculture and fishing, sectors which are highly vulnerable to climate change. Sao Tome and Principe is considered very vulnerable to climate change, with a low capacity to absorb and adapt to ecosystem disturbances. Fisheries seem to be more greatly affected due to the use of traditional practices that are often unable to cope with the recurrence of storms and floods and extensive coastal erosion. The fishing industry is considered very important in Sao Tome and Principe, as artisanal fisheries are estimated to employ 20 per cent of the nation’s workforce and represent one of the main employment opportunities in rural areas. The agricultural and forestry sectors are also vulnerable to harsher environmental conditions such as drought, soil erosion leading to desertification and flood-induced landfalls. More

Showcasing Partnerships in the SIDS Priority Area "Climate Change & Disaster Risk Management"


 The UN Conference on Small Island Developing States will take place in Apia, Samoa, from 1-4 September 2014. The overarching theme of the conference is "Sustainable development of SIDS through genuine and durable partnerships." It highlights the high regard Samoa has for the critical role and strength of its partnerships with other governments and institutions in progressing its sustainable economic development agenda.