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Sustainable Development in Small Island Developing States

Abstract

This paper explores the status of sustainable development in small island developing states (SIDS), through the presentation of a case study on the Maldives, which is a typical small island developing state in the Central Indian Ocean. At the outset, a brief history of sustainable development as related to SIDS on the international agenda is outlined, starting from Rio to Barbados to Johannesburg. SIDS are expected to face many challenges and constraints in pursuing sustainable development due to their ecological fragility and economic vulnerability. It is the position of this paper that issues related to environmental vulnerability are of the greatest concern. A healthy environment is the basis of all life-support systems, including that of human well-being and socio-economic development. Priority environmental problems are: climate change and sea-level rise, threats to biodiversity, threats to freshwater resources, degradation of coastal environments, pollution, energy and tourism. Among these, climate change and its associated impacts are expected to pose the greatest threat to the environment and therefore to sustainable development. For small islands dependent on fragile marine ecosystems, in particular on coral reefs, for their livelihoods and living space, adverse effects of climate change such as increased frequency of extreme weather events and sea-level rise will exacerbate the challenges they already face. It is concluded that the ‘paper’ path from Rio to Barbados to Johannesburg has made significant progress. However, much remains to be done at the practical level, particularly by the developed countries in terms of new and additional efforts at financial and technical assistance, to make sustainable development a reality for SIDS.

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Ghina, F. Sustainable Development in Small Island Developing States. Environment, Development and Sustainability 5, 139–165 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1025300804112

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  • biodiversity
  • climate change
  • coastal ecosystems
  • coral reefs
  • energy
  • freshwater
  • Maldives
  • pollution
  • sea-level rise
  • Small Island Developing States
  • tourism
  • vulnerability.