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HomeNewsCan island states survive the climate crisis? — Global Issues

Can island states survive the climate crisis? — Global Issues

Despite the huge decline in global economic activity during the COVID-19 pandemic, the amount of harmful greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere increased in 2002, and the last six years, 2015-2020, will likely be the six hottest ever.

Climate finance (climate specific financial support) continues to increase, reaching an annual average of $ 48.7 billion in 2017-18. This represents an increase of 10% compared to the previous period 2015-2016. While more than half of all climate-specific financial assistance during the period 2017-2018 was intended for mitigation actions, the share of adaptation assistance is increasing and is considered to be priority by many countries.

This is a cost-effective approach, because if not enough investment is made in adaptation and mitigation measures, more resources will need to be devoted to action and support to cope with losses and damage.

Water shortages exacerbated by climate change affect the lowlands of the Maldives.

UNDP Maldives

Water shortages exacerbated by climate change affect the lowlands of the Maldives.

Switch to renewable energies

SIDS depend on imported oil to meet their energy needs. In addition to creating pollution, transporting fossil fuels to the islands comes at a considerable cost. Recognizing these problems, some of these countries have successfully switched to renewable energy sources.

For example, Tokelau in the South Pacific meets almost 100% of its energy needs through renewable energy, while Barbados in the Caribbean has pledged to supply the country with 100% renewable energy sources. and achieve zero carbon emissions by 2030.

Several SIDS have also set ambitious renewable energy targets: Samoa, the Cook Islands, Cabo Verde, Fiji, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Vanuatu aim to increase the share of renewables in their energy mix, 60 to 100%, while in 2018 Seychelles launched the world’s first sovereign blue bond, a pioneering financial instrument to support sustainable marine and fisheries projects.

Sustainable fishing improves livelihoods in Haiti.

UNDP / Pierre Michel Jean

Sustainable fishing improves livelihoods in Haiti.

The power of traditional knowledge

The centuries-old practices of indigenous communities, combined with the latest scientific innovations, are increasingly seen as important means to adapt to the changes brought about by the climate crisis and to mitigate its impact.

In Papua New Guinea, local residents use locally produced coconut oil as a cheaper and more sustainable alternative to diesel; seagoing ships across the islands of Micronesia and Melanesia in the Pacific use solar panels and batteries instead of internal combustion; mangrove forests are being restored on islands like Tonga and Vanuatu to cope with extreme weather conditions as they protect communities from storm surges and sequester carbon; and in the Pacific, a foundation is building traditional Polynesian canoes, or vakas, serving as a sustainable transport of passengers and goods for health services, education, disaster relief and research.

Solar panels are maintained on a farm in Mauritius.

UNDP / Stephane Belleros

Solar panels are maintained on a farm in Mauritius.

Survival strategies

While SIDS have drawn the necessary attention to the plight of vulnerable nations, much remains to be done to help them become more resilient and adapt to a world of rising sea levels and extreme weather events.

On average, SIDS are more heavily indebted than other developing countries, and the availability of “climate finance” (the money that must be spent on a range of activities that will help slow climate change) is high. of paramount importance.

More than ten years ago, developed countries pledged to jointly mobilize $ 100 billion per year by 2020 to support climate action in developing countries; the amount these countries are receiving is increasing, but there is still a large funding gap. A recent feature article published by UN News explains how climate finance works and the role of the UN.

Beyond adaptation and resilience to climate change, SIDS also need support to help them thrive in an increasingly uncertain world. The United Nations, through its Development Program (UNDP), helps these vulnerable countries in many ways, so that they can successfully diversify their economies; improve energy independence by developing renewable energy sources and reducing dependence on imported fuels; create and develop sustainable tourism industries and move towards a “blue economy”, which protects and restores marine environments.

A woman collects salt from a mangrove swamp in Timor-Leste.

UNDP / Yuichi Ishida

A woman collects salt from a mangrove swamp in Timor-Leste.

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