UNDP SIDS Bulletin | Issue 32

Lauren Borders • 19 February 2021

Issue 32 | February 2021
Small island developing states' economies have long been a celebration of cultural heritage — through, for instance, the creation of artistic goods for tourists and the leadership of local fisheries for community food supply. With the current state of the world, it has become clear that SIDS must reimagine past systems for resilience and modernization. However, this does not mean that SIDS must relinquish their unique economic value, rather quite the opposite. As 2021 marks the United Nations Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development, digital creative industries, have the power to innovate a new future for tourism. With the introduction of innovative pathways — such as digital cultural and creative industries, multi-partner finance, social impact entrepreneurship and ecotourism — SIDS are accelerating inclusive economic recovery. New industries will center on sustainability, driving revenue that withstands future external shocks and contributes to the well-being of our planet, but that nevertheless showcases SIDS culture and unique way of life.

This year holds promise of broad transformative change, from the UN High-Level Dialogue in Energy to the growing momentum for the development of a multidimensional vulnerability index for SIDS. The time to rise up for SIDS has arrived. In this latest edition of the SIDS Bulletin, we highlight how actors of all sizes, from international financial institutions to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), are rising up to accelerate transformative change in SIDS.
Country Corner
In the News
Further Resources
Upcoming Opportunities and Events
Country Corner

SIDS' most valuable asset in addressing complex development challenges lies within their borders — the ingenuity of its people and communities. Specifically, through local business, SIDS residents are driving important progress for achieving the SDGs and building resilience. In Guinea-Bissau, the Mava Foundation, the Impact Hub and UNDP have partnered to invest in these change-makers, driving innovation for sustainability. The newly established Guinea-Bissau Empreende program will train a group of young entrepreneurs to lead an impact entrepreneurship center dedicated to providing support services for other local entrepreneurs — with a focus on developing solutions for environmental conservation, the green economy and social development. This program is set to have a long-term influence as these leaders will collectively build a strong entrepreneurship ecosystem for sustained social impact. Guinea-Bissau Empreende program is part of the Leadership Academy from UNDP, which seeks to identify agents of change and support them with the tools and skills they need to inspire transformation. Across the world in the Eastern Caribbean, 10 countries are engaging in the “FUT-Tourism: Rethinking Tourism and MSMEs in times of COVID-19” project with the support of UNDP to help micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) within the tourism sector rebuild sustainably post-COVID, aiding their digital transformation and, ultimately, driving a "blue economy for green islands." With investment opportunities like these, local businesses can creatively reimagine existing practices and systems, driving recovery and long-term sustainable development in the communities that host them.
Image: Rarotonga, Cook Islands

With the upcoming COP26 and UN High-Level Dialogue on Energy, the Secretary-General has declared 2021 "a crucial year in the fight against climate change," accelerating the push towards clean energy for the minimization of carbon emissions. SIDS are taking this call to action to heart, uniting as leaders of the energy transition with aggressive NDCs, developing a multi-pronged approach to integrate and sustain renewables at all levels. Most recently, three SIDS — Mauritius, Dominican Republic and Nauru — were announced as Global Champions for the Energy Dialogue. The Government of Kiribati, with the support of the Global Environment Facility (UNDP-GEF), has established the Promoting Outer Island Development through the Integrated Energy Roadmap (POIDIER) Project, which aims to achieve the country's renewable energy and energy efficiency targets. This project includes a variety of high-level and on-the-ground initiatives for both the establishment and long-term sustainability of clean energy — including training programs, strategic planning, community education, investment in PV mini-grids and battery storage. SIDS are especially dependent on fossil fuel imports, leaving them vulnerable to natural disasters and economic shocks. However, through the diversification of energy resources with renewables and complementing support infrastructure for long-term resilience, SIDS can achieve energy security — in addition to their NDCs. In our 30th Bulletin, we highlighted how the nearby country of Nauru has initiated its own nation-wide program for renewables, the SMARTEN project, to drive training and investment for new renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. Strong nation-wide strategies such as these are catalysts for lasting change, ushering in a greener world.

With Fiji having experienced not one but two major cyclones within a month of each other and SIDS around the world battling similar complications of weather volatility, it has become clear that traditional approaches to disaster risk management (DRM) must be enhanced for effective protection. A pivotal element of this process will be the modernization data collection for the assessment of current systems, potential risks and the state of vulnerable areas. Consequently, data will need to be updated regarding social protection systems for effective provision during disasters. In Barbados, the government, along with program partners, are using a Core Diagnostic Instrument (CODI) tool designed by the Inter-Agency Social Protection Assessments (ISPA) to map key elements of the social protection system and analyze its performance, charting a way forward for improvement and adaptation and, ultimately, mitigating the unequal impact of natural disasters. This data will be instrumental in addressing the risk of climate events on social protection systems — streamlining service provision, disaster risk management, and climate adaptation and providing a diagnostic of current social protection systems and the DRM landscape. Public and civil society partners also participated in a training supported by UNDP in Palau to integrate a gender, disability, age and cultural perspective into DRM policies and practices in order to strengthen gender-sensitive disaster communication, climate-monitoring systems and community resilience. As part of the program, attendees were trained on the collection of qualitative and quantitative social data to capture the true nature of vulnerable communities. This innovative approach works to fulfill both the objectives of the SIDS Offer under "Climate Action" and the global Sendai Framework, which seeks, in part, to reduce climate disasters' disruption of basic services — so all are protected. 
Check out the Resources section for tools regarding Gender Equality and Disaster Management.

Community members share their baskets of traditional Fijian salt. Photos: UNDP Fiji/Zainab Kakal.

Understanding the interplay between traditional knowledge, cultural identity and climate resilience

Traditional knowledge systems are key to resilience building. Globally, indigenous communities habitate or use resources on some 22 % of land area, which harbors 80 % of the world’s biodiversity. Yet, in many small island developing states contexts, challenges such as changing consumption and migration patterns threaten the transmission of traditional knowledge systems. To understand the interplay between traditional knowledge, cultural identity and climate resilience, the Accelerator Lab in Fiji embarked on an experiment in December 2019. The Lab went to explore the traditional process of salt making in the Vusama village, on the southwest coast of Fiji’s main island Viti Levu. The Vusama village was the traditional custodian of salt making but had not practiced it for more than 50 years. The biggest takeaway of this experiment was understanding the power of traditional knowledge as a driver of change. Traditional knowledge is a means through which communities strengthen connections to their land and natural resources, and it promotes unity and social collaboration to build resilience in the wake of disasters, bringing together diverse groups, especially older generations and children. As SIDS work towards resilience, traditional knowledge can be a promising inroad to engage communities and support them towards poverty reduction, sustainable livelihoods and climate security. As UNDP's SIDS Accelerator Labs continue to evolve and experiment in collaboration with national partners, their lessons learned can hold valuable input for fellow SIDS  follow along on the journey of the Labs in coming issues of the bulletin.

In the News
The multidimensional nature of SIDS' vulnerability has put these states on the front lines of the climate crisis without sufficient access to financing, a dilemma severely exacerbated by other external shocks, such as COVID-19. This has brought a significant economic dip, and in order to meet their needs and “build back bluer,” reimagining financing schemes is more important than ever. Representing more than 19% of the world’s Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), SIDS are gaining status as “Large Ocean States” — ready to tap into their vast ocean resources. According to Jorge da Silva, director of the development cooperation directorate at the OECD, through new partnerships, SIDS can broaden their focus from the "US$ 163 billion available in ODA to the US$ 379 trillion available in the financial markets." Worldwide, SIDS are rising to the challenge, collaborating to harness new financing mechanisms for the blue economy, despite international obstacles. Spearheading a debt-for-nature swap deal, Seychelles partnered with the Nature Conservancy to swap its debt in exchange for classifying a third of its ocean territory as marine protected areas, a replicable solution across SIDS. The Pacific Island Forum Economic Ministers established the Pacific Resilience Facility to mobilize US$ 1.5 billion to help build regional climate resilience. Saint Lucia is also working to establish a financing roadmap to achieve its SDGs as well as a Blue Recovery Hub to share lessons across SIDS. As part of its SIDS Offer Rising Up for SIDS, UNDP supports SIDS in transforming their blue economies through technical, financial and capacity assistance. The Global Fund for Coral Reefs, for example, catalyzes multi-partner private investment towards conserving coral reefs and generating blue economy livelihoods globally. And through international collaboration to mobilize such partnerships, SIDS can capture new investment for a new era, one that prioritizes both sustainability and economic growth.
Check out the Resources section to learn how stakeholders can accelerate biodiversity finance.
Image: Farquhar Atoll, Seychelles / UNDP Ecosystems & Biodiversity

Green growth is not a stand-alone goal but, rather, something that must be integrated into all efforts for development — from local business to public infrastructure. This is a fact SIDS know well, as they are leading holistic approaches that mainstream sustainability as a cross-cutting issue — such as the Green Plan 2030 in Singapore, a "whole-of-nation movement" that aims to change unsustainable norms for green communities and economies. Along these lines, local organizations in Seychelles are leading initiatives to accelerate ecotourism, an innovative approach that drives both industry growth and ecosystem preservation. Tourism group Blue Safari is helping to raise awareness for vulnerable environments by bringing visitors on educational trips to the Outer Islands and organizing conservation activities, such as tree planting and clean-up events. This biodiverse area, while incredibly beautiful, is also increasingly vulnerable to plastic pollution, overfishing and climate change. Through this experience, tourists can enjoy the island landscape and make a positive impact with their vacation. Thus, eco-tourism combines two pillars of UNDP's SIDS Offer: Climate Action and the Blue Economy, demonstrating that these agendas have a strong potential for integration, increasing revenue and sustainability. In fact, in 2019, the global ecotourism industry generated US$ 181.1 billion, with an expected contribution of US$ 333.8 billion by 2027. UNDP is supporting SIDS in reimaging tourism for green growth, rethinking old models to restore the sector and ensure it exists in harmony with nature, harnessing tools like the Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) to support the tourism in conservation efforts through finance mobilization in Seychelles and Cuba.
Check out the UNDP Blog to read how SIDS can power sustainable, community-centered tourism.
Image: Fiji / UNDP Climate

SIDS' ecosystems and their unique biodiversity are critical components of climate adaptation as the foundation of nature-based solutions for resilience — mitigating the impact of climate change through soil retention and flood regulation, for instance. Fiji, the first country to ratify the Paris Climate Agreement, has also become the first SIDS to sign an Emission Reductions Payment Agreement (ERPA) with the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) within the World Bank, a five-year arrangement that will catalyze up to US$ 12.5 million for the reduction of carbon emissions produced through deforestation and forest degradation. This threat to biodiversity will be addressed through integrated land-use planning, conservation and sustainable plantations — including initiatives for boosting community livelihoods with involvement in climate-resilient agriculture. The agreement covers 90% of Fiji's landmass and will aim to reduce emissions by 2.5 million tonnes throughout its duration, a critical goal for maintaining the forest's contribution to climate adaptation. As Fijian Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, noted, “Our forests have a critical role to play in building not only a more resilient nation but a more habitable planet.” Forests have been positioned as a key priority within UNDP's efforts to employ a "ridge to reef" approach in land management in SIDS around the world, integrating ecosystem sustainability from landscapes to seascapes and harnessing ecosystems' ability to protect island communities. In Grenada, this approach is being utilized in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Forestry and Fisheries and the Environment to promote sustainable land management and the establishment of protected areas. Learn more about Ridge to Reef.

Making smart cities globally relevant 

Often, smart cities are associated with major metropolises and larger countries. But, as we’ve highlighted before, they have even more relevance for SIDS. Small states are, by their very nature, agile, useful for becoming an innovation testbed. If conditions are right, they can move quickly to try new technology, providing innovators big and small with real-world environments for testing new ways of working. Singapore, for example, is leading efforts here, including having designated much of the island-nation as an autonomous vehicle testbed. The UNDP Global Centre for Technology, Innovation, and Sustainable Development is broadening the discourse around smart cities — including moving beyond their association with the Global North and focusing on the importance of nature-based solutions and local and indigenous knowledge (in addition to the role of technology). The UNDP Smart Urban Innovation Playbook is a toolkit for policymakers and city officials to leverage the collective intelligence of their communities, private sector, and local and national governments and make any city a smart city. The UNDP Global Centre is looking to work with an initial cohort of cities as they explore the Playbook — and put it into practice.

Image: UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean

From 1970 to 2019, SIDS lost US$ 153 billion due to weather, climate and water-related hazards, and despite often being at the forefront of disaster response through the provision of livelihoods, local businesses — especially women-led businesses — are hit hard by these economic shocks, necessitating more inclusive private sector disaster management.  A new report from the Connecting Business Initiative (CBi) — a joint endeavor from UNDP and OCHA — assesses the intersection of gender, the private sector and disaster management, demonstrating how gender inequalities affect the ways people experience disasters and exacerbate existing issues of poverty and marginalization. Therefore, greater attention must be given to industry gender segregation, gender-based exclusion from decision-making spaces, and the vulnerability of women-led businesses. The study also includes three country case studies that highlight recent efforts to address gender within private sector disaster management, focusing on 1) women-led MSMEs in a double disaster; 2) displacement in fragile contexts; and 3) data and technology; as well as a mapping of nearly 200 resources to guide future work. One of these case studies focuses on Vanuatu, illustrating how the Vanuatu Business Resilience Council (VBRC) — a member of the OCHA-UNDP CBi — and the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce (VCCI) offered targeted support to women-led MSMEs through the Phoenix Project, lifting up business owners with training, network development and cash grants to endure the double disaster of COVID-19 and Cyclone Harold. By learning best practices for gender equality, SIDS can effectively progress the objectives of the SAMOA Pathway, which calls for both the protection of women-led business as well as their targeted consideration during disasters, placing inclusivity at the heart of resilience building. 
Check out a recent interview UNDP conducted with the Chairman of the VBRC on SparkBlue.

Image: Timor-Leste / UNDP Climate

Integrating mental health for human-centered climate action

SIDS have long advocated for policies that center both the well-being of both people and planet, and in order to continue this mission, it is crucial that decision-makers focus on the impact of climate change on community health, preparing for climate migration and safeguarding quality of life. As small island developing states battle the escalation of the climate crisis, at least five states — Tuvalu, the Maldives, Kiribati, Vanuatu and the Marshall Islands — could be completely submerged by 2100, engendering unprecedented harm to island residents and catlyzing voluntary and involuntary migration. A new literature review published in the Environmental Research Letters journal demonstrates a link between climate change and mental health in SIDS, identifying three different factors that can drive its deterioration: changing weather patterns and destructive events are linked with depression, acute stress, fear, and anxiety about the future; gradual environmental changes could contribute to anxiety as communities struggle to adapt; and voluntary and involuntary climate migration correlates to a sense of hopelessness and loss of identity. This research calls for a policy response — the targeted consideration of mental health in adaptation strategies and the future collaboration of health and environmental professionals to further develop this correlation. This can create a valuable entry point for raising awareness on the overlooked yet important issue of psychological wellbeing in SIDS societies as well as developing more holistic policy for adaptation. Armed with new information, we have the potential to "humanize climate action" for strategic response that mitigates all human impact, even those that are harder to see.


Resetting the global economy to close the 
US$ 824 billion biodiversity funding gap

Globally, more than half of GDP depends on nature, and yet, we currently spend more than US$ 1 trillion of public money on subsidies to economic sectors that harm biodiversity — five times more than what is spent protecting nature. And SIDS are feeling the consequences of the world's misaligned priorities, with biodiversity-dependent livelihoods in fishing and tourism threatened by the degradation of the natural world. In our In the News section, we highlighted how SIDS are unlocking creative finance mechanisms for the blue economy. However, SIDS leaders are poised to mobilize enhanced finance for all ecosystems, from ridge to reef. UNDP, along with several international partners, has supported the publication of The Little Book of Investing in Nature, a simple guide for policymakers and investors on how best to overcome the US$ 824 billion biodiversity finance gap. Featuring clear steps for generating, delivering and realigning finance for biodiversity as well as more than 40 mechanisms and 25 case studies, this book illustrates how we can and must reimagine the global economy to protect the planet. Read the Little Book hereInterested in learning more about the sustainable ocean investment landscape? Earlier this month, UNEP also published the Rising Tide report, building on the UN's Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles to define the concept of a sustainable blue economy and map its current financing landscape. The report focuses on five maritime sectors that are relevant to many SIDS worldwide — seafood, ports, maritime transport, coastal and marine tourism and marine renewable energy — offering cross-cutting guidance on how financial institutions can integrate sustainability into their support of the ocean sector. Download the report here.

Further Resources
This updated guidebook is developed by UNDP to assist in planning and implementing a DFA, which aims to support governments in strengthening their integrated national financing frameworks (INFFs) to build forward better as a response to COVID-19.  SIDS around the world, including SamoaTimor-Leste and the Maldives are harnessing this new guidance to finance the SDGs through INFFs.
A new report from the WTO highlights the implications of the rapid adoption of digital technologies for trade in developing countries. One case study focuses on Mauritius and how an increase in internet use and secure online payment systems have contributed to a rise in e-commerce. Similarly, policies around the world can introduce digital technologies in a way that ensures no one is left behind. Read the report, Adapting to the Digital Trade Era: Challenges and Opportunities.
Through the GEF Small Grants Programme, the problem of water security in Clarendon, Jamaica has been addressed with a successful on-the-ground program. This was achieved through the renovation of the old community water catchment and by the installation of seven additional water storage tanks. In addition, the project constructed a rainwater harvesting dam and solar water pumps at the water collection sites. 
This paper serves as a tool in gaining a better grasp of the gaps and opportunities of wastewater management in Africa, including information on baseline metrics, wastewater streams, ecosystems, human health, the circular economy, and policy and institutional frameworks — as well as detailed profiles of African SIDS. This publication is the product of the ongoing Wastewater management and sanitation provision in Africa project by UNEP, GRID Arendal and the African Development Bank. 
This paper discusses the vulnerabilities of SIDS to the tide of plastic pollution and their special needs in reducing plastic pollution, production, and trade. More importantly, an in-depth analysis of opportunities for SIDS is included which highlights the importance of shifting to a circular economy to achieve structural transformation. A regional LAC Coalition on the Circular Economy was launched earlier this month.
Upcoming Opportunities and Events

A 3-part webinar series is being held in February and March to strengthen climate and water linkages in national climate action plans, such as the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), the National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) and various investment mechanisms. The series is jointly organised by Cap-Net, UNDP, AGWA, SIWI, Water Governance Facility and GWP.

When: February 18, February 25 and March 4

The Artificial Intelligence Forum: Opportunities to Accelerate Human Progress for Sustainable Development in Caribbean SIDS will address various dimensions of the potentials of AI in relation to education, creative industries and entrepreneurship, and will also shed light on the ethical principles of AI and AI governance in order to develop regional and national AI strategies.
When: Thursday, February 18 and 
Friday, February 19

Pacific NDC Dialogue: Enhancing and Implementing the Pacific SIDS Commitments to the Paris Agreement through Energy Transformation

IRENA collaborates with UK COP26 Presidency and the Regional NDC Pacific Hub to host a one-day, virtual dialogue about the COP26 Climate Dialogue in the Pacific, focusing on climate action through the improvement of NDCs and the vital role of energy transformation. 

When: Tuesday February 23, 7:00AM-9:00AM GST


World Ocean Summit Virtual Week

The Economist's 8th Annual World Ocean Summit aims to deliver robust and action-oriented insights into creating a sustainable ocean economy. Join over 5,000 participants and 150 speakers in high-level conversations and policymaking that focus on six themes: aquaculture, energy, shipping, fishing, plastics, and tourism. 

When: March 1–5


Blue Excelerator from Blue Institue Labs

Main Goals:
1. Facilitate BlueTech Startups to accelerate with "excellence.
2. Allow BlueTech Startups to widen their professional networks and help connect project details
3. Bring together BlueTech Startups and create a tight-knit cohort
4. Identify potential pilot and/or prototype locations, partners, and sponsors.


Ocean Governance Capacity Building Training Program

An introductory course tailored to the Pacific region which tackles global ocean governance and highlights public international law related to the oceans and the international legal framework for the blue economy. This online course consists of pre-recorded lectures, reading materials, and live online discussion sessions. Organized by the World Bank, Melbourne Law School, DOALOS and ISA. Applications will be received until March 4, 2021 at 11:59PM EST. Click here for more information. 

"Espacios de Futuro" in the Dominican Republic

Experts in urban and architectural issues are invited to submit proposals for the transformation of the design, distribution and use of public and private spaces in the Dominican Republic. 
With this self-paced course, you will learn the main components, benefits and design and implementation challenges and risks of integrated and digital social protection information systems.

 Meet your SIDS team!

and contact us with any questions 
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