UNDP SIDS Bulletin | Issue 43

Rowely Parico • 23 July 2021

Issue 43 | July 2021

At the Group of 20 (G20) meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called for solidarity amongst countries and strengthened financial architecture to fight climate change, centering on the expansion of debt initiatives to include vulnerable middle-income small island developing states (SIDS). While finance and solidarity are generally highlighted in the message delivered by UN Secretary-General Guterres, the importance of partnerships is an underlying point for the global community to spur a green recovery. 

Genuine and durable partnerships serve as a vehicle for SIDS in building forward better. To monitor the progress of existing, and promote new partnerships to safeguard the progress of SIDS’ sustainable development, a key request from the outcome of the SAMOA Pathway - was the establishment of the SIDS Partnership Framework. Increasing the capacity of the stakeholders in SIDS and building an enabling environment for partnering are significant steps to be taken to foster such development. From SIDS Lighthouses Initiative's (LHI) framework of action around energy transition and transformation in SIDS up to Seychelles' sovereign blue bond, we have witnessed how partnerships can be an effective strategy to address a wide range of sustainable development priorities, including those outlined in the SAMOA Pathway. In this issue, we will explore how SIDS are harnessing the opportunities of effective partnerships to unlock a sustainable and resilient recovery. 

Image: Maldives/Getty Images


Keywords:  partnerships, sustainable development, inclusive, blue economy, climate action, digital transformation, digital readiness assessment, MSMEs, sustainable land management, early warning system, ocean energy
Country Corner
Image: Getty Images

Accelerator Labs bolster legal systems in Guinea-Bissau and Samoa through digitization of public services

The Accelerator Labs are conducting frontier challenges to address quality public service in government administration. This theme was the topic of this week’s SIDS Accelerator Lab network, an innovation and knowledge sharing network across SIDS. 

In Guinea-Bissau, the Accelerator Lab team explored public services at the heart of the notary office to assess how processes could be improved. Through an impromptu workshop using the Problem Tree Analysis, and a survey of the staff and all users of the public services, the team have compiled recommendations and architectural plans for adjusting the workflows and physical space to streamline processes and to facilitate enhanced social distancing protocols. At the core of the challenge is the digitization of public records and processes, to offer online services for the Ministry of Justice, such as for licensing, identification, public records registration, and more, through an integrated data management system to help catapult citizens to access to schooling, employment, driving, etc. The Accelerator Lab team is working with department of ICT and Statistics to improve the digitalization of services, including data bases for courts and criminal registration.  

In Samoa the government is planning a digital national ID system to make public services more accessible to citizens. This initiative seeks to improve the country's legal frameworks for data protection and cybersecurity and to develop its capacity to produce a national digital ID. Since April this year, the Accelerator Lab has been building a partnership with the Bureau of Statistics through a sense-making exercise to explore the bottlenecks for the project. They are reviewing processes for birth, death and marriage certifications to strengthen registration. 

In both countries, the digitization work underway will be complemented by the broader UNDP Digital Readiness Assessment tool, supported by the SIDS team and Singapore Centres, which is aiming to assist governments with identifying priority areas and gaps in their digital transformation, from the digitization of public services, to capacity building and regulatory frameworks.  


Image: Ocean Image Bank

How can SIDS tap into the full potential of the Blue Economy to diversify their economies?

Under the theme “Sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic that promotes the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development: building an inclusive and effective path for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda in the context of the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development,” the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) centered on recovering from the pandemic and building forward better. The side event, “Unleashing the Potential of the Blue Economy” provided an opportunity for reflections and recommendations to help small islands tap into the full potential of the Blue Economy to diversify their economies as ‘Big Ocean States’. The session examined themes related to the challenges and opportunities in harnessing the Blue Economy; the evolution of The UWI-UNDP Blue Economists Programme and the role of The UWI and academia; the steps required to promote an enabling environment for entrepreneurs in the private sector rooted in innovation and sustainability; and the main areas in which SIDS can collaborate to increase their resilience and improve economic diversification. The session also lay emphasis to the need for regional countries to embrace economic diversification while unlocking the potential of blue economy. For example, Barbados has a large potential for hydrocarbon deposits, desalination of seawater for exporting and aquaponics, and renewable energy (e.g. wind, ocean tide, and solar). With these potentials, the country can prepare itself from an institutional standpoint, learn best practices from other countries, and mitigate risks. 

The “Unleashing the Potential of the Blue Economy” event is part of the work of UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean in its commitment to promoting economic diversification, job creation, and resilience under a "Blue Economy for Green Islands" approach. 

Image: Getty Images

How investing in digital transformation and partnership can empower MSMEs in the Dominican Republic

Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are considered to be the backbone of the global economy, accounting for two-thirds of employment globally and between 80% and 90% of employment in low-income countries. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are disproportionately affected by the confinement measures, resulting in huge revenue losses. Yet there is a possibility to bounce back from this situation; MSMEs’ smaller size allows them to be flexible and adapt to new environments. In the Dominican Republic, its government partnered with UNDP to invest in innovation to achieve development by launching the first Center for Prototyping and Technology Transfers (CPTT), the only one of its kind, which will promote growth, transformation, and innovation of the country's MSMEs for free. But how will this work? The center will offer a portfolio of specialized services and technological tools to foster the development of new products improvements to existing products and boost the economic growth of small and medium-sized companies. This initiative also highlights the importance of partnerships in achieving development. The CPTT is supported by the Institute of Innovation and Biotechnology (IIBI), by providing its laboratories for analytics, product improvement, and technology transfers. The Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM) serves as the location of the center while the National Industrial Property Office (ONAPI) and UNDP provide technical support in the management of intellectual and industrial property and facilitate technological transfers, respectively. 

Image: Papua New Guinea/ UNDP Papua New Guinea


In line with its continuing efforts to address climate change, Papua New Guinea is boosting climate action by launching the Strengthening Integrated Sustainable Landscape Management Project that will enhance sustainable land use planning, support conservation, and encourage ‘green’ commodities. Valued at 5.4 million euros, with funding support from the European Union, the initiative focuses on three objectives: (1) to improve climate change mitigation and adaption; (2) to strengthen food and nutrition security; (3) to improve biodiversity, land and forest conservation. The initiative demonstrates how fighting climate change and improving livelihoods can go hand in hand. It will support community farmers and women’s groups to develop their sustainable agricultural practices through small grants. In addition, it seeks to help them improve their livelihoods and gain access to local and international commodity markets while conserving their surrounding environment and Papua New Guinea’s biodiversity for future generations. Besides the European Union, these efforts will see UNDP partner with the National Government through the Climate Change and Development Authority and Enga’s Provincial Administration.

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In the News
Image: Niue/ Getty Images

CREWS Pacific SIDS 2.0 sheds a glimmer of hope for the Pacific Islands’ vulnerable population 

Calls to limit global temperature rise have become louder and more urgent as climate vulnerable countries battle hard-hitting disasters on the front lines. During the first Climate Vulnerable Finance Summit, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres spoke in front of the 48 nations hit by climate-related crises the most and reiterated the need for developed countries to “effectively deliver $100 billion dollars in climate finance annually to the developing world, as was promised over a decade ago”. 

One solution is the Strengthening Hydro-Meteorological Early Warning Systems in the Pacific – also known as CREWS Pacific SIDS 2.0 – a new project funded by the Climate Risk and Early Earning Systems Initiative (CREWS) and jointly implemented by WMO, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), and the World Bank Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (WB-GFDRR). Designed to enhance the effectiveness and inclusiveness of Regional Early Warning Systems (EWS) for populations in Pacific Islands greatly affected by hydro-meteorological disasters, the four-year US$ 4.8 million project is structured around five main components: improved governance structures, enhanced product development and accessibility, enhanced service delivery, enhanced communication and awareness programs on EWS, and improved integration of gender and people living with disabilities across the EWS chain. The organizations, along with their regional partners, are expected to implement several activities in the region through the project’s duration, which is expected to run until December 2024.  

Image: Jamaica/ Small Grant Programme UNDP GEF

World Bank to support Jamaica with a US$185 million catastrophe bond in storm protection

Annually, the Caribbean region is frequented by natural disasters. In fact, according to research by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), of the 511 disasters worldwide to hit small states since 1950, around two-thirds (324) have been in the Caribbean. This means that the region is up to seven times more likely to endure such natural disasters compared to larger states. What is worse, when one occurs, the Caribbean region incurs as much as six times more damage. With the increased global temperatures due to climate change, these events are expected to intensify. Their size, limited resource bases, and remoteness constrain development and the Caribbean’s ability to build resilience. For instance, Jamaica is highly exposed to tropical cyclones that threaten the country's macroeconomic outlook. To address this issue, the Government of Jamaica has taken a proactive approach to developing financial, physical, and social resilience against disasters, and is being supported by the World Bank (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, or IBRD) through various financing instruments and technical assistance. The World Bank is taking specific steps to achieve this by pricing a catastrophe bond that will provide the Government of Jamaica with financial protection of up to US$185 million against losses from named storms for three Atlantic tropical cyclone seasons ending in December 2023. Such payouts to Jamaica will be activated when a named storm event meets the parametric criteria for location and severity outlined in the bond terms. The transaction includes an innovative reporting feature resulting in a quick payout calculation, within weeks of a qualifying named storm. It is also the first cat bond to use an innovative cat-in-a grid parametric trigger design for tropical cyclone risk.

Image: São Tomé and Príncipe/ Ecosystems and Biodiversity UNDP

Significant partnership sets in motion gamechanger OTEC Technology in SIDS

A significant milestone for energy transition has been achieved as The Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Sustainable Energy and Climate Resilience Organization, entered a collaboration agreement with the United Kingdom (UK)-based Global OTEC Resources Limited, to develop and deploy Floating Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) Technology Concept in SIDS. 

The construction, installation and operation of the first Floating OTEC Power Plant is considered to be one of the most promising opportunities that explores the possibility of using ocean energy. It was further emphasized that the partnership can replace 10 GW of installed fossil fuel capacities in SIDS DOCK countries with a clean and affordable alternative. Once the project is deemed successful, the parties will move on to other innovation led OTEC deployments that would help them reach their 900 GW goal by 2050. 

The Ambassador of Seychelles, H.E. Mr. Ronald Jean Jumeau, shared a perspective in bringing this project to reality and their next target is to call the attention of the international community – specifically during the Launch of the Ocean Energy Platform at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP 26) in Glasgow, United Kingdom in November. “We will call on the international community to support SIDS in our mission. This will include mandating to deploy commercial-scale ocean-based energy technologies that are appropriate to the demands of SIDS, whether in the form of concessionary development and project finance, or by underwriting project risk where appropriate,” he stated. Ocean energy is one of the innovative and sustainable solutions SIDS can pursue to protect ocean resources by linking their sustainable use with economic growth

Image: Getty Images

Fiji goes styrofoam-free!

Starting on August 1, Fiji will impose a ban on the import, export, and use of styrofoam and also raw materials used to make polystyrene products. According to Attorney-General and Economy Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, "The Fijian Government took a well-planned and phased approach by banning imports and exports of polystyrene from 1st January, 2021. In doing so, we gave a seven-month transitionary grace period for local manufacturers and retailers to adapt their businesses to operations without polystyrene." This is a big step taken by the Fijian Government to curb the pollution in waterways, oceans, and environment since polystyrene pose adverse effects in the ecosystems.


The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the importance of enhancing global collaboration and effective partnerships among all sectors and stakeholders to build forward better towards more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive societies. However, partnerships are not built overnight, as they require significant time and effort to flourish. Moreover, effective partnering is about leveraging and optimizing the combination of available resources—and this is outstandingly challenging in many SIDS due to their unique vulnerabilities (e.g. remoteness, limited natural capital, and fiscal challenges resulting in dependence on international donors). This guide focuses on partnerships that align and combine the interests and resources of multiple national stakeholders to support the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SAMOA Pathway in SIDS more effectively. A collaborative initiative between the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and The Partnering Initiative, working closely with the UN Development Coordination Office, the UN Office of Partnership, and the UN Global Compact, the document is produced as part of an ongoing program of work to support effective partnerships in SIDS by the 2030 Agenda Partnership Accelerator.

According to the ‘partnership spectrum’ in this report, partnership in SIDS can be categorized into three types, namely:

(1) Leveraging others’ resources for my organization (leverage/exchange)- often a one-way transfer or reciprocal exchange of skills, knowledge, funding, etc.

(2) Doing ‘traditional’ development better (combine/integrate)- two or more partners combine their resources to together deliver more than each could deliver alone. 

(3) Transformational development (System transformation)- multiple actors work together through collective actions 

To provide more context on what the types entail, the guide included some examples for each category. And for partnerships to be built wherever value can be created, it is necessary to strengthen the SIDS partnership ecosystems which can be done by: (1) creating spaces to navigate the complex dynamic among stakeholders within SIDS; (2) building capacity to partner effectively; (3) recognizing that all stakeholders have a stake in strengthening the fabric of SIDS society. On top of the abovementioned elements, the guide also features a simple framework that provides a sequenced approach to partnering in SIDS and an overview of SIDS stakeholders.


Image: Seychelles/ Ecosystems and Biodiversity, UNDP

Beyond the Blue: how innovative blue financing and partnerships can boost the blue economies of SIDS

Our oceans are in a dire state due to anthropogenic pressure such as overfishing, ocean acidification, deoxygenation, among others. And despite many nations committing to international commitments to create marine protected areas— ranging in coverage from 10% to 30% of their national marine areas—only 8% of the high seas is currently protected. According to the Marine Protection Atlas, merely 9 countries have protected at least 10% of their marine areas in implemented and fully or highly protected areas. Among these nine countries, four are small island developing states, namely: Palau, Mauritius, Seychelles, and Kiribati—all implementing ambitious plans to maintain vibrant marine environments that will not only be good for the environment but the economy as well. Controlling 19.1% of the world’s Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), SIDS are well-regarded stewards of the oceans, and many of these nations’ economies rely on the oceans. For instance, in Seychelles, the largest sector is tourism, followed by fisheries to sustain local communities. To keep both sectors afloat, the country has a difficult task at hand: to preserve its vast ocean territory amid a global climate crisis and financial constraints (Seychelles has an external debt equal to 85% of the country’s GDP). To protect its ocean wildlife, provide a new funding source for conservation, and transform its economy into a more resilient state, Seychelles is harnessing the power of innovative blue financing and successful partnerships. The country has piloted two creative financial approaches—a debt-for-nature swap and a sovereign blue bond. Both of these initiatives exemplify the importance of prioritizing local communities, enhancing partnerships, and incorporating digital technologies to achieve optimal results. Seychelles’ experience shows that there are ways to diversify the economy while also protecting the ocean and that investors and international partners are willing to support sustainable blue development. Many SIDS that confront similar challenges Seychelles experience (e.g. climate change, debt vulnerability, loss of livelihoods) can use the debt-for-nature swap and blue bond initiatives as a blueprint for other ocean-dependent nations or serve as a conversation-starter to develop the next generation of investment tools

In this annual report, the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji has, through its thematic programmes, its Six Signature Solutions and its Climate Promise, and specialist support to Small Island Developing States, proposed a variety of interventions that not only address the urgent and immediate needs of member countries, but will either reset their path to the achievement of the SDGs or help keep them on track in the face of unrelenting economic and climate pressures. 

Health Challenges in Small Island Developing States 

Following the World Health Organization's SIDS Summit for Health, experts discuss the unprecedented health challenges countries in the region face, including from the impacts of climate change, ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the high prevalence of noncommunicable diseases.


Protecting the Lifeline

Access to freshwater used to be less of a concern for Maldivian island communities. More regular monsoons ensured a steady supply for drinking and other purposes. But in recent years, climate change has led to irregular rainfall and more sustained dry periods. From providing desalination plants to rejuvenating aquifers, this story sheds light on the various initiatives led by UNDP to build integrated water systems in the Maldives.


This map shows the gaps between who is causing climate change and who is suffering from it 

Small island developing states contribute to less than 1% of global GHG emissions yet suffer disproportionately from the damaging impacts of climate change. This study provides a visualization of areas with highest emissions and the areas with highest temperature increases are not the same places. By putting the causes and effects of global warming together on a map, the study seeks to inform people how their region is contributing, and how it may be affected.

Upcoming Opportunities and Events

Island Innovation's Virtual Island Summit 2021

Under the theme, "Sharing Knowledge For Resilient, Sustainable And Prosperous Islands Worldwide," this year's summit will collectively cover all aspects of sustainable development using the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework and will emphasize the need for input and partnerships from across the private, public, academic and NGO sectors. Stay updated!

When: September 6-12, 2021



Submit your project for the GTI Awards 2021!

Greening the Islands (GTI) launches the 7th edition of GTI Awards, which aims to gather good practices and innovations on islands to give them public visibility globally and foster their replication. The GTI Awards will recognize the best projects on energy, water, mobility, waste, agriculture, sustainable tourism, and governance & inclusion. Submission is open until October 1, 2021.

Learn more and apply here

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