Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are very different to other developing countries. Relative to GDP they have the highest levels of foreign trade and aid receipts of all developing countries. Remittances from abroad are a far more important source of income for SIDS, and some depend very heavily on export revenues. The quality of governance varies tremendously among SIDS, they are over-represented among countries classified as fragile states and many are prone to state failure. These and other factors combine to make SIDS highly vulnerable to external economic shocks. Achieving development in SIDS is as a consequence an especially complex task that requires an understanding of the roles played by aid, trade, remittances and governance in these countries. The United Nations currently classifies 52 countries and territories as Small Island Developing State. More than 50 million people live in these countries, 43 of which are located in the Caribbean and the Pacific regions. SIDS is a diverse group in a number of respects. It includes countries that are relatively rich by developing country standards, such as Singapore and Bahamas, but also some of the poorest countries in the world, including Comoros and Timor-Leste.
Since many of these SIDS are members of the Non-Aligned world, NAM has taken cognizance of their problems and has urged the international community to address the same. At the Algiers Ministerial conferences, NAM leaders recalled the special needs of the SIDS within a new global framework for transit transport cooperation for landlocked and transit developing countries, and reaffirmed the need for continued support and assistance for their endeavours, particularly in their efforts to achieve the internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration and the Barbados Plan of Action. The 1994 Barbados Plan of Action states that SIDS have special needs if they are to develop in a sustainable way. They share characteristics that make them economically, environmentally and socially vulnerable to shocks over which they exercise little or no control, placing them at a distinct disadvantage in comparison with larger countries. The marine and coastal environments of SIDS represent a vital resource for socio-economic development. Marine and coastal areas encompass diverse ecosystems and habitats, which perform a number of functions and services. Some 125 States and territories participated in the conference, 46 of which were Small Island developing States and territories. Many NAM Member States played a prominent part in the final outcome of the Barbados meeting. Small Island Developing States. NAM has noted with serious concern that SIDS continue to be denied access to concessional finance from international financial institutions based on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita criterion established several decades ago. The SIDS thus have serious difficulties in mobilizing financial resources to undertake much needed infrastructure development projects which require sustainable financing. As such, the Movement has constantly called upon the international financial institutions and the UN to address this issue expeditiously including undertaking an urgent review of the GDP per Capita criterion which prevents SIDS from access to concessional finance to fund development projects.
NAM had welcomed the decision of the UN for declaring 2014 the year of Small Islands Developing States NAM has also advocated that the initiatives for development in SIDS should take place according to the UN Charter. As such, NAM’s vision for the aid and development of SIDS can be seen as consistent with the outcome of the 3rd International Conference on Small Island Developing States, which took place in Samoa, in September 2014 in accordance with the General Assembly Resolution 67/207. The Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) took place from 1-4 September 2014 in Apia, Samoa, on the theme of ‘The Sustainable Development of SIDS Through Genuine and Durable Partnerships.’ In parallel with plenary discussions, six multi-stakeholder Partnership Dialogues took place on the themes of: sustainable economic development; climate change and disaster risk management (DRM); social development, health and non-communicable diseases (NCDs), youth and women; sustainable energy; oceans, seas and biodiversity; and water and sanitation, food security and waste management. Many countries and organizations announced new pledges and partnerships. Forums organized by youth, Major Groups and other Stakeholders, the renewable energy sector and the private sector took place prior to the conference. NAM leaders regard such events as further platform to raise visibility of SIDS and voice concerns of SIDS and avenue to bring about possible solutions to SIDS issues.
By Dr. Ankit Srivastava, Editor