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UNEP highlights ‘blue and green’ economic opportunities for small island states



Amid the third conference on small island developing states (SIDS) in Samoa, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has released key suggestions for countries to build a resilient blue and green economy and reconnect with their traditions and nature.

The report is part of UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook (GEO) series and brought together scientists and policy makers to discuss challenges and opportunities for island states, many of which faces both economic and environmental issues, including life-threatening storms, hurricanes and rising sea levels caused by climate change.

UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said, “Small Island Developing States presently face a number of major challenges and hardships. Many suffer from isolation and high costs associated with long distances from global markets, and lag behind in the adoption of new technologies and innovation.

“Growing populations concentrated in urban areas are putting stress on island resources and the health effects of unsafe water, poor sanitation and increasingly unhealthy diets. Meanwhile, climate change threatens biodiversity, livelihoods and even the very existence of some island nations.”

In addition to climate-related issues, the report also highlights the high cost for fuels, reliance on a small number of activities such as agriculture and fisheries, and old infrastructure. In order to overcome challenges, UNEP suggests in the report some key areas of action.

These include waste management, affordable energy, food security, promotion of small to medium enterprises, access to technology and financing and  a focus on a ‘blue and green economy’ to promote both economic activities such as tourism and sustainable management of resources.

Steiner added, “As the world enters the post-2015 era, significant changes both in global policy and on islands themselves were identified by the GEO expert teams from SIDS. Improvements in line with the blue-green economy would include, among other things, economic diversification, economic approaches to improve the management of biodiversity, resource efficiency, and sustainable consumption and production.

Prime minister of hosting country of the conference Samoa Teilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi called on developed countries on Monday to build up genuine partnerships to fight climate change together.

Photo: Stefan Lins via Flickr

Further reading:

Small island conference calls for countries to forge partnerships

Pacific Islands Forum closes with climate change and sustainable tourism commitment

Pacific island Kiribati buys land in Fiji to escape climate change

Small island states threatened by rising sea levels call for sustainability

Rising sea levels force Pacific Islanders to relocate