In the first, or last (depending on how you read these), of my blog posts for my belated blog actions day 09, I’m going to focus on small island developing states, also known as SIDS. The Maldives, despite appearances, is a nation struggling with poverty, it has a ranking of 99/179 on the Human Development Index and a GDP per capita of $5,008. There are 26 atolls there and it is the lowest country on the planet, with the lowest highest point. It’s doing well for itself these days, with child mortality (a good indication of healthcare provision in a country) having declined significantly from 127/1000 (1977) to 12/1000 in the last 30 years, with help. The Pacific Islands are a similarly problematic area.
SIDS are difficult, they struggle with the usual batch of development issues – health, education, participation and governance – but are blindsided by various natural distasters (recent earthquakes in the Asia Pacific should be evidence enough of the problems these cause) and now the problem of rising sea levels caused by melting ice caps. It’s a lot to bear for small countries – let alone small countries that struggle as it is.
For the Maldives, where the average atoll sits 2.1 metres above seal level, there is huge concern for the current land that the 350,000 residents live on. As the article highlights, Nasheed (President) has plans to create a fund to buy new land for his people – can you imagine how much more active we’d all be if the population of London was going to be forced onto new land because of climate change?
At present 51 SIDS and territories are included on a list used by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, who help them to implement the Barbados Programme of Action (for sustainable development of SIDS).
Here’s the problem though – they’re small, with small populations, and they are the front line (as Nasheed puts it) for climate change. SIDS need a stronger voice as a unit, a stronger prescence as some of the more affected by the issue of climate change. I’d argue they need people with influence to argue their case, so that stunts like that of the Maldives’ Cabinet are not simply ‘one day’ news, and more people with knowledge and skills to help them deal with the effects of climate change on their islands and people.