Building momentum for climate action in Small Island Developing States


Photo caption: Leaders from the Small Island Developing States in a group photograph.                                                                                                                                        Photo credit: UN Climate Change

As Small Island Developing States (SIDS) prepare for the fourth International Conference on SIDS in Antigua and Barbuda next May, a High-Level Event for SIDS was held at COP28 to raise awareness of climate priorities for island states in the Caribbean and the Pacific.

The COP28 event built on the outcomes of High-Level Dialogues involving heads of state in Fiji and Grenada earlier this year, and Bahamas last year in which SIDS galvanized their efforts to push for the establishment of a loss and damage fund to help SIDS recover after natural disasters.

During the COP28 event, the importance of collaboration among SIDS was emphasized as essential in driving regional partnerships, calling for robust funding and technical assistance and translating aspirations into tangible actions.

Countries also highlighted that capacity-building plays a critical role in safeguarding their unique identities and the well-being of their communities.

The event also served as a reminder of the urgency of climate action. Sakiusa Tubuna, Assistant Minister for Environment, Public Services and Public Enterprise, Fiji, emphasized that “adaptation cannot wait,” calling for immediate and bold steps to secure the survival of SIDS nations.

SIDS leaders shared challenges and solutions specific to their countries. Natalio Wheatley, Premier of the British Virgin Islands, spoke of the devastating impacts of hurricanes and the challenges faced by overseas territories in accessing concessional finance. Dessima Williams, President of the Senate of Grenada, highlighted the need for UN mechanisms to evolve alongside the changing circumstances of SIDS, ensuring they work for – not against – their needs.

Despite the early and momentous decision on the loss and damage fund, island leaders at COP28 warned not to reduce the pressure to achieve more. Philip Davis, Prime Minister of the Bahamas, urged the international community to follow through on promises and deliver on pledges. He warned that “we cannot be silenced by commitments and pledges. We want them to commit, pledge and write the cheque.”

Kerryne James, Grenada’s Minister for Climate Resilience, the Environment and Renewable Energy, stressed the importance of SIDS unity and collective voice in the ongoing negotiations. Looking back to the Grenada Dialogue, she recalled its impact in unifying the region on key climate priorities. “Without collaboration, we cannot do it. As we move forward, the unity of SIDS remains our greatest strength; our collective voice in these negotiations is essential.”

SIDS leaders are now looking forward to the fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States as an opportunity to further advance their agenda and secure a brighter future for their nations.

They are determined to continue working together, in the spirit of unity and collaboration, to drive forward a transformative agenda for SIDS that ensures their voices are heard and their needs met.