Closing the Distance - Partnerships for sustainable and resilient transport systems in Small Island Developing States

The Third International Conference on the Small Island Developing States was held on 1-4 September 2014, in Samoa (Samoa Conference).

The Samoa Conference provided a timely opportunity for the international community to renew its commitment to addressing the transport and trade logistics challenges facing the Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

In this context and against the background of the 2014 "International Year of SIDS" and the ongoing negotiations of the post-2015 development agenda, this report is intended as an UNCTAD contribution to the Samoa Conference and, more generally, to the broader sustainable development agenda of SIDS.

The report informs about the maritime transport situation in SIDS and underscores the strategic importance of this economic sector for SIDS economies and communities. The overall objective is to help raise awareness about the role of sustainable and resilient maritime transport infrastructure and services for the sustainable development prospects of SIDS.

This report provides an overview of the maritime transport situation in SIDS and presents data on relevant aspects, including shipping connectivity levels, direct and indirect shipping services, port issues, as well as trade structure and patterns.

Relevant cross-cutting concerns such as SIDS high dependency on fossil fuel energy imports, exposure to climate change impacts and natural disasters as well as financial and human capacity constraints are also addressed.

The report points to relevant opportunities which could be capitalised upon to support SIDS sustainable development and “blue growth”. Finally, and drawing largely upon insights gained at the UNCTAD’s Ad Hoc Expert Meeting on "Addressing the Transport and Trade Logistics Challenges of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS): Samoa Conference and Beyond” held on 11 July 2014 in Geneva, the report concludes with a number of suggestions and recommendations for the way forward.