UNCTAD strategy to support small island developing States

Past discourses and development partnerships in support of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have focused on their geographical and demographic sizes and their remoteness from international markets.

However, SIDS also face systemic risks, structural vulnerabilities, and underdeveloped production structures with minimal supply networks. In addition to their disproportionate vulnerabilities to climate-induced natural disasters and sea level rise, SIDS suffer from excessive reliance on imports and limited access to concessional loans, leading to high debt and vulnerability to external shocks.

The UN Trade and Development (UNCTAD) strategy to support to SIDS builds on the organization’s longstanding support and partnership with these vulnerable island nations, focusing on its core areas of work: policy research and analysis, technical cooperation and capacity building, and intergovernmental deliberation and advocacy.

The strategy aims to address SIDS’ multiple and systemic vulnerabilities by sustainably harnessing their comparative advantages and overcoming key development constraints. It outlines a new development model combined with a revamped global partnership to support their development efforts.

The strategy seeks to maximize synergies and exploit a paradigm shift in development policy to build socioeconomic resilience. It focuses on fostering productive capacities, achieving structural economic transformation, and enhancing SIDS’ international economic engagement to achieve inclusive growth and sustainable development.

The new development model discussed in this strategy blends robust sectoral and economy-wide actions. It is framed along a pillar intervention strategy, which includes:

  • Building productive capacities
  • Enhancing connectivity, reducing transport costs and promoting sustainable and resilient transport
  • Facilitating customs modernization (the Automated System for Customs Data programme – ASYCUDA)
  • Facilitating digital transformation
  • Supporting investment, including foreign direct investment
  • Taping the potential of the ocean economy
  • Supporting private sector development
  • Supporting the mobilization of external financial resources
  • Advancing South-South cooperation to enhance development strategies and economic integration
  • Implementing trade facilitation reforms.

These interventions will be mapped and realigned with sectoral actions covering tourism, the blue economy, agriculture, manufacturing and other services sectors – including financial intermediation, banking, ICTs and real estate – through a new generation of revamped international support mechanisms.

The full and effective implementation of this comprehensive strategy also seeks innovative financing mechanisms, clearly defined incentive structures and new development financing models that recognize structural vulnerabilities, systemic risks and fragilities of SIDS. UN Trade and Development will implement this strategy in areas within its expertise and comparative advantages