UNCTAD was the first United Nations system entity to recognize the particular challenges facing small island developing States (SIDS), particularly the acute exposure of many of them to physical and economic shocks beyond domestic control, and to call for special international responses to their problems.
Today, in accordance with the 2014 SAMOA Pathway and the 2016 Nairobi Maafikiano resulting from UNCTAD 14, UNCTAD focuses on enabling the United Nations “to take urgent and concrete action to address the vulnerability of SIDS” (paragraph 22 of the SAMOA Pathway).
For most SIDS, the main development challenge is vulnerability to a widening range of external shocks, some of which are becoming more and more frequent and severe as a result of climate change. The paramount development goal of these countries therefore is resilience-building, a multi-faceted set of objectives ranging from climate adaptation to economic diversification. UNCTAD recognizes that resilience-building, to a large extent, implies productive capacity-building action in the islands.
UNCTAD is at the forefront of global advocacy for supporting the resilience-building and productive capacity-building efforts of SIDS, and to increase their chances of being heard in their quest for special attention.
Three principal angles of UNCTAD’s action for the benefit of SIDS are to:
- Raise the visibility if island vulnerability issues
- Identify productive capacity-building and resilience-building support measures for SIDS
- Provide selected SIDS with a range of advisory services, with a special focus on least developed SIDS that are faced with the challenge of graduation from Least Developed Country (LDC) status.