UNCTAD was one of the first United Nations system entities to recognize the particular challenges facing small island developing States (SIDS), particularly the acute exposure of many of them to natural 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, UNCTAD focuses its work on enabling the United Nations "to take urgent and concrete action to address the vulnerability of SIDS".
For most SIDS, the main development challenge is vulnerability to external shocks. The paramount development goal of these countries therefore is resilience-building, a multi-faceted set of objectives ranging from climate adaptation to economic diversification. SIDS need external financial and/or technical support in their resilience-building efforts.
UNCTAD is on the forefront of global advocacy for supporting the resilience-building work of SIDS. The three principal angles of its action are to:
Raise the visibility of island vulnerability issues
Identify resilience-building and other special support measures for SIDS
Provide selected SIDS with a range of advisory services, with a special focus on least developed SIDS which are faced with the challenge of graduation from LDC status