African Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Cities portfolio

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and their local governments are at the face of the sustainability challenges that confront us all, and are bearing the brunt of issues like Climate Change. While they share many of the development challenges with other countries, their specific vulnerabilities put them in the vanguard. As is the case elsewhere, it is at the community level that such impacts are felt, and it is at this level that they must be confronted.

The small size of the SIDS states and their communities means that there is a relatively small range of resources immediately available, with a greater dependence on trade. It also means relatively smaller watersheds and freshwater resources, and a greater coastline relative to the land area of the states. This puts them at a greater risk of the effects of Climate Change and sea-level rise. The local governments of SIDS are exceptionally exposed to the resulting floods and storm surges. These not only damage infrastructure but also compromise the wetlands and mangrove swamps and their associated ecosystem services. For some SIDS communities, sea-level rise threatens their very existence. Their physical isolation also contributes to their relative dependence on international trade and their coastal infrastructure.

However SIDS communities have also led the way in overcoming such challenges, and have shown innovation, ingenuity and extraordinary commitment. Their unusual level of exposure to environmental challenges has crafted these communities into pioneers in sustainable development. It is therefore fitting that they attain special recognition and the support to make their voices heard.

In fact, their unique situation regarding sustainable development was recognised as early as the Rio Earth Summit (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, UNCED) in 1992, and they featured strongly in Agenda 21 (Chapter 17. 124.)

The SIDS states of Africa, homes to diverse, vibrant cultures and heritages, have an exceptional exposure to the challenges and opportunities as well as an exceptional commitment to overcoming them. Strong leadership is called for, to take this experience into the world stage. 

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