Given that climate change can potentially impact the territorial sovereignty of SIDS, this raises fundamental questions of their survival. What is at stake is not only a country, but rather a way of life, rich cultures and proud histories. As such, it is also important to consider the human rights implications and the security implications that SIDS are to face, and renew efforts to address these, both at a global scale through mitigation and at a local level through adaptation.
It is also important to review and reassess the manner in which the international community gauge the development levels in SIDS. Indices such as GDP per capita fail to adequately reflect the ground reality of development in SIDS such as the structural and institutional weaknesses, the complex interactions between the environmental resources and vulnerabilities and social issues in SIDS. Given this, international institutions such as the UN system is using distortive indices when gauging the development levels in SIDS and it is of grave concern. Therefore, use of proper indices to assess the progress levels of SIDS need to be institutionalised.
In addition, given that SIDS are likely to graduate from LDC status in the short to medium term,. Graduation from LDC status for SIDS does not remove the inherent structural vulnerabilities. It is already a reality in the Maldives. Whilst SIDS have been highly dependent on foreign development aid, with graduation comes the prospect of forfeiting such generous foreign aid. As a result, SIDS such as Maldives are expected to compete for finance with larger and economically stronger states, better poised to access and absorb such funds. Overburdened debts do not allow commercial loans for development for fear of further straining the fiscal position of the government and subsequently complicating the sustainable development efforts. Given this, more efforts need to be made to address the issue of declining concessional financing for SIDS. Therefore, a formal permanent recognition of SIDS vulnerabilities within multilateral financial institutions such as the World Bankand the global aid and trade regime is profoundly important. It is also important to earmark certain funds specifically for SIDS to implement sustainable development activities in their states. At the moment the finances allocated for climate adaptation in SIDS falls miserably below the needs. There is then a need to ensure that innovative and sustained mechanisms are set to provide assistance to SIDS for climate adaptation. This should be complemented by renewed commitments to address climate change through mitigation on a global scale
Resources within the UN system for SIDS specific action is highly inadequate and as a result work within the UN system has been disparate and falls short of the needs and priorities. Subsequently, the required focus and attention on sustainable development of SIDS is not taken into account. Efforts therefore, need to be made to adequately integrate and institutionalise SIDS within the UN system. This will require a comprehensive definition and full recognition of SIDS as a special category within the global governance regime, within UN system, among multilateral financial institutions and other international organisations and agencies. In this regard, SIDS need differentiated treatment and access to concessional financing based on fair assessment of their respective vulnerabilities and resilience to global impacts such as climate change, natural disasters, and financial and economic crises, in addition to their structural challenges of smallness, remoteness, and distance from global markets and their debt scenario.
In addition to this, it is also important to note that commitments made by developed states have yet to translate into concrete and sustained action. This is fundamental to bridge the gap between the national sustainable development efforts of SIDS and their realisation. As such, in order to meet the financing requirement for the implementation and realisation of sustainable development in SIDS, highlighted in the BPoA, WSSD, and MSI, the creation of a dedicated financing mechanism that would attract new and additional financial resources is highly important. Concurrently, there is also an urgent need to intensify efforts by the international community to provide external development assistance through new and additional commitments and disbursement of resources. A mere shift in sectoral allocation of Official Development Assistance (ODA) will not be sufficient in this regard. This should also be complemented by donor harmonisation, whereby a holistic, integrated and coherent approach is taken. There is also a need to assimilate the needs and priorities of SIDS within donor assistance. Where ODA
been provided, there are significant mismatches between the needs of SIDS and the donor conditions. As such, it is important to rethink the current modality of ODA in order to ensure that national needs and priorities taken into account and met.
The absence of a coherent regional and international implementation strategy for inter and intra-regional co-operation between SIDS is also a factor for poor implementation of sustainable development efforts in SIDS. It is also important to establish effective channels of communication and information flows, not only a regional and inter-regional mechanism but also with the UN system and other development partners. This should be complemented by the identification and adoption of a suitable inter-governmental institutional mechanism to give guidance and policy direction for SIDS.
Given that SIDS are particularly vulnerable to climate change, it is important to ensure that the post-2015 agenda reflect the need for critical adaptation, infrastructure for SIDS in conjunction with measurable targets for developed countries to provide assistance in this regard.
In short, a significant paradigm shift is needed in the global outlook, including those of the international agencies, towards SIDS. Though limited in size and population, SIDS are in fact custodians of vast ocean reserves and associated marine biodiversity. Maldives alone constitutes as 7 per cent of the global reef systems. Any change or degradation to these has global implications. Why should action to protect and conserve these within the framework of sustainable development not be a global matter?