Climate change is a real and present threat for small islands around the world, pushing them to call for urgent investment to protect their livelihoods and often unique environment.
Ahmed Sareer, foreign secretary of the Maldives and a former chair (2015-2017) of the 44-member Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) says that rising seas, worsening coastal erosion and increasingly powerful storms have forced small island developing states (SIDS) to climate-proof their infrastructure projects in the Caribbean and Pacific, and even threaten the territorial integrity of low-lying islands.
“Warming seas have already shifted the fish stocks that we rely on; back-to-back coral bleaching episodes have undermined essential marine habitats as well as critical ecotourism industries,” he explains.
As part of its defences, the Maldives has been erecting a wall around the capital of Malé to thwart a rising sea and a future tsunami, like the devastating tsunami that struck in December 2004.
Addressing the United Nations General Assembly in early December, Ambassador Robert Sisilo of Solomon Islands, told delegates that his country sat on the largest aquatic continent in the world and had a huge maritime exclusive economic zone (EEZ) that was much larger than its land territory.
The Maldives, as the chair of AOSIS, in collaboration with the International Renewable Energy Agency, launched the Initiative for Renewable Island Energy (IRIE) in October, which will facilitate support for small island states in their transition to renewable energy and in achieving energy efficiency. The group has been advocating for simplified access procedures for the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and greater transparency on how the funds are allocated and dispersed, with a clear understanding of what constitutes as climate financing.