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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

CLOSING THE DISTANCE - Partnerships for sustainable and resilient transport systems in SIDS

Publication Year: 2015 Publisher: UNCTAD


By their very nature, Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are heavily dependent on transport for access, trade and mobility. Maritime transport in particular, is the lifeline sustaining the survival of SIDS, given their size, geography, economic structure and high dependence on maritime transport-intensive imports for much of their consumption needs.

This report aims to improve the understanding of the key issues at the interface between maritime transport, sustainability and resilience. It identifies gaps and needs facing the maritime transport sector in SIDS and highlights potential response measures with a view to more sustainable and resilient maritime transport systems. By providing a snapshot of the current situation of the maritime transport in SIDS and presenting original maritime transport-related data that cover all SIDS, the report is helping to fill an important information gap resulting from insufficient and fragmented information and data pertaining to the maritime transport situation of SIDS.

Following a general introduction, Chapter II provides an overview of SIDS profiles, including relevant factors driving their vulnerability. Chapter III describes the maritime transport situation in SIDS and underscores the strategic importance of the sector not only as an economic sector in its own right, but also as a critical component that can determine the performance of other productive activities such as trade, tourism and fisheries. Relevant cross-cutting concerns, including climate change and disaster risks in Chapter IV, energy efficiency and sustainability in Chapter V and cross-sectoral inter-linkages in Chapter VI are highlighted. Drawing largely from the expert discussions at the UNCTAD Ad Hoc Expert Meeting on “Addressing the Transport and Trade Logistics Challenges of Small Island Developing States: Samoa Conference and Beyond” held on 11 July 2014, Chapter VII concludes with some suggestions and recommendations on the way forward and identifies some priority areas for action. It further notes potential opportunities that may arise as SIDS initiate a shift towards an “ocean-based” and” blue growth” development path.