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4th International Conference on SIDS 27-30 MAY 2024 - ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA

About SIDS4

About SIDS4 

The fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS4) will be held from 27 to 30 May 2024 in St John’s, Antigua and Barbuda. The Conference will be held at the American University of Antigua, (American University of Antigua, Jabberwock Rd, Osbourn, Antigua & Barbuda). The venue is located in close proximity of the V.C Bird international airport. 

Under the overarching theme of “Charting the course toward resilient prosperity", the Conference will aim at assessing the ability of SIDS to achieve sustainable development, including the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals. It will result in an intergovernmentally agreed, focused, forward-looking and action-oriented political outcome document.

The members of the Bureau of the Preparatory Committee are: Barbados, Cabo Verde, Dominican Republic, Fiji, Italy, Latvia (Rapporteur), Maldives (Co-Chair), New Zealand (Co-Chair), Romania and Seychelles. Antigua and Barbuda (as host of the Conference) and Samoa (as Chair of AOSIS) serve as ex officio members. More information is available here.

To prepare for the Conference, a regional preparatory meeting in each of the three regions of small island developing States, as well as an interregional preparatory meeting for all small island developing States were held in 2023. More information is available here.

The UN Secretary-General has appointed the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Mr. Li Junhua, as the Secretary-General of the Conference responsible for guiding the intergovernmental and logistical preparations for the Conference; and the High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, Ms. Rabab Fatima, as Special Adviser for the Conference responsible for leading the advocacy and fundraising efforts. UN DESA together with OHRLLS will also coordinate the inter-agency preparations and contribution of the United Nations system to the Conference.

Small Island Developing States (SIDS)

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) comprise 37 UN member nations and 20 associate members of regional commissions, uniquely and unfortunately positioned at the forefront of multiple global crises, notably climate change. These remote economies, prone to natural disasters were formally recognized as a special case both for their environment and development at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development  held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Occupying less than 0.5 per cent of the world's surface, these nations are spread across three key regions: the Caribbean, the Pacific and the Atlantic, Indian Ocean and South China Sea (AIS). 

In the face of escalating global crises, including climate change and COVID-19, SIDS find themselves on the frontline, constantly navigating through a cycle of environmental disasters and recovery efforts, which tests their resilience and ability to sustain their communities and economies.

Challenges and characteristics

SIDS grapple with high import and export costs, heavy reliance on external markets and limited natural resources. Tourism, a vital sector constituting about 30 per cent of their GDP, was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The extensive marine areas surrounding SIDS serve as vital resources but also increase their vulnerability. With a population density that is significantly higher than the global average — SIDS are acutely susceptible to the catastrophic effects of natural disasters, which can incur annual damage costs ranging from one to eight per cent of their GDP. This situation is further exacerbated by fiscal challenges such as high debt, costly debt servicing and limited access to concessional financing due to their middle-income status. Compounded by factors such as limited population size, isolation from international markets, elevated transportation costs and exposure to external economic shocks, these states face heightened risks to their fragile land and marine ecosystems, making them particularly prone to biodiversity loss and the impacts of climate change.

Contributing less than one per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, SIDS disproportionately suffer from climate change impacts. Around 75 per cent of their coral reefs are threatened by climate change. In the Caribbean alone, costs to cope with, and adapt to, climate impacts are projected to surpass US$22 billion per year by 2050 or approximately 10% of the current size of the Caribbean economy, if adaptation measures are not successfully implemented.

The United Nations supports SIDS through UN entities within country and regional level presence, including through the UN Resident Coordinator Offices. The Regional Commissions also support the sustainable development of SIDS at the regional level. The Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States support SIDS at the global level. Additionally, the Caribbean and the Pacific SIDS are also supported through their own intergovernmental organizations and agencies at the regional and sub-regional level, e.g. by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), and by the Council of Regional Organizations of the Pacific (CROP) Agencies. The countries in the AIS regional have been at certain intervals supported by the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) and by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

Update on SIDS4 Conference : Monthly Newsletters

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