Small island states suffered a three-fold decrease in GDP in 2020 than other developing countries (UN)

COVID-19 pandemic has affected all spheres of life in climate-sensitive small island countries, new UN report says

The Maldives is a Small Island Developing State or SIDS. Photo: Wikimedia

Small Island Developing States (SIDS), already at extreme risk of global warming, have suffered a double whammy: their gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to decline by 9% in 2020, well over 3.3% for other developing countries, the UN has warned.

The 2021 edition of UNCTAD Development and globalization: facts and figures report was released on June 10, 2021. UNCTAD stands for United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

SIDS had a difficult task ahead of them as they sought to recover from the impacts of the novel coronavirus disease pandemic (COVID-19), according to the report.

COVID-19 has affected all spheres of life in SIDS, including health, economy and commerce, according to the report. For example, COVID-19 has affected tourism services across the world. This has had a huge impact on SIDS, as most of them rely heavily on tourism, according to the report.

SIDS were also 35% more vulnerable to external economic and financial shocks than other developing countries, according to the report.

SIDS are unique in that most of them do not emit much greenhouse gas emissions but are the first to suffer the impacts of climate change.

Many of them are low lying, located just five meters above sea level. This makes them vulnerable to sea level rise, storm surges and coastal destruction. Four of the 10 most environmentally vulnerable countries in the world are SIDS, according to the 2020 Environmental Vulnerability Index.

The United Nations World Population Prospects 2019 report warned that many SIDS would not be able to meet the sustainable development goals by 2030 due to increasing populations and climate risks.

The highest level of support for climate action – 74% – was found among people living in SIDS, according to the results of the People’s Climate Vote released on January 27, 2021 by the United Nations Development Program.

This report was released ahead of the 15th Quadrennial UNCTAD Ministerial Conference to be held online October 3-7, hosted by Barbados, one of the SIDS. The contributions and vulnerabilities of SIDS will be key elements of the discussions at the conference.

Lynn A. Saleh