Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are often characterized by their constraints: small landmasses, large distances to global markets, narrow economies, fragile ecosystems and vulnerability to climate change. On the other hand, by redefining themselves as “Large Ocean States”, the SIDS shift the focus to a strength-based approach and stimulate a rethink on the opportunities and challenges faced by small islands.

The SIDS, who were instrumental in introducing the concept of a “blue economy” to the world, also grasp the importance of establishing an equilibrium between economic and social progress, as well as environmental sustainability. The SIDS understanding of blue economy simultaneously promotes economic growth, environmental sustainability, social inclusion and the strengthening of ocean ecosystems (Hawke, 2017).

Here are 5 sites that are helping to facilitate this big transition in how we think about some of the world’s smallest landmasses.

  1. UN SIDS Action Platform

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The SIDS Action Platform, administered by the UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs’ Division for Sustainable Development, was developed as a follow up to the 2014 Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, held in Samoa. Approximately 300 partnerships were registered at the conference and their progress is being monitored through the SIDS Partnerships Action Platform. These partnerships will give you a sense of “who’s doing what,” as they involve stakeholders from government, business and civil society and address a range of priority areas such as disaster risk reduction, food security, gender equality and women’s empowerment.

  1. SIDS Global Business Network

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The Small Island Developing States Global Business Network (SIDS-GBN) is an online platform and resource hub to share best practices and lessons learned in support of private sector partnerships for the SIDS. The network forges collaboration among SIDS regional private sector organisations and works towards strengthening inter-regional business alliances, catalyzing and encouraging international businesses to focus on SIDS as potential market opportunities. 7 key thematic areas are focused upon by the network: Ocean and marine resources, Connectivity, Sustainable agriculture, Sustainable tourism, Disaster risk reduction, Renewable energy and Financing.

  1. Global Island Partnership

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Led by the Presidents of Palau and Seychelles as well as the Prime Minister of Grenada, the Global Island Partnership is a solutions-focused partnership with the ability to mobilize significant action through its members, supporters and diverse participant network of more than 70 entities. Since its launch in 2006, the Partnership has engaged high-level leaders to catalyze US$145 million for island action around the world. In addition, the Partnership has assisted more than 30 countries in launching or strengthening major sustainable island commitments such as the Aloha+ Challenge and Micronesia Challenge. The Partnership showcases island commitments as bright spots on the international stage to inspire new leadership and encourage investment to scale and replicate impactful initiatives.

  1. SIDS Lighthouses Initiative


The International Renewable Energy Agency launched its SIDS Lighthouses Initiative at the Climate Summit in New York during September 2014. Through partnerships and focused cooperation, the Lighthouse Initiative aims to mobilise funding and political will to advance renewable energy deployment in island settings around the world. The framework for action is a renewable energy system transformation, moving away from developing projects in isolation towards a holistic approach that considers relevant elements from policy and market frameworks, through technology options to capacity building. Within the initial five-year timeframe, the SIDS Lighthouse Initiative aims to deploy 100 MW of new solar PV, 20 MW of new wind power, as well as significant quantities of small hydropower and geothermal energy projects. 51 small island states and territories are currently participating in the initiative.

  1. Coral Triangle Initiative

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The Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries, and Food Security (CTI-CFF) is a multilateral partnership of six countries working together to sustain extraordinary marine and coastal resources by addressing crucial issues such as food security, climate change and marine biodiversity. Located within the territories of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste, the Coral Triangle is home to the highest concentration of marine species on the planet. Under the CTI-CFF, the six countries have committed to implement a regional plan of action consisting of five goals: Designation of effectively managed seascapes; Application of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management; Establishment of a fully functional marine protected area system; Strengthening climate change adaptation and resilience; and improving the status of threatened marine species.

by Niak Sian Koh


Hawke, C. (2017). Oceans and small island states: First think opportunity, then think blue

UNDP. Available at