Unlocking science for small island states

| May 28, 2024

An urgent call for increased international support and collaboration for science in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) has been released in a declaration by the International Science Council SIDS Liaison Committee at the 4th international conference on SIDS in Antigua and Barbuda.

The declaration states that while the environmental and economically vulnerable SIDS group of Island States across the Caribbean, Pacific, the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and the South China Sea are at the forefront of adaptation, increased support for science is needed to ensure their ongoing resilience and sustainable development.

Small Island Developing States, also known as Large Ocean States (LOS), face unique challenges due to their geographical, ecological, and socio-economic characteristics. Despite these adversities, SIDS exhibit remarkable resilience and lead the way in sustainable development, pioneering adaptation and resilience building amidst existential risks.

The Declaration emphasizes the indispensable role of science and technology in addressing the disproportionate impact of climate change on SIDS, including sea-level rise, extreme weather events, and coastal erosion. Science provides evidence-based solutions necessary for resilient prosperity, from mitigating climate impacts to enhancing food security and deploying renewable energy.

Mark Wuddivira, ISC SIDS Liaison Committee member and President of the Caribbean Academy of Sciences said, “The Declaration from the ISC SIDS Liaison Committee speaks to the heart of what we strive for in Large Ocean States. Our resilience and ingenuity are vital as we face unique challenges.

“By investing in science and technology and fostering international collaboration, we can transform our vulnerabilities into strengths and lead all islands toward a more prosperous future. This declaration is a rallying cry for unity, innovation, and progress. We invite all scientists at SIDS4 and beyond to join us, endorse this call to action, and work together to build a sustainable and thriving future for all island nations.”

Salome Taufa, ISC SIDS Liaison Committee member and Programme Adviser at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in Fiji, emphasized the importance of global recognition and support for SIDS scientists.

“This Declaration underscores the need to bring the work of SIDS scientists and indigenous knowledge holders into the global spotlight,” Salome Taufa said. “By creating relevant platforms and networks, we can connect with international funders, highlight the valuable research and achievements from our communities, and define our research priorities. We urge all scientists at SIDS4 to support this initiative and help amplify the voices of our local experts.”

The Declaration is a call to action for increased support for scientific research, capacity-building initiatives, and technology transfer. It advocates for partnerships and knowledge-sharing networks to enhance local scientific expertise and facilitate collaboration among SIDS, high-income countries, and international organizations. The Declaration also calls for addressing the mismatch between donor priorities and SIDS’ needs and improving the visibility of SIDS scientists and indigenous and local knowledge holders.

The ISC SIDS Liaison Committee invited all experts, scientists, and institutions involved with or connected to SIDS to endorse the declaration at the launch of the SIDS4 Conference on Monday 27 May 2024.