Places of great beauty, rich cultures, and diverse ecosystems, islands captivate the hearts of residents and visitors alike. However the size and isolation of small island developing states make them vulnerable to significant economic and environmental pressures as well.
Kofi A. Annan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, has highlighted the challenges faced by small island developing states:
Many of the world’s small islands are among its best-loved places, [attracting] visitors from all over the globe. To many they seem idyllic places – havens of sun and sand set in clear, brilliant seas. While there is some truth to this it is not, of course, the full story. The world’s small island developing states are also on the front-line of the global struggle to protect the environment and pursue sustainable development.
The precious and fragile biodiversity of small islands is among the most endangered on Earth. The islands’ small size often severely limits their freshwater resources, capacity to dispose of wastes and ability to develop institutions. They frequently depend on just a few crops or industries. As custodians of vast areas of oceans, they suffer from the effects of overfishing. As leading tourist destinations, they reap not only the benefits but also the costs. They are especially vulnerable to natural disasters. And their very existence is imperiled by the sea-level rise brought by global warming.
The Small Island States Foundation is an independent private sector non-profit organization whose purpose is to encourage and support applied public policy research into the unique economic, environmental, social, and cultural challenges of sustainable development confronted by small island states, with a particular focus on economic development.
A priority of the Foundation is to promote a discussion of these issues that resonates not only with policy makers, but also with the men and women who deal with the challenges of island sustainability on a daily basis – businesses, environmental activists, social service providers, and scholars. We do this through our blog, conferences, and community forums on island nations throughout the world.
Additionally, the Foundation provides grants to researchers and institutions whose work focuses on the sustainable development of these islands. Funding and grant support comes from a wide range of charitable foundations, governments, private corporations and individuals.