Small Island Development States (SIDS) is a group of island states located within the major oceans of the world. Due to their locations, these island nations share certain common social, economic and environmental challenges like limited natural resources, small population, over dependence on world trade, and predisposition to natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes. Together, these problems have curtailed the development of the regions compared to states within the continents. The growth and development in the region have been limited by high energy, communication, and transportation costs, inexplicably expensive infrastructure and public administration due to their small size, and limited to almost no opportunity to create economies of scale. However, the SIDS came together and formed a body that unites them and seeks to advance their economic development and progress in general.
SIDS Regional Body
The UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992 held a summit in Brazil and recognized SIDS unique economic and environmental challenges in Agenda 21. Over fifty states joined The Small Island Developing States regional body. These states range in size, population, and economic development status. In the Caribbean, the states include Trinidad and Tobago, Dominican Republic, Suriname, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Montserrat, Grenada, Jamaica, Haiti, Cuba, Dominica, Guyana, and Barbados among others. Following closely are the SIDs in the Pacific like Fiji, Timor-Leste, Guam, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, Samoa, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands. The other category found in Africa, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, and South China Sea (AIMS) regions which include, Bahrain, Comoros, Cape Verde, Maldives, Guinea-Bissau, Singapore, São Tomé and Príncipe, Mauritius, and Seychelles.
Jamaica is a Caribbean island nation which is the 3rd largest island in the Greater Antilles covering an area of 4,240 square miles. The country is the fourth largest Island country in the Caribbean by area. The country has a mixed economy having both the private sector and the state enterprise playing a significant role. Some of the major sectors of the economy include insurance and financial services, tourism, mining, agriculture, and manufacturing. Approximately 1.3 million visitors tour Jamaica annually. The country has been receiving support from the multilateral and financial institutions from the 1980s and has attempted to implement the structural reforms to encourage and increase private sector participation. From 1991, the country’s government has been following the economic and liberalization program and has been trying to remove exchange controls, cutting tariffs, floating exchange rates, reducing inflation, stabilizing the country’s currency, and removing restrictions on foreign investment.
The Independent State of Samoa consists of two main islands and four smaller ones, all located midway between Hawaii and New Zealand and to the south of the equator. Samoa covers an area of 1,097 square miles, all within an equatorial climatic condition.In 2006, the country had a GDP based on PPP of $1.218 billion, and the industry contributes significantly to the GDP at 58.4% , while agriculture contribute 11.4% and service sector at 30.2%. Tourism also plays a significant role and has been expanding contributing 25% of the GDP. Tourists to the island have been increasing, and there were more than 100,000 visitors in 2005 compared to 70,000 in1996.
The Maldives consist of a series of 26 atolls spanning approximately 115 square miles. Some atolls can only host a single massive infrastructure like an airport. This country is the smallest in Asia by land and population. The Maldives lies on the Indian Ocean to the south of India and west of Sri Lanka and is categorized as a middle-income economy. The major economic activities are fishing and tourism.
Challenges And Opportunities Of SIDS
SIDS countries face economic setbacks attributable to insufficient transportation and communication links with other countries. The small size of these countries leaves little room for expansion of economic opportunities thus leaving them dependent on other states for development. Their exposure to natural disasters like storms and hurricanes seem to act against their aspirations. However, these states’ resilience is remarkable as they have capitalized on their locations for tourism and talent. With the advancement in technology and global exposure, SIDS member countries like Bahrain and Singapore managed to develop their economies and are now wealthy nations.