Introduction

For us in the small islands, this is an issue of survival - not just for AOSIS but also for LDCs and for all developing countries. In the case of AOSIS, sea-level rise threatens our sovereignty ... there is a possibility that our nations will no longer exist in the lifetime of our children and our grandchildren. (Delegate from the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS), at the Seventh Session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) and the Fifth Session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-Term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA))

For all small islands, climate change presents an enormous challenge to their collective safety, security and livelihood. For some, climate change will threaten their very existence. Nowhere is the intersection of climate change, security and human rights more apparent than in small island states and nowhere is the case for immediate action to rapidly and drastically curb carbon emissions more compelling. This chapter elaborates upon the nexus of environment and development issues that small islands must grapple with as they confront looming climate change.

There is no clear definition of what constitutes an island nation. The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), an ad hoc lobbying and negotiation alliance, coordinates the most prominent group of island nations actively engaged in shaping multilateral climate policy. AOSIS commonly refers to its 43 members as small island developing states (SIDS): of the 43 total AOSIS members, only 37 are United Nations member states (Schmidt, 2005) The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) lists 52 small island developing states. These are broken down into three geographic regions: the Caribbean; the Pacific; and Africa, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and South China Sea (AIMS). The criteria that define SIDS is very broad. Four AOSIS members, Belize, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana and Suriname (two of which are designated as SIDS: Belize and Guyana) are not technically islands at all.

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