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IGF2102 - WS 81 Internet Governance and sustainable development

The United Nations Office of the High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS; www.un.org/special-rep/ohrlls/sid/list.htm) states that Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are numerically significant being presently comprised of fifty-two (52) Nation States. Currently, SIDS can be found in roughly in three regions: - the Atlantic, Indian Ocean and South China Sea (AIMS) Region (comprising 8 Nation States); - the Caribbean Region (comprising 16 Nation States); and - the Pacific Region (comprising 14 Nation States). Such numbers do not include those SIDS which are not UN-member States, but though not counted these island states are nonetheless recognised by the UN-OHRLLS as SIDS. The Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA; adopted in 1994) which was further complemented by the Mauritius Strategy of Implementation (MSI 2005 and MSI+5 Outcome document), both recognised that despite being afflicted by economic difficulties and confronted by development imperatives consistent to developing countries generally; SIDS have their own peculiar vulnerabilities and characteristics. Such difficulties in the pursuit of sustainable development are particularly unique, severe and complex. The following serves as an identification of some of the critical issues for SIDS: Small size - There are many disadvantages that derive from small size, including a narrow range of resources, which forces undue specialisation; excessive dependence on international trade causing vulnerability to global developments; high population density, which increases the pressure on already limited resources; over-use of resources and premature depletion; relatively small watersheds and threatened supplies of fresh water; costly public administration and infrastructure, including transportation and communication; and limited institutional capacities, domestic markets and export volumes leading to non-existent economies of scale. Isolation -- Due to their geographic dispersion, isolation from markets and remote locations many SIDS are disadvantaged economically by small economies of scale, high freight costs and reduced competitiveness. Climate change and sea-level rise -- Due to the coastal zone concentration in a limited land area, the adverse effects of climate change and sea-level rise present significant risks to the sustainable development of SIDS, and the long-term effects of climate change may threaten the very existence and viability of some SIDS. Natural and environmental disasters -- SIDS are located among the most vulnerable regions in the world in relation to the intensity and frequency of natural and environmental disasters and their increasing impact, and face disproportionately high economic, social and environmental consequences. Brain drain - Owing to their small size there are not sufficient jobs for specialised fields nor can local industry compete with international multinational corporations for talented workers therefore many educated citizens leave SIDS to seek out job opportunities and enhanced financial gain in developed countries. Reliance on Agriculture, Fishing and Tourism- generally owing to their common colonial past the majority of SIDS rely on Agriculture, Fishing and Tourism for income. These sectors have been particularly hit by climate change, natural disasters and the Global Economic Downturn, making SIDS in dire need of diversification of their economies and retraining of unskilled workers to ensure sustainability.

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