The 2021 edition of the UNCTAD Development and Globalization: Facts and Figures is dedicated to Island Developing States (SIDS) as their contributions and vulnerabilities will be key aspects of the discussions during our upcoming UNCTAD 15 Conference hosted by Barbados.

This focus is further warranted as 2020 was a particularly challenging year for SIDS. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many SIDS experienced a larger decline in GDP than other developing countries. In addition of being a public health threat, the crisis and its related international travel restrictions and social distancing measures affected the lifeblood for many small island economies: tourism.

While SIDS are a diverse group of countries, they share many socioeconomic and environmental challenges. SIDS are highly vulnerable to external economic and financial shocks, at least 35 per cent more than other developing countries. The small size of their economies leaves little room for diversification and the creation of economies of scale. Many SIDS are also heavily dependent on international trade, especially the import of manufactured goods. Their commodity dependence and overreliance on a few export destinations render them vulnerable to global price fluctuations and changes in aggregate demand.
In 2014, the international community agreed on a clear vision for the sustainable development of small islands, embodied in the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway.

owever, much action is needed to implement the SAMOA Pathway’s priorities on debt sustainability, concessional financing, investment, trade, and climate change adaptation. Thus far, much of the disaster response has been on a short-term emergency basis, rather than long-run development planning. This challenges the development prospects of SIDS.

This report offers a unique statistical approach to SIDS by combining a wide variety of statistical information to examine SIDS from the perspectives of trade, the economy, the environment and society. The report also illustrates UNCTAD’s long history and expertise in supporting SIDS in their development aspirations.

I hope that the report will serve as a useful statistical and analytical tool for the SIDS themselves and for all those interested in understanding these islands.

Isabelle Durant

Acting Secretary-General of UNCTAD