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March 2004

Announcement of a publication

FAO and SIDS: challenges and emerging issues in agriculture, forestry and fisheries

Agriculture, fisheries and forestry have provided for centuries the main source of livelihood for the population of the islands. This sector still represents a chief asset to Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Their sustainable management remains crucial for the future.

During the preparations for the Earth Summit in 1992, FAO realized that small island countries required a special agro-ecological approach in the pursuit of sustainable development. Work in small islands involves consideration of potentials and constraints in the various aspects of development, including:

  • Economic issues: narrow resource base, isolation from major markets, vulnerability to volatile international markets, erosion of preferential trade arrangements, high external debt, high level of foreign aid and remittances, net food importing countries, difficulties in conforming to sanitary and phytosanitary regulations, importance of tourism and dominance of the public sector.

  • Ecological issues: rich marine and terrestrial biodiversity, vulnerability to natural hazards, harsh competition for scarce natural resources, particularly fresh water, degradation of coastal habitats, loss of traditional agricultural systems and over-exploitation of forest and coastal resources.

  • Social issues: high population growth and mobility, limited variety of dietary intakes and nutritional problems, institutional "brain drain", scarcity of skilled manpower and weak institutional capacities. For this reason, FAO organized the Inter-Regional Conference of Small Island Countries on Sustainable Development and Environment in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Bridgetown, Barbados, 7-10 April 1992. The Barbados Declaration issued by this Conference marked the beginning of an integrated approach to this country group.

FAO enjoys a long history of partnership with SIDS. Over the past two decades, FAO has provided technical assistance to SIDS through 1 300 projects for a totalling US$ 300 million. Since the establishment of the Barbados Programme of Action in 1994, the technical assistance to SIDS amounts to US$ 90 million with a total of 520 projects in 38 SIDS. In addition, FAO has implemented 83 regional projects for a total of US$ 5 million and three interregional projects for a total of US$ 2.8 million. Fifty percent of this assistance was derived from FAO's regular programme for technical assistance; the rest was implemented thanks to trust funds.

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