1 There is no internationally-accepted definition of a small island developing State. However, for the purposes of this paper SIDS are taken to be the 42 members and observers of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) - four of which are low-lying coastal States(Guinea-Bissau, Belize, Guyana and Suriname). Three additional small island developing States, which are Members of FAO, but not of AOSIS (Bahrain, Dominican Republic and Haiti), have been included. Ten of these States have 'least developed country' status within the United Nations System. It should be noted that SIDS are not a homogenous group in that they tend to have their own economic, social and natural environments, even though most SIDS are located geographically within the tropics in a band between 20 degrees North and South of the Equator.
2 There is more tuna landed in the exclusive economic zones of Papua New Guinea and the Federated States of Micronesia, respectively, than any other country. Total catches in each of these zones are about 250-300 000 tonnes annually.
3 Intensification and diversification of primary sector production is highlighted in Objective 3.1 of the World Food Summit Plan of Action. This objective seeks: "To pursue, through participatory means, sustainable intensified and diversified food production, increasing productivity, efficiency, safety gains, pest control and reduced wastes and losses, taking into account the need to sustain natural resources."
4 In the context of this paper, the concept of food security also incorporates considerations relating to nutrition.
5 The Rome Declaration on World Food Security states in Commitment Three that: "We will pursue participatory and sustainable food, agriculture, fisheries, forestry and rural development policies and practices in high and low potential areas, which are essential to adequate and reliable food supplies at the household, national, regional, and global levels, and combat pests, drought and desertification, considering the multifunctional character of agriculture." Of significance to island States is the commitment to pursue"... policies and practices in high and low potential areas...".
6 Ranging from 20 km2 (Nauru) to more than 450 000 km2 (Papua New Guinea).
7 As a result of afforestation efforts, the total forest area in Cape Verde is reported to have almost trebled in size from 16 000 ha to 47000 ha, equivalent to an annual increase of 24 percent. Recent figures put the total area planted even higher (see Table 4).
8 Bahamas, Belize, Cuba, Cyprus, Dominica, Fiji, Grenada, Guinea Bissau, Guyana, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, St. Lucia, Suriname and Vanuatu. Source: AOSIS.
9 FAO (1998) FAO Trade Yearbook Vol. 50. 1996. FAO Statistics Series No. 138.
10 Most projections agree that the Solomon Islands merchantable forest will be largely exhausted by 2010. Samoa logged 50 percent of its merchantable forest between 1974 and 1987. Tongan forests have been cleared to similar extent. (FAO 1997. Regional Study - The South Pacific. Asia-Pacific Forestry Sector Outlook Study. Working Paper No. APFSOS/WP/01).
11 The significance of a comprehensive national
forest sector planning process to sustainable forest management and an
policy environment is widely recognised. "National forest programme" is a generic term for a wide range of approaches used by countries in planning, programming and implementing forest activities.
12 Non FAO members are Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Tuvalu and Singapore.
13 FAO (1995) Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati and Tuvalu: A Review of Uses and Status of Trees and Forests in Land Use Systems With Recommendations for Future Actions, based on the work of R. R. Thaman and W.A. Whistler. TSS-1 Technical Support Services at Programme Level,UNDP/FAO/ RAS/92/T04.
14 Increased organic matter provided by trees improves soil fertility by increasing the water retention capacity, reducing soil pH, providing nutrients, reducing leaching effects of wind and rains and reducing run-off and evaporation.
15 Examples of States with high percentage of endemic species of mammals include Mauritius (50percent), Solomon Islands (36 percent) and Fiji (25percent). With regard to birds, the percentage of endemic species is 20 percent for Solomon Islands and 24 percent for Fiji. Small Islands States with a high percent of endemic plant species include Mauritius, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and Fiji, in which more than 30 percent of the higher plant species are endemic (WRI/UNEP/UNDP/World Bank 1996: World Resources 1996-1997 Table 61.2). Many of the above plant and animal species are found in forests.
16 Papua New Guinea, Suriname and Guyana are notable exceptions.
17 "In January 1990 Western Samoa's plantation estate stood at 4 392 hectares. Cyclones Ofa and Val (along with stands which were written of due to poor establishment) destroyed 92 percent of this area. At September 1995 only 350 hectares of the original plantings remained." (FAO 1997. Regional Study - The South Pacific. Asia-Pacific Forestry Sector Outlook Study. Working Paper 01.)
18 AUSAID (1997) Project Implementation Document, South Pacific Regional Initiative on Forest Genetic Resources (SPRIG)
19 Forest resources management in Small Island Countries. Report presented at the Inter-regional Conference of Small Island Countries on Sustainable Development and Environment in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbados 7-10 April 1992.
20 Coxcomb R. (Ed) (1987) Land Tenure in the Pacific. University of the South Pacific.
21 One solution to the tenure problem in the South Pacific has been the development of Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) in Papua New Guinea. These are established, at the request of local land owners to regulate hunting and protect the habitat of e.g. Birds of Paradise. The Government provides legal recognition to WMA, but land ownership remains in the hand of local people. The WMA concept accommodates the particular conditions that prevail in many Pacific nations, and could perhaps be applied in neighbouring island states.
22 AUSAID (1997) Project Implementation Document, South Pacific Regional Initiative on Forest Genetic Resources (SPRIG).
23 Areas of Intsia bijuga and Pometia pinnata in Samoa suffered only minor damage from cyclone Ofa in 1991. Whitewood(Endospermum medullosum), kauri pine (Agathis spp.), Terminalias richii and are other examples of indigenous species in the South pacific which are well-adapted to withstand cyclone-force winds. Research is being carried out on the crossing of Pinus Caribea var. hondurensis with P. caribea var. caribea in an attempt to improve resistance to stem snap in high winds.
24 This consideration has been recognized explicitly by international instruments including the 1995 Kyoto Declaration and Plan of Action and the 1996 World Food Summit Plan of Action.
25 Data provided by the Forum Fisheries Agency, Honiara, Solomon Islands.
26 Estimated information provided by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, Mahe, Seychelles.
1. Environment and natural resources issues of Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) have widely been described and discussed during the recent years. The 1994 Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDS contains, as part of its 15 programme areas1, considerations and actions required to address (among others) environment and natural resources conservation. In its capacity as task manager of the chapter on Land Resources of this Programme of Action, FAO prepares related progress reports to the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). On fisheries-related matters, FAO reports to the CSD through the ACC Subcommittee on Oceans and Coastal Areas.
2. This paper builds on earlier findings and, without having the ambition of providing an exhaustive image, focuses on subject areas where FAO does have a comparative advantage in addressing environmentally-related issues in SIDS, as they relate to sustainable agriculture and rural development, including fisheries. Countries covered by this paper are the 30 independent small island developing states and low-lying coastal states which are members of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and members of FAO2 and three non-AOSIS island states that are members of FAO3.
3. Chapter I describes the status, issues and constraints of SIDS environment and natural resources, with particular emphasis on climate change and natural disasters. Chapter II develops potential actions related to emergency management. Chapter III proposes selected environmental management approaches. Chapter IV describes pertinent environmental law instruments. Chapter V suggests areas of action where FAO could be of assistance to SIDS.
4. It is useful to recall that SIDS vary enormously according to distinct bio-physical, socio-cultural and economic characteristics (see Table 1). Their efforts for sustainable development are, however, constrained by common disadvantages such as limited natural resources, fragility of ecosystems, vulnerability to natural hazards, and peculiar population dynamics.
5. While most SIDS have a total population between 100 000 and 700 000 inhabitants, six countries have a population of less than 100 000 (the lowest being the Cook Islands - 19 343 inhabitants) and six countries have a population exceeding one million (the highest being Cuba - 11 million). Population growth rate varies from a minimum of 0.24 percent (Barbados) to a maximum of 3.56 percent (Comoros). All except five of the SIDS have a land area of less than 30 000 square km (the largest SIDS is Papua New Guinea - 451 710 square km).
6. SIDS may comprise a single island (e.g. Barbados), a few islands (e.g. Cape Verde - 15), numerous islands (e.g. Maldives - 1 200), or a low-lying coastal state (e.g. Suriname). Terrain varies from low oceanic islands, including atolls and reef islands, to high volcanic, limestone or continental islands (including low-lying coastal states). Many SIDS are located in the tropics and fall within the influence of tropical storms and cyclones. Therefore, they are prone to extreme weather events, and most are influenced by the El Niño Southern Oscillation (and associated high inter-annual variations in rainfall) and long-term increase in mean sea level.
7. Economic activities are frequently dominated by specialized agriculture (e.g. sugar) and by tourism, both of which are influenced by climatic factors. Primary production (agriculture, forestry and capture fisheries) is an important source of export earnings in many SIDS but much of agricultural activity is of subsistence type. The resource base for agriculture (arable land, permanent crops, meadows and pastures) vary from 0.3 percent (Suriname) to 73 percent (Tonga) of land use. The contribution of the agricultural sector to the GDP varies from 1 percent (Bahrain) to 50 percent (Samoa). Forests and woodlands are economically important in about one third of SIDS, where they occupy 40 percent to 94.4 percent of land use. SIDS maritime claims, however, are very large (especially in the Pacific) and extend to approximately one-sixth of the earth surface. Marine resources are not limited to fish resources but include also mineral deposits and hydrocarbons.
8. As stated in the 1994 Declaration of Barbados "scarce land resources lead to difficult land and agriculture decisions". Land resources suffer from intense competition between land use options, high population density, customary ownership (and correlated land tenure disputes) and emigration. This leads to difficult application of legislation to protect resources or making land unavailable for production purposes. Poor transport and communication infrastructure put additional constraints on land tenure legislation. Furthermore, limited human resources and out-migration negatively impacts the regular maintenance of cadasters, land registries and records.
9. Pressure put on land leads to erosion that is often accelerated by natural disasters, deforestation, inappropriate agricultural practices, and pollution. Precious arable land is lost to erosion (e.g. 15 000 ha/year in Haiti4). Many SIDS cities lack adequate treatment of solid wastes and waste recycling is still in its early stages and not yet economically viable. The extraction and refinement of mineral resources such as gold (Fiji), manganese (Vanuatu), bauxite (Haiti), phosphate (Nauru) and oil (Trinidad and Tobago) exacerbate pollution. Islands with sloping areas have little access to appropriate technologies to extend land use for sustainable farming on steep slopes.
10. Land use planning and management should capitalize on customary cultures. Traditional, value-based, decision-making systems can be successfully reinforced with technical decision-support and information systems, and land use negotiation and conflict management. An integrated approach to planning and management of resources can be achieved through comprehensive land-use plans. In Pacific SIDS, integrated approaches to resource management are identified within the framework of National Environment Management Strategies. More specifically, multi-purpose resource management (for example, forests) and integrated and diversified production systems enhance sustainable natural resources conservation and use while increasing resilience.
Forests and tree resources
11. Land area covered with forests varies a great deal among SIDS, ranging from 94.4 percent in Suriname to less than 1 percent in Haiti. As a group however, SIDS are well endowed with forests but annual deforestation is almost three times higher than the world average (0.8 percent compared with 0.3 percent). An analysis of country forest cover between 1990 and 19955 shows that almost half of SIDS (17 countries) have experienced deforestation (with rates of annual change in their forest cover varying from -0.1 to -7.2 percent per year), nine have maintained the same forest cover over the five-year period, and only Cape Verde has increased its cover by a rate of 24 percent per year (as result of plantation establishment).
12. The main causes of deforestation include conversion of forested land to agricultural use and for infrastructure development. Some SIDS are experiencing significant forest degradation due to over-exploitation of their timber resources. Timber production represents a large percentage of some SIDS export revenues (56 percent in Solomon Islands in 1993) and has an evident economic value. It is important, however, to recognize that, even when SIDS are poorly endowed with forest resources, trees (such as on agricultural lands or agroforestry systems) often play a very important role for soil conservation (especially on less fertile soils such as in coral-based SIDS), fresh water circulation and local livelihoods. Deforestation and forest degradation affect not only the socio-economic well-being of local populations but also the environmental conditions on the islands and the surrounding marine ecosystems. Although forests such as mangroves and tidal forests have an important role in the marine food web and in protecting coastal habitats, they are increasingly being lost to tourism and land development.
13. Loss of forests in SIDS may have far more serious impacts than in other larger countries due to intensified interactions within a limited geographical space and to the loss of endemic species and rare ecosystems. In addition, the protective functions of forests are particularly important in many SIDS.
14. The valuation of goods and services provided by forests (e.g. timber and non-timber forest products, habitat for biological diversity, watershed protection, and carbon sequestration) can demonstrate the economic value of forests and assist decision-making and land-use planning. Given the multiple uses and functions of forests in SIDS, there is need for national forest policies to be integrated better into larger natural resources management frameworks at the national level.
15. In low-lying oceanic SIDS, diversity and endemism are often low. In the mid-altitude volcanic and/or limestone SIDS, species diversity may be either high or low, but endemism is usually high. More than 30 percent of the higher plant species of Mauritius, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and Fiji, and more than 20 percent of the bird species of Solomon Islands and Fiji, are endemic.
16. Because of their small size and high level of endemism, biodiversity in SIDS is among the most threatened in the world. Deforestation, unsustainable forestry, fisheries and agricultural practices, unmanaged tourism, introduction of exotic species, mining (especially of coral), pollution and natural events (e.g. hurricanes) are the main threats to biodiversity. In particular, global warming and sea level rise pose significant hazards to many SIDS because of the consequently reduced land area. Habitat destruction is also due to inevitable infrastructure development such as urban settlements, industries, ports, and anti-erosion coastal protection works.
17. Measures to mitigate biodiversity losses require a more general effort to combat environmental degradation and pollution. Agro-biodiversity and the status and trends of biological diversity in natural ecosystems (e.g. forests, aquatic ecosystems and living aquatic resources) need to be assessed as well as mechanisms for the equitable sharing of benefits from the conservation and use of genetic resources. Community-based management systems and related land and fishing rights in supporting food systems are important. Biodiversity conservation should therefore build on customary land and reef tenure systems. Additional conservation strategies may need to be employed, such as marine protected areas and habitat restoration.
18. Hydrological variability and distribution and availability of freshwater is associated with climate variability and changes in precipitation. The availability of water resources is also directly linked to land-use patterns. Deforestation and inappropriate logging and agricultural practice upland often trigger floods.
19. Several SIDS (e.g. Bahrain, Barbados, Cape Verde, Malta) experience fresh water shortage. In atoll countries in particular, the water supply and demand is critical. The lack of effective delivery systems and waste treatment, coupled with population growth and expanding tourism, contribute to water over-abstraction and contamination (e.g. Haiti does not yet have a centralized system of water collection and treatment, nor a facility for water quality analysis). Sea-level rise and tidal variation contribute to salt-water intrusion in already scarce water resources.
20. Efficient water use and management is closely linked with land use, waste recycling and treatment, and resolving conflicts between competitive and antagonistic uses of water. Freshwater consumption trends and forecasts, and development and management responses should consider the water requirements of all sectors, including agriculture. There is need for an integrated policy approach (with the attendant legislation and institutional framework) that involves all economic sectors.
21. Freshwaters and associated habitats are important not only because they provide for freshwater fish production, based on available living aquatic resources, but also because they can be very significant due to characteristic or distinct patterns of aquatic biodiversity and aquatic genetic resources found in such water bodies. Changes in freshwater habitats may affect freshwater fish production and aquatic biodiversity.
Coastal and marine resources
22. SIDS have the responsibility for a significant portion of the world's oceans but have limited means to manage adequately their marine resources. Exploitation by foreign fleets under licensing agreements is often unchecked and inshore and reef fisheries are not properly managed. As a result, many fishery resources are over-exploited, conflicts arise between competitive marine resources use (e.g. fisheries and tourism), and coastal habitats are being degraded. In particular, mangroves and coral reefs are being destroyed, leading to loss of habitat for associated species and thus, loss of important food supply and source of revenue. Outstripping of sand and aggregate materials (used for construction and landfill) is further depleting resources.
23. Reef ecosystems are highly sensitive to temperature changes as a consequence of global warming. In particular, there is an increased incidence of coral bleaching associated with elevated water temperature. In 1998, abnormally high sea temperatures are thought to have bleached and killed much of the corals in the Indian Ocean (Maldives has been particularly impacted), and also in many areas of the Western and Eastern Pacific. The survival of coral reefs to temperature and salinity changes is further threatened by human stresses such as nutrient loading and pollution, sedimentation from land-based activities and damage from anchoring of boats. Habitat destruction and pollution of lagoons is already leading to fish stock declines throughout the Pacific.
24. Further degradation of critical marine habitats and resources should be prevented through the establishment of marine reserves and sound management of resources, possibly through community-based and ecosystem-oriented approaches. National legislation could be enacted to protect inshore fisheries from over-exploitation. However, enforcement of fishery regulations is often difficult.
25. Fossil fuels typically constitute the largest import item in many SIDS. This makes them vulnerable to increased petroleum prices and places a heavy burden on their balance of payments (e.g. Kiribati). SIDS diseconomy of scale in transport, storage facilities and distribution requires more energy for transportation and power generation than any other country and is a major impediment to economic development and environmental protection.
26. Lack of food storage capacity (e.g. refrigeration) is one of the main limitations of the local fishing industry. In order to pay for imported petroleum, SIDS have to increase exports of timber, cash crops and marine products. Thus, deforestation, land degradation, and overfishing could be partly attributed to shortages of energy. Collection of firewood causes direct damage to mangroves. Oil products and their wastes (that leak during shipping, handling, storage or electricity generation) pollute marine and coastal waters, land and groundwaters.
27. With population growth and gradual change from subsistence economies to monetary systems and improved living standards, energy demand is projected to increase, especially in the form of electricity. Efficient use of petroleum and biomass fuels is constrained by limited technology and investments, and reduced recycling of waste and by-products. SIDS potential for solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, ocean thermal conversion and wave energy can be tapped by developing renewable energy technologies and also investing in conventional energy conservation.
28. Energy from biomass, in the form of fuelwood and agricultural residues, is a feasible energy source in many SIDS (e.g. about 50 percent of total energy use in the Pacific). Besides partly substituting fossil fuels, bioenergy plantations can offer opportunities to rehabilitate degraded lands and can provide a means to combat soil erosion on croplands. In addition, their role in carbon sequestration is substantial. In many SIDS, the high energy consumption and environmental problems posed by the sugar industry could be turned into sustainable energy systems through the production of ethanol.
29. Making renewable energy available would result in advantages in several ways: it would increase the available energy supply (e.g. in Fiji and Samoa, a large proportion of electricity is generated from small hydropower systems); it would increase employment and income opportunities in rural areas and outer islands (e.g. new avenues for processing seafood); it would improve communication; it would alleviate problems of water supply (solar photovoltaic electric pumps for drinking water already exist in some islands); and it would contribute to reducing pollution (e.g. in the Cook Islands solar electrified pumps are used to dispose of sewage effluent in suitable land areas)6.
30. In SIDS, dislocation and poverty tend to be lower than in other countries because of the traditional identification of islanders with their lands (e.g. in Pacific SIDS, most indigenous people have retained ownership of their land, which cannot be traded commercially), subsistence activities (that provide livelihoods to most islanders), and traditional support systems provided by the extended family. Population concerns in SIDS include small population size, very low proportion of active population, and uneven development.
31. Search for employment opportunities and services drives internal migration towards cities (in Tonga, two thirds of the population is urban). Cities are experiencing a growth twice to three times higher than rural areas. Extremes of dense and sparse settlements constrain the rational use of natural resources (e.g. lagoons and urban areas throughout the Pacific are polluted by faecal coliform, raising public health concerns). High population mobility does not only apply to rural-urban migration but also to other rural destinations (associated with short-term labour migration) and international migration. International migration causes a continuous brain-drain in SIDS but also relieves population pressure (and hence, the demand for provision of employment and services) and generates remittances.
32. Removing constraints on agricultural and rural development could decrease migration and encourage a more even population distribution, thus reducing the pressure on resources in crowded places (i.e. urban areas) and the resulting ecological damage.
33. SIDS population analysis for sustainable development should take into account the balance between high human fertility and actual decreased growth rate due to migration, the relatively young active population and corresponding costs for their introduction into the labour market, and the additional pressure on natural resources brought by the tourist residents. Population distribution, structure and mobility have direct links with environment and development. Population scenarios should be incorporated in such plans in order to indicate needs and project demand. This sectoral integration should be coupled with improved national capacity for demographic analysis and strategic planning.
34. SIDS are characterized by rich and diverse cultures of indigenous and traditional knowledge but lack a critical mass of qualified scientists and associated institutions. With few exceptions, technical capacities are very low, especially in environmental matters. Although schooling rates are increasing, the rate of higher education remains low. Environmental education, however, has become an element of the primary school curricula of some SIDS (e.g. Barbados, Mauritius, and Bahamas) and regional graduate studies (e.g. University of the South Pacific).
35. When population is small such as in SIDS, government functions tend to be very expensive per capita due to the fact that certain expenses are not divisible in proportion to the number of users. The difficulty of a sophisticated division of labour (again due to the small population base) is further compounded by brain-drain when specialists develop. Thus, migration and limited availability of funds for training constitute continuous constraints to institutional capacity. Limited scientific infrastructure and technical skills, together with limited human resources, are therefore not commensurate with needs for environmental management and technological innovations.
36. Geographic distances, and economic and demographic dynamics pose major challenges that require a special effort for capacity-building and to retain qualified staff. National institutions could be strengthened, where possible, by regional efforts, following common priorities, to use efficiently resources and information, including traditional knowledge and scientifically-qualified personnel. Regional cooperation is an effective means to reduce certain costs per unit which tend to be high in a small economy.
Environmental goods and services
37. The high ratio of coastline to land area of SIDS represents important amenity and aesthetic values for tourism and recreation which, in many cases, substantially contribute to the islands' economies. The limited size and isolation of SIDS, however, are also the cause of their fragility to disturbance, both human and natural. In particular, the relationships between inland watersheds and coastal areas are intensified and highly inter-dependant in terms of transfer of organic matter, energy, and living organisms between land and sea systems.
38. The environmental goods and services of mangroves, tidal forests, sea grass systems, coral reefs, and lagoons are important to the whole island ecosystem. Coral reefs provide valuable functions such as: supply of sand to beaches (and for construction materials) and the formation and maintenance of islands; they are habitats for a variety of marine communities and are major reservoirs of biodiversity; they are centres of primary production by serving as spawning and nursery grounds for numerous reef fish; provision of in situ commercial fishery resources; consolidation and protection of the shoreline by acting as protective barriers to beaches and coasts and by reflecting and dissipating incident wave energy. Functions of mangroves and other coastal forests include: holding soils (which is of prime importance in cases of limestone and coral base islands); providing feeding, breeding and nursery grounds for fisheries; protecting sea grass beds and coral reefs from sediment run-offs; acting as buffers against strong winds, rainfall and storm surges; and protecting agricultural lands from salt sprays.
39. These environmental goods and services are vital to SIDS survival and ought to be accounted for within development plans. Increased awareness of their value to economic sectors and social well-being would facilitate incorporating environmental measures into sector planning, allocating necessary resources for natural resource conservation and improving decision-making processes for sustainable development.
40. Vulnerability can be defined as the reduced ability to withstand stress and shocks. SIDS smallness and remoteness largely accounts for their economic vulnerability. The limited population and physical size is a major constraint to economic diversification. Scale diseconomies make them dependent on imports for most of their consumption and investment needs as well as on a narrow range of export products, hence their high vulnerability to external economic shocks.
41. SIDS geographic location and size accounts for their ecological fragility, particularly to inclemency of weather (e.g. tropical storms) and geological forces (e.g. volcanic eruptions) because when damage occurs, it occurs on a national scale. Epidemics introduced from outside quickly devastate fragile ecosystems and put endemic species at particular risk of extinction. Land erosion, as a result of sea waves and winds, is higher than in other countries because of relatively larger exposure of coasts in relation to land mass. The adverse impact of economic activities (that pervade the entire land area) on the natural environment is felt more than in other countries.
42. SIDS are subject to cumulative vulnerability to changes in frequency or intensity of extreme events (e.g. floods, droughts, hurricanes, storm surges), other natural hazards (e.g. volcanoes), and anthropogenic stress. Disasters exacerbate economic vulnerability because they create additional costs and divert resources from directly productive activities, let alone when they disrupt the whole economy. Counteracting vulnerability requires a capacity to adapt and to increase resilience that depends on certain features of the economic system. Thus, economic and environmental vulnerability are inter-twined.
43. Climate-related issues include both short-term fluctuations (climate variability) and long-term fluctuations (climate change). Climate variability covers periods from days to years and climate change is characterized by a gradual change of averages.
44. The threats associated with climate and resulting ecological changes as well as the dominant role of climate fluctuations in food supply are the main factors interfering with SIDS agroclimatic potential, sea level rise, and the accuracy of statistical approaches to weather forecasts. SIDS suffer most from coastal erosion and land loss due to sea-level rise as well as from intrusion of sea-water in groundwater aquifers and lenses and sea-flooding and inundation of low-lying areas. In addition, water resources suffer from tidal variation, altered distribution of upwelling adversely impacts fisheries, and temperature increase cause coral bleaching. Changes in rainfall intensity and extremes increase the scale of flooding, landslides and soil erosion, also because the physical limited size and steepness of SIDS catchments exacerbate their response to rainfall events. For example, in Cuba, El Niño induced heavy rain and flooding during spring 1998 and the tail-end effects of El Niño have induced drought during the fall of 1998 that resulted in severe damage to food and export crops.
45. It is important to note, however, that the impact of climate change by itself is not the greatest threat but it can seriously impinge on collective goods and systems (e.g. food and water security, biodiversity, human health and safety) in conjunction with other stresses, particularly where the adaptive capacity of natural ecosystems has been reduced by anthropogenic actions. Another aspect of climate change that is pertinent to SIDS is that many of the forcing mechanisms and mitigatory actions are external to SIDS. This highlights the need for properly implemented international agreements such as the Convention on Climate Change.
The role of agriculture
46. Although agriculture is often seen as one of the main victims of climate change, agriculture affects climate through the modification of physical parameters of the environment and emission of greenhouse gases: irrigation modifies the micro- and meso-climate; land clearing modifies the water cycle over large areas; biomass, soil and organic matter are both a source and sink of carbon dioxide; fertilizer use and other agricultural inputs (for example, methyl bromide) contribute to greenhouse gases (namely methane and nitrous oxides).
47. Within its efforts to improve farmers' capacity to reduce risk and make optimal use of climate variability, FAO develops and improves techniques to increase soil moisture storage, provides advice to farmers on the basis of current weather monitoring (contingency planning and response farming), and assists rural populations in achieving greater resilience and food security under short-and medium-term climate variations. More emphasis is to be given on research and the extension of more flexible farming systems that are tolerant to climatic stresses and variability. The FAO "no regret" approach emphasises measures that should be taken anyway - even in the absence of climate change - because they improve the efficiency of present farming and at the same time, put farmers in a better position to adapt to, or to mitigate, climate variability.
48. With appropriate supplementation strategies and livestock management, methane production can be decreased. Silvo-pastoral systems not only can reduce methane release but also can contribute to carbon fixation, due to deeper root systems and woody material. In arable farming and grazing, losses of nitrogen-containing nutrients as gases have important impacts on the atmosphere of the huge amounts involved and the catalytic effect of some nitrogenous gases. Improved land and water management techniques in response farming can facilitate the soil/plant/atmosphere exchanges for higher food production that reduce the adverse impact of losses and abatement of emissions.
The role of forests
49. Accumulation of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change opens new opportunities for the development of forests management, afforestation and reforestation as a major mechanism for carbon substitution (through woodfuel use) and sequestration/reduction (through the use of forests, trees and their derived products - timber). Countries such as Belize, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea have already made joint implementation agreements under the Convention for Climate Change to offset carbon emissions through plantations and forest protection. Other countries like Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are also trying to integrate carbon offset components into forest management projects. Carbon offset projects may offer options for increased investment in forestry, reduced petroleum imports, job creation, institutional capacity and technology transfer, environmental benefits and viable alternative to conflicts over land use. For example, in Fiji, the Sovi Basin, on Viti Levu, has been a 20 000 hectares of forest at the centre of a logging dispute for nearly twenty years. Local landowners have been at times willing to forego logging if they were guaranteed a comparable level of income from alternative sources. Negotiations are currently on-going between landowners to use the area for a carbon offset project.
50. Forest resources assessment in support to climate change includes generation of information and provision of methodologies and standards. National estimates of forest area and deforestation rates as well as forest volumes and biomass have been assessed in 1995 and are forthcoming for the year 2000. In addition, reports on land cover change processes, biomass fluxes and their trends are established for the period 1990 and 2000. As a contribution to climate change studies and related policies in land use change and forestry, national forest area by ecological zones have been estimated, for use as default values in absence of (better) national data, along with definitions of standards and suggested monitoring methodologies. Particular attention is also given to capacity-building for establishing internationally accepted standards and definitions and developing methodologies to estimate forest area and land cover change, biomass densities (for forest and other land cover types) and biomass fluxes resulting from land cover change.
Information and technology needs
51. Climate databases and methods are needed to assess, for planning and monitoring purposes, the impact of climate on agriculture and also to monitor the actual and potential impacts of extreme factors, such as those triggered by El Niño. The assessment of the potential impact of climatic variations and climate change on agro-ecological productive capacity also involves estimating the efficacy of adaptive strategies to provide information, analytical tools and training to scientists, decision-makers and collaborating institutions.
52. AOSIS is of the view that SIDS have particular technology needs to address climate change issues that focus on modifying mitigation technologies that are low cost, proven, highly secure and offer environmental benefits. To this end, there is need to share and transfer publicly-owned technologies and establish funding arrangements under multi-lateral environment agreements.
53. Climate change "adaptation" technologies include essentially renewable energy, energy conservation and efficiency requirements, and mitigation measures for saline water intrusion and change in ocean temperature. SIDS are at different stages of their national assessments of their vulnerability to climate change and the potential methods for adaptation to climate change. More in-depth studies, research and analysis are required for more accurate assessments at national and regional levels.
54. With few exceptions, SIDS are prone to extremely damaging cyclones, storm surges, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, forest fires, landslides, extended droughts and extensive floods. The 1990 UN Disaster Relief Organization review of the economic impact of disasters over the past 20 years reports that of the 25 most disaster-prone countries, 13 are SIDS. Limited capacity to respond and recover from disasters, expensive/lack of insurance coverage, adverse consequences for investment, and rehabilitation costs are major constraints.
55. Violent winds such as hurricanes or cyclones can cause devastation with little or no warning, through wind and wave damage and often by causing floods. Standing crops in the affected area are likely to be totally destroyed, livestock may be killed or injured, domestic and agricultural buildings and input, crop and food stores damaged or destroyed. Coastal fishing and aquaculture enterprises may suffer seriously from storms which cause damage to boats, landing sites and installations, and loss of lives and livelihoods. Many island communities are particularly vulnerable, with the risk that a major part of island infrastructure and economy may be crippled by a single storm event.
Floods and landslides
56. Floods and landslides caused by storms, tidal waves or heavy rainfall are common in SIDS. Flash flood can cause devastation in agricultural areas. Landslides exacerbate local devastation when floods obstruct rivers. In most SIDS, people have no choice but living in flood prone areas because of limited land size.
57. Earthquakes cause disaster through their devastating effect on buildings and infrastructure, directly or by triggering landslides or tidal waves. With no satisfactory means of providing warning of any sort beyond the broad designation of high risk zones, loss of life is often heavy particularly in highly populated areas. Direct effects on crops, livestock and forests are normally of little significance, though there may be indirect losses through landslides, burst dams or tidal waves, the latter also potentially devastating to fishing fleets and infrastructure. Irrigation works and other agricultural infrastructure may be damaged.
58. Volcanic eruption can affect agriculture over a wide area through the deposition of ash and other volcanic material that destroys crops and grazing and damages irrigation systems. The threat of eruption forces people to evacuate the immediate vicinity of a volcano, and can cause substantial loss of human life.
59. Forest, land and bush fires cause problems to human health, disrupt major social and economic activities, are detrimental to biodiversity, pollute the atmosphere and aggravate greenhouse effects. Forest fires can be caused by natural events (such as lightening or volcanic eruptions) and mainly by human carelessness or design (such as land clearing for agriculture through burning). Coordinated action can reduce fire risks and mitigate impacts.
60. "Natural disasters are of special concern to SIDS because of their small size; their dependence on agriculture and tourism which are particularly vulnerable to natural and environmental disasters". National action, policies and measures should "establish and/or strengthen disaster preparedness... and promote early warning systems...". International action is required to "assist SIDS in establishing and/or strengthening national and regional institutional mechanisms and policies designed to reduce the impacts of natural disasters, improve disaster preparedness and integrate natural disaster considerations in development planning, including through providing access to resources for disaster mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery".7
61. Weather vagaries and disasters inevitably affect any programme dealing with sustainable agriculture and rural development. In order to defend people's nutritional status and agricultural livelihoods against disaster impacts, FAO's action is structured along a relief-development continuum that is characterized by prevention, preparedness, early warning, impact and immediate needs assessment, relief, and rehabilitation, reconstruction and sustainable recovery. The rationale is not only to minimize the acute suffering associated with emergencies, but also to reduce their costs and free resources for development.
62. As mentioned above, SIDS are prone to sudden natural disasters that can lead to severe food and agricultural emergencies. Recognition of the increasing cost and complexity of emergency operations has led to focusing attention on taking preventive actions and planning for disaster before they happen.
63. Prevention measures designed to prevent natural events and processes from resulting in disasters and to reduce vulnerability in the food and agriculture sectors include promotion of inter-sectoral land use and individual strategies for improved food and nutritional security, including also vulnerability assessment, monitoring and education. Disaster prevention measures are geared towards reducing the likelihood of emergencies arising, and require an understanding of complex interactions between causal factors of different types: longer-term processes and sudden events that can be induced by either natural or human phenomena.
64. Disasters can be caused by drought or other climate variability, agricultural pests and diseases, and by sudden onset natural events. Besides preventive agricultural techniques in the first two cases, interventions to prevent sudden natural events include: forest fire prevention measures, measures to mitigate the impact of hurricanes on agriculture, forestry and fisheries, soil conservation and flood prevention measures, and strategies for reduction of crop losses.
65. Within its efforts to reduce risks and mitigate impacts of forest-related calamities, FAO organized, in October 1998, an international meeting on Public Policies Affecting Forest Fires. The Forest Resources Assessment for the year 2000 will include global data on forest fires statistics, including a component on causes of fires. The main contribution to national and international efforts consists in data collection, storage, analysis and dissemination and development of policies and plans to prevent fires originating from agricultural practices.
For promoting measures to mitigate the impact of hurricanes and cyclones on agriculture and coastal fisheries, technical assistance and training is provided to help hurricane or cyclone prone countries develop agricultural and fishing practices which are less susceptible to storm damage. Assistance typically comprises:
assessment of risk and vulnerability to, and the economic implications of, storm damage to agriculture and fisheries, highlighting weaknesses and strengths in existing farming systems and successful attempts to protect boats, fishing gear and infrastructure;
development and dissemination of storm-resistant agricultural practices and crops, with simple methods of improving existing agricultural production systems including measures for improving land protection, minimizing erosion, introduction of more storm-resistant crops (e.g. tannia, ginger and pineapple) and planting of forestry windbreaks or shelterbelts;
development and dissemination of improved measures and techniques in the fisheries sector to reduce hurricane/cyclone impacts such as destruction of landing sites, loss of boats, fishing gear and pots at sea. Such measures might include: infrastructure construction (e.g. storm shelters, fishing jetties and mooring buoys); installation of storm warning systems including radio relay stations, shore-to-boat and boat-to-boat communication networks; supply of life-saving appliances; boat modification and motorization programmes; establishment of local sea and storm safety committees and an effective search and rescue capability, and provision of training and technical advice on sea safety; demonstration and training programmes, including national and subregional workshops on hurricane/cyclone impact mitigation, and production of training programmes and materials for farmers, forestry staff, fishermen and extensionists.
66. Preparedness refers to advance measures to establish capacities and mechanisms to respond rapidly and effectively to disasters when they occur, and so reduce the intensity or scale of any resultant emergency. FAO provides technical assistance for the development of disaster preparedness plans for responding to disasters of different kinds and institutional structures and staff training for the implementation of these plans. It also provides assistance for the development of information systems, including national and regional early warning and food information systems and food insecurity and vulnerability mapping, and of policy on food security reserve stocks.
Disaster preparedness planning
67. A disaster preparedness plan specifies the status of existing components of disaster preparedness, ways in which these components are to be further developed, and how they can be deployed in the event of a disaster. Once established, the plan needs to be updated regularly to reflect changes in each of the components. A disaster preparedness plan for food and agriculture typically includes:
risk and vulnerability profile;
a summary of the status, outputs and use of national and (where appropriate) regional food security information systems and their inter-linkages;
responsibilities for the disaster preparedness plan, distinguishing between those of international donors and domestic partners, and for updating its various elements;
current resources available to respond to disasters and measures in progress or needed to upgrade them;
training and public education activities in connection with disaster preparedness. For example, formal training, community awareness and development of information systems for fire management;
response mechanisms and contingency plans.
Early warning and prediction
68. Early warning is the provision of early and relevant information on potential or actual disasters and their impacts. Support for better preparedness include assisting countries and intergovernmental authorities to establish and strengthen early warning and food information systems at the national and regional levels. Early warning systems can provide, for example, advance information on prevailing climatic conditions that may acerbate deliberate fires set during prescribed burning and land clearance, or other conditions affecting food production. National systems are drawn upon by the Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture (GIEWS) that FAO operates. GIEWS continuously monitors the food supply and demand situation, monitors and provides early warning on outbreaks of transboundary diseases and migratory pests, and is suited to provide advance warning and prediction on major disasters (e.g. drought).
69. At the national level, FAO is currently involved with other UN agencies and partners in developing guidelines for national Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping System (FIVIMS), as requested by the World Food Summit. FIVIMS includes vulnerability indicators and mapping drawn upon climate characteristics and variability information that is integrated with other natural conditions and socio-economic data. At the global level FAO will assist in coordinating the consolidation of the national FIVIMS into a global monitoring system (global FIVIMS). FAO also contributes to global information exchange on disasters and emergencies through the Internet, including the development and operation of "ReliefWeb", OCHA's international information system on emergencies.
Food security reserves
70. Assistance is given to countries to define levels for, and put into place, food security reserve stocks.
71. Assessing the nature and magnitude of a disaster once it has occurred, its impact, and the type and extent of emergency and immediate rehabilitation required are done through special relief operations. The impact of the disaster is assessed on national food supply and demand and on the food security and nutritional situation of affected groups, and of the needs for international food assistance to alleviate the problem. In addition, an assessment is made of the capacity for agricultural production in the affected areas, and of needs for agricultural relief to enable production to resume quickly, as well as for longer term rehabilitation and reconstruction measures.
72. Provision of assistance in the immediate wake of a disaster includes food assistance, support for control of food quality and safety, and agricultural rehabilitation assistance to rapidly reduce dependence on emergency food assistance and providing a basis for longer-term rehabilitation. The latter comprises provision of agricultural essentials (such as seeds, tools, fertilizers and livestock and veterinary supplies) and provision of services and expertise.
73. For example, in 1998, FAO assisted the Bahamas with a supply of the essential agricultural input to the population affected by Hurricane Lili; Dominican Republic with the rehabilitation of agro-pastoral production in areas affected by El Niño; Seychelles with the supply of agricultural inputs to flood affected farmers, and Tonga following cyclone Hina.
74. Immediate agricultural relief is followed up with assistance to restoring extension, veterinary, plant-protection and input supply services and institutions where these have been disrupted, and the physical reconstruction of agricultural infrastructure such as dams and irrigation systems, markets and crop storage facilities. Support is also given to policy and strategy for recovery and development programmes in the food and agricultural sectors. The aim is to bring the need for relief to an end and enable development to proceed by preventing and preparing for the possibility of further disasters and emergencies. Major emphasis is put on strengthening coordination of locally active emergency and development institutions and in encouraging the participation of the affected population in designing and implementing interventions to promote household food security and nutrition.
75. While emergency relief operations are still underway, it is necessary to take stock of the overall situation by assessing needs for rehabilitation measures and for sustainable recovery, with a view to reducing susceptibility to further disasters and emergencies. For example, following forest fires, technical assistance can be given in the application of suitable silvicultural techniques for prevention of pest outbreaks, a potentially serious problem in fire-stressed trees. Also, assistance might be necessary for the rehabilitation and re-establishment of forest cover.
76. Mitigating the effects of strong winds and cyclones on forests and forestry plantations includes: salvage logging after windblow, including inventory, logging techniques and the storage of large quantities of logs before processing; selection of species and tree breeding through hybrids or other improved material of wind-firm trees; tree breeding strategies where trials or seed trees are liable to be destroyed; and management techniques especially related to reduction of damage through initial spacing, pruning and thinning. In 1991, when Cyclone Val destroyed about 60 percent of the vegetative cover in the Vaisigano watershed, Samoa, the area was quickly planted with Albizzia species at a spacing that allows natural vegetative regeneration. Albizzia is highly resistant to high winds and revives even when badly damaged by cyclones, has low-labour requirements and has the capacity to improve soil fertility and ability for self-generation within 4-5 years.
77. The Programme of Action of SIDS recognizes that "most aspects of environmental management in SIDS are directly dependant on, or influenced by, the planning and utilization of land resources, which in turn are intimately linked to coastal zone management and protection in those States".
Aspects of holistic management
78. The interdependent economic and environmental functions of SIDS natural resources has been stressed in the previous chapters. The small size of SIDS particularly intensifies interactions between land and sea and between the natural and human environments. Multiple use of natural resources and antagonistic and competitive needs need to be addressed through a multi-use, ecosystem-oriented mode of management. The limited number of human resources and skills increases the suitability of cross-sectoral approaches. The key role of resource owners and users and their related knowledge of the ecosystem processes and functions calls for strengthening and supporting participatory planning and community-based management of island resources.
79. Holistic environmental management has the potential of being particularly successful in SIDS, where integration at different levels can create considerable synergies. Systems integration relates to the physical, social and economic linkages of land and water uses and ensures that all relevant interactions and issues, regardless of their origins, are considered. Functional integration focuses on ensuring that sector programmes and activities are consistent with environmental goals and objectives. Policy integration ensures the consistency of environmental policies with development and other policy initiatives. In SIDS, integration appears desirable for a number of issues, for example:
integration of inland and coastal resources management to minimize environmental externalities (e.g. to protect coastal and marine areas against land-based sources of pollution and degradation);
integration of sector planning to minimize environmental and social impacts (e.g. to minimize conflicts between fisheries and tourism);
integration of environmental concerns in all sectors planning (e.g. to establish protected areas to preserve biodiversity);
integration of disaster planning within national development plans (e.g. to prepare and adapt to climate variability).
80. Coordination is essential to strengthen multi-sectoral cooperation, to minimize overlaps and gaps in responsibilities, and to provide a forum for discussion and negotiation of needs. Cooperation among various hierarchical levels of government (central, regional, local) as well as within a specific level of hierarchy (e.g. local government, sectors, resource users, community groups, NGOs, research institutions) are equally needed. Also, temporal coordination is essential to achieving optimal phasing of management actions (e.g. long-term strategies for water catchments and storage areas, water treatment and distribution networks).
Integrated Coastal Area Management (ICAM)
81. In SIDS, addressing human impact on the marine and coastal environment can easily extend to the management of the whole island. The combined impacts of several economic sectors on coastal resources may be far more severe than the impacts of each sector alone. Moreover, the damage to, or deterioration of, coastal resources generated by one sector may undermine the resource potential or survival of another. Lack of information on the potential external effects of the proposed developments on other sectors, or a lack of consideration often causes inappropriate coastal development thereof.
82. The process by which actions are taken for the use, development and protection of coastal resources and habitats and to achieve national goals (established in cooperation with user groups and regional and local authorities) is known as Integrated Coastal Area Management (ICAM). ICAM is not a substitute for sectoral planning, but focuses on the linkages between sectoral activities to achieve more comprehensive goals. As such, ICAM refers to the management of sectoral components as parts of a functional whole. ICAM is a powerful means to minimize the potential conflict between coastal development, to minimize negative externalities on the natural environment, and to reduce vulnerability to climate variability and change.
Incorporation of sector planning into ICAM
83. The incorporation of agriculture, forestry and fisheries in ICAM allows clarifying and quantifying trans-sectoral impacts and formulating and coordinating appropriate management interventions that deal with interaction and conflicts of interest between different sectors and natural resources users, especially between the primary sectors and the rapidly growing tourism industry.
84. Within an ICAM framework, contributing agencies define and agree on common objectives and a long-term strategy for coastal management, on the basis of baseline information on the resources (bio-physical and socio-economic), the environmental impacts, the institutional structures involved in natural resource management, as well as an analysis of interactions between the coastal ecosystem and the various economic sectors, constraints, opportunities and possible alternatives. The definition of trade-offs at stake and the assessment of the value placed on various management options will be central in reaching consensus among all sectors and users and require consultation and negotiation. Sector plans should be subsequently adjusted or expanded to include short- and medium-term objectives in support of the ICAM strategy to address areas where sectoral resource management might be improved and cross-sectoral impacts mitigated. Sectoral plans should also describe selected policy instruments in terms of how they will be applied, the cost of introducing them and the expected benefits, and an identification of the human and financial resources required.
85. The variability and uncertainty linked to the dynamic nature of coastal resource use requires that management strategies remain flexible and be considered as an on-going learning process. Uncertainty also requires the adoption of strategies, based on definition of thresholds beyond which the risk of unacceptable changes in the coastal environment are considered excessive. An important aspect of management strategies is to deal explicitly which the risks associated with various management options. The monitoring system (of bio-physical and economic and social parameters) developed as part of the policy measures should be linked to this aspect. In addition to measuring the impact of policy measures, monitoring allows early detection of thresholds.
ICAM in SIDS
86. Several SIDS have started defining or implementing their ICAM strategies and plans, and are at different stages of the process. The process varies from country to country and depends upon the environmental issues selected for consideration, institutional framework, existing rights and obligations, cultural environment and many other considerations. Geographical coverage also varies and is mostly limited to selected pilot sites that focus on testing and building capacities in technical, institutional and organizational approaches to manage one priority problem at a time (e.g. coral reefs in Mauritius, coastal fisheries in Trinidad and Tobago).
87. For example, an FAO pilot project was implemented in 1993-1995 in Trinidad and Tobago to develop and improve methodologies and coordinating mechanisms to integrate coastal fisheries concerns into the wider framework of coastal area management and development planning. In Seychelles, actions have been identified under the 1991-2000 Environment Management Plan for Seychelles to protect marine and coastal areas. In St. Lucia, a government and civil society consultative process lead to the definition (1992-1995) of collaborative arrangements expressed in the Soufrière Marine Management Area, that provides for zoning of uses in the coastal area, and identifies multiple uses (fishing, recreational diving, marine transportation) whenever possible. In Vitilevu Island, Fiji, communities are managing a project for adaptation to climate change needs. In Malta, the Coastal Area Management Programme is based on integrated land resources planning where the assessment and evaluation of the erosion phenomena is among the main priorities.
88. In the Indian Ocean, a regional programme for integrated coastal zone management is being implemented between Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and la Réunion. Among the priority problems addressed are: sustainable management of coral reefs, and prevention and control of marine ecotoxicology. Coastal erosion, and prevention and mitigation of coastal pollution will be the next priorities to address.
89. In the Caribbean, (since 1997 and for a four-year period) adaptation to climate change is the main focus of the regional GEF project which aims at strengthening the technical and institutional capacity of national and regional institutions. Among the regional components is the formulation of a policy framework for coastal and marine management. National pilot components include: coral reef monitoring (Bahamas, Belize, Jamaica); coastal vulnerability and risk assessment (Barbados, Grenada, Guyana); economic valuation of coastal and marine resources (Dominica, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago); formulation of economic/regulatory proposals (Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis); greenhouse gases inventory/agriculture and water resources impact assessment (St. Vincent and the Grenadines). The objective of the regional network is to foster all aspects of coastal cooperation in order to adapt to the potential impact of climate change, particularly sea-level rise through assessment of needs (including vulnerability assessment), information exchange, adaptation planning, and capacity-building.
90. In many SIDS, the stability of food supply has been badly affected in recent years by natural disasters, diseases, pests, environmental degradation and inappropriate practices. For example, in Samoa cocoa tree plantations never really recovered after cyclone Ofa in 1990; taro (the main staple crop) has largely disappeared because of taro leaf blight in 1994; and inshore marine resources (main source protein at the subsistence level) have been lost as a result of overfishing, destructive fishing practices, and destruction of mangroves and coral.
91. Diversified and integrated crop/trees/livestock production systems and environmentally-sound farming practices can substantially contribute to stabilizing ecosystem health and local food production as well as enhancing the viability of exports in the context of eroding preferential agreements for SIDS' commodities on the world market.
92. Environmentally-sound production systems include, among others, integrated pest management, integrated crop production, agroforestry, and organic agriculture. Organic agriculture is perhaps one of the most holistic approach of farming that can also offer economic opportunities. It relies on a management approach that encourages biological processes of available nutrients and defence against pests, refrains from using synthetic inputs, requires crop rotation and mixed farming, maximizes the use of traditional knowledge and local resources, and secures price premiums in niche markets (organic bananas, for example, receive at least a 25 percent higher farmgate price than conventional ones).
93. Organic management practices, therefore, offer means to enhance crop protection and soil fertility, increase income by saving on input costs, minimize all forms of pollution and degradation that may result from agricultural practices, promote biodiversity and use of traditional varieties, decrease the risk of production failure or spread the risk production variation under climatically adverse years or pest incidence, decrease dependency on exogenous resources, enhance household food security and provide new market opportunities.
94. When farmers seek to export organic products, reliable market information is needed and most importantly, sufficient resources are needed to hire organic certifiers to inspect and confirm annually that farms or agri-business adhere to standards established by various trading partners. Besides quality standards, other factors to consider are the packaging and transportation logistics that require efficient organization by farmers.
95. In 50 percent of SIDS, tourism represents 20-50 percent of export earnings (e.g. Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Maldives, St. Kitts Nevis, St. Lucia) and is a major source of private and public revenues. Even where tourism is not the backbone of the economy, it is indeed a rapidly growing sector. Integrating tourism management in terms of island carrying capacity (e.g. Maldives), or within ICAM and development plans, can optimise land and water use, develop new sources of income and employment and enhance conservation of amenities (e.g. parks and protected areas), important to tourism maintenance and development.
96. While SIDS suffer from pollution created by waste generation and in some cases, habitat destruction caused by tourism, they do not capture the full benefits of the sector that often leak back to other countries to import food and beverages (in the Caribbean, the share of local producers in hotel food supply ranges from 5 percent to 50 percent) and the share of domestic agriculture is decreasing.
97. Provided that SIDS can face foreign competition, tourism can provide a stimulus for import substitution for a range of products, for example, fresh fish, fruits and vegetables. Opportunities for supplying tourist demand are feasible if viewed from a regional rather than national perspective. Regional joint ventures could organize information related to the demand and details of local producers, seasonality and quantity of local produce, improved transportation means, reliable and regular supplies, and food and beverages quality standards. In Caribbean SIDS, national case studies have been made to explore the linkages between tourism and agriculture.
98. SIDS water sport and sport fishing destinations rely on appropriate healthy coral reefs and appropriate fish stocks in order to prosper. Tourists, however, often engage in damaging practices such as boat anchoring on corals or excessive removal of reef resources. Conflicts between traditional activities such as fisheries and tourism are not uncommon. Such constraints on both the tourist industry and local fishers could be turned into opportunities if properly managed. Adequate short- and long-term resource allocation strategies can successfully valorize marine and coastal resources and create sustainable employment opportunities through ecotourism and recreation (e.g. gamefishing, water sports such as diving, whale watching).
99. As recognized by the Declaration of Barbados adopted by the 1994 Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, SIDS "bear responsibility for a significant portion of the world's oceans and seas and their resources", and "their ecosystems provide ecological corridors for linking major areas of biodiversity around the world". Furthermore, there are several constraints to SIDS' development, including scarce land resources, limited fresh water, and pressures on coastal and marine environment and resources. To address these problems, appropriate legal tools are needed, both domestically and internationally. In additional to national legislation on natural resource management and environmental protection, international instruments providing for cooperation and partnership are essential to support SIDS efforts to sustainably manage their ecosystems and wisely use their natural resources.
100. When assessing the degree of integration of an existing or proposed legal framework for environmental management, it is useful to understand legal and institutional arrangements governing natural resources management and legal mechanisms required to achieve objectives. More specifically, the way institutions operate might need to change, the rights of users of natural resources might need to be changed and new mechanisms introduced to regulate human activities or resolve disputes that may affect environmental integrity. In SIDS, the nature and function of different property regimes need to be taken into account by policy-makers before attempting to introduce change for property and use rights.
101. From the perspective of natural resource management, the identity of the legal owner of a resource may not be a crucial issue. It is, however, useful to identify who has the legal right to manage the resource, whether or not the use of the resource is in fact controlled, who the management authority is, and on what terms access to the resource is granted. It is also important to ensure that law provisions and administrative procedures will take into account all relevant information and that holistic (as opposed to sectoral) criteria will be used in planning and decision-making. Legal rules and criteria applied by different institutions at different levels of the administrative hierarchy should also be consistent.
102. National laws could incorporate, according to specific conditions, a number of legal environmental principles. The precautionary principle is used to prevent potentially irreparable environmental harm where it is believed that something is causing damage, even in absence of conclusive scientific evidence. The principle of preventive action requires action to be taken to avert known or quantifiable harm and can be seen in legal requirements for development permits and consents. The polluter pays principle ensures that the social costs of environmental degradation are born by those responsible for the degradation rather than by society at large. The rational and equitable use of natural resources principle emphasizes that the use of natural resources should be "rational" and that the community of users bring about an equitable allocation of the resource.
103. A variety of legal instruments are used for environmental management. Appropriate rights to own and use natural resources are fundamental to any system for allocating or managing natural resources. It is being increasingly recognized that some of the traditional legal rights asserted by indigenous people over natural resources and the principles they embody are useful in promoting sustainable management and equitable allocation. In such cases, recognizing customary or indigenous rights over resources and devolving certain powers to manage those resources to traditional authorities (or local users associations) is important.
104. The formal designation of an area of particular ecological importance as a protected area or designating zones in which only certain specified activities or land uses are permitted are proactive mechanisms that can be used for a variety of purposes, including conserving natural habitats, guaranteeing public access to the shore and promoting tourism.
105. Increasingly, national laws require Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) before major development projects are authorized. This mechanism is inherently cross-sectoral, preventive in nature, and specifically concerned with evaluating the linkages between human activities and the environment. Considering that in SIDS, natural resources may suffer from the incremental degradation effects of many small activities, cumulative EIAs of development plans and policies and appropriate zoning of development areas may be more effective than project-specific EIAs.
106. Early biodiversity-related treaties include, among many others, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora - CITES - (Washington, 1973); the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar, 1971); and the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals - CMS -(Bonn, 1979). Since 1983, FAO has been developing and adapting to emerging needs its Global System on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The 1992 UN Convention on Biological Diversity is the latest instrument.
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
107. CITES' goal is to regulate international trade in endangered wild animals and plants in order to ensure that their survival is not threatened. For such trade, government permits are required, and these are subject to a listing of wildlife species in three appendices. The most endangered species, those whose trade may be allowed only in exceptional circumstances, are listed in Appendix I. Other species at serious risk are listed in the Appendix II (species which may become threatened with extinction if their trade is not strictly regulated) or Appendix III (species subject to regulation within any party's jurisdiction for the purpose of restricting their exploitation). More than 30 000 species are currently listed under the three appendices. CITES came into force in 1975 and has at present 140 parties (of which 22 SIDS).
Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitat
108. The Ramsar Convention's objective is the conservation and wise use of wetlands, primarily as habitat for waterbirds, and more generally as ecosystems for biodiversity conservation and human well-being. In addition to providing a framework for international cooperation in this field, the Convention requires parties to designate wetlands and to manage them sustainably, and significant wetlands are included in the "List of Wetlands of International Importance". So far, 931 such wetlands have been designated, covering more than 69 million hectares. The Convention entered into force in 1975 and has now 113 contracting parties, of which 10 SIDS.
Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals
109. Under CMS, whose aim is to conserve terrestrial, marine and avian migratory species throughout their range, parties commit to maintain wildlife and its habitat, and to integrate such conservation concerns into development and planning policies. Appendices I and II list the species covered by CMS. Strict protection is provided for the endangered species listed in Appendix I (76 species at present). Species listed in Appendix II are those for the conservation of which parties enter into cooperative agreements (so far, seven such agreements have been concluded under the auspices of CMS). CMS came into force in 1983 and has currently 51 parties: Guinea-Bissau is party and Jamaica is signatory of the Convention.
FAO Global System on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
110. In 1983, FAO developed a Global System for Plant Genetic Resources through the creation of a Commission and the adoption of an Undertaking, with a view to ensuring the conservation, availability and sustainable utilization of plant genetic resources for present and future generations. The Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (initially established as the Commission on Plant Genetic Resources), is an intergovernmental forum where countries who are donors or users of germplasm, funds and technology can discuss matters related to genetic resources for food and agriculture.
111. In 1995, the Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity recognized the special nature of agricultural biodiversity, its distinctive features and problems needing distinctive solutions. Therefore, the Commission's mandate was broadened to "cover all components of biodiversity of relevance to food and agriculture" and "stressed the importance of an integrated approach and full cooperation with the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, and recognized that the broadened Commission would facilitate such cooperation".
112. The International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources is a non-legally binding instrument which deals with the exploration and collection of plant genetic resources, their availability and conservation in situ and ex situ, as well as funding mechanisms, international cooperation in conservation, exchange and plant breeding, and coordination of genebank collections and information systems. The Undertaking was complemented by three resolutions on plant breeders' rights, on Farmers' Rights, and on the sovereign rights of nations over their genetic resources. In 1993, FAO decided to harmonize the Undertaking with the Convention on Biological Diversity. Its revision is currently underway and includes matters such as access to plant genetic resources and the realization of Farmers' Rights. 171 countries and the European Community now participate in the Global System, by having joined the Commission (146 countries - of which 26 SIDS - and the European Community) or adhered to the Undertaking (111 countries, of which 19 SIDS).
UN Convention on Biological Diversity
113. Among the various international legal instruments which deal with biodiversity, the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity is the latest and broadest in scope and coverage. In its Preamble, the Convention pays special attention to the needs of SIDS. Its objectives are the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of its components (genetic resources, species, and ecosystems), as well as the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from genetic resources. Grounded on the concept of sustainability, the Convention aims at reconciling the need for conservation with the concern for development. It is also based on considerations of equity and shared responsibility, providing for partnership among countries with a view to promoting access to genetic and financial resources, transfer of environmentally sound technologies, and scientific and technical cooperation. Parties undertake, among other commitments, to preserve endangered species and to maintain natural ecosystems, particularly through the establishment of protected areas.
114. Since it entered into force in 1993, the Convention has gained universal acceptance, as it now has no fewer than 174 parties. With the exception of Sao Tomé and Malta, all SIDS have ratified this Convention. In its three years work plan, the Jakarta Mandate on Marine and Coastal Biological Diversity (May 1998) recognizes the "special significance of SIDS in the global conservation of marine and coastal biological diversity".
115. Four main international instruments form the basis of national and international action for the management of fisheries resources: the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (the Convention); the 1995 United Nations Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the Convention on the Law of the Sea Relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (the UN Agreement); the 1993 FAO Agreement to Promote Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas (the Compliance Agreement); and the 1995 Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (the Code).
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
116. The Convention establishes a comprehensive legal regime covering all aspects of the seas and oceans. In particular, it provides a framework for the conservation and management of fisheries resources and allocates rights and responsibilities in relation to these resources on the basis of the area they occupy or the types of fish stocks that occur in them. The underlying principle of conservation and management of fisheries resources is that the allowable catch is determined and that conservation measures are adopted to maintain or restore populations of harvested species at levels which can produce maximum sustainable yield, as qualified by relevant environmental and economic factors. The Convention is the basis for the FAO Compliance Agreement, the UN Agreement and the Code insofar as it relates to marine fisheries. The Convention came into force in 1996 and at present has 128 parties: all 33 SIDS are parties.
United Nations Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the Convention on the Law of the Sea Relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks
117. The UN Agreement has now 59 signatories (of which 14 SIDS) and 19 ratifications (of which 9 SIDS). It will enter into force 30 days after the deposit of the 30th instrument of ratification or accession. It sets out principles for the conservation and management of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks and establishes that such management must be based on the precautionary approach and best available scientific information. It also elaborates on the fundamental principle, established in the Convention, that States should cooperate to ensure conservation and promote the objective of the optimum utilization of fisheries resources. It promotes these objectives by establishing, among other things, detailed minimum international standards for the conservation and management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks; ensuring that measures taken for the conservation and management of those stocks in areas under national jurisdiction and the adjacent high seas are compatible and coherent; ensuring that there are effective mechanisms for compliance and enforcement of those measures on the high seas; recognizing the special requirements of developing states in relation to conservation and management as well as the development and participation in fisheries for the straddling and highly migratory fish stocks.
FAO Agreement to Promote Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas
118. The Compliance Agreement has been accepted by 11 states so far (one of which is St. Kitts and Nevis) and will enter into force on the date of deposit of the 25th instrument of acceptance. It promotes effective flag state control over fishing vessels operating on the high seas so that they do not engage in any activity that undermines the effectiveness of international conservation and management measures. This requires, inter alias, that parties: do not allow any fishing vessel entitled to fly its flag to be used for fishing on the high seas unless it has been authorized to do so; maintain a register of vessels to fish on the high seas; maintain records concerning the physical characteristics of the vessels and their ownership and operational details; ensure that vessels authorized to fish are marked for identification in accordance with generally accepted standards; exchange information maintained on their respective registers through FAO and other appropriate fisheries organizations. Both the UN Agreement and the Compliance Agreement reinforce regional fisheries bodies by obligating non-member states to comply with fisheries management measures.
Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries
119. The Code is a voluntary instrument that provides principles and standards applicable to the conservation, management and development of fisheries. It also covers the capture, processing and trade of fish and fishery products, fishing operations, aquaculture, fisheries research and the integration of fisheries into coastal area management. Certain parts of the Code are based on relevant rules of international law, including those reflected in the Convention. The Code contains provisions that may be or have already been given binding effect by means of other obligatory legal instruments, such as the Compliance Agreement that forms an integral part of the Code.
120. FAO is fully committed to supporting its member states, specially developing countries, in the efficient implementation of both the Code and the Compliance Agreement. In particular, FAO can help countries revise or formulate their fisheries legislation in line with the principles set out in these two agreements and in other recent international legal instruments on fisheries management. For example, in 1994 FAO prepared "Guidelines" for the implementation of the Compliance Agreement, which are meant to guide the drafters of new legislation on ways in which the provisions of this instrument may be implemented. They include an example of implementing law to illustrate what a free-standing implementation act could look like.
121. More recently, in 1997, FAO assisted island countries in the OECS region (Anguila, Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines) to develop harmonized legislation to comply with the Code and the UN Agreement. Currently, FAO is assisting the Secretariat of the High Level Multilateral Conference on Conservation and Management of the Highly Migratory Fish Stocks of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, in which island states and distant water fishing states are discussing an agreement for fisheries management in the framework of the UN Agreement.
UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
122. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was opened for signature at UNCED in 1992. It entered into force in 1994 and has now 176 parties. All SIDS, with the exception of Sao Tomé, have ratified it.
123. The Convention sets an "ultimate objective" of stabilizing "greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human-induced) interference with the climate system". It does not specify the amount of gas concentrations but refers to an unspecified level of "danger". However, it states that "such a level should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner". This provision highlights the main concerns about food production (probably the most climate-sensitive human activity) and economic development. It also suggests that some change is inevitable and that adaptive as well as preventive measures are needed.
124. In December 1997, a Protocol to the Convention was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, and was opened for signature in 1998. To date, the only two countries that have ratified it are island states: Antigua and Barbuda, and Fiji. Other seven SIDS are signatories.
125. The Kyoto Protocol explicitly recognizes the need to implement and to further elaborate policies and measures to achieve quantified emission limitations and reduction commitments in the fields of energy efficiency, new and renewable forms of energy and the promotion of sustainable forms of agriculture.
126. The World Food Summit made a number of explicit references to the impact of climate fluctuations on food supply, as one the factors interfering with sustainable increases in food production. FAO's climate-related activities include those on agroclimatic potential, depletion of the ozone layer by some agricultural inputs (e.g. methyl bromide), and the use of seasonal forecasts for farming practices. In this regard, FAO's main role is to help its member countries to: (i) reduce their vulnerability to climate change; (ii) improve their capacity for reducing greenhouse gas emissions related to agriculture; (iii) promote the use of efficient energy technologies and a move towards renewable energy sources, especially biomass; (iv) ensure the reliability of climate change impact scenarios and to disseminate information on climate change-related risks; (v) fulfil their obligations under climate-related conventions and utilize the financial mechanisms provided by them.
127. In particular, FAO can assist countries to comply with their commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, to develop improved methodologies to inventory emissions from agricultural sources, to formulate cost-effective national plans to reduce emissions, and to take advantage from the opportunities offered by the Clean Development Mechanism and Tradable Permits.
128. The Forest Principles are the "non-legally binding authoritative statement of principles for a global consensus on the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests" that emanated from the Earth Summit in 1992.
129. The 1994 International Tropical Timber Agreement came into force on 1 January 1997 and, of its total membership of 50, Fiji, Guyana, Papua New Guinea and Suriname are members. The current agreement has a greater focus on sustainable forest management than did the previous one, and is backed by a new fund (the Bali Partnership Fund) that will enable member countries to introduce sustainable forest management. Among the issues currently addressed by the International Tropical Timber Organization are the updating of the criteria and indicators for sustainable management of natural tropical forests, forest fires, and market access.
130. The UN Convention to Combat Desertification was adopted in 1994 and entered into force in 1996. Its objective is the sustainable management of land and other resources in drylands, the rehabilitation and conservation of resources in danger of, or degraded by, desertification, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits of development in drylands. Although few SIDS are located in dry areas, the convention addresses land degradation and drought issues, which are concerns in all SIDS. The Convention has now 144 parties, of which 26 SIDS.
131. The Convention includes a series of action programmes, a framework for scientific and technical cooperation, and various supporting measures. FAO's support to the Convention is related to the protection of the environment and natural resources that are essential to food security. More specifically, FAO deals with sectoral and cross-sectoral aspects of desertification of relevance to food and agriculture, including land and water, forests, rangelands and livestock management, climate and agro-meteorology, information systems, food security and aid, national policies and planning, local planning using participative approaches, as well as ecosystem conservation.
132. Both organizational and technical skills are needed to address the population characteristics and institutional concerns in SIDS. In particular, there is need for:
awareness, communication and training on environmental management for policy-makers, managers and civil society groups (e.g. fishermen associations, rural communities, private operators, etc.) in order to form a critical mass of expertise and compensate for continuous brain-drain;
methodologies and skills for holistic management and integrated planning, multi-purpose natural resource management, valuation of environmental goods and services, cumulative environmental impact assessment, dispute resolution techniques, facilitation, and coordination, both domestically and through regional bodies;
innovative partnerships between traditional communities and scientific researchers to enhance endogenous capacity and build on traditional knowledge and management practices;
regional centres in the areas of research, training and development of environmentally-sound management and technologies.
133. Frail national institutions could be strengthened through regional pooling of resources for information collection and analysis on many fronts:
regional clearing houses for coastal and marine environmental information;
inventories of existing flora, fauna and ecosystems;
mechanisms for inter-islands information and technology sharing;
mapping vulnerable areas (e.g. climate impact);
communication for rapid response to emergencies;
comprehensive regional/sub-regional assessments of national meteorological and hydrological services to determine and specify their needs with a view to improving their service capability in the specific areas of environmental disaster prevention.
134. Research and technology sharing is also more effective on a regional basis, for example to:
strengthen regional marine research centres;
assess technologies for agricultural production and processing;
establish regional gene-bank centres for research;
develop research on climate variability;
collect consistent time-series data for monitoring environmental change;
test and demonstrate data integration, and integrate information and analytical tools into decision support systems, in order to evaluate the effects of climate variability and change.
135. At national level, site-specific technologies deserving particular attention include:
promoting environmentally-sound agricultural practices such as organic agriculture;
adopting alternative energy sources and energy-saving techniques;
investing in cost-effective waste recycling and recovery.
136. There is need for institutional coordination to integrate environment and population considerations into economic sectors plans and into national development policies. In particular, SIDS should:
design land and water use plans based on negotiation of trade-offs between sectors and users;
integrate forest policies into national strategies for natural resources management;
incorporate disaster preparedness, response and recovery into development planning;
evaluate constraints and opportunities for economic development on the environment and the contribution of environmental goods on services to sustainable development;
explore vital linkages between tourism and agricultural development;
address land and sea interactions through integrated coastal area management.
137. In SIDS, appropriate legal frameworks are needed for environmental protection, biodiversity conservation and natural resources management. In particular, SIDS should:
enforce, ratify or conclude, as appropriate, relevant international conventions dealing with natural resources and the environment; if required, adopt national legislation to implement those conventions;
join, in particular, the UN Agreement and the FAO Compliance Agreement in order to facilitate the creation of more effective fishery management arrangements in their regions;
develop new or amend exiting legislation, as appropriate, to ensure that a comprehensive, updated and coordinated legal framework on natural resource management and environmental protection is in place, including specific laws and regulations on land, water and fisheries resources; biodiversity and genetic resources; forestry, wildlife, and protected areas; soil conservation and watershed management; agro-chemical management and pollution control; land-use planning and integrated coastal area management.