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Small Island Developing States and Climate Change: An Overview of Legal and Diplomatic Strategies

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Document pages: 21 pages

Abstract: Climate change poses unprecedented challenges to Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The consequences are already visible. Notably, sea level rise endangers water security, leads to coastal erosion, and threatens biodiversity, thus compromising SIDS’ economic system based on fishing, tourism, and sea transportation. The status quo of SIDS will inevitably deteriorate into two possible scenarios: they could turn into uninhabitable rocks, not suitable to host their populations; or they could disappear, submerged by the sea. These events have never been seen before in human history and thus require ad hoc, innovative solutions. Despite the recognition of the peculiar and urgent issues affecting SIDS, the international community has limited its intervention to compensation funds for loss and damage. Nonetheless, these measures will not be enough in the long term. This paper will explore feasible solutions from the legal and political perspectives, with a particular focus on durable strategies. In the short term, the international community will have to maintain the current financial compensation measures specifically devoted to climate change adaptation infrastructures (developed under the Cancun Adaptation Framework). In the long term, financial measures have to be combined with new frameworks shaped to include people displaced by climate change consequences. Furthermore, the international community will have to consider whether SIDS will cease to exist as states in case of submersion of their territory under the sea. To make solutions efficient and durable, the paper presents a strategy to enhance international cooperation when environmental issues affect developing countries, or actors with limited bargaining power.

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