Main Issue

The size of most Small Island Developing States (SIDS), coupled with land tenure systems, soil types, relief and climatic variation, limit the area available for urban settlement, agriculture, mining, commercial forestry, tourism and other infrastructure.

Most aspects of environmental management in SIDS directly depend on, or are influenced by, the planning and use of land resources, which in turn are closely linked to coastal zone management and protection.

Few states around the world are more dependent upon healthy and spatially concentrated natural environment resources for socioeconomic development than are the Pacific Island countries. Hence, they need support to maintain and enhance ecosystem goods and services. Integrated approaches to land, water, forest, biodiversity and coastal resource management could contribute to poverty reduction, sustainable livelihoods and climate resilience.

What We Do

One of our flagship initiatives is the Caribbean Large Marine Ecosystem (CLME) project. Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis of two large marine ecosystems revealed that human activities have degraded the capacity of these ecosystems to provide goods and services. It identified three key threats: unsustainable fishing, habitat degradation and pollution. The CLME Project developed a 10-year Strategic Action Program (SAP) that outlines several actions to address the identified threats and their root causes. It treats climate change as a cross-cutting theme that requires special attention.

In addition to CLME, the GEF has been investing in tuna fisheries and its management to support sustainable development in SIDS. The waters of the Western and Central Pacific (WCP) region, for example, hold the world’s largest tuna stocks, as well as large numbers of sharks, billfish and other large pelagics. Sustainable management of WCP tuna stocks is critical not only to the well-being of the region’s people, but also for the international community seeking to conserve an economic resource of global value.

The GEF’s work is guided by several international agreements, such as the Convention for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean (WCPF Convention), Convention on Biological Conservation (CBD) concerning Ecologically or Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs) beyond national jurisdiction and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

Furthermore, our work helps UN member states better fulfill their obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Articles 116 to 119 on conservation and management of the living resources of the high seas are particularly relevant.


The GEF In Action: Collecting Rain to Combat Water Shortages

In St. Lucia, the local community regularly suffers from water shortages because existing treatment plants cannot cope with the high turbidity of incoming water supplies. High levels of fecal contamination also mean the 15 communities living in the watershed are at high risk from waterborne disease. As part of a GEF-funded demonstration project, low-cost technology was installed in more than 20 homes and 10 public institutions to collect and store rainwater from rooftops and other man-made surfaces. A community-driven committee is also helping build greater awareness and support for a more integrated approach to the management of the entire watershed area.