The 2014 International Year of Small Island Developing States celebrates the unique contributions of, and threats to, tiny low-lying islands around the world.
A combined population of 63.2 million people live on tiny islands scattered over the Pacific, Caribbean, and Indian oceans. The people of the islands have vibrant cultural heritages and the islands themselves have rich biodiversity. In total, there are 32 small island developing states, and they face significant environmental and economic challenges due to their small size and remote locations.
Islands and their surrounding coastal areas are unique ecosystems, often comprising many plant and animal species that are endemic—found nowhere else on earth. Kiribati's Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) in the Pacific Ocean safeguards important nesting grounds for sea turtles and threatened and endangered seabirds, and the habitats of coconut crabs and endemic plants. It is one of the world's last intact oceanic coral archipelago ecosystems. Tourist wishing to visit must first apply.
Rising sea levels, waste management, degradation of natural resources and vulnerability to natural disasters make life difficult for people on small islands. The remoteness of the islands affects people's ability to be part of the global supply chain, increases import costs for energy and food, and limits competitiveness in the tourism industry.
Use World Environment Day on 5 June to engage students with what it means to be part of the global village. Consider how the way we live affects people around the world and how students might take action.
• Drought in Tuvalu
• South Pacific sea level monitoring
• Women's microfinance lighting up the community in Solomon Islands
United Nations International Year of Small Island Developing States
United Nations World Environment Day
World Bank, An information-communication revolution in the Pacific