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Small Islands Big Picture episode 2: How can the UN Multidimensional Vulnerability Index help small island states?

Written by Emily Wilkinson, Matthew Bishop


Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are more exposed to damaging external forces than larger states. They suffered the steepest GDP declines from COVID-19 with the slowest recoveries of any group of countries, and they face ever-more frequent and destructive adverse climate events. Yet they receive less aid and concessional financing, because access is based on countries’ average incomes and not their average vulnerability.

In this episode of "Small Islands Big Picture", hosts Resilient and Sustainable Islands Initiative (RESI) Directors Emily Wilkinson and Matthew Bishop look at the United Nation's new Multidimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI), how it relates to age-old debates about small-state vulnerability, and why it could lead to a long-overdue shift in the allocation of international aid.

In "Island Voices", Theresa Meki speaks about the meaning of vulnerability and George Carter explains different aspects of SIDS' vulnerability that need to be considered. In "The Big Picture", Fatumanava-o-Upolu III Dr Pa'olelei Luteru reports on how work on the MVI is proceeding. In "No Stupid Questions", Emily and Matt answer "Does thinking of Small Island Developing States through the prism of vulnerability risk infantilising them?".


  • Emily Wilkinson (host) | RESI Director and Senior Research Fellow, ODI
  • Matthew Bishop (host) | RESI Director and Senior Lecturer, University of Sheffield
  • Gaston Browne | Prime Minister of Antigua-Barbuda and Co-Chair, UN High-Level Panel on the MVI
  • Fatumanava-o-Upolu III Dr Pa'olelei Luteru | Permanent Respresentative of Samoa, UN High-Level Panel on the MVI
  • Theresa Meki | Department of Pacific Affairs, Australian National University
  • George Carter | RESI Co-director and Department of Pacific Affairs, Australian National University


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