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Sustaining development in Small Island Developing States: a reform agenda

Briefing/policy papers

Written by Emily Wilkinson, Michelle Scobie, Courtney Lindsay, Jack Corbett, George Carter, Rachid Bouhia, Matthew Bishop

Image credit:Construction workers improving road and water infrastructure in Steer Town, Jamaica. Banco Mundial América Latina y el Caribe/Flickr.

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have long pursued unconventional economic development strategies, often with great success. Equally, because of their pronounced susceptibility to exogenous shocks, their progress remains fragile and can be set back suddenly and dramatically, as the Covid-19 crisis and secondary impacts have shown. Successfully exploiting new economic opportunities and sustaining levels of development in the future will require innovation and entrepreneurialism.

The global context is crucial and there may be a window of opportunity for SIDS to shift global priorities, as donors and international organisations seek to make good on the international community’s pledge, articulated in the Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action – SAMOA Pathway, to treat these states as ‘a special case for sustainable development’.

This policy brief outlines three intersecting routes to creating more favourable international conditions for SIDS’ resilience and sustainable development:

  • revisiting eligibility criteria and improving access to official development assistance
  • a fairer share of – and improved access to – climate finance
  • more debt relief and long-term debt restructuring

Authors: Emily Wilkinson, Michelle Scobie, Courtney Lindsay, Jack Corbett, George Carter, Rachid Bouhia and Matthew Bishop