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Small but mighty – how developing island nations keep pushing for tougher climate policies worldwide

They are small, remote and the least responsible for the climate crisis. They are also impactful frontrunners in the global fight to end fossil fuels.
As these small island nations prepare for the 4th International Conference on SIDS, there is an opportunity for more Caribbean nations to join the bloc of 12 climate-progressive countries endorsing the call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, and shape the terms of a new agreement to position the Caribbean and Small Island States at the forefront of the renewable energy transition.
Antigua, one of the two major islands that make up the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda. Photo by Rick Jameson un Unsplsh
Antigua, one of the two major islands that make up the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda. Photo by Rick Jameson un Unsplsh

While the effects of the climate crisis are now felt in every region of the planet, they pose a significant threat to Caribbean nations due to the concentration of people, assets, and infrastructure in coastal zones.
Single disasters often have widespread and long-term effects, eroding socio-economic stability in these areas. An example is Hurricane Maria in 2017, which caused damages in Dominica that cost over 225% of the country's GDP.
https://youtu.be/bIBObMiXM10?si=qTiUDXE8l9UeXMEk


For some island nations, the climate crisis poses an existential threat. Vanuatu and Tuvalu in the South Pacific are two of the Small Island Nations that risk disappearing within just 70 years due to sea level rise.

This is also one the reasons why Vanuatu, along with other Island states, are among the first nations to endorse the call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.

“Vanuatu has always been very frustrated by the whole COP process. We are not moving fast enough to deal with the source of greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change, and we all know that it’s fossil fuels,” said Ralph Regenvanu, Minister of Climate Change, Adaptation, Energy, Environment, Meteorology, Geohazards and Disaster Management of Vanuatu, when he joined one of our live broadcast sessions at COP28.

The 39 states known as Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and its 18 Associate Members are now preparing for the UN-led 4th International Conference on SIDS which will take place in Antigua and Barbuda on 27-30 May 2024.

The Conference will be held at the American University of Antigua.
The Conference will be held at the American University of Antigua.

During the conference, the international community will gather to review the sustainable development progress of the SIDS, and propose a new decade of partnerships and solutions to supercharge their path to resilient prosperity.

“We are facing an existential paradox: the smallest contributors to global CO2 emissions, yet among the hardest hit by climate catastrophes”, said Hon Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua in a statement at COP28 in Dubai. “This is not just an environmental crisis, it is a glaring testament to a world order where profits are prioritized over people and planet. It is a world where oil and gas conglomerates, shielded by the power of wealthy nations, continue to reap astronomical profits while the survival of nations like ours hangs in the balance.”

Dominica aims to become the world’s first “climate-resilient" nation, and the indigenous Kalinago people are playing a leading role in developing the country and helping its people to thrive in the face of the climate emergency.  Sylvania Burton (l),
Dominica aims to become the world’s first “climate-resilient" nation, and the indigenous Kalinago people are playing a leading role in developing the country and helping its people to thrive in the face of the climate emergency. Sylvania Burton (l),

Caribbean nations have exemplified steadfast leadership in addressing the climate crisis. Examples of this are Antigua and Barbuda joining the call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2023, Barbados committing to phasing out fossil fuels by 2030, and Dominica committing to 100% renewable energy by 2030. These commitments to phasing out fossil fuels and to expanding renewable energy infrastructure by Caribbean nations are exemplary of the progress that is possible when climate ambition meets political will.

Momentum behind the Fossil Fuel Treaty grows every day, with the proposal now spearheaded by 12 countries from the Caribbean, the Pacific, Latin America, and Asia, including fossil fuel producers such as Timor-Leste and Colombia. Recently, 17 banks declared their support for the Treaty. And just a few weeks ago, at Miami Climate Week, the capitals of two Caribbean nations, Kingston (Jamaica), and Castries (Saint Lucia), joined Belmopán (Belize) in formally calling on nation-states to negotiate a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.

There is now an opportunity for more Caribbean nations to join this bloc of climate-progressive countries, cities and organizations, and shape the terms of a new agreement to position the Caribbean and Small Island States at the forefront of the renewable energy transition.

The Fossil Fuel Treaty Initiative can support the diplomatic activities of Caribbean nations through the following resources:
  • Briefing materials on the issue of a just transition for events and speaking engagements.
  • Support for diplomatic efforts including convenings, ministerials, briefings and knowledge sharing.
  • Research and policy development on key issues where further information would be useful.
  • Communications, including drafting, filming, pitching, and distributing materials and assets.
  • A diverse network of high-profile, trusted experts and amplifiers from around the world who can promote, recognise, and support the Caribbean’s leadership on the issue.
Join the growing coalition pledging to keep 1.5° alive by endorsing the #FossilFuelTreaty today. You can endorse the proposal as a government, city, organisation or individual.

ABOUT:
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are a distinct group of 39 States and 18 Associate Members of United Nations regional commissions that face unique social, economic and environmental vulnerabilities. Learn more.
The Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty is a global effort to foster international cooperation to accelerate a transition to renewable energy for everyone, end the expansion of coal, oil and gas, and equitably phase out existing production in keeping with what science shows is needed to address the climate crisis.
It builds on decades of calls and campaigns for a fossil fuel phase out and fair energy transition by government, civil society, Indigenous, grassroots and other leaders - particularly from the Global South and aims to compliment other movements tactics such as divestment, debt relief and fossil fuel bans as well as the work being advanced by the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance and the Power Past Coal Alliance. Learn more.



  • George Kariuki

    2 w

    Love to see countries like Antigua & Barbuda and Barbados leading the charge on #FossilFuelFree futures. We need all hands on deck to make this #RenewableEnergy transition happen! ✊

    2
    • Sarah Chabane

      2 w

      Great to see SIDS coming together, I hope to read more about the conference in the upcoming weeks!

      5
      • Gorffly mokua

        2 w

        The efforts this developing island nations to lead the global fight against fossil fuels is inspiring! Lets hope that more Caribbean nations will join this this great movement!

        1
        • Patrick Kiash

          2 w

          Its sad and unimaginable that Vanuatu and Tuvalu in the South Pacific are two of the Small Island Nations that risk disappearing within just 70 years due to sea level rise. This must be stopped, am glad this conference will bring more insight, and may the international community help them and support the momentum this (SIDS) are having.

          5
          • Gorffly mokua

            2 w

            @patrick_kiash It is indeed sad small island nations, face the threat of disappearing due to rising sea levels caused by climate change!!!

            1
          Welcome, let's solve the climate crisis together
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