'Blue-Green Economy' Needed for Island Nations Threatened by Rising Sea, Says UN

Sep 02, 2014 04:10 PM EDT

Small island nations have been facing increasing difficulties as the state of the world continues to change. Now the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is recommending that small island developing states (SIDS) adapt a new strategy for socioeconomic purposes to weather the storm of climate change.

Experts are calling the bulk of this strategy a "blue-green economy," which was detailed in the UNEP's Global Environment Outlook SIDS Outlook report.

The report recommends that SIDS take significant action to break away from "business as usual" - where island nations are left further and further behind even other developing states in areas like economics and technology.

"Small Island Developing States presently face a number of major challenges and hardships," UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said in an emailed statement.  "Many suffer from isolation and high costs associated with long distances from global markets, and lag behind in the adoption of new technologies and innovation. Growing populations concentrated in urban areas are putting stress on island resources and the health effects of unsafe water, poor sanitation and increasingly unhealthy diets. Meanwhile, climate change threatens biodiversity, livelihoods and even the very existence of some island nations."

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Nature World News recently reported how rising sea levels, in particular, are dangerously impacting SIDS - meaning elevated water is disturbing building plans, agriculture, and even burial sites.

According to the report, a blue-green economy could help resolve some of these problems by helping SIDS adapt to encroaching conditions. This kind of economy is described as one that focuses on an interdependent and self-sustaining partnership between fisheries, agriculture, and even water tourism, which remain largely separate aspects of current SIDS economies.

"Improvements in line with the blue-green economy would include, among other things, economic diversification, economic approaches to improve the management of biodiversity, resource efficiency, and sustainable consumption and production," Steiner added without going into too much detail.

However, the report adds that "technology leapfrogging" is a desperate necessity, as struggling SIDS have been found to be lacking in green technologies and even communication and data management.

Strong early warning systems and a tie to the international scientific community are also a must, as new studies have found that natural disasters disproportionally impact SIDS with little or no time to prepare for the worst.

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