Small island states: adaptive capacity,
vulnerability and key concerns
- Adaptive capacity of human systems is generally low in small
island states, and vulnerability high; small island states are
likely to be among the countries most seriously impacted by climate
- The projected sea-level rise of 5 mm yr-1 for the
next 100 years would cause enhanced coastal erosion, loss of land
and property, dislocation of people, increased risk from storm
surges, reduced resilience of coastal ecosystems, saltwater
intrusion into freshwater resources, and high resource costs to
respond to and adapt to these changes.
- Islands with very limited water supplies are highly vulnerable to
the impacts of climate change on the water balance.
- Coral reefs would be negatively affected by bleaching and by
reduced calcification rates due to higher CO2 levels;
mangrove, sea grass bed, and other coastal ecosystems and the
associated biodiversity would be adversely affected by rising
temperatures and accelerated sea-level rise.
- Declines in coastal ecosystems would negatively impact reef fish
and threaten reef fisheries, those who earn their livelihoods from
reef fisheries, and those who rely on the fisheries as a significant
- Limited arable land and soil salinization makes agriculture of
small island states, both for domestic food production and cash crop
exports, highly vulnerable to climate change.
- Tourism, an important source of income and foreign exchange for
many islands, would face severe disruption from climate change and
Extracted from the Policymakers Summary of the
latest Working Group II report from the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change, available online at www.ipcc.ch.
technical information is available.