Thursday, April 28, 2011

The challenges facing small states

Everton Pryce in the Jamaica Observer: Thirty two of the Commonwealth's 53 member countries are small states, defined as countries with populations of less than 1.5 million people. They range in size from micro-states, such as St Kitts and Nevis in the Eastern Caribbean with less than 50,000 people and Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique of the Lesser Antilles in the Windward Islands of the Eastern Caribbean with a population of 110,000 inhabitants, to countries like Botswana and Gambia in Africa.

These countries, without exception, are characterised by their extreme vulnerability in the areas of security, environmental disasters, limited human resources and a lack of adequate economic capital. Despite the threat to the survival of these human-scale societies posed by unstable currencies, military-civil wars, poverty, HIV/AIDS, etc, climate change remains the single most important threat yet facing their prospects for economic development, peace and security and territorial existence.

…This profile in the extreme vulnerability of these states -- with serious implications for our own society -- means that climate change is fast becoming one of the critical international problems of the coming decades, and as such we can expect the cost to our societies of protecting vulnerable infrastructure, such as capital cities, airports, seaports and coastal roads to increase dramatically.

…Responding to the multi-faceted threats of climate change, therefore, will require small states pursuing developmental and sustainability policies that focus on the development of renewable technologies to help in shaping the transition from the fossil era to renewable energies. Especially in open trade-dependent small societies like ours, where energy price shocks tend to have a multiplier effect on the cost of living in the form of goods and services with the potential to trigger deepening political conflicts and social unrest, ways must be found to develop alternative energy sources and to effect domestic energy saving…

Map of St. Kitts and Nevis

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