UN Summit of small island states: working together to protect the climate and biodiversity

Big sea riff

Great Sea Reaf. Picture: Jürgen Freund

Germany wants to work together with the small island states to better protect the climate. At the UN Conference on Small Island Developing States held in Samoa from 1 to 4 September, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Environment Ministry, Rita Schwarzelühr-Sutter announced a further expansion of cooperation.

The central theme of the cooperation is climate action - both on the islands concerned and in the context of the forthcoming negotiations for an ambitious international climate agreement. Schwarzelühr -Sutter: "We need a binding and transparent climate agreement in 2015. Only this will allow us to address the effects of climate change and create lasting jobs. It is more profitable to invest than to repair damage. We can limit climate change and create great benefits for the economy at the same time."

Germany is also successfully working together with the small island states on the conservation of biological diversity and the development of renewable energy sources.


Climate change impacts small island states directly through the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events and rising sea levels. Their isolated geographical location and low altitude above sea level make many islands particularly vulnerable to environmental changes. The natural resources of the islands are the only means of livelihood for a large proportion of the 65 million inhabitants of small island states.

Since 2008, the Federal Environment Ministry has spent around 140 million euros from its International Climate Initiative (ICI) in support of collaborative projects with small island states to adapt to climate change, to protect biodiversity and to promote the establishment of a sustainable energy supply. An important goal is to support the local population of the islands in the sustainable management of their natural resources and preservation of ecological diversity. Healthy ecosystems not only offer better resistance to climate change, but are also a prerequisite for local economic development in tourism, fisheries and agriculture. Another goal is the long-term improvement of living conditions on small island states through structural measures such as a decentralized energy supply with renewable energies.

The United Nations declared 2014 the International Year of the Small Islands Developing States in order to call attention to their importance and to the current challenges faced by small island states in light of globalization and climate change.