How do Small Island Developing States Meet the Sustainable Development Goals?

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States in the Global South are facing a double challenge of achieving socio-economic development while adapting to climate change impacts. This study maps to what extent Small Island Developing States (SIDS) manage to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SIDS are at the front line of climate change and while they share numerous challenges, the SIDS are also a heterogeneous group containing a great variation in terms of economic development, institutional structures, and factor endowments. This paper complements the existing broader international evaluation of SDG outcomes by highlighting SIDS specifically, a group that has been only sporadically covered in the literature. By improving our understanding of different SIDS’s development status and challenges we hope both to make the group more visible in the global debate and to contribute useful knowledge to the ongoing development work in and between the SIDS themselves. We compare the SIDS development performance, defined as meeting the SDGs, to a Global Average (GA), in the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social, and environmental. Our investigation confirms that the SIDS are overrepresented among the countries in the world with the poorest data coverage and shows the magnitude of the problem. Further, in our global comparison, we find that they stand out in three aspects – having relatively low levels of poverty, high levels of adult obesity, and low levels of gender equality especially manifested in the share of women in parliament.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-37
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Sustainable Development
Issue number1
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Economic Geography

Free keywords

  • sustainable development
  • Small Island Developing States (SIDS)
  • Sustainable Development Goals SDGs
  • economic dimension
  • social dimension
  • environmental dimension

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