Welcome to an all new United Nations campaign challenging you to: imagine a world without islands

Small islands face a shaky and uncertain future. Small size and small economies, the climate crisis, remoteness, and extreme vulnerability to harsh global conditions challenge development and threaten sustainable human existence. Whether in the Caribbean, Atlantic or Pacific Ocean, or the South China Sea, it is clear: small islands face a future in limbo.

Despite these challenges, small islands have had a monumental impact on the world. In the Caribbean alone, consider the global impact of the Haitian Revolution, reggae and reggae culture, the achievements of sporting icons, the salsa of Cuba and the shout of azúcar by Celia Cruz, or the infectious reggaeton rhythms that the world can’t mute. “Small Islands; Big Impact” — that’s our message.



More than 65 million people live in small island developing States (SIDS). This special designation, created at the 1992 Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, groups together islands in the Caribbean, the Pacific, the Atlantic, the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea because of their shared experiences of vulnerability. Whether it’s remoteness, small populations, dependence on ocean resources, reliance on imports, limited access to finance, debt pressure, or climate change, the world recognized that islands could face a future in limbo without special considerations as SIDS.


But action for islands since then has failed to keep up with rapidly changing global conditions that exacerbate island vulnerabilities. Islands, many of which have tourism-based economies, were disproportionately impacted by the economic and social repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. And then there’s the climate crisis…

In 2017, category five hurricanes Irma and Maria barrelled through the Caribbean three months apart, with islands like Puerto Rico and Antigua and Barbuda being struck by both. Over in the Pacific, sea level rise is already threatening to swallow entire islands whole. Both experiences are products of climate change. But climate change, driven by large industrial nations, is not a product of small islands.

Alerting the world to the looming danger, the 39 island States and 18 overseas island territories that make up the SIDS group sounded the alarm, adopting the rallying cry “1.5 to Stay Alive”. The latest Emissions Gap Report from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) shows, however, that current pledges under the Paris Agreement put the world on track for a 2.5-2.9°C temperature rise above pre-industrial levels this century. We must act now for islands before it’s too late. The time has come to imagine a world without islands.


The challenges that islands face are not the only ones that should be told. The triumphs and achievements of islands and island people, just like the infectious rhythms and vibrant culture, are experiences to behold. These are the types of stories this campaignwas created to tell.

The campaign features four types of content; Illustrations of SIDS concepts; Reels showcasing why islands are worth fighting for; Editable Canva templates to tell your own #SIDSStories; Video responses to campaign’s tagline.

All stories are shared from the perspective of island people seeking to engage the world and inspire action. The tagline “imagine a world without islands” has been used as a prompt to inspire island storytelling. That’s why all content generated under this campaign uses the hashtag #SIDSStories.


As the international community prepares to gather in Antigua and Barbuda, 27 – 30 May, for the 4th International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS4), the entire world’s focus will be on small islands. This campaign aims to bring more visibility to this once in a decade Conference and make the case to the world that islands are worth fighting for.

This campaign was created as a partnership between the United Nations Information Centre for the Caribbean Area (UNIC Caribbean) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean subregional headquarters for the Caribbean (ECLAC Caribbean). The United Nations in the Caribbean and the United Nations in the Pacific provided support, ensuring the campaign would truly reflect both SIDS r egions and communicate with an authentic voice. Click the button below to get campaign assets.

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