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It is no secret that wealthy nations dominate the world stage and set the international policy agenda. Although the United Nations is largely governed by the principle of one country, one vote, the most powerful nations typically negotiate the environmental treaties that will determine the earth’s future. However, these same nations, by virtue of their deep pockets, are also the most able to adapt to the long-term effects of environmental decline. Moreover, the wealthy nations are responsible for most of our global environmental problems in the first place.

On the other hand, the small island states are the most vulnerable, the least able to adapt, and the least responsible for these problems, yet they have almost no voice in the debate. They are committed to combating climate change and are among the most sophisticated nations in the world when it comes to protecting and preserving their natural resources,  but they have little influence at the United Nations because they lack many of the things that give wealthy nations an advantage. Some small island states have only one paid staff member at their UN mission in New York, which makes attending all of the UN meetings, let alone influencing the agenda, a tremendous challenge. This lack of capacity also makes it exceedingly difficult for the small island states to build cooperative networks with NGOs or coordinate their activities with each other. With small budgets, tiny staffs, and a diminished capacity to coordinate among their political allies, the small island states have little hope of changing the parameters of debate and are effectively sidelined during negotiations. If the small island states were more united, and if the scientific and environmental communities could communicate more effectively with these states, the entire planet would benefit. And at approximately 40 nations strong, or nearly a quarter of the UN General Assembly, the small island states could wield influence that would quite literally be world changing.

With your support, Islands First proposes to address this problem of international political inequality by empowering the small island states to influence environmental policy through the use of some of the methods wielded so effectively by wealthy nations. Islands First will assist the small island states by devising comprehensive political strategies for advancing their environmental agenda, while building the capacity of their UN missions and coordinating strategic networks of scientific, environmental, and policy experts.



  1. I never knew that there are supporters out there to try and protect our islands. I’m glad I chose to write about global warming in Palau which got me through here. As a Palauan native, I have witnessed so much climate change and sea-level rise through the naked eye. I would love to be part of this group to help share these valuable information to everyone I know.

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