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Small islands caught between climate change and tourism economy

38 countries are recognized by the United Nations. They are scattered around the globe's oceans, and small island developing states . These states are grouped together because of their unique social, economic, and environmental challenges.

This bloc is especially vulnerable to climate change. This bloc is also very dependent on tourism, a major driver of climate change and responsible for 8% global carbon dioxide emissions, according to Stefan Gossling, sustainable tourism expert -- , an industry that has been devastated by ongoing coronavirus epidemic.

These islands are in a predicament that is fundamentally recursive. They need to attract tourism for their economic survival. This in turn leads to climate change which bleaches coral reefs and decimates the beautiful beaches that draw tourists. These low-lying islands may drown completely by the end the century.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said last week that the difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees was a death sentence for Maldives.

Each of the 193 international bodies' members have the chance to shine on the global stage at the annual summit. The Maldives, which is perhaps best known as a paradise in the Indian Ocean for Bollywood stars and wealthy honeymooners, had a high-profile event this year. Its foreign minister serves as the General Assembly's President and Solih was speaking third overall -- right after U.S. president Joe Biden

However, the climate change appeals have been around for years. They are made every year as the islands are battered by storms and seas rise like "slow-moving killers", as April Baptiste from Colgate University puts it.

Baptiste is a professor in environmental studies and Africana/Latin American studies. She studies environmental justice in the Caribbean. Because they were considered "dispensable," the appeals of the island states had been ignored for many years. They have little land, financial power, and political power, so it was easy to forget their dire situation. These islands also have a long history of exploitation, and the full-time residents are predominantly Black and brown.

She said, "You need to consider the layers of race, racism and marginality." "I believe that this is the core of the discussion about why small island developing countries are not being taken seriously."

In recent years, both governments and individuals have taken matters into their hands.

A Kiribati man sought refugee status in New Zealand because climate change was threatening his homeland. He was eventually deported. Vanuatu declared this week that it will seek to bring climate change before an International Court of Justice. The move is symbolic and would not have any legal binding effect, but it is intended to clarify international law.

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