Small Island Developing States in a Changing Climate: Paths to Adaptation

This course provides an overview of climate change adaptation for the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) with a focus on the environmental perspective. It will present the key concepts regarding the issues of adaptation to climate change and the methodological tools needed to analyse challenges faced by SIDS, in order to propose sustainable solutions.

About The Course

Climate change has already taken place, and it will continue to do for the foreseeable future. These changes present important challenges, but also opportunities, for humanity. 

The focus of this course will be on adaptation. In other words, we will look at how each country must assess their specific vulnerabilities to climate change, and the tools at their disposal for protecting the well-being, economy, and environment of its citizens.

We will base our examples on Small Island Developing States (SIDS). In such countries economic assets and population density occur primarily in coastal areas. As such, SIDS countries are particularly vulnerable to two of the main predicted changes to occur with climate change: rising sea levels and increased intensity of storms. In some cases, the combination of rising sea levels and exceptional storms can lead to the disappearance of high quality farmlands and the destruction of wetlands and human infrastructure that provide important ecosystem services. 

At the end of this course launched by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the University of Geneva (UNIGE) in collaboration with the National Adaptation Planning Global Support Programme (NAP-GSP), you will be able to:

  1. Explain why countries will have to adapt to climate change and provide examples of what this could look like.
  2. Explain why Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are particularly vulnerable to climate change.
  3. Outline how to analyse climate risks and discuss why some countries are more vulnerable than others.
  4. Discuss how adaptation can contribute to sustainable development goals.

And last but not least, you will have the opportunity to create a network and exchange experiences and practices on the SIDS problematic and more largely on climate change adaptation topics.


Our speakers are experts coming from the academic world, international and non-governmental organisations. Among them are:

  • Prof. Martin Beniston: Climatologist, member of IPCC, director of the Institute for Environmental Sciences;
  • Dr. Arthur Dahl: Consulting ecologist, board of directors of Global Islands Network, retired Deputy Assistant Executive Director of UNEP;
  • Dr. Alexander Sandy Bisaro: Researcher at the Global Climate Forum in Berlin working on climate change vulnerability and adaptation, he is the co-author of PROVIA guidance;
  • Mr. Pradeep Kurukulasuriya: Head, Climate Change Adaptation, UN Development Programme (UNDP) - Global Environment Facility (GEF)
  • Ms. Rohini Kohli: Lead Technical Specialist NAP-GSP, UN Development Programme (UNDP) - Global Environment Facility (GEF)
  • Dr. Pascal Peduzzi: Head of the Global Change & Vulnerability Unit at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP/GRID-Geneva), specialist in remote sensing and GIS.



Frequently Asked Questions

Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this course?

Yes. Students who completed successfully the course will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructors. However, no credits will be awarded.

Recommended Background

This course does not require any prerequisites or special skills.