Human dimensions of environmental change in small island developing states: some common themes

Climate change and its consequence of sea level rise are major issues for small island developing states (SIDS), as they worsen many other pressures on their people and their environment. Accordingly, articles in this special issue of Regional Environmental Change on SIDS address research gaps in the following thematic areas of the human dimensions of climate change. (1) Islander perceptions of climate change and the information sources on which these are based. (2) Migration to richer countries, which dominates popular media articles, so that scholars from a wide range of disciplines have given their perspectives on it. For many SIDS, however, relocation within that country is much more of an issue, but little studied as yet. (3) Community-based adaptation, a theme which only rarely appears in peer-reviewed journals. (4) National, regional and international policies and the effectiveness of their implementation. (5) Social and cultural issues arising from the above. This paper provides an overview of these and some related themes of importance to SIDS, including ocean acidification and land degradation. Researchers based in the SIDS and regional organisations have an important role in recognising these issues and in developing the local skills base needed to deal with them. The Paris Agreement of 2015 is a positive (but as yet inadequate) step towards the international action on climate change that SIDS need.