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Population and Development in Small Island Developing States
Out of 232 countries listed by the United Nations, 54 are small island developing states (SIDS). Qualifying features of small island economies and environments – such as their narrow resource base, reliance on a limited range of economic activities, costly per capita service provision and infrastructure, remoteness from markets and vulnerability to economic shocks, political upheavals and environmental hazards – are often associated with common population and development challenges. High population growth and density and rapid and concentrated urbanization have resulted in premature depletion of natural resources, land degradation and hazardous urban living environments. Further progress in reducing mortality has been hindered by the high prevalence of non-communicable diseases. In parts of the Pacific and the Caribbean slow or stalling fertility transitions, high maternal mortality, high prevalence of some sexually transmitted infections, and the lack of prioritization of family planning programmes have undermined the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agenda. High emigration, especially highly skilled, has left behind labour markets affected by strategic skills gaps and generated diasporas that are at times larger than homeland populations.
The aim of this panel is to produce a critical mass of comparative research focusing on population and development challenges in small island developing states. As unique laboratories for scientific inquiry, SIDS provide the opportunity to better understand the population and environment nexus, the determinants and patterns of the fertility and epidemiological transitions, and the transitional processes from emigration to multi-directional and multifaceted forms of mobility. With the international development agenda currently moving to a new stage, this panel will also generate policy-relevant analysis on the implications of population issues for the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.