IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

16.2 Current sensitivity and vulnerability

16.2.1 Special characteristics of small islands

Many small islands are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and sea-level rise. They comprise small land masses surrounded by ocean, and are frequently located in regions prone to natural disasters, often of a hydrometeorological and/or geological nature. In tropical areas they host relatively large populations for the area they occupy, with high growth rates and densities. Many small islands have poorly developed infrastructure and limited natural, human and economic resources, and often small island populations are dependent on marine resources to meet their protein needs. Most of their economies are reliant on a limited resource base and are subject to external forces, such as changing terms of trade, economic liberalisation, and migration flows. Adaptive capacity to climate change is generally low, though traditionally there has been some resilience in the face of environmental change.