The Alliance for Small Island States (AOSIS)

The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) is a group of 42 states and observers. They are small island and low-lying coastal countries from Africa, Caribbean, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, Pacific and South China Sea. They all share similar development challenges and concerns relating to the environment, and are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of global climate change. They represent 28 percent of developing countries, 20 percent of the UN’s total membership, and 5 percent of the world’s total population.
They are threatened by:
  • rising sea levels damage coastal zones, where the majority of their population and infrastructure is located on SIDS, for some nations their very existence is threatened
  • saline intrusion into their coastal aquifers, contaminating drinking water and fresh water required for agriculture
  • Ocean acidification and rising temperatures can destroy to coral reefs and fisheries
  • Tropical Cyclones and hurricanes that are predicted to increase in number and severity and can do devastating damage to development
  • Limited adaptive capabilities prevent them from acting quickly on their own
Their major function is to act as a specialized lobby and negotiating voice for small island developing States (SIDS) within the United Nations system. They work together primarily through their New York diplomatic Missions to the United Nations. AOSIS works to come to decisions by processes of consultation and consensus. They are less formal than other groups, they operate out of the chairman's Mission to the United Nations, they have no formal charter, no regular budget, and no secretariat. They do have a Chairman, currently filled by the Permanent Representative of Saint Lucia, and Major policy decisions are taken at ambassadorial-level plenary sessions.
Their declaration on climate change in 2009 stated that:
· They are extremely concerned about sea level rise, more frequent and extreme weather events, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, coastal erosion, and changing precipitation patterns
· Disappointed by efforts of developed nations thus far and by evidence of still rising atmospheric levels of carbon
· The world needs to put this issue as it’s highest priority and work with urgency
· Specific goals should be set at COP 15, including a long term goal of 350 ppm atmospheric CO2, reduction of GHG’s 85% below 1990 levels, and a temperature increase of no more than 1.5 C
· Serious action needs to be taken to prepare SIDS to adapt to dramatic changes