• A New Frontier in Marine Science and Innovation for Small Island Developing States

The persisting problems facing Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to develop, sustain and locally retain capacity indicates that business-as-usual approaches to capacity building are not sufficient to meet the needs of SIDS to secure a thriving future as the Ocean undergoes climate change-related change.

Key factors contributing to this problem include: a lack of common understanding about the meaning of capacity building; the problems that hinder effective and equitable outcomes; ineffective or absent mechanisms for cooperation including matching self- identified needs with resources to meet those needs in the long-term or retain capacity; and a lack of reporting frameworks to track progress and promote best practice.

The Declaration and Initiatives will be launched at an event at the UN Oceans Conference on Monday, June 27th.


The Declaration, June 2022 (PDF)

The Science in Small Island Developing States Report, November 2020 (Summary for Policy Makers | Full Report)

Science and knowledge to support Small Island States conserve and sustainably use marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction, February 2022 (Executive Summary | Full Report)

The need to increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacities and transfer marine technology to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have been affirmed in numerous multilateral frameworks:

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

14.7: by 2030 increase the economic benefits to SIDS and LDCs from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism.

14.7a: increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacities and transfer marine technology taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular SIDS and LDCs

Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA Pathway)

58(f): To undertake marine scientific research and develop the associated technological capacity of small island developing States, including through the establishment of dedicated regional oceanographic centres and the provision of technical assistance, for the delimitation of their maritime areas and the preparation of submissions to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf;

Ahead of the 2022 UN Ocean Conference, being convened under the theme” Scaling up Ocean Action Based on Science and Innovation for the Implementation of Goal 14: Stocktaking, Partnerships and Solutions”, the Member States of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) have identified the overarching practical challenges, and potential solutions for enhancing partnerships for marine science.

These are captured in the “Declaration for the enhancement of marine scientific knowledge, research capacity and transfer of marine technology to SIDS”.

This Declaration provides a basis to:

  1. promote understanding of the specific issues faced by SIDS in current initiatives for capacity building and related transfer of marine technology;
  2. ensure that the needs of SIDS are met in terms of knowledge creation, development and sharing, as well as science and technology for the development and implementation of ocean policy at the local, national, sub-regional, regional and international levels;
  3. where required, shift predominant narratives concerning one-way initiatives and approaches that perpetuate inequities, excludes beneficiaries from the decision-making process and deliver ineffective outcomes;
  4. establish best practice approaches to developing, implementing and sustaining capacity development partnerships;
  5. promote information and knowledge exchange, including on modalities for capacity building and related cooperation in science, technology and innovation, and measurements of effectiveness.

How you can join the initiative

The Declaration is open for signature for all actors involved in capacity development partnerships including States, funding organisations, non-governmental and intergovernmental organisations, academic institutions, philanthropic organizations, and private sector.

The Declaration is intended to be implemented at different levels (international, regional, sub-regional, national and sub-national) and in context specific ways depending on the actors involved and their roles.

For example, donors can use the Declaration as the basis for an evaluation framework to self-assess performance, while international organisations could use the Declaration as a framework to convene knowledge-sharing platforms and training resources to enable change.

Declaration for the enhancement of marine scientific knowledge, research capacity and transfer of marine technology to SIDS

Recognizing the role of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) as the custodians of the ocean because of their leadership in sustainable ocean management and conservation, including through the use of traditional knowledge, knowledge of Indigenous Peoples, and local knowledge systems,

Further recognizing the centrality of the ocean to the cultural identity of SIDS, the dependency of SIDS on the ocean to sustain lives and livelihoods and the role of the ocean in advancing sustainable development in SIDS through ocean-based economies,

Acknowledging that SIDS have been disproportionately affected by the changes to ocean health due to climate change and ocean acidification, with worsening impacts anticipated,

Further acknowledging that capacity building is a pivotal factor in appropriation, ownership and sustainability in technical cooperation, and targeted technology transfer and capacity building needs to be accelerated to meet the urgent global need for the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean and its rich biodiversity,

Concerned with the diverse and persisting capacity gaps at  regional, sub-regional, national, sub-national, individual and institutional levels in SIDS, in particular as it relates to ocean science, technology, knowledge, policy and finance,

Further concerned with the inadequacy of existing approaches  to capacity building that pose more of a burden than a benefit in developing, sustaining and locally retaining capacity,

Emphasizing the need to seize and optimize innovation capacities by maximizing benefits to all parties involved in capacity building, through focusing on future-proofed long-term outcomes, with modernized approaches that eliminate outdated and ineffective technologies,

Guided by the principle of special circumstances of SIDS and their unique vulnerabilities as established in the Barbados Programme of Action (BPoA), the Mauritius Strategy for Implementation (MSI) and the S.A.M.O.A Pathway, and further affirmed in the 2030 Agenda, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and the Paris Agreement and the New Urban Agenda,

Further guided by the declaration entitled “Our ocean, our future: call for action” adopted by the first UN Ocean Conference, the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), as well as the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and its vision of the science we need for the ocean we want,

Recognizing the important role of international partnerships, and the wide range of co-benefits that effective capacity building partnerships will deliver to all stakeholders involved, further facilitating the achievement of the Decade’s objectives,

Further recognizing the challenges faced by SIDS in accessing development finance, which severely limits national efforts for developing, enhancing and retaining local capacity,

We encourage all stakeholders engaging in capacity building partnerships that address the full range of capacity needs identified by SIDS, including science, technology, policy, institutional, and adequate finance that are all critical to ensure future proofing and sustaining local capacity to meet local needs now and in the future.

We call for the establishment of partnerships to increase marine scientific knowledge, develop marine research capacity and transfer marine technology in SIDS, that are:

  1. Genuine, durable, equitable, sustainable and responsive to needs that are self-identified, inter alia through national, regional and global policies and strategies as well as needs assessments.
  2. Co-designed, co-developed and co-implemented by all partners through meaningful engagement and information-sharing to build a shared understanding of the objectives, aims and desired outcomes, and ensure the terms are suitably defined, while allocating sufficient time and resources to establish effective and long-term relationships based on mutual trust and respect, recognizing that SIDS are key partners rather than passive beneficiaries.
  3. Built on mutual learning and innovation between all partners, while respecting that all partners hold diverse forms of knowledge and experience, including traditional knowledge, knowledge of indigenous peoples, and local knowledge systems that should be accessed and used following the principle of free, prior and informed consent in accordance with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  4. Achievable by being realistically designed in a country-relevant and context specific manner, with theflexibility to adjust with changing needs or respond to new opportunities, while recognizing that needs assessments are integral to the development of such strategies.
  5. Fully supported for the duration of the partnership, and provides for long-term sustainability strategy and capacity retention through allocating adequate long term, predictable and sustainable resources for long-term implementation, especially for early-stage development, while accommodating for the mobilization of new resources as required, and ensuring that transfer of technology and capacity-building are mutually supported by appropriate and effective human resources capacity,
  6. Accountable, inclusive and transparent with open communication amongst all partners, to reflect on the motivation, benefits, and other factors influencing equitable capacity development outcomes, by providing spaces for engagement with all relevant stakeholders and knowledge exchange about best-practice approaches, results and challenges, with all relevant stakeholders.
  7. Subject to periodic monitoring, evaluation and learning from experience, with the purpose of evaluating whether the long-term outcomes were achieved, through the use of clearly established baselines, targets and indicators, supplemented by support for the data collection and reporting to enable adjustments of the partnership based on the results.
  8. Designed with the flexibility to review and reform the operating, funding and governance structure, to ensure that evolving needs can be reflected and catered for.


  • Norway
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Cape Verde
  • Comoros
  • Cook Islands
  • Cuba
  • Dominica
  • Dominican Republic
  • Federated States of Micronesia
  • Fiji
  • Grenada
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Jamaica
  • Kiribati
  • Maldives
  • Mauritius
  • Nauru
  • Niue
  • Palau
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Republic of Marshall Islands
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Samoa
  • São Tomé and Príncipe
  • Seychelles
  • Singapore
  • Solomon Islands
  • Suriname
  • Timor-Leste
  • Tonga
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Tuvalu
  • Vanuatu


Announcements coming soon