16.7 Key uncertainties and research gaps
Small islands are sensitive to climate change and sea-level rise, and adverse consequences of climate change and variability are already a ‘reality’ for many inhabitants of small islands. This assessment has found that many small islands lack adequate observational data and, as noted in the TAR, outputs from AOGCMs are not of sufficiently fine resolution to provide specific information for islands. These deficiencies need to be addressed, so that remaining uncertainties can be reduced, and national and local-scale adaptation strategies for small islands better defined.
As the impacts of climate change become increasingly evident, autonomous small islands, like other countries, will probably be confronted with the need to implement adaptation strategies with greater urgency. However, for these strategies to be effective, they should reflect the fact that natural and human systems in small islands are being simultaneously subjected to other non-climate stresses including population growth, competition for limited resources, ecosystem degradation, and the dynamics of social change and economic transformation. Therefore, responses to climate change need to be properly coordinated and integrated with socio-economic development policies and environmental conservation. The enhancement of resilience at various levels of society, through capacity building, efficient resource allocation and the mainstreaming of climate risk management into development policies at the national and local scale, could constitute a key element of the adaptation strategy.