Small Island States Resilience Initiative (SISRI)



Small island states are highly vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters. Over 60% of countries with the highest losses from disaster events are small island states – with damages of up to 9% of GDP. In the last half century, Pacific Island states alone have suffered US$3 billion in damages from natural disasters. And in the past year, Hurricane Maria wiped out 226% of Dominica’s GDP. These vulnerabilities, however, can be reduced through adequate investment, technical expertise and hands-on support.

Through its Small Island States Resilience Initiative (SISRI), GFDRR is helping small island states build larger pipelines of resilient investments to withstand the impacts of climate change—from safeguarding coastal areas to building safety nets that support citizens after disaster strikes while enhancing their adaptive capacity.

In addition to GFDRR, SISRI activities are supported by the European Commission, Japan and Australia.


SISRI’s work in small island states has three main strategic areas:


SISRI is helping small island states map the complex landscape of climate finance assistance and increase both the scale and efficiency of their investments.

A joint GFDRR-OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) analysis found that, though concessional donor funding for resilience nearly doubled from 2011 to 2014, reaching $1.01 billion, it remained highly fragmented with high transaction costs. SISRI is helping small island states to scale up and consolidate their resilience investments, moving away from fragmented small projects towards national initiatives that deliver results at scale.


SISRI provides on-the-ground technical and operational support by drawing on an expanded GFDRR and World Bank team.

Drawing on experience in a wide range of areas including flood and landslide risk assessment, safer infrastructure, and social and financial safety nets, this expert community is deployed on a just-in-time basis to help island nations address project bottlenecks and implement new investments. For example, SISRI is helping the Marshall Islands, Jamaica, and São Tomé and Príncipe to safeguard vulnerable coastal zones through optimally combining “gray” coastal defense structures, such as seawalls, with “green” interventions, such as mangrove restoration.


Through its Practitioners’ Network , SISRI is bringing leading practitioners from small island nations to share knowledge and experience on building resilience.

Most recently, dialogues of the Practitioners’ Network took place as side events at the 2018 Understanding Risk Forum in Mexico City and the 2017 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Cancun, Mexico. The meeting in Cancun brought together more than 80 practitioners from 34 small island states, while the over 40 participants from 20 small island states convened in Mexico City. SISRI produces periodic Knowledge Notes, which captures the insights, best practice and lessons learned from the meetings.


To learn more about SISRI, please contact Denis Jordy at