Building the Resilience of Small States

A Revised Framework

image of Building the Resilience of Small States

Some small states enjoy relatively high GDP per capita –giving the impression of economic strength – when in reality these economies are fragile and disproportionately affected by adverse economic shocks, natural disasters and extreme weather events.

The Commonwealth resilience framework has been developed to identify both the national policies required to build resilience and the areas in which regional and international development partners can provide support.

This study refines and expands the framework to cover areas such as governance, environmental management and social development. It proposes policy measures for building resilience and ways in which the resilience framework for small states can be embedded in national planning to help stakeholders to agree priority areas for policy intervention.




Small states face a unique set of development challenges posed by their small size, notably narrow production and export bases, limited resources and capacity constraints. These characteristics heighten their susceptibility to economic and climate related shocks, which are likely to increase in frequency and intensity with climate change and globalisation. While the latter undoubtedly creates opportunities for small states, the accompanying integration of markets and openness of small economies means greater exposure to external shocks. Each shock wave further erodes their economic and social gains, hindering their ability to respond to and cope with future shocks. This was especially evident during the 2008–10 global economic recession. Climate change adds greater uncertainty to future growth prospects and added costs.


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