Ban Ki-moon's speeches


Remarks to High-Level Meeting on Small Island Developing States

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Headquarters, 24 September 2010

Mr. President,
Distinguished Heads of State and Government,
Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to join the President of the General Assembly in welcoming you to the five-year review of the Mauritius Strategy.

Adopted in 2005, the strategy sets forth actions and strategies for advancing the sustainable development needs of small island developing states. Nineteen priority areas are addressed in it, including the original themes of the Barbados Programme of Action, adopted in 1994.

We are here to review progress made toward achieving the goals of the Mauritius Strategy, to examine what gaps remain and how we can address them with urgency and efficiency.

The international community has long recognized the unique and particular vulnerabilities of small island developing states (SIDS).

They arise from intrinsic characteristics - their small size, isolation, narrow resource base, limitations on economies of scale, and high exposure to global environmental threats.

In the last five years, these states have suffered, like all countries, from the financial, food and energy crises.

They have also been especially vulnerable to climate change. Some small islands have experienced loss of agricultural land and infrastructure already.

There have been negative impacts on the fishing and tourism industries, loss of biodiversity, saltwater intrusion and degradation of terrestrial and wetland habitats and destruction of human settlements.

Some people have lost their livelihoods and felt negative impacts on their health and access to freshwater. With the threat of rising sea-levels, some people have even emigrated to build lives elsewhere.

We have seen some progress made in redressing these problems through the Mauritius Strategy. Political commitment toward sustainable development from each state has increased.

National plans and policies now reflect key principles of sustainable development as set out in the Mauritius Strategy. Several countries have embarked on economic reforms to enhance their resilience to the impacts of globalisation. Strengthening of regional institutional frameworks has been noted in some sub-regions.

Commodity exporters in some small islands have seen growth in trade opportunities. The export growth of resource-poor islands, however, remains well below the world average.

As a whole, however, SIDS still lack sufficient access to financing for the dramatic changes they need to make, including for achieving their targets in the Millennium Development Goals.

They also need increased financial assistance for coping with external shocks. In view of their small size and limited capacity, we need to simplify and streamline financing mechanisms especially during and after natural disasters -- such as the one we saw in Haiti.

The review processes at national and regional levels have emphasized the need for SIDS to mainstream climate change adaptation plans into national development strategies. They also need increased access to low carbon technologies and technology transfer initiatives. They need improved data collection and information systems to facilitate informed decision making.

Let us use this meeting today to devise new ways of approaching and redressing these issues.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The United Nations is committed to supporting small island developing states at the international policy level and on the ground through its agencies and technical cooperation projects.

As we begin this meeting, following the successful completion of the high-level events on the Millennium Development Goals and the Year of Biodiversity, let us bear in mind the synergies between these intergovernmental meetings and processes.

Progress in the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy will bring us closer to the achievement of MDGs and biodiversity goals, and vice versa.

Thank you and I wish you a successful meeting.