24 September 2010 Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today pledged continued United Nations support for small island developing States (SIDS) as they strive to find solutions for their unique challenges, amid limited resources that could hamper their efforts to achieve globally agreed development targets.
“The United Nations is committed to supporting the smalls island developing States at the international policy level and on the ground through its agencies and technical cooperation projects,” Mr. Ban said when he addressed the opening session of a two-day high-level review meeting of a strategy adopted in 2005 to advance sustainable development among this vulnerable group of countries.
Small island developing States face unique vulnerabilities as a result of their small size, isolation, narrow resource base, limitations on economies of scale, and high exposure to global environmental threats.
In the past five years since the adoption of the Mauritius Strategy, SIDS have suffered, like all countries, from the financial, food and energy crises, Mr. Ban said.
They have also been especially vulnerable to climate change, with some of them having experienced loss of agricultural land and infrastructure, he added.
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. 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,” Mr. Ban said, pointing out that national plans and policies now reflect key principles of sustainable development as set out in the strategy.
Overall, however, SIDS still lack sufficient access to financing for the dramatic changes they need to make, including for achieving the range of anti-poverty targets contained in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), according to the Secretary-General.
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,” Mr. Ban said.
The review processes at national and regional levels have emphasized the need for SIDS to mainstream climate change adaptation plans into national development strategies, he added.
They also need increased access to low-carbon technologies and technology transfer initiatives, and 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,” the Secretary-General said.
The high-level review session is intended to provide the international community with an opportunity to discuss the way forward based on the assessment of progress made, lessons learned and constraints encountered in the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy.
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