SAMOA: On eve of major conference, UN chief spurs green investment in small islands

Renewable Energy Solar Panels in Tokelau. UN Photo/Ariane Rummery (file photo)

31 August 2014 – Encouraging partnerships between the private sector and small developing island nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday urged corporate leaders to invest in renewable energy and make historic strides in sustainability.

“Oceans isolate small islands – but when they are managed well they become a constant source of wealth,” Mr. Ban told the high-level dialogue of the private sector forum. The event was organized jointly by the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (OHRLLS), the Samoan Government and the Samoa Chamber of Commerce.

The challenges facing small island developing States, such as scarce resources, population pressures and climate change, also affect businesses, he said, and corporate leaders have an interest in rising to these challenges.

Praising the “extraordinary partnership and commitment” being made during the two-day private sector forum, Mr. Ban told representatives of business and industry that they have a collective responsibility to protect the most vulnerable.

“People often say we are in the same boat,” he said. “I would say we are all on the same small island on the same small planet Earth; this is like a small boat in the universe.”

In particular, Mr. Ban noted the critical role of renewable energy to help cut greenhouse gas emissions, while also making countries less dependent on expensive imported fuel.

“You are part of this exciting chance to address risks, seize opportunities, and make history by moving our planet to sustainability,” he urged.

The high-level dialogue comes at the end of the forum, in which hundreds of business leaders and innovators discussed oceans and marine resources, connectivity, sustainable agriculture, sustainable tourism, disaster risk reduction, and renewable energy.

Also today, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) launched a new funding facility to help low-income and rural Pacific islanders access affordable savings, insurance, credit and other financial services.

“With access to financial services, poor people can start small businesses, insure against losses, and save in case of illness or disaster,” UNDP Administrator and UNCDF Managing Director, Helen Clark, said at a press briefing.

Implemented through the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP), the UNDP/ UNCDF Financial Inclusion Support Facility is designed to disburse grants to financial service providers, including banks and mobile network operators.

These events come ahead of tomorrow's opening of the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States which will run through Thursday and focus on partnerships.

Mr. Ban attended a colourful cultural opening of the conference, calling on the international community to remember our common humanity, and reflect on the efforts of small island developing States to cope with natural disasters, isolation from global markets and other challenges.

Prior to the ceremony, Mr. Ban met with Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi. According to a UN spokesperson, Mr. Ban thanked the Prime Minister for Samoa's leadership and role in hosting the Conference. Also on the agenda were Samoa's contribution to peacekeeping, climate change and the post-2015 development agenda.

With Freundel Stuart, Prime Minister of Barbados, Mr. Ban discussed the way forward since the Barbados Programme of Action and the priorities of the small islands conference. They also discussed the upcoming Climate Summit to be held in New York on 23 September.

Climate change topped the agenda of a meeting between Mr. Ban and James Michel, President of Seychelles. They also discussed the issue of piracy off the coast of Somalia, including the support given to Seychelles by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

On the margins of today's forum, Mr. Ban spoke by phone with Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarana. A readout of the call said that Mr. Ban said the UN was “doing its utmost” to obtain the unconditional and immediate release of the Fijian peacekeepers detained in the Golan.

In addition, Mr. Ban's spokesperson said he expressed hope that the process leading to elections in Fiji on 17 September will be “peaceful, transparent and participatory.”


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SAMOA: Business execs build partnerships with small islands at UN forum

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