Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General for the International Conference on Small Island Developing States
Opening Statement at Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting
10 July 2013, Nadi, Fiji
Ambassador Marlene Moses, Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States,
My dear colleagues from the UN system,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am honoured to be here to address the Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting.
I extend my deep appreciation to the Government of Fiji for hosting this meeting and for the generosity and gracious hospitality extended to us.
The host Government has provided extraordinary leadership in bringing this meeting to fruition.
I would also like to congratulate the Pacific region as a whole for the robust national preparations. The national preparatory processes serve as the most important building blocks for a rich and successful meeting here in Nadi.
My appreciation also goes to the AOSIS Chair, Ambassador Moses of Nauru, for her leadership and support in encouraging dialogue and promoting coherence in the regional preparatory processes.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank my UN colleagues, notably ESCAP and UNDP colleagues, for their tremendous contributions. Their support and partnership is deeply appreciated not only here in the Pacific region but also at UN Headquarters in New York.
This meeting represents the opportunity for the Pacific member States to come together, exchange views, discuss regional priorities and perspectives.
Here you will agree on the Pacific regional position, which will guide your work throughout the preparatory process, leading to a successful global conference in Apia next year in September.
The Pacific SIDS have a long history of collaborating, learning from one another, and building on one another’s strengths.
You have done so in implementing the Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA) and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of BPOA.
Examples of your initiatives in regional collaboration are plentiful, from partnerships around freshwater management, to new approaches to tuna fishery, to collective efforts to combat climate change, prepare against disasters, and safeguard and advance your rich local and traditional knowledge systems.
Much of the work you undertake as a region relates to your shared resource, the mighty Pacific Ocean. For many Pacific SIDS, the Ocean comprises more than 99 percent of your sovereign territory, and is a source of livelihood, of food security, of economic growth, and, indeed, of culture and identity.
For you the Pacific Ocean is a resource to be cherished and protected, and it is therefore not surprising that you are leading the way in developing a global oceans agenda.
PacificIsland governments have been pioneering voices also on climate change. By highlighting the inseparable links of climate change to your lives and livelihoods, you articulate the urgency of your unique vulnerabilities and the challenges facing SIDS.
Island populations need security of food and shelter, security from extreme weather and rising sea levels. They need security of livelihoods and employment. They need stable sources of revenue including from sustainable fishery and tourism.
The social, economic and environmental challenges are daunting, and those that arise from climate change are decidedly not of their own making.
But Pacific SIDS are resilient. Always looking for concrete, practical, pragmatic and constructive solutions, Pacific SIDS are forging innovative and fruitful partnerships with countries in the region and beyond.
I had the good fortune to visit Apia earlier this year and consult with the Samoan government as it began to prepare for the Third International Conference on SIDS. There I learned about and observed the transformative power of effective and durable partnerships.
The Pacific approach to partnerships is rooted in a commitment to mutual respect and shared responsibilities.
Sustainable development is the responsibility of the entire world, with common but differentiated responsibilities, and the means of implementation must be addressed as a top priority.
It is an honour for me to be appointed by the UN Secretary-General as the Secretary-General for the Third International Conference on SIDs. I am aware of the challenges. But I am equally determined to help bring together the best in the UN System for the success of the Samoa conference.
I can assure you that the entire UN system will come together in supporting the SIDS agenda. In the context of UN system collaboration, we have brought together all UN entities to strengthen existing partnerships and to create new partnerships. We want these partnerships, big and small, traditional and non-traditional, to focus on your issues – on climate change, healthy oceans, waste management, disaster resilience and tourism, among others. Some new initiatives are already in the works.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you meet, the United Nations is also busy with preparations for the post-2015 development agenda, which will have sustainable development at its core.
I hope that this meeting here in Nadi and the Conference in Samoa next year will be occasions to share the aspirations of SIDS for the post-2015 agenda – which must be an agenda that will address the unique vulnerabilities of SIDS and that will help strengthen the resilience of SIDS.
I wish you all the best in your deliberations in the coming days, and I look forward to listening to the Pacific voice at this meeting.