Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General for the International Conference on Small Island Developing States

Opening Remarks
Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States
Trust Fund Roundtable Discussion

Ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to you all, and thank you for joining me today.

I am so gratified to see you here today to discuss the preparations for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States—the SIDS Conference—which will be held in Apia, Samoa, next year.

In May through August of this year, the SIDS held national, regional and inter-regional consultations and preparatory meetings. Each phase built on the one before it. At the inter-regional meeting in Barbados, the SIDS were able to meld and distil their priorities into a final outcome.

The meetings accomplished their objectives for the simple reason that all the key actors—delegates from the SIDS Member States themselves—were present. SIDS enjoyed full and robust representation at the regional and inter-regional meetings, thanks to the generosity of partners—several of whom are represented in this room this afternoon.

We are now at a vital milestone on the road to Samoa. The SIDS-only process has been completed and we are on the cusp of the global preparations. In fact, I know that we need to finish on time here this afternoon because the negotiations of the second modalities resolution will start at 4:00 pm today in the Second Committee. Those negotiations will determine the structure of the global preparatory process.

Regardless of the shape the preparations take, we know that they will be successful and effective, only if all SIDS are able to participate in them fully. We also know that the perspective of other developing country delegates will ensure that every issue raised will be given the benefit of the full range of national perspectives. The targeted and active engagement of partner governments in the preparations is infinitely valuable as well.

This level of participation requires resources. As I mentioned, some generous partner governments have already pledged and contributed to the SIDS Trust Fund, the vehicle through which SIDS and other developing country participation is funded. The SIDS preparatory process would have ground to a halt without their early and strong commitment.

Now, we need additional resources to ensure that we can finish the journey—underwrite participation in the global preparations and the Conference itself. As you know, the General Assembly has taken a decision to reserve the three days in Apia before the Conference for Conference-related activities, whether final negotiations, an officials meeting or other events. These activities must also have full participation in order to be meaningful.  

I believe that most of you have received a table outlining the funding requirements for the Conference and its preparations. As indicated on the document, this table is a very rough estimate, based on the hypothetical of three PrepCom meetings. This was the same hypothetical used in the rough estimate sent in my first appeal early in the year before the regional preparatory meetings. It in no way anticipates or pretends to predict the actual number or duration of the PrepCom meetings. If there are fewer than three PrepComs, the funding requirements will be less than what has been circulated.

In an ideal world I could have waited until after the modalities of the Conference had been finalized to have this meeting, because then I could provide you with more precise figures. But I wanted to at least start the conversation now, knowing how quickly the next few months will pass in this busy season. There was also the added imperative that the budget processes of many donor countries will be closed in December. So, we wanted to share initial rough numbers now and revise and update once the Second Committee finishes their negotiations.

When Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon nominated me to be the Secretary-General of the SIDS Conference, I was honoured and energized by the assignment. Honoured because this Conference will address issues that are deadly serious for the SIDS and for the world at large. Health epidemics, crippling debt, climate change, the crisis of the oceans, natural disasters—the SIDS have highlighted these challenges in their preparatory processes, and they are issues that the international community can also claim as their own.

We need look no farther than the suffering and devastation in the Philippines caused by Typhoon Haiyan. This storm is a horrible reminder of the impact of extreme weather events, and while the numbers are alarming, the tragic experience is familiar, not only to many in SIDS but also to coastal populations around the globe.

Because the issues are so important, the SIDS Conference must seize the opportunity for real innovation, moving into a new era focused on concrete and tangible outcomes with lasting positive effects on the ground. The potential impact is limitless, and this is the fact that energizes me and my team.

We know the SIDS are committed to making these aspirations a reality for this Conference, as we can see from their proposed theme: “The sustainable development of SIDS through genuine and durable partnerships.”

I will stop here, because I want to hear from you. I would like to begin with His Excellency Mr. Karel van Oosterom, the Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the United Nations. From there, if you don’t mind, we can move right around the table.

Thank you again for being here today and for your commitment to SIDS issues and sustainable development.

Excellency, you have the floor.