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

Opening of the First Preparatory Committee Meeting

Distinguished co-chairs,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

When Heads of State and Government gathered in Rio, almost two years ago, they decided to convene the third International Conference on small island developing States.

This shows how the well-being of SIDS, their specific challenges and vulnerabilities are high at the international agenda. It also points to how much political will there is to create an enabling global environment to advance the sustainable development of SIDS.

We have just now officially launched the International Year of SIDS.  As the Secretary-General pointed out, this is the first time that the UN General Assembly has designated an International Year to a group of countries. So this is a historic year for SIDS.

The Conference itself is important for both small island developing States and for the United Nations. I expect it to be a milestone event.

The Conference will notably:

  1. seek a renewed political commitment to address the special needs and vulnerabilities of SIDS,
  2. identify new and emerging challenges and opportunities for SIDS and ways and means to address them, and
  3. identify priorities for SIDS, in the elaboration of the post-2015 United Nations development agenda.


The Conference should also be a venue to launch new partnerships.

Indeed, the overarching theme of the Conference is “sustainable development of small island developing States through genuine and durable partnerships”.

The Conference will thus serve as a forum to build on existing successful partnerships. And, it will serve to launch innovative, concrete new ones. There is no question that partnerships can help to advance the sustainable development of small island developing States.

We also need to look at this Conference within the framework of the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda and the follow-up to Rio+20. Sustainable economic growth, inclusive societies and sustainable management of natural resources are the necessary ingredients to achieve poverty eradication and sustainable development. Therefore, they are at the heart of the post-2015 development agenda.  But they are also a matter of livelihood for small island developing States.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is so important that the Conference has a good and robust global preparatory process. It is equally important to have a concise, focused, forward-looking, and action-oriented political document that contributes to the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda.

As you know, we already had an excellent regional process in all three SIDS regions in July last year – in Jamaica, Fiji and Seychelles. These were preceded by national consultations  resulting in national reports, which led to regional synthesis reports. This culminated with the interregional meeting in Barbados in August last year, which resulted in an interregional outcome document.

The regional preparatory meetings identified issues of primary concern.  These are:

  • climate change
  • natural disasters
  • crime and violence
  • high rates of unemployment
  • debt and health concerns
  • renewable energy
  • ocean-related issues and “blue economy”
  • need for special financing mechanisms and trade instruments for small island developing States, as well as
  • sustainable management of natural resources.

You, as Member States, have decided to have, at the global level, two Preparatory Committee Meetings and an intersessional meeting. This may not be a lot. However, if there is focus on the relevant issues already identified in the regional meetings, a lot can be achieved. This is bearing in mind that the resolution also encourages a conclusion on negotiations on the draft outcome document, at the final meeting of the Preparatory Committee in New York.

Allow me to conclude by assuring you of my personal support and that of the Secretariat in this endeavour.

I wish you successful deliberations and a good preparatory process. I am confident that it will lead us to a Conference crucial for sustainable development of small island developing States.

Thank you.