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

Launch of the International Year of Small Island Developing States

Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honoured to join you this morning at the official launch of the International Year of Small Island Developing States.

Today, we bring international focus to SIDS – a group of countries facing unique vulnerabilities.

They are of small size, with narrow resource base. They are remote, and they are isolated from global markets and supply chain.

And they are extremely vulnerable to natural disasters and climate change.

These special vulnerabilities have been recognized by the international community.

What has received less attention, however, is that these challenges often exacerbate other social, economic and environmental problems. Many SIDS encounter difficulties in benefitting from trade liberalization and globalization.

They are heavily dependent on coastal and marine resources for economic activities and livelihoods. And their heavy dependence on tourism is often impacted by natural disasters and the fluctuations of the global economy. Today – nearly six years after the onset of the world financial crisis – many SIDS are still dealing with its fallout. Moreover, a large number of SIDS have to contend with high energy dependence, which absorbs a significant amount of their export earnings.


Since the first global conference on SIDS in Barbados, and through the Mauritius’ strategy for further implementation, SIDS have made inspiring progress in addressing these vulnerabilities.

They have strengthened their resilience. Primarily through their own efforts, but also in partnership with the international community.

The celebration of the International Year affords a historic opportunity. It is time for mobilizing global action and partnership in support of SIDS.

Indeed, sustainable development of SIDS – through genuine and durable partnerships – is the theme of the third International Conference on Small Island Developing States.

The global preparatory process of the Conference will start this morning, with the opening of the first meeting of the Preparatory Committee.

It is our shared hope that as they meet in Apia, Samoa, this September, world leaders will:

  • renew their political commitment to SIDS,
  • tackle new and emerging challenges through partnership, and
  • agree on priorities of SIDS for the post-2015 development agenda.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The International Year of SIDS should be viewed as an integral part of a global response to the challenges of SIDS. It should also be viewed as an appreciation of their contribution to global sustainable development.

It is an occasion to celebrate the achievements and heritage of SIDS.

I take this opportunity to reassure you that the UN system, under the personal guidance of the Secretary-General, will reinvigorate its system-wide commitment to SIDS, in support of a productive International Year, and a successful SIDS Conference.

Thank you.