His Excellency the Honourable Saufatu Sopoanga
Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Industries, Tuvalu

at the 
International Conference on Financing for Development

Monterrey, Mexico 
21st March 2002

Tuvalu shares the words of appreciation expressed to you, Your Excellency Mr President, your Government and the people of Mexico, for your kind hospitality in hosting this Conference. 

Like the currents of the vast Pacific Ocean expectantly reaching this great land, Tuvalu has come to Monterrey with great hope: That out of this great city there will emerge strong political will to address wealth, disparity and poverty, and create opportunities equitable to all.

A mere six months ago, the world, including we in the Pacific, were to be proven unfortunately through terror, that we cannot continue to see as normal a world where, according to the World Bank, less than 20 per cent of the population dominates 80 per cent of its wealth and dollar-income. Such a world has led to utter poverty and lack of opportunities amongst the disadvantaged; it has also allowed for human rights abuse and brewing of terror and insecurity worldwide.  This situation is simply unacceptable, and we appeal for efforts to address it.     
The principles and directions proposed in the outcome document for our consideration are well formulated. In our view, however, our mission here and the actions thereafter must remain focused on the ultimate goal of this Conference, and that is financing for development. Our success will be judged not on the rhetoric here, but on the partnerships and actions ensued post-Monterrey.

Partnerships on Financing for Development, in our opinion, can only be real and meaningful if properly contextualized to the peculiar situations of development partners based on mutual trust, understanding and respect of each other’s roles and responsibilities.  In our own small way, Tuvalu is committed to the principles of good governance, democracy and the rule of law and fully respects the rights of individuals, women and children, businesses and non-governmental bodies to participate in, and have access to development. 

Like the many extremes of the Small Island Developing States in the Pacific and in other regions of the world, however, the nature of poverty in Tuvalu is defined by its unique smallness, islandness, and isolation, which all translate into a series of vulnerabilities. There is a wealth of spirit, and there are also potentials especially in our vast ocean resources. What challenges us most is the lack of opportunities to develop our people’s ability in development let alone to integrate into the world economy. 

Our capacity to develop solutions to the chronic problems of basic infrastructures particularly for transportation, affordable energy, fresh water supply, health services, quality education as well as to improve institutional regulatory, financial and management frameworks, moreover, is highly limited due to the lack of financial and technical resources.  

These basic handicaps are made even worse by environmental risks of global warming and sea level rise for which the vulnerability of Tuvalu is well known. They have made our islands highly unattractive to any foreign direct investment. In these regards, every measure to reduce costs and mitigate risks through innovative partnerships for economic growth, and particularly for the long term security and survival of SIDS will be greatly useful, and appreciated.

Clearly, overseas development aid is indispensable to the development of Small Island developing States like Tuvalu. For us ODA has been, and is the development budget. The sustenance of vital services to our people through innovative partnerships such as the Tuvalu Trust Fund would not have been possible without ODA, and I would like at this juncture to acknowledge with sincerity Tuvalu’s appreciation to all its development partners, particularly Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Japan, the European Union and the Republic of China on Taiwan1. 

We are, however, extremely worried by the overall continuing decline in ODA. We are therefore heartened by the US initiative of substantial aid to developing countries, and hope that some of it would trickle across to the Pacific islands. 
On the latter, and particularly in the advent of continuing reduction in the global volume of ODA, every legitimate source and proven commitment to international efforts against poverty and insecurity must be welcome.  The substantial contribution that the Republic of China on Taiwan has made to international development in practically all regions of the world, in our view, should be recognized.  The United Nations and its specialized agencies can no longer ignore the reality of the fact that the ROC has been and will continue to be a responsible player in international affairs. We strongly feel it is time that proper representation of the ROC in these bodies is allowed to be considered seriously.      

On the effectiveness of aid, there is a great need to improve procedures both for the formulation, procurement and implementation of projects and programmes to ensure that they are locally owned and not donor-driven. Experience has shown that projects with direct ownership by the local people and communities have higher chances of success than those formulated without proper dialogues and consultations.  

Moreover, our experience in the Pacific has also shown that the role that regional co-operations play in development is extremely important. Partnerships with the collaboration of regional bodies to compliment national efforts, and through the creation of regional development financing facilities to address poverty of access to international financing are practical measures for us, and need to be seriously considered.

Finally, the role of overseas employment and remittances play in small and vulnerable economies like Tuvalu is also vitally important. We therefore appeal that ODA be also complimented through innovative schemes of overseas employment and reduction in costs of transfer of remittances from migrant workers. Partnerships to address this will be useful particularly to SIDS. 

Whilst appreciative that each country has the primary responsibility for its own development, it cannot be overstated that for SIDS like Tuvalu sustained economic growth and development are restrained by the realities of life endowed on us. Left on our own, these and our long-term survival cannot be assured.  The proposed “Monterrey Consensus” must translate into fulfilling our hope for a more prosperous and secure world for our children. We fully support its adoption. 

* The text of this statement has been transcribed from audio recordings as the original was not submitted to the Secretariat.

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