|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Third International Conference
on Small Island Developing States
3rd & 4th Plenary Meetings (AM & PM)
Successful Partnerships Vital to Addressing Challenges of Small Island
Developing States, Speakers Say on Day 2 of International Conference
Forum Must Spur Global Action to Generate Financing, Technology
APIA, 2 September — The critical importance of partnerships, financing, trade, capacity-building and technology to address severe challenges facing small island developing States were highlighted today in Samoa as world leaders met on the second day of the Third International Conference on those nations.
Keith Mitchell, the Prime Minister of Grenada, was among the more than 40 speakers in today’s general debate who provided insight on how small island developing States and their development partners could scale up their partnerships and cooperation. He said the countries in the Eastern Caribbean could not grow as double-digit percentages of their import bills went to fossil fuels. With the high cost of electricity on the islands, renewable energy — an estimated $16 trillion market — was a smart investment.
Those isles were among the best places in the world to launch renewable energy and energy-efficient initiatives, offering the world a “value for money” proposition for implementing them, he said. The United States had selected Grenada as the pilot site of a regional new energy initiative, and his country was working with Germany and Japan on a “blue economy” plan, as well as hosting the secretariat of the Caribbean Challenge Initiative.
“Singapore’s development history is comprised of successful partnership stories,” the country’s delegate said, describing how his nation had grown from “a poor little market in a dark corner of Asia” in the 1960s to a more advanced economy today.
He said his country had benefitted greatly from technical assistance and cooperation with international organizations from almost all sectors, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). In the 1980s, Singapore had co-established institutions of technology with its development partners, and it now could provide customized technical assistance and fellowships to small island developing States in areas relevant to their capacity-building needs.
Bangladesh’s delegate said that least developed countries and small island developing States needed broad-based support through predictable financing from the international community, including development of adaptive, life-saving technologies and access to them and building of manifold capacities. The 2015 Financing for Development Conference and the post-2015 outcome should address all issues and elements of an integrated global support architecture.
Tzachi Hanegbi, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Israel, said his country had forged partnerships with small island developing States in the Pacific and the Caribbean long before the current meeting. To address the issue of non-communicable diseases in small island developing States, Israel would grant scholarships in public health to 25 people from such States. It had donated medical supplies, such as insulin, due to arrive in Samoa in one week. Israel also offered entrepreneurship courses in the Caribbean.
Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said that the Conference must be a vehicle to spur the global action which would generate financing, technology and support for small island developing States. UNDP and the United Nations Capital Development Fund’s joint efforts in those States to bring development financing for climate resilience to local levels and empower people in remote areas with digital banking was an example of what could be scaled up.
The President of Kiribati and the Ulu o Tokelau (on behalf of New Zealand) also spoke, as did Government officials and representatives of Samoa, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Jamaica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Mauritius, Belize, Cuba, France, Sao Tome and Principe, Portugal, Japan, Italy, Morocco, Guyana, Estonia, Australia, Norway, Canada, Russian Federation, Germany, Turkey, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Angola, Haiti, Luxembourg, United States, Fiji, Benin (on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries), Zambia (on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries) and Denmark.
Also speaking were representatives of the International Trade Centre and the Fiji Teachers Union (on behalf of the workers and trade union major group).
The Conference will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 3 September.
Summary of Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Dialogue
FONOTOE NUAFESILI PIERRE LAUOFO, Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa and ex-officio Vice-President of the Conference, briefing on the multi-stakeholder partnership dialogue held on 1 September in parallel to the plenary meetings, said that small island developing States (SIDS) faced a number of challenges to sustainable economic development. Those challenges most notably included narrow economic bases, limited product and market diversification, high dependence on international trade and youth unemployment. Rapid trade liberalization had exposed SIDS to severe economic shocks, closing of national businesses and increased unemployment. More multi-stakeholder partnerships were needed to address those and other economic challenges. Numerous scalable partnerships both existing and new had been presented. Those covered, among other topics, small business promotion; sustainable tourism; business matchmaking; public finance management; trade promotion; economic empowerment of women; sustainable pearl farming; youth vocational training; business intelligence using information and communications technology; business continuity in natural hazards; renewable energy; clean energy; and organic agriculture and value chains.
KEITH MITCHELL, Prime Minister of Grenada, said climate change had undermined years of development, leaving many islands highly indebted. The World Bank’s recent country assistance strategy for the Eastern Caribbean islands had identified extreme weather events and oil-price volatility as critical factors contributing to high indebtedness. The Bank’s Caribbean Catastrophic Risk Insurance Facility and the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience had been helpful to the Caribbean and should be scaled up beyond providing immediate liquidity to Governments. In that regard, he hailed the Bank for initiating in 2014 its first ever catastrophe bond, making that $30 million facility available to Caribbean nations. In addition to many “climate proofing” initiatives, Grenada had launched a programme to increase climate resilience in all its programme budgets. Concessionary financing was vital for small island countries. A predictable process was needed, he said, calling for a programmatic approach to the World Bank’s Small States Forum, with a five-year plan that could show progress from year to year, particularly regarding concessionary finance.
Growth, wealth creation and shared prosperity was needed in the Eastern Caribbean, but the region’s countries could not grow when they had to spend double-digit percentages of their import bills on fossil fuels, he said. With the high cost of electricity on the islands, renewable energy — an estimated $16 trillion market — was a smart investment. Small island developing States were among the best places in the world to launch renewable energy and energy-efficient initiatives, offering the world a “value for money” proposition for implementing them. The Green Grenada Initiative had been launched with support from Germany, “SIDS Dock”, the Global Environment Facility and other partners. The United States had selected Grenada as the pilot site of a regional new energy initiative, and his country was working with Germany and Japan on a blue economy plan, as well as hosting the secretariat of the Caribbean Challenge Initiative.
Mr. PIERRE LAUOFO, Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa, speaking in his national capacity, said 2014 was important for his country because it was the first commemorative year for small island developing States and was the year in which it graduated out of least-developed-country status. The special case of SIDS due to vulnerabilities had no influence on a graduation rule, which unambiguously accepted the superiority of the per-capita-income criterion over that of vulnerability, something that was unjustifiable from his country’s viewpoint. Samoa had not exploited preferential market access through least-developed-country treatment. The preferential market access it had been enjoying was granted by virtue of special arrangements — mainly with Australia and New Zealand. Least-developed-country benefits, such as United Nations-related travel funding by the United Nations Secretariat, or trade-related technical assistance through the Enhanced Integrated Framework for Least Developed Countries, had never been engines of Samoa’s economic progress.
He applauded a number of concrete partnerships and initiatives announced by private-sector stakeholders in the Major Group Forum that would contribute towards advancing sustainable development in small island developing States. Partnerships were about commitments, and Samoa’s commitment had led to extensive reforms which had ensured credible and robust country systems. Partnerships had evolved into joint policy matrices which were the basis of its engagement with development partners. While it was not yet a financial donor, Samoa was already actively promoting South-South cooperation.
ERLAN IDRISSOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, said that small island developing States needed help in building their resilience to climate change, natural hazards and external shocks, and in developing transport and telecommunications infrastructure to overcome their isolation from global markets and high freight costs, among other things. Kazakhstan would work with United Nations agencies to support partnerships that promoted regional cooperation, knowledge-sharing, capacity-building and technology transfer in small island developing States. In that regard, he welcomed the participation of small island developing States in the Astana Economic Forum in May. Small island developing States could join Kazakhstan’s G-Global online forum for sharing strategies with other Member States and the Astana Forum could in the future consider implementing recommendations made at this Conference. Kazakhstan could serve as a catalyst for forging public-private partnerships to promote substantial investments in the small island developing States. He invited those States to participate in the cross-regional Green Bridge Partnerships Programme and in EXP0 2017.
ANIFAH AMAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, aligning himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said his Government committed itself to assisting small island developing States in their pursuit of sustainable development and recognized that while such States had rich ecosystems, people were their greatest resources. Human-resource development and capacity-building were two key elements for achieving sustainable development. His country was ready to provide technical assistance and share its experience in those matters through the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme. Since the inception of that Programme in 1980, nearly 3,000 participants from 41 small island developing States had benefited from it. He announced that his Government would allocate $1 million to the Programme, beginning in 2015, to support genuine, enduring and sustainable partnerships with small island developing States in public administration and management, tourism, the environment and other areas based on the development needs of such States.
ARNOLD NICHOLSON, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Jamaica, said that small island developing States had made valuable contributions, sharing their creative experience, indigenous knowledge, adaptability and willingness to build resilience, with the international community. Still, they needed special attention for things beyond their control in order to function effectively in the global economy. The international community must ensure a robust climate change agreement was signed in Paris in 2015 and it must urgently operationalize the Green Climate Fund to restore the balance due to small island developing States, which had contributed least to greenhouse-gas emissions but suffered the most from the impact of climate change. Due account must be given to the vulnerability of small island developing States when designing economic programmes for such countries. The Doha Round must ensure that small, vulnerable economies were treated fairly when it came to trade, and there needed to be an increased commitment to partnerships for sustainable development in small island developing States. For its part, Jamaica had engaged in bilateral and regional arrangements in the spirit of SIDS-SIDS and South-South cooperation. Such partnerships were needed to eradicate poverty, strengthen health and education systems and improve the well-being and livelihood of people in small island developing States.
MASAGOS ZULKIFLI (Singapore) shared his nation’s own experience of growing from “a poor little market in a dark corner of Asia” in the 1960s to a more advanced economy today. Singapore’s development history was comprised of successful partnership stories. The country had benefitted greatly from technical assistance and cooperation with international organizations from almost all sectors, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); International Labour Organization (ILO); International Telecommunication Union (ITU); World Health Organization (WHO); United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO); and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). In the 1980s, Singapore had co-established institutions of technology with Japan, Germany and France to meet the specialized manpower needs of high-tech industries. Singapore had prepared a dedicated three-year technical cooperation package to provide customized technical assistance and fellowships to small island developing States in areas relevant to their capacity-building needs.
CAMILLO GONSALVES, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said the practice of using per capita gross domestic product (GDP) as an obstacle to any form of development aid to small island developing States must end immediately. Any serious analysis of the economic and development health of SIDS must include structured evaluations of their vulnerability and resilience. Similarly, debt forgiveness, debt-for-climate swaps and debt relief must be part of any serious debate on SIDS development. Caribbean small island developing States had experienced sluggish post-growth crisis due to the adverse impact of climate change. In the last four years, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines had experienced atypical floods, drought and hurricanes that had led to double-digit economic losses. In December 2013, three hours of unseasonable flooding had caused losses amounting to 17 per cent of GDP. To date, the response of major greenhouse-gas emitters to climate change had amounted to a reckless, criminal disregard of the consequences and obligations of their actions. Their refusal to meaningfully mitigate their emissions was an “act of aggression and climate warfare” against SIDS. Small island developing States called for a real, substantial commitment to climate financing for mitigation and adaptation in 2014. They demanded and expected a legally-binding commitment to emission targets in 2015.
KURESA NASAU, Ulu o Tokelau, New Zealand, described his land as located 500 kilometres north of Samoa and only 3-5 metres above sea level at the highest point. The only way to get there was to take a 24-hour boat ride from Samoa. If the impacts of climate change were not addressed, Tokelau’s people stood to lose not only its unique environment and land, but also its culture, language and traditions. The situation looked bleak. Yet, Tokelau was leading by example in the Pacific region by switching from diesel-generated electricity to clean, renewable and reliable solar energy. It had partnered with New Zealand in a renewable energy project, and since 2012, solar panels had supplied 90 per cent of the atoll’s electricity needs. That made Tokelau the first to run almost exclusively on solar-generated power. The project showed the world the vision of his nation for a better and more sustainable future.
WINSTON DOOKERAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago, called for a focus on enhancing the collective voice of island nations through the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) in order to seek leverage and negotiating space in all areas of multilateral discourse. For such “SIDS collectivity” to be effective, there was an urgent need to develop a global compact in support of sustainable development in those nations. The developmental challenges of SIDS required innovative solutions and new approaches based on the Barbados Programme of Action, Mauritius Strategy and the Samoa Pathway. Small island developing States must engage with the international community on a resilience matrix to form a global compact that would ensure implementation of the SIDS agenda. Critical issues for those States, such as systemic problems related to graduation, access to financing for sustainable development, trade imbalances, the increasing urgency of addressing climate change and the growing crisis in relation to sovereign debt, could only be addressed in the context of an effective global partnership.
ARVIN BOOLELL, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade of Mauritius, said his Government had hosted the last United Nations international conference to review the implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States. His Government recognized that the future development of small island developing States depended on enhancing SIDS-SIDS and South-South cooperation. However, SIDS-SIDS cooperation could only complement and not supplement other partnerships. Despite their best efforts to build resilience, small island developing States would always remain vulnerable to natural hazards and external shocks. SIDS must learn to be climate ready by using the two pillars of adaptation to climate change, namely finance and technology. Recognizing the difficulties of small island developing States in accessing the limited climate finance available globally, his nation would be hosting the Commonwealth Climate Finance Skills Hub to build the capacity of SIDS in identifying and accessing climate finance. The key pillars for effective climate action were energy policies, climate finance and technology.
CHARLES GIBSON, Minister for Public Service, Elections and Boundaries of Belize, said the Samoa Pathway would serve as a sustainable development blueprint in the post-2015 development era. Since the Barbados Conference, small island developing States had championed ambitious action to address climate change. Implementation of the Samoa Pathway outcome document would be crucial. The economies of SIDS were small and could not finance on their own the many economic growth opportunities for their markets. That was the case in the energy sector, where SIDS had tremendous potential to tap renewable energy resources. Small island developing States on 1 September had formally adopted the statute establishing SIDS Dock, a Belize-based joint mechanism to access global financing for renewable energy projects, as an international entity. Already, it had received commitments from multiple stakeholders to support projects on the ground. Partnerships, be they traditional donor-recipient relationships or ones involving new stakeholders, must be aligned with the development priorities of SIDS. Belize’s Horizon 2030 national development strategy aimed to create a green economy through the development of human capacity and responsible stewardship of natural resources.
ELBA ROSA PÉREZ MONTOYA, Minister for Science, Technology and Environment of Cuba, recalling the previous two international conferences on small island developing States, as well as sustainable development conferences in 2002 and 2012, said that despite the continuity of objectives and goals adopted by those meetings, challenges remained. The world had enough knowledge and food, but the distribution of those was not equitable. A great waste of financial resources and an unsustainable pattern of production and consumption needed to be addressed. Small island developing States disproportionately shouldered the burden of those challenges, including climate change, and fair and balanced solutions were needed. In describing how her country was seeking to adapt to the impacts of climate change, she noted that Cuba was developing the sugar cane industry to generate biofuel and was building wind and solar parks. The establishment of the Caribbean Biological Corridor, a platform for cooperation among the countries in the region for protecting biodiversity, could be replicated in the Pacific. She also called for developed nations to fulfil their obligations in financing, capacity-building and technology assistance.
ANNICK GIRARDIN, Minister for Development and the Francophonie of France, said the Conference should build global partnerships to tackle climate change and secure a global climate change agreement in 2015. The unsustainable management of resources and climate change were threatening health and agricultural systems everywhere. There was an urgent need to help small island developing States in particular to grapple with such concerns and partnerships must be put into operation. There must be closer links between the main global frameworks for sustainable development and action on the ground. The international community must assess progress in implementing the Barbados and Mauritius road maps, and it had to provide an appropriate response to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and ensuring adaptation to and mitigating of climate change. She recounted her recent visit to the Samoan village of Sa’anapu, where local residents, threatened with sea-level rise, had been forced to elevate their homes. France stood alongside SIDS, she said, citing joint programmes on coral-reef conservation and climate risk management. The 2015 summit in Paris should mobilize the private sector to provide sustainable development financing, while encouraging innovation and providing prospects for youth. She expressed hope that the Green Climate Fund would be made operational as soon as possible.
TZACHI HANEGBI, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Israel, said his Government had established an institution that assisted developing nations in the area of human and technological capacity-building. Most notably, it was training trainers so that its partners would retain the skills to develop capacity on their own. His country had contributed to development through multilateral mechanisms. Israel had sponsored General Assembly resolutions related to agriculture for development and entrepreneurship for development. The country had forged partnerships with small island developing States in the Pacific and the Caribbean long before the current meeting. To address the issue of non-communicable diseases in small island developing States, Israel would grant scholarships in public health to 25 people from those States. It had donated medical supplies, such as insulin, due to arrive in Samoa in one week. Israel also offered entrepreneurship courses in the Caribbean. In partnership with the United Nations, his Government was engaging in an online project to address the challenge of small island developing States in the area of data gathering and usage.
NATÁLIA PEDRO DA COSTA UMBELINA NETO, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Community of Sao Tome and Principe, reaffirmed the importance of helping small island developing States grapple with the vulnerabilities that constrained their sustainable development. To that end, Sao Tome and Principe had joined the regional groups of the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and the South China Sea to meet emerging and new challenges to development. SIDS had great potential and were opening the door to exploiting it through economic reform and development of farming, fisheries and tourism, as well as access to potable water and energy. Despite being popular tourism destinations, small island developing States often were unable to achieve economic development and suffered from the devastating effects of climate change. Piracy was also a major problem in West Africa, where pirates were invading oceans under State jurisdiction, making the Gulf of Guinea among the most dangerous maritime zones in the world. There was a need to adopt a new approach to preserving the ecosystem and utilizing maritime resources in a sustainable manner.
LUÍS ALVARO CAMPOS FERREIRA ( Portugal) said his country shared important similarities with small island developing States, noting that both had benefited since immemorial times from an intimate relationship with the ocean and sea. Though considered by some as a peripheral country, his nation’s centrality lay in the ocean, as it stood between important maritime routes and at a crossroad between three continents — Europe, Africa and the Americas. His nation suffered from the adverse effects of climate change on coastal areas’ environment, people and economy. In 2014, the Government had adopted a new national strategy for the sea that provided clear orientations to address economic, environmental and social challenges arising from the exploration and exploitation of marine resources. Its development model was based on the “Blue Growth” concept and charted a long-term vision that integrated the economic, social and environmental components, ensuring the conversation and sustainable use of marine resources, the knowledge of oceans and the principles agreed at the Rio+20 Conference. Its parliament had recently approved an ocean framework act to deal with maritime spatial planning and licensing of the use of oceans.
TAKAO MAKINO ( Japan) said climate change, disaster-risk reduction and health were among the major priorities in small island developing States that required a human-centred approach. In 2013 Japan had provided SIDS $300 million to support efforts to tackle climate change, and in July the country had hosted a dialogue in Tokyo among climate change negotiators from 21 island countries. Japan was determined to promote such initiatives in a material and knowledge-based manner. In the months ahead, Japan would provide aid for concrete mitigation efforts such as radio broadcasting, dispatching regional experts and introducing flood hazard maps. In 2015, Japan would host the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, and he looked forward to high-level participation from small island developing States at the event. Japan was prepared to help SIDS introduce health-promotion funds for universal health coverage, and it would support expansion of systems for screening non-communicable diseases.
MOHAMMED SHAHRIAR ALAM ( Bangladesh) said that in a rapidly changing ecology of global systems, least developed countries and small island developing States needed broad-based support through predictable financing from the international community; developing of and access to adaptive, life-saving technology; and building of manifold capacities. All of those were premised on the principles and provisions of global instruments to which the international community had pledged. The 2015 Financing for Development conference and the post-2015 outcome should address all issues and elements of an integrated global support architecture. Coordinated efforts were also required to ensure the sustainable development of small island developing States in the area of trade and development. The Bali outcome at the ninth World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meeting in December 2014 had provided a most pertinent framework.
LAPO PISTELLI (Italy) said that in 2005, his country had become a founding member of the Global Island Partnership, a non-political alliance dedicated to island conservation and sustainable livelihoods. In 2007, Italian Cooperation had designed a dedicated global island strategy for investment and engagement, and it had launched a long-term partnership programme on renewable energy and energy efficient with 14 Pacific SIDS. His country had recently launched a new conservation and development programme in the Caribbean region with the support of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Such partnerships were durable, genuine, innovative and successful. Food security and nutrition, a major SIDS challenge, was as central theme of the 2015 Milan Expo. In that regard, Italy had begun planning for a high-level SIDS outreach event in Rome during the FAO meeting in December, as well as follow-up event to take place in Milan. The latter event could be a unique opportunity for taking stock of progress by SIDS and donors in implementing the Samoa Conference outcome document.
ABDERRAHIM KADMIRI ( Morocco) said it was imperative to take into account the concerns of small island developing States in the post-2015 development agenda. Action for sustainable development in those countries must be coordinated. Efforts must be supported with capacity-building and technology transfer. Helping SIDS diversify their economies and improve their productive capacity was the best way to achieve sustainable growth and build resilience. National programmes were needed towards that end. The outcome of the Rio+20 Conference should serve as a guide in terms of sustainable development challenges, including those related to biodiversity loss. The particular challenges facing SIDS must be recognized and the international community should create new partnerships for their development. Morocco had supported the SIDS agenda, Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy. The transfer of clean technology, the use of renewable energy and financing would contribute to those countries’ sustainable growth. His country supported the role of South-South cooperation, and in that regard, Morocco had developed many programmes in several areas, including the transfer of know-how in infrastructure, mining, tourism, phosphate industries and finance.
HELEN CLARK, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said that world leaders, who were preparing for the upcoming Climate Change Summit and a conference in 2015 to adopt the new global development agenda, should hear a clear and unambiguous message from Apia. The message would be most powerful if it reflected the perspective of those who lived in small island developing States, because their struggle for sustainable development was anything but theoretical. Those States had signalled that they would not wait for others to act; however, they could not carry the burden of change alone. This Conference must be a vehicle to spur the global action which would generate financing, technology and support for those States. UNDP and the United Nations Capital Development Fund’s joint efforts in SIDS to bring development financing for climate resilience to local levels and empower people in remote areas with digital banking was an example of what could be scaled up. Her agency welcomed the call for a comprehensive review of the United Nations system support to small island developing States. In recent years, UNDP delivery in SIDS had exceeded $230 million annually, and there was scope to do more.
Summary of Multi-Stakeholder Partnership Dialogue
Mr. PIERRE LAUOFO, ex-officio Vice-President of the Conference, briefing on the multi-stakeholder partnership dialogue on climate change and disaster risk management held in the morning, said low-lying islands were on the front lines, already facing sea-level rise, increasingly severe weather impacts, a loss of biodiversity and a shortage of fresh water. Many other small island developing States would soon be on the front lines too. Sixty per cent of the world was living in coastal areas. SIDS, in addition, faced issues of drought, ocean acidification, heightened frequency of natural hazards and increased prevalence of communicable disease. All of those items compromised their future growth and well-being, and diverted resources from productive investment and social services. Climate change and natural hazards could shift the development vehicle into reverse and needed to be addressed through partnerships. The session had recognized numerous partnerships, including weather monitoring and evacuation drills; flood hazard maps for SIDS; the Global Climate Change Alliance Plus; a Pacific renewable energy partnership; a scalable renewable energy and water project in the Canary Islands that shares technology with Cabo Verde and other SIDS; promoting investment in fisheries and tourism; integrating food energy security into development plans; and investments for building resilience through the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility Plus.
ANOTE TONG, President of Kiribati, noted that many countries, including his, were not likely to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. But it was encouraging that the post-2015 development agenda would also focus attention on the unfinished business of the Millennium Goals. Global action and genuine commitment to address climate change had not matched the severity and existential challenges small island developing States and the global community faced. For his country, climate change remained the biggest challenge of today. Action at the global level was urgently needed, including international legally-binding commitments to cut greenhouse-gas emissions. Climate change adaption measures undertaken by his Government included planting of mangroves and purchasing land in Fiji to address the issue of food security. His nation’s “migration with dignity” strategy was an investment in the education of people and upskilling of young people to equip themselves with educational qualifications and employable skills that would enable them to migrate with dignity to other countries voluntarily, and in the worst-case scenario, when its islands could no longer sustain human life.
For Kiribati, he continued, achieving sustainable development hinged on the blue economy, or the conservation and sustainable management of marine resources. While its land area was a slightly more than 800 square kilometres, its ocean area spanned over 3.5 million square kilometres, home to abundant tuna resources. Only 5-8 per cent of the $4 billion annual value of the fisheries industry came to his country. “Where is the equity and fairness in this?” he asked, stressing the need to restructure the nature of private and public partnerships in industries such as fisheries. A more equitable partnership based on mutual respect, goodwill, fairness and accountability would go a long way in providing an enabling environment for sustainable development to take place.
CAROLYN RODRIGUES-BIRKETT, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guyana, said global financial and technological support for the special needs situation of small island developing States had been inadequate and pledges had largely remained unfulfilled. Developed countries should honour their commitment, under the Millennium target for a global partnerships for development, to provide 0.7 per cent of their GDP in the form of official development assistance (ODA) to developing countries. No small island developing State wanted to celebrate graduation from least-developed-country status because it meant a serious reduction in concessionary financing that could lead to a reversal of hard-won development gains. Guyana now faced the challenge of having to pay for the increased cost of vital drugs and vaccines as it grappled with an increase in non-communicable diseases, and it was asking global decision-makers to reconsider the country’s graduation and to adjust the metric for measuring graduation to cater to SIDS. Debt relief could help SIDS develop in an increasingly challenging global environment. The failure of developed countries to commit to the less than 2°C temperature rise target agreed in Copenhagen, and its impact on lives of future generations of SIDS populations, was regrettable. Developed countries should renew efforts to increase targets in line with scientific findings and give SIDS adequate financial and technological support to adapt to climate change, build resilience and manage risk.
VÄINO REINART (Estonia) said his country’s economic well-being was directly affected by its maritime environment and the international community’s obligation to meet climate change targets must be taken seriously. Protecting international law and mitigating climate change were prerequisites for sustainable development. The rights of small island developing States and strategies to address their vulnerabilities must be incorporated into the sustainable development goals. Governments, the private sector and civil society must work together. Estonia had contributed to the small island States Conference Trust Fund and it was committed to making a long-term contribution to a partnership of climate change mitigation and adaptation.
BRETT MASON (Australia), noting that his country had recently instigated an “economic diplomacy” approach to foreign policy, said that the new initiative embraced the principle through pursuit of six key priority areas. Those areas included infrastructure, trade facilitation and international competitiveness; agriculture, fisheries and water; effective governance; education and health; building resilience; and empowering women and girls. Australia’s agenda was closely aligned with the development priorities of small island developing States, focusing on economic growth through private-sector development, oceans and fisheries, and women’s empowerment. Australia’s aid priority for SIDS aimed to spur inclusive, sustainable development by bolstering infrastructure and education, improving access to financial services, tackling the health crises of non-communicable diseases and sustainably managing resources and managing disaster risk. The post-2015 development agenda must be complemented by an effective global climate change agreement that established a common playing field for action from all countries by 2020.
HANS BRATTSKAR (Norway) said his Government supported action in areas where there was high mitigation potential, such as reducing deforestation and increasing the share of renewable energy. There was a need to see how climate change affected people’s livelihoods and their ability to stay in their local communities. Sea-level rise and more extreme weather events were likely to displace many more people, even if the temperature increase was kept below 2°C. The international community must expect to see larger numbers of migrants in need of protection. That was being addressed by the Nansen Initiative, co-chaired by Norway and Switzerland. His Government was also committed to supporting energy efforts in small island developing States. It would be assisting the International Renewable Energy Agency’s SIDS Lighthouse programme and was providing assistance to more than 20 island States to develop renewable-energy projects.
DAVID ANDERSON ( Canada) said his country had a long history of partnership with small island developing States and remained fully committed to the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy. Canada supported the Samoa Pathway and would contribute to its implementation. From 2011 to 2012, Canada’s development funding for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) had totalled $130.6 million, with a focus on promoting sustainable economic growth through enhanced public financial and debt management, promoting private sector development, youth empowerment, rule of law and better management of natural hazards.
VASSILY NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said the main task for island States was to create their own production capabilities and build up capacities to ensure their equitable and efficient participation in the global economic processes. What was needed to overcome the existing constraints on economic development of island States was to facilitate their access to key commodity markets by improving the preferential trade regime, building a reliable transport infrastructure and introducing information and communications technology. Over the last four years, his Government’s aggregate support to small island developing States had to totalled about $20 million. Those funds had been used to implement projects aimed at enhancing partner countries’ own potential in such areas as social and economic development, modernization of physical economic infrastructure, public administration, education, health care, culture and sports, and natural hazard risk management.
RITA SCHWARZELÜHR-SUTTER (Germany) said her Government had a long-standing partnership with small island States. Germany’s cooperation focused on adaptation measures such as coastal and marine protection and biodiversity conservation through integrated nature conservation strategies. Her country supported the expansion of renewable energies and access to a sustainable, reliable energy supply. In recent years, the Government had provided more than €300 million for such projects. Germany, along with the European Union, small island developing States and other progressive developing and developed countries, was working towards a fair, legally-binding international climate accord for adoption in Paris in 2015. That agreement must kick start collective climate action that included ambitious targets for all countries and clear, uniform rules on transparency. Germany would contribute up to €750 million to initially finance the Green Climate Fund planned for 2014. She invited SIDS to join the International Renewable Energy Agency’s initiatives and to participate in networks specifically aimed at island States.
MEHMET CEYLAN (Turkey) said his country had steadily increased the amount and the geographical scope of its ODA in recent years, with the amount now at $3.3 billion. The Turkish International Cooperation and Coordination Agency was actively engaged in development cooperation efforts to assist small island developing States. Its ODA to those States had amounted to nearly $11 million in the 2010-2012 period. Turkey would continue to address the development challenges and concerns of SIDS when it assumed the presidency of the G-20 in 2015. On the issue of migration, his Government would play an active role as the Chair of the Global Forum on Migration and Development for 2014-2015.
XOAN NOYA (Venezuela) said it was increasingly urgent to achieve sustainable development as there must be a harmonious relationship between man and nature. Venezuela would organize the first social “Pre‑COP” for climate change in Caracas in November. It would be a forum for joint dialogue and action among Governments and social organizations to form the necessary alliances to tackle the threat of climate change to humanity. The recent inaugural meeting of the Association of Atoll Nations on Climate Change, held in Kiribati in July, had stressed the need for international support for such nations. He supported stronger alliances with SIDS for their success and survival. Venezuela’s support through United Nations agencies had helped small island developing States mitigate and adapt to climate change. At present, 10 CARICOM countries were full members of Venezuela’s renewable energy initiative.
JUAN MONEGRO (Dominican Republic) said that achievement of sustainable development was enshrined in his country’s Constitution and in its national development strategy. The Dominican Republic’s national vision of 2030 also highlighted the sustainable use of resources to achieve prosperity for all. The country’s economy had achieved a growth rate exceeding 5 per cent on average in recent years. It was the duty of all to achieve sustainable development, and the issue was now on the minds of people and served as a cross-cutting policy issue. The Caribbean Biological Corridor, established by his country, Haiti and Cuba, was a specific effort to achieve sustainable development. “Development is like a party,” he said, noting that those who enjoyed it should pay for what they consumed, food or beverage. That moral principle should apply to the threat of climate change. States should shoulder shared but differentiated responsibilities for climate change.
MANUEL AUGUSTO ( Angola) said that in the 20 years that had passed since the adoption of the Barbados Programme of Action, many challenges remained for small island developing States, which had made less overall progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals than most other countries, due in large part to climate change. This Conference provided an important forum to reinvigorate support for SIDS and a springboard for inclusion of their concerns in the sustainable development goals agenda. The challenges those States faced were significant, but not insurmountable, and the timing of the International Year of Small Island Developing States could not be more appropriate for strengthening partnerships for SIDS. Angola was committed addressing climate change more broadly and to working with SIDS to put in place a robust mechanism for mitigation and adaptation.
HENRY ROBERT STERLIN ( Haiti) said that 20 years after the first small island developing States Conference in Barbados in 1994 and 10 years after the Conference in Mauritius, world leaders faced an opportunity here in Apia to demonstrate that they could provide small island developing States with concrete solutions to their problems. As increasing petroleum prices and a global financial crises had plunged small island developing States into terrible difficulties, effective measures were needed. He stressed the importance of developing agriculture towards reducing poverty and conserving the nature for future generations as well as forging interregional cooperation as Caribbean nations shared common challenges.
RONALD DOFING ( Luxembourg) stressed his Government’s commitment to small island developing States and shared their concerns, particularly the promotion of mechanisms for sustainable development and resilience. In 2013, his Government had signed a $1 million agreement with the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources to support environmental initiatives in the Pacific, with a focus on safeguarding biodiversity. Luxembourg remained committed to providing 1 per cent of its GDP in ODA for developing countries. It supported the Paris climate change summit in 2015, which would be pivotal for addressing the challenges of climate change. He expressed confidence that the Samoa Pathway road map would be incorporated into the sustainable development goals.
JOHN HOLDREN (United States) said his Government took the need for urgent action on climate change very seriously and had placed unprecedented focus on reducing carbon pollution. The new Clean Power Plan would reduce electricity emissions by 26 per cent below 2005 levels by 2050. New fuel-economy standards for light and heavy-duty vehicles would cut emissions significantly by 2030. In terms of climate finance, his Government prioritized its adaptation support to the most vulnerable developing countries, including island States. In Jamaica, for example, the United States Agency for International Development had helped develop a climate change policy framework and action plan. The ADAPT Asia-Pacific programme, which built the capacity of Pacific small island developing States to access and manage climate finance, had already helped those countries leverage more than $67 million in adaptation funds from multilateral sources. The United States $445 million in pledges between the fiscal years 2010 and 2013 to the multilateral Least Developed Countries Fund, the Special Climate Change Fund and the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience had helped SIDS access more than $385 million in adaptation assistance to date.
PITA WISE (Fiji) stressed the need to revisit the collaborative, holistic “Pacific way” of doing things to achieve common goals, which involved dialogue, sharing of the islands’ heritage, the right to self-governance, strong social networks and environmentally friendly sustainable economic development. The Pacific way strongly complemented the Samoa Pathway outcome document. Fiji had championed the formation of the Pacific Island Development Forum and was working closely with its subregional neighbours under the auspices of the Melanesian Spearhead Group to address their unique vulnerabilities. In August, it had approved a green-growth policy framework, the first of its kind in the Pacific, thanks to funding from the Asian Development Bank. Fiji remained committed to designate as protected areas 30 per cent of its marine resources by 2020. It had put in place the necessary enabling environment to achieve that, including the Offshore Fisheries Management Decree 2012 and related regulations in 2014. He welcomed the fact that in relation to health, non-communicable diseases had been adequately covered in the Samoa Pathway document.
JEAN-FRANCIS REGIS ZINSOU (Benin), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, noted that the Istanbul Programme of Action for least developed countries had eight priority actions, with one being to strengthen productive capacity of those States. That would have multiplying effects that would bring about the structural changes for least developed countries that would enable them to graduate from the least-developed-country category. The aim was to enable half of those countries to reach the criteria for graduation by 2020. That goal seemed ambitious given that six years remained before the deadline. Benin had hosted a ministerial meeting in July on new partnerships for productive capacity-building in the least developed countries, he said, drawing attention to the full text of the outcome document, titled “Cotonou Agenda for productive capacity-building in least developed countries”.
The conference had also provided a forum for sharing experiences and exchanging knowledge, he said. Many least developed countries were coastal countries. They should work together to ensure that the next Climate Change Framework Convention meeting in Paris mainstreamed issues related to sustainable management of land and coasts. They should also be linked to regional and global value chains. The conference had also addressed issues related to education, decent jobs, health care and empowerment of women and youth, development of infrastructure, information and communications technology and functional private and public partnerships. It had also recommended mobilizing national resources and tapping productive knowledge of diasporas. The conclusion of the conference would be useful for small island developing States that were least developed countries.
NGOMA MWELWA CHIBESAKUNDA (Zambia), speaking on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said such nations, like small island developing States, faced special challenges due to their remoteness, inadequate transport infrastructure and high transport costs, with major ramifications for socioeconomic development. The presence in Apia of representatives from landlocked countries was a testimony to their solidarity and support for global efforts to promote sustainable development and prosperity in SIDS. The Conference outcome document highlighted key areas in need of support. He expressed hope that the international community would support its goals. He stressed the need to embed the development priorities of SIDS into the post-2015 development agenda and the sustainable development goals. He expressed confidence that the Conference would deliver an ambitious, innovative programme of action for the sustainable development of small island developing States.
IB PETERSEN ( Denmark) said small island developing States and the European Union shared many common aims, and his country was keen on further developing their strong partnership. They shared the common vision of low-carbon societies, action on climate change and a new international climate change agreement. Denmark had worked for decades towards a green society and aimed to become independent of fossil fuels by 2050. His country had committed to reducing emissions by 40 per cent in 2020. One third of Denmark’s electricity production was wind powered, and by applying comprehensive policy framework, the Government had nudged private companies out of their comfort zones towards a greener direction. He expressed hope that Denmark’s frameworks could provide useful inspiration for SIDS and elsewhere in the world. The world was confronting rising sea levels and changing weather patterns. There was no time to waste; for SIDS it was a matter of survival. Denmark remained committed to supporting the transition of SIDS to clean energy use and an energy efficient economy, having aided initiatives such as the SIDS Dock support programme.
ARANCHA GONZALEZ, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre, said the SIDS Conference showed the opportunities to transfer the skill sets of Samoans into valuable services. As part of the WTO and the United Nations, the International Trade Centre worked with small and medium-sized enterprises. Partnerships were fundamental to its work. Trade and development dividends were integral to helping small island developing States overcome their vulnerabilities and build resilience. To do that, it was necessary to build the productive capacity of the private sector. The Centre had produced a paper on trade patterns in SIDS that showed much could be done to help them further exploit the value of their goods and services. The first step was to focus on building their domestic capacity to allow them to produce and trade, and the international community had a role to play in that regard. She also cited the Centre’s role in helping SIDS with women’s empowerment.
AGNI DEO SINGH, General Secretary of the Fiji Teachers Union, speaking on behalf of the workers and trade union major group, said all workers in small island developing States faced the dramatic impact of climate change, including the daunting shortage of decent jobs. The Pacific region suffered from 23 per cent unemployment, and public action was needed to secure the protection of all citizens under the pillar of the decent work agenda, making the region less dependent on tourism. The Union was promoting, in solidarity with all labour movements, an ambitious and fair climate agreement in 2015. Sustainable development depended not only on socioeconomic progress, it also depended on the capacity of Governments to ensure labour rights.
* *** *