Ms. Maria Francesca Spatolisano Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs

Opening Remarks
SIDS Special Event on
“Building Capacities of Public Institutions in Small Island Developing States to Implement the SAMOA Pathway and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”

Your Excellency, Mr. Burhan Gafoor, Permanent Representative of Singapore to the
United Nations,
Your Excellency, Ms. Janine Felson, Deputy Permanent Representative of Belize to the
United Nations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to address you at this SIDS Special Event on building capacities of public institutions in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to implement the Samoa Pathway and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

I thank the Permanent Mission of Singapore and the Permanent Mission of Belize for
co-organizing this event together with UNDESA at the margins of the 18th Session of the
UN Committee of Experts on Public Administration (CEPA).

This event is very timely. As you know, the High-Level Mid-Term Review of the SAMOA Pathway will, take place in September. It is expected to result in “a concise action-oriented and inter-governmentally agreed political declaration.”

The Mid-Term Review presents a key opportunity to re-examine progress and gaps, to determine priorities ahead, and to reaffirm and reinforce partnerships.

The Apia Outcome, adopted at the Inter-regional Preparatory Meeting in 2018, will serve as the basis for the Mid-Term Review. As you know, the Apia Outcome reaffirms the SAMOA Pathway as the overarching framework for guiding SIDS in their global, regional and national development efforts, and as an integral part of the 2030 Agenda.

Since the adoption of the SAMOA Pathway in 2014, we have witnessed many achievements by SIDS on non-communicable diseases, social inclusion, empowerment of women, and disaster risk reduction, just to name a few. SIDS are also exploring the productive potential of oceans and seas.

Building on the SAMOA Pathway, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development called for special attention to Small Island Developing States (SIDS), as they face unique vulnerabilities in their sustainable development. Let me recall them: SIDS are vulnerable to economic crises and growing trade imbalances. They have limited resources and are often dependent on certain sectors such as tourism. SIDS are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as sea-level rise and natural disasters.

Now, strengthening capacities of public institutions is essential for achieving the 2030 Agenda in SIDS. Strengthening of public institutions to deliver the SDGs is seen as a priority
in many SIDS themselves, as shown in their Voluntary National Review presentations at the
High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.

One of the SDGs that will be reviewed at the HLPF this July is indeed Goal 16 on building effective, inclusive and accountable institutions.

What do we know about it? What happened so far?

Based on the deliberations of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Public Administration (CEPA), ECOSOC has noted that many countries have initiated efforts to respond to the integrated nature of the SDGs, inter alia, by creating, reviewing or strengthening institutional arrangements, reaching out to engage stakeholders, enhancing statistical capacity to monitor progress, and taking steps to align national development strategies with the 2030 Agenda.

ECOSOC has further noted that some countries have informed and engaged their parliaments in relation to the SDGs and encourages all Governments to consider undertaking similar efforts, while noting that some parliaments have taken a proactive role in their implementation. ECOSOC recognizes that implementing the SDGs does not necessarily require the creation of new institutions and that existing institutions, such as planning ministries, have a critical role to play, working together towards the Goals

The 2030 Agenda also recognizes the importance of building inclusive institutions to ensure ownership and participation of people, especially the most vulnerable, in decision making.

So, to build resilient, peaceful and inclusive societies, principles such as justice, effectiveness, transparency, accountability, and participation should be embedded in new government programmes and policies. In addition, due to high vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters, many SIDS would have to invest in improving government capacity for preventing and mitigating natural hazards.

To contribute to this objective, in February 2017 the Government of the Bahamas with the support of UN DESA organized a Symposium on “Implementing the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda in Small Island Developing States: Equipping Public Institutions and Mobilizing Partnerships”. The Symposium highlighted the importance of integrated policymaking and implementation; mobilizing governments, civil society and the private sector; and that policy coherence, and ensuring adequate resources, capacities and technology are important for achieving the SDGs in SIDS. It, also, underscored that there is no single blue print for implementing the SDGS. SIDS face similar challenges, but each has its own specificities.

Integrated national development plans and policies play an important role for the holistic implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the SAMOA Pathway, the Sendai Framework, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and the Climate Change Agreement. It is important to ensure that plans and policies are elaborated and implemented in a coherent and integrated way by national government and local authorities as well as by all ministries and public institutions.

But they are not alone!

The Samoa Pathway calls for enhanced international cooperation, including North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation, and especially cooperation among SIDS themselves.

Also, since 2015, the SIDS Partnership Framework has developed into an important multi-stakeholder platform for monitoring and reviewing progress of SIDS partnerships, launching new partnerships, including with the private sector, and sharing good practices and lessons learned.

Capacity building plays an important role in supporting governments in their efforts to achieve the SDGs. The SAMOA Pathway specifically calls for improving existing mechanisms so as to provide coherent UN system-wide capacity-building programmes for SIDS.

We have prepared a fact sheet, listing a number of actions so far taken by UNDESA’s Division for Public Institutions and Digital Government, for your information. Other Division’s activities are not included here.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today’s event will focus on sharing lessons learned and experiences on building capacities of public institutions in SIDS. And it is a good opportunity to continue to strengthen the momentum needed for the successful implementation of the SAMOA Pathway.

You can count on UNDESA’s continued support of SIDS at this important time.

I look forward to a fruitful discussion.

Thank you.

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