Distinguished Representative and Delegates of the Government of Cabo Verde, Cuba,
Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, and the Marshall Islands,
The Chair of the Alliance of Small Islands States,
The High Representative for LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS,
UN Resident Coordinators,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honor to be opening this important event. I wish to congratulate and thank the six Small Island Developing States submitting their National Voluntary Reviews this year, 2021.
The Marshall Islands, Cuba, and Antigua and Barbuda are doing it for the first time. And Bahamas, Cabo Verde and Dominican Republic are submitting theirs for the second time.
As the VNRs show, the COVID 19 pandemic has severely exacerbated SIDS’ structural and exogenous vulnerabilities. The social and economic effects of the global economic shutdowns is being disproportionately felt in SIDS, through their:
- health systems,
- tourism revenues,
- remittance flows,
- food security,
- commodities, and
- trade, as well as the existing debt situation.
For example, according to the 2021 Financing for Sustainable Development report, tourism accounts for 80 per cent of total export revenues in SIDS, globally. Exceptional reduction in this sector, due to the pandemic, severely decreased external income in SIDS. In this context, structural constraints represent, for most of them, several challenges to recovery.
Your VNRs demonstrate that despite these challenges, you are showing global leadership. You are committed to transforming these unique challenges into opportunities to boost your implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the S.A.M.O.A Pathway.
I acknowledge and congratulate you on your leadership. In particular, I thank and acknowledge:
- Cabo Verde for choosing human capital and youth as the main accelerator of sustainable development;
- Cuba for strengthening the environmental dimension of sustainable development, and sharing its experience through South-South cooperation;
- the Dominican Republic for reinforcing its institutions as the foundations to address structural challenges, such as climate change;
- Marshall Islands for recognizing the need to promote collective efforts of all stakeholders, including in the management of transboundary issues;
- Antigua and Barbuda for making significant progress on SDGs related to people and prioritizing blue economy; and
- the Bahamas for providing entrepreneurs with the resources and funds needed to open and maintain a successful business, through the Small Business Development Centre.
This Event also exhibits the political will of SIDS to come together and jointly highlight their common vulnerabilities, development challenges and opportunities. Indeed, we see this year, a first-time insertion of a common SIDS’ specific section in their respective VNRs.
Such initiative once again demonstrates how SIDS are leading by example. It echoes the spirit of the S.A.M.O.A Pathway, which calls for genuine partnerships at national, regional, and international levels to address SIDS multi-facetted vulnerabilities.
The SAMOA Pathway also underscores the urgency of developing inter-regional, and intra-regional cooperation, for spearheading innovative solutions and accelerating SIDS transformative sustainable development, at scale.
I take this opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of our UN Resident Coordinators in supporting SIDS in the implementation of their sustainable development agenda. UN DESA is pleased to collaborate with you, the Multi-Country Offices and UN Country Teams, in your work, in line with the UN reform.
I have set up a SIDS Task Team at UN DESA to develop the Department’s Strategy of Support to SIDS. Such a Strategy will offer a more tailored support to SIDS’ needs and priorities, through inter-governmental and analytical support, as well as capacity development.
I cannot conclude without using this opportunity to welcome the new Under-Secretary-General and High Representative, for LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS, Mr. Courtenay Rattray. I firmly believe that under his leadership and vision, the two SIDS Units of UNDESA and OHRLLS, will further support SIDS throughout the Decade of Action and Delivery for the SDGs.
I trust that this Event will yield inspired conversations and fruitful action.
I thank you