Celebrating Island Leadership in a New Era of Cooperation in SIDS: Global Island Partnership (GLISPA) & Small Island Developing States Network (SIDSNet)

Honorable Prime Minister Tillman Thomas,
Vice President Danny Fauvre,
Honorable Minister Kevin Rudd,
Vice President Alik L. Alik,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honour and a pleasure to join you in celebrating island leadership.

Later this week the Alliance of Small Island States will celebrate its 20th anniversary. I congratulate the Alliance on twenty years of solidarity and commitment to advancing the sustainable development of small island and low-lying coastal countries.

You have brought the development challenges and environmental needs of SIDS to the global stage. You have effected important changes through increasing public awareness and galvanizing political will. You have stood united and you have made your voices heard by the international community.

Small island developing states have contributed little to climate change, but they are suffering from its impact. Indeed, for many of them, their very existence is under threat.

Through the implementation of Agenda 21, the Barbados Programme of Action, and the Mauritius Strategy for Implementation, there has been some progress, but not nearly enough.

As we have learned from the Mauritius +5 review and Millennium Development Goals progress reports, to meet the development challenge faced by SIDS, we need stronger political support, enhanced coordination of efforts, more effective aid delivery, and focused partnership initiatives.

As we prepare for the next major climate conference in Cancun and the Rio+20 Conference in 2012, we need to send out strong messages about island nations:

Message 1: SIDS are at the front lines in the battle against climate change. They are global leaders in adaptation and mitigation. They are doing their utmost not just to survive, but to thrive.

Message 2: Their work is just beginning. Much more remains to be done – on climate change and on all other development fronts. MDG progress in island nations has been uneven and the recent economic, energy and food crises have undermined some successes.

Message 3: The international community must stand by SIDS. At this critical juncture when SIDS are making renewed efforts to overcome their vulnerabilities, strengthen their resilience, fight climate change, and protect island and marine biodiversity, the international community must fulfill their pledges in support of SIDS.

The UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, which I head, is honoured to work with the Alliance.

One of the areas where we have worked together is the revitalization of the SIDSNet – an online knowledge management system for policy makers. With generous financial support provided by the government of Spain, this initiative is now on solid ground. This online tool will disseminate news and information on trends, meetings and policy initiatives which will facilitate partnerships. It will also allow better collection of statistics on vulnerability and resilience assessments.

I would also like to express my appreciation for the Global Island Partnership that has emerged out of this Alliance. It is assisting SIDS in critical tasks, not least in conserving and protecting terrestrial and marine ecosystems and fighting climate change.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Later this week we have the High-Level Meeting on the Mauritius Strategy. May this week of high-level events spark a new era of cooperation between SIDS, their development partners, and the international community.

Thank you and I wish you a productive meeting.