Opening Remarks at the Local2030 Islands Network Virtual High-level Islands Side Event

Opening Remarks by Ms. Fekitamoeloa Katoa‘Utoikamanu, High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States

29 September 2020 
New York, USA

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am very happy to be with you today at the formal launch of the Local2030 Islands Network.

On behalf of the UN Deputy-Secretary-General, Mrs. Amina Mohammed, I thank you for your leadership and commitment.

Local action, local participation, local island-led solutions are key to addressing pressing global challenges.

There is no one size fits all solution that a global agenda should or can propose. As they say “thinking must be global and action must be local” .

The key to turning a global agenda into action lies indeed in formulating and then implementing local sustainability frameworks  built on participation and local knowledge. 

We all know how very vulnerable Small Island Developing States are to the ongoing and ever accelerating impacts of climate change.

The list of what climate change means practically is long and ranges from   sea-level rise, to ocean acidification, biodiversity loss and severe weather events just to name a few!

This is why it is all the more remarkable how island nations,  on many fronts, have  lead in developing innovative solutions for the rest of the world to be inspired by and learn from.

So, I seize this opportunity to thank all who are submitting ambitious NDCs, in particular those recognizing the critical 1.5 degree Celsius limit and the urgency of mitigating the dire projections in the IPCC Special Report on 1.5 degrees.

2020, I have no doubt, will impact all of us for times to come.

COVID-19, the global shutdowns, multiple and accelerating climate change related disasters have deepened the complexity and difficulty to manage existing challenges.

An already unsustainable debt crisis is worsening, incomes decline as key sectors such as tourism have come to an almost standstill, remittances have dropped perilously, fiscal space for medium- to long term investments in climate action and inclusive sustainability rapidly shrinks.

Human security truly is at stake.

More than ever, partnerships are needed to avoid further descent into a dangerous downward spiral wiping out years of hard won gains.

This is also the moment where we must share lessons learned and best practices.

You have shown the way in how to build a bridge between global aims and  essential local action through initiatives such as the Micronesian Challenge, Caribbean Challenge, and the Aloha+ Challenge.

Your work is inspirational .

It personally reminds me how long ago, in my country, we saw how what we then call a bottom- up approach to planning and doing makes the difference.

It was all about  listening to local concerns, working with communities, bringing communities together with partners through what we called integrated local development programmes.

Participation, genuine participation with actions is what brings tangible and sustainable change to communities. It is change communities own.

Islands nations indeed show us many scalable models that can be key to sustainable development.

There is much we can learn from each other. There is much that can even be an  example for larger economies to follow.

So, today I wholeheartedly join in the UN support by partnering through the Local2030 Initiative.

This is an innovative network bringing together the UN system, local actors, and national governments to collaboratively develop locally sensitive solutions to global challenges.

As I said before, participation at all levels is key.

More  than ever it is critically important to bring the diverse voices of Mayors, Governors and municipal leaders, the private sector and civil society into the work of the United Nations.

There is great hope that the Local2030 Initiative and Local2030 Hubs will  make a difference for climate action, inclusion and local economic development and equity.

Your work is key to ensuring that we leave no one behind.

I am confident that the Local2030 Islands Network, an initiative facilitated by the Hawai’i Green Growth Local2030 Hub and Global Island Partnership, will continue to help bring the critical and diverse voices of local island civil society, and public and private sector partners into the work of the United Nations.

The United Nations supports the four principles of the Local2030 Islands Network:

  • To identify local goals to advance the SDGs and strengthen long-term political leadership on sustainability and resilience.
  • To strengthen public-private partnerships that support diverse stakeholders in integrating sustainability priorities into policy and planning.
  • To measure progress through tracking and reporting on locally and community driven metrics.
  • And to implement concrete initiatives that build island resilience and circular economy, particularly at the water energy-food nexus.


In closing, I wish you a productive event to formally launch the Local2030 Islands Network.

We look forward to continuing to work with all of you.

OHRLLS is ready to cooperate on bringing local island voices to global fora.

We are ready to help foster global and regional partnerships for effective climate action and this includes work through the SIDS Partnership Framework and the SIDS Global Business Network.

The time for action grounded in  participation by all is now.

 I thank you.