Statement at the High-Level Dialogue on Accelerating Energy Transition in Small Island Developing States to Stimulate Post Pandemic Recovery

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

1 June 2020 
New York, USA

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to join you all!

Your high-level dialogue on accelerating energy transition in SIDS to stimulate post-pandemic recovery could not be more relevant and timely.

It truly is an understatement to say that the COVID-19 pandemic more than underscored the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) extrême vulnerability to external shocks.

The pandemic has triggered a vicious cycle and we must make every effort to move this cycle from vicious to virtuous.

Tourism revenues are a major earner for SIDS - the fall is beyond sharp. Remittances keep families going - they have fallen drastically.

Small island economies are likely to experience one of the most pronounced contractions in 2020 and possibly beyond.

The result is a further exacerbation of their vulnerability to economic and climatic shocks.

In this vicious cycle we are in, SIDS face particular challenges. Foremost, there is of course the capacity issue of responding to the immediate health crisis.  

We knew about the fragility of their economies and social protection systems. This fragility now runs even deeper and it will be a tremendous challenge to plan for and implement social and economic recovery.   

Beyond any doubt, recovery will take some time.

It is now a point where we can either manage if not even muddle through a status quo or make an effort to turn a desolate situation into an opportunity for innovation and transformation.

Excellences, ladies and gentlemen,

A core feature of transformation lies in accelerating the energy transition in SIDS to stimulate post pandemic recovery.

This may be the opportunity to reform  complex domestic tax systems on fuel, expand fiscal space and move out from heavily subsidised fossil fuel consumption.

This, combined with decreasing prices of renewables,  will lay a strong foundation for an expansion of renewable and sustainable energy. This has potential to trigger cleaner and low-carbon production and consumption bases.

We though must keep in mind that SIDS governments already prior to this  crisis faced significant fiscal constraints.  

COVID-19 may well be that drop making the glass half empty rather than half full.

Do we really want now to lose hard won gains?

It is more important than ever that the international community is steadfast in its actions to accelerate the clean energy transition in SIDS.

As partners, governments and the international community must work together with the objective to deliver targeted and effective measures to support the peoples of the SIDS.

The peoples of the SIDS cannot be left behind and just  bear alone and abandoned the brunt in responding to this unprecedented crisis.

We must continue to explore and advocate for dedicated funds for SIDS, including within the context of the International Financial Institutions.

It will be vitally important to expand access to concessional financing for SIDS to complement domestically financed stimulus packages.

The latter are necessary but not sufficient to deliver on the considerable needs of SIDS during this crisis.

It is also critical that we establish a dedicated debt mechanism for SIDS.

Such mechanism must provide for comprehensive, inclusive and innovative actions for immediate and long-term debt sustainability.

The focus has to be on creating fiscal space for recovery and fostering investments in sustainable development.

The global response to and recovery from COVID must  factor in 
a SIDS specific approach.

So, let us turn from a vicious to a virtuous circle and give SIDS a chance  to emerge from this crisis with cleaner, greener and more resilient societies.

I thank you for your attention.