Deputy Secretary-General, at Closing of Review Meeting, Calls Challenges Facing Small Island Developing States ‘Global Issues that Affect Us All’

25 September 2010

Deputy Secretary-General, at Closing of Review Meeting, Calls Challenges Facing Small Island Developing States ‘Global Issues that Affect Us All’

25 September 2010
Deputy Secretary-General
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Deputy Secretary-General, at Closing of Review Meeting, Calls Challenges Facing


Small Island Developing States ‘Global Issues that Affect Us All’


Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro’s remarks at the closing session of the high-level review meeting on the Mauritius Strategy for small island developing States, in New York today, 25 September:

On behalf of the Secretary-General, I am pleased to address the closing session of this high-level review meeting on the Mauritius Strategy.

I congratulate all participants on the productive and thought-provoking discussions held during the multistakeholder round tables and interactive dialogue of the past two days.  Those discussions reflect the renewed commitment of small island developing States to address their vulnerabilities and to build resilience through sustainable development.

I also commend the international community for its continuing determination to support small island developing States in this endeavour.  I am very encouraged by the action-oriented suggestions we have heard.

It is now my pleasure to provide a brief overview of the key issues that were discussed during these past two days.

The review meeting reaffirmed the need for the international community to continue to address and support the unique and particular vulnerabilities of small island developing States, which have been recognized at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 and underscored in Barbados in 1994 and again in Mauritius five years ago.

Substantial progress has been made in implementing the Mauritius Strategy, which is directly linked to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.  However, renewed efforts are needed to live up to promises and commitments made in the recent past.

Economic, environmental and social vulnerabilities have further worsened in the past 10 years.  As a result, small island developing States’ economic development and progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals are threatened by external shocks, including the adverse impacts of the global financial, food and fuel crises.  Climate change further exacerbates these vulnerabilities, leaving the viability and very physical existence of some small island developing States at stake.

Small island developing States have demonstrated strong political commitment to continue to do their part in building resilience to their special vulnerabilities.  However, there is a clear need to bridge the gaps in implementation with coordinated and sustainable support from the international community.

Discussions during this high-level meeting highlighted a number of priorities, including defining measurable goals and indicators for monitoring and evaluation, and strengthening capacities for data collection and analysis; scaling up resources made available to small island developing States, including for meeting new challenges; enhancing strategic partnerships and monitoring and coordination mechanisms, especially at the regional level and within the United Nations system, for example through the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) and the Commission for Sustainable Development; strengthening South-South cooperation, including among small island developing States; and placing a special focus on a number of sub-areas, including climate change mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity, natural disasters, sustainable energy, transport and trade, marine and coastal resources, fisheries, tourism, finance and debt sustainability.

Highly vulnerable small island developing States face a number of practical challenges and yet are often not eligible for special financing or other resources.  In this respect, the discussion today highlighted the need to develop a small island developing States vulnerability index.

Middle-income small island developing States face special challenges in the absence of international support measures, commensurate with their high vulnerability.  In this context, it was felt by many discussants that consideration should be given to exploring formal United Nations recognition of small island developing States as a special category, to be tied to preferential treatment and access to concessionary financing, debt relief, trade, special programmes and to development assistance, without prejudice to the needs of other vulnerable economies.

The review also highlighted shortcomings in institutional support for small island developing States and constraints to the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy and Barbados Programme of Action.  A comprehensive review of the Strategy and concrete recommendations for action are needed.

You have demonstrated your commitment to advancing the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy towards the sustainable development of small island developing States.  You have agreed on key priorities for action and proposed suggestions on the way forward.

The United Nations, in partnership with the members of the Inter-Agency Consultative Group — which includes all key United Nations agencies as well as other intergovernmental and regional organizations — is committed to providing strong, coherent and coordinated support to these efforts.

The issues facing small island developing States are truly global issues that affect us all.  Let us work together to achieve in small island developing States a model of sustainable development with lessons and benefits for all.

The Secretary-General and I look forward to seeing your continuing commitment and leadership in action.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.