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GA/11585
14 November 2014
Sixty-ninth session, 51st Meeting (AM)

General Assembly Unanimously Adopts Text Endorsing Small Island Developing States’ ‘Pathway’ to Sustainable Growth, Disaster Risk Reduction

While Throwing United Support behind Green Goals, Delegates Criticize Oral Amendment Adding Nearly $500,000 for One Post

The General Assembly today adopted by consensus a text on Accelerated Modalities of Action for Small Island Developing States (SIDS), known as the SAMOA Pathway.

By its terms, the Assembly endorsed the outcome document of the Conference, “SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway”, which was annexed to the resolution.  Amended orally by the Secretariat prior to its adoption, the resolution required additional resources in the total amount of $470,000.

The 124-paragraph SAMOA Pathway document recognized that sea-level rise and other adverse impacts of climate change continued to pose a significant risk to small island developing States and their efforts to achieve sustainable development and, for many, represented the gravest of threats to their survival and viability, including, for some, through the loss of territory.  It also recognized that the adverse impacts of climate change have placed additional burdens on their national budgets and their efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals.

Outlining support for those States’ development efforts, the Pathway document addressed a range of issues, from ocean management and disaster risk reduction to food security and economic development.

Speaking after the adoption of the resolution, Samoa’s Minister of Communication and Information Technology told the Assembly that its adoption of the resolution was a high point in small island developing States’ enduring efforts to focus world attention on their sustainable development needs.  The SAMOA Pathway was a finely balanced intergovernmental agreement that had the stamp of approval of the Organization’s membership, he added.

A representative of Australia said that crucial to prosperity was economic growth and the sustainable management of oceans, adding that the strength of the resolution was in the prominence of those vital issues, as well as its emphasis on women’s equality and the importance of sound governance.

Also speaking at today’s meeting were the representatives of Nauru (on behalf of AOSIS), Tonga (on behalf of Pacific Small Island Developing States), Jamaica (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Singapore, Russian Federation, China, United States, Japan and Canada, as well as the European Union Delegation.

The General Assembly will meet again on Monday, 17 November, at 10 a.m. to hear the report of the Human Rights Council and also to elect one judge to the International Court of Justice.

Background

The General Assembly met today to consider the integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields.  Delegates had before them a draft resolution on SIDS [Small Island Developing States] Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway (document A/69/L.6).

The Assembly also had before it a report of the Secretary-General on accelerating progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, (document A/69/201).

Statements

LARA ERAB DANIEL (Nauru), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), said the SAMOA Pathway provided a roadmap, but the question now was how to effectively implement it.  Partnerships were key in that respect, and capacity building and institutional strengthening, rather than endless workshops, were critical for small island developing States to take ownership of their sustainable development and build their resilience.  Those States must exercise more discipline in identifying where support was most needed and in demonstrating that investments were put to good use.  From their partners, more discipline was required to fulfil longstanding commitments.

Effective implementation required “sufficient and predictable means”, she said, including financing, capacity building, technology transfer, data collection and management, technical cooperation and institutional support.  Progress must be tracked through a robust global monitoring system that strengthened accountability at all levels.  Finally, the Pathway would not deliver on its objective of achieving the sustainable development of small island developing States if it was not integrated in the post-2015 agenda.  Not addressing climate change or ocean degradation, the two key development inhibitors for those States, would result in leaving many behind.

MAHE’ULI’ULI SANDHURST TUPOUNIUA (Tonga), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States, said the recently adopted SAMOA Pathway reaffirmed the special case of countries in his group and their vulnerabilities and challenges in relation to climate change and natural disasters.  It also stressed the continued importance of the international community’s support in pursuit of sustainable development.  Turning to the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, he said islands must take the requisite actions.  The roadmap in the Mauritius Strategy was based on actions across 20 different headings – from climate change to marine resources, tourism to trade and health to culture, he added. 

The implementation of the Strategy had been uneven, he said, especially in light of the global economic recession.  Despite considerable efforts of Pacific States, many had been unable to attain internationally agreed upon goals and targets, including the Millennium Development Goals.  Those shortfalls were a reflection of the challenges faced by Pacific small island developing States, he continued.  With low agricultural capacity, a small base of natural resources and unique infrastructure challenges, often compounded by geographic remoteness, they faced additional hurdles to promote sustained, inclusive and equitable economic growth.  Those challenges were exacerbated by the increasingly adverse effects of climate change, he added.  “Extreme weather events, rising sea levels and ocean acidification, among other impacts, will make it harder to accomplish gains in sustainable development,” he said.

COURTNENAY RATTRAY (Jamaica) spoke on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), aligning the group with the statement made on behalf of the AOSIS.  The unique vulnerabilities of small island developing States were well-known and the outcome document had embodied a new global commitment.  The need for the full implementation of the SAMOA Pathway could not be overstated, he said, adding that CARICOM would be working with those States on national, regional and international levels.

The adoption of the Pathway had come at a critical moment, at the start of shaping the post-2015 development agenda.  That agenda must be people-oriented and have poverty eradication at its core.  That would include access to concessional financing, debt relief, poverty eradication, treating the scourge of diseases, climate change adaptation, technology transfer and capacity building.  He called on Member States to elaborate on the post-2015 agenda, asking Member States to give priority to the small island developing States.

MARK NEO (Singapore), aligning his country with the statement made on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, said the adoption of the SAMOA Pathway had been the culmination of many months of hard work by all stakeholders involved.  As co-chair of the Preparatory Committee of the Conference, Singapore had been privileged to do its part to ensure that negotiations concluded ahead of the Conference itself.  In that regard, he emphasized that Member States needed to keep up the momentum that had been generated so far and initiate concrete programmes towards the realization of the Pathway.  Hoping to contribute meaningfully to its implementation, Singapore remained ready to work with small island developing States and other partners, providing customized technical assistance and fellowships in areas that were relevant to their capacity-building needs.

DMITRY MAKSIMYCHEV (Russian Federation) said his Government viewed the outcome of the Apia conference as a benchmark for international efforts to ensure development for that category of countries and an important contribution to the post-2015 development agenda.  Guided by friendly relations and responsible partnerships, his Government was stepping up donor assistance to small island developing States and overall assistance was at about $20 million.  Assistance was focused on critically important spheres of work, modernization of infrastructure, developing trade, improving education and healthcare, energy security and enhancing natural disaster resilience.  Practical cooperation for the implementation for the SAMOA Pathway included working with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to look into the possibility of carrying out major long-term projects on improving disaster preparedness for small island developing States.

CHEN YINGZHU (China) welcomed the outcome document of the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States.  Her country had supported the establishment of long-term partnerships to further their development as they moved forward, taking on the challenge of climate change and the post-2015 development agenda, among other issues.  Over the years, China had furthered their relationship with small island developing States with lasting partnerships.  China had also provided concessionary loans and development loans for infrastructure, water, power plants, micro-farming and other related activities to help those countries adapt to new challenges.

Action

A representative of the Secretariat orally amended draft resolution on SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway (document A/69/L.6), making detailed additions to operative paragraphs 101, 119 and 124(b).  Additional resources in the amount of $470,100 would be required for the establishment of one temporary P-4 post, starting in 2016, for which consideration would be made in the context of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2016–2017.  Accordingly, the adoption of draft resolution “L.6” would not give rise to any financial implications for the programme budget for the biennium 2014–2015.

The General Assembly then adopted draft resolution A/69/L.6 by consensus.

A representative of the United States said she was pleased to be closely involved with small island developing States in the development of the SAMOA Pathway.  But she found the Secretariat’s oral statement to go beyond the document’s breadth.  The Secretariat should evaluate its staffing, budget and the imperative to work smarter and more effectively, she said, adding that the issue should be addressed in the proper forum.  She noted that her country’s support of the resolution should not be read as an acceptance of the budgetary aspects presented in the oral statement.  She emphasized that the United States would continue to work with all small island developing States.

A representative of Japan said that his Government was determined to continuously support the work by small island developing States to implement the SAMOA Pathway and was pleased to join consensus on the resolution.  However, it was deeply regrettable that estimates on the proposed programme budget were not issued until last evening.  Cost information should be available to Member States well in advance of the adoption.  His Delegation had many questions and reservations on the statement regarding operative paragraph 124(b) of the outcome document.  The costs related to that resolution should be considered in the programme budget of the next biennium.  The oral statement delivered was not binding, he said.  His delegation also requested that the Secretariat record his position.

A representative of Canada, welcoming the adoption, expressed concern with the Secretariat’s interpretation of resource requirements.  Disquieted by the Secretariat’s approach in making the request, her Delegation stressed that the adoption of the resolution was not an endorsement of the financial requirements presented in the oral statement.

Statements

RYAN NEELAM (Australia) said that although his country was not a small island, most of its neighbours were, and his Government saw the prosperity of small island developing States as integral to that of his own country.  Crucial to prosperity was economic growth and the sustainable management of oceans.  The strength of the resolution was in the prominence of those vital issues, as well as its emphasis on women’s equality and the importance of sound governance.  As the international community moved forward, there was a need to work in partnership, he concluded.

THIBAULT DEVANLAY, of the European Union Delegation, said that the time had come for the Union and small island developing States to move from a traditional donor-recipient relationship towards a more comprehensive one.  In that regard, the third International Conference on Small Island Developing States was an opportunity to strengthen existing partnerships and help to establish new ones.

His delegation was surprised, however, to be presented with an oral statement from the Programme Planning and Budget Division on resolution “L.6” and saw no justification for such a statement.  Estimates presented today, he said, did not prejudge the Secretary-General’s submission to the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions and the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) of the proposed budget for 2016–2017.  Moreover, some estimates could not be considered as requirements under the present resolution.  Of particular concern were estimates, notably paragraph 124(b), that came after negotiations were over and did not fully reflect their spirit.  Increased transparency regarding estimated budgetary figures should be provided during the negotiation process, in full accordance with the relevant rules of procedure.

Making a statement after the vote, TUISUGALETAUA SOFARA AVEAU, Minister of Communication and Information Technology of Samoa, said that the adoption of the SAMOA Pathway was a high point in small island developing States’ enduring efforts to focus world attention on their sustainable development needs.  Samoa’s vision was not only to host a global conference but to spotlight the challenges and realities of small island developing States.  It was also important to demonstrate that being a least developed country should not discourage poor and vulnerable nations from stepping forward to achieve economic, social and political progress.

The SAMOA Pathway was a finely balanced intergovernmental agreement that had the stamp of approval of the Organization’s membership.  It was the blueprint for small island developing States’ sustainable development.  Even amid all the other political and economic demands, the realities of small island developing States, so clearly spelled out in the document, should retain the attention of the wider international community.  His delegation hoped that the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction to be held next year in Japan and the climate change conferences in Lima and Paris would use the SAMOA Pathway as an authoritative source from which to draw inspiration.

For information media. Not an official record.