Apia, Samoa

30 August 2014

Secretary-General’s remarks at High-Level Dialogue of the Private Sector Partnerships Forum in Samoa [as delivered]

I thank the Government of Samoa and people and the Chamber of Commerce of Samoa for convening this Forum with the United Nations.

I am delighted to be in Samoa at this time, for the first time as Secretary-General. I am here to add my voice as United Nations Secretary-General to support and to help the people and governments to overcome the unique vulnerabilities and challenges they are facing in terms of economic, social and environmental development. The more than 3,000 people here – you – are all here with the same determined way and support. I truly appreciate your support for this.

The timing of this meeting could not be better. I am going to convene the climate change summit meeting in September in New York next month. Also Member States are working very hard to shape the future development agenda. We must reflect the unique challenges and aspirations in the future development agenda so that everybody around the world, including people in Small Island Developing States, can live with human dignity.

In that regard, this session on partnerships of business leaders – we are seeing here extraordinary partnerships. We are not [often] using this word but we need this extraordinary partnership. Thank you for your extraordinary partnership and commitment.

This morning I visited the community of Si’upapa, a small village. The people there are as warm as the sun shining on the ocean. They gave us a traditional welcome from their rich tradition and culture. The coastline was remarkably beautiful.

Many small island nations seem like paradise.  Maybe some of you may be tempted to come with your families. People dream of travelling to places like Si’upapa where I have been this morning.

But the community members there – and small islanders everywhere – are on the frontlines of climate change and environmental degradation. A natural disaster anywhere is damaging, but for small islands, it can be even more catastrophic.

There are vast oceans separating small islands from other regions. But even though SIDS may be remote, they are not alone. I see great solidarity here in this room. And I am very much grateful for your solidarity.

People often say we are in the same boat. I would say we are all on the same small island on the same small planet Earth; this is like a small boat in the universe. Thus, we have a collective responsibility to protect the most vulnerable.

This reality is recognized in the Mauritius Strategy and the outcome of the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.

There can be no collective action without partnerships. That means joining forces with the private sector to find solutions.

The challenges facing SIDS affect businesses, too: scarce resources, population pressures and climate change.

Corporate leaders understand that they have an interest in rising to these challenges. 

Oceans isolate small islands – but when they are managed well they become a constant source of wealth. 

The private sector can drive innovative solutions to the problems facing Small Island Developing States.

The SIDS 2014 Partnership Platform has already delivered more than 300 multi-stakeholder partnerships. They span the world, involving more than 150 governments along with UN agencies, international organizations and others.

These initiatives can deliver real results. The South-South Technology Transfer Facility for SIDS is matching technology providers and financial investors with the right business communities in SIDS. I applaud Samoa for leading this effort.

Renewable energy is critical. It will help cut greenhouse gas emissions and at the same time make countries less dependent on expensive imported fuel. Renewable energy also creates jobs and revitalizes economies.

The International Renewable Energy Agency, IRENA, is leading a SIDS Lighthouse Initiative with the potential to help SIDS exceed their own targets for renewables. This project has a half-billion dollar funding target. It can help SIDS overcome their dependence on fossil fuels. That will drive progress and free up funds for education, health and other human needs.

The sustainable future of societies everywhere lies in green growth – or, in the case of SIDS, let us call it blue growth. Our UN flag is also blue, and at this conference it symbolizes our commitment to blue growth for small island developing States everywhere.

You are part of this exciting chance to address risks, seize opportunities, and make history by moving our planet to sustainability. I look forward to hearing your ideas. Let us make the most of this chance so that we can benefit people for generations to come.

Thank you.