Today, the United Nations is launching the International Year of Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) to celebrate the economic, social and cultural contributions that this group of countries has made to the world, as well as raise awareness of the challenges they face such as climate change and rising sea levels. The international year will highlight the common links between small islands developing States and other countries, and encourage new partnerships to achieve a sustainable future for generations to come.


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened the ceremony, held in New York, along with the President of the General Assembly, H.E. John W. Ashe. Other participants included H.E. Wu Hongbo, Secretary-General of the Third International Conference on the Small Islands Developing States, and a number of senior representatives of small island developing States. The ceremony is available at



Later in the day, the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, participated in the launch of the SIDS Youth Network, together with H.E. Ambassador of Samoa Ali’ioaiga Feturi Elisaia, and youth representatives Alex Cumberbatch (Barbados), Krishneil Narayan (Fiji), and Karuna Rana (Mauritius), moderated by Vibeke Jensen, Director of UNESCO Liaison Office in New York.


“Whether due to external or domestic shocks, to man-made or natural disasters, the resilience of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) needs to be strengthened. And this cannot be done without young people,” concluded Alhendawi.