Development support, climate finance and international partnerships are the pillars for the survival of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and a data-driven sustainable development is crucial for all SIDS if we want to leapfrog our real and potential vulnerabilities.
The Prime Minister, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, made this statement, this morning at the Ravenala Attitude Hotel in Balaclava, during the opening of a three-day Preparatory Meeting of the 4th International Conference on SIDS for the Atlantic, Indian Ocean and South China Sea (AIS) region.
The Minister of Land Transport and Light Rail, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Mr Alan Ganoo; the United Nations (UN) Under Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs, Mr Li Junhua; the Permanent Representative of Cabo Verde to the United Nations and Vice Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States, Ms Tania Romualdo; and other personalities were also present on this occasion.
In his address, Prime Minister Jugnauth highlighted that is imperative that SIDS have better access concessional development financing to accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This, he pointed out, calls for a global financial system that is responsive to SIDS’s realities and which unlocks new climate resources. He also deplored that several structural challenges, including financial constraints, compel SIDS to have recourse to expensive loans so as to address the increasing socio-economic and infrastructural development needs, thus resulting in high public debts.
The Prime Minister stated that SIDS should have better and easier access to climate finance, which is a matter of survival first before being a key enabler to progress towards the SDGs. He underlined the dichotomy between the insignificant contribution of SIDS to global greenhouse gas emissions and climate change phenomena that threaten the existence of our islands and the livelihood of our people.
Furthermore, the Prime Minister underscored that SIDS should have increased access to international partnerships to address long-term human and technical capacity constraints. In a bid to ensure long term effectiveness, he observed, SIDS require a more programmatic approach as opposed to stand-alone projects. The focus of development partners should therefore be in embedding capacity building and transfer of technology in support programmes so as to enhance in-country resource development and lead to the strengthening of institutions, he added.
For his part, Minister Ganoo emphasised that this meeting aims at developing and adopting a common strategy to face challenges faced by the AIS region. He remarked that, as SIDS, participating countries must set forth an ambitious roadmap for the 4th International Conference on SIDS to be held in 2024.
As for Mr Junhua, he reassured that the UN is committed to supporting SIDS in their quest for a more resilient and sustainable future. The eight SIDS of the AIS may be geographically remote, but their problems are not theirs to face alone, he stated.
It is recalled that the meeting is an opportunity for the small island nations AIS to meet with international partners to review sustainable development progress and propose new partnerships and solutions in advance of the 4th International Conference on SIDS in Antigua and Barbuda in 2024. The meeting will adopt an outcome document with recommendations that will feed directly into preparations for the 2024 Conference. It brings together senior Government officials from SIDS across the region alongside representatives of development partners and the UN system.