November 2010, New York – The Maldives Mission to the United Nations spoke at the Second Committee about sustainable development issues, outlining concerns common to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and providing updates on its own progress in addressing those concerns.
The impediments to development caused by a lack of capacity and capital for infrastructural projects were emphasized in context of the lack of fulfillment of aid commitments by donor countries and the widespread effects of globalization. The Maldives urged development partners to honour their aid commitments without delay so that SIDS are more easily able to overcome these hurdles, and called for special WTO considerations in order to facilitate integration into the global economy.
The 'island paradox' was stressed as an indicator of the shortcomings in the international aid delivery system, as the economic, social, and environmental vulnerabilities of SIDS are not accounted for when granting financial aid. These vulnerabilities are magnified by extreme dependence on imported basic commodities such as food, clothing, and fossil fuels for energy needs; future disasters are also expected to cause significant economic damages. Country-specific vulnerability profiles were called for to counteract this problem.
Attention was drawn to the significant vulnerabilities to natural disasters and many aspects of climate change – ranging from sea level rise to vector-borne diseases – that are faced by many SIDS. As the costs of natural disasters are expected to be exacerbated by climate change, climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DDR) must play a part in all aspects of development. Since SIDS are generally severely lacking in technical, financial, and institutional capability, addressing CCA and DDR requires assistance from developed countries by way of fulfillment of aid commitments, technology and capacity transfers, and science-based approaches to addressing the vulnerabilities and risks faced by SIDS.
Lastly, the Maldives advocated for SIDS to be formally recognized as a special category within the UN and to be given a dedicated voice within international development and economic decision making fora. Such a category should include special provisions for special financing conditions and mechanisms. Without such an allowance for SIDS' special status, sustainable development cannot be realistic.