General Debate of the Second Committee
Intervention by the Republic of Maldives
United Nations, New York, 7 October 2015
On behalf of my delegation, I wish to extend to you and the Bureau Members, our warmest congratulations on your election, and commit our full support and trust in your endeavour. Our appreciation also goes to the outgoing Chair and his Bureau.
The Maldives wishes to associate with the statements delivered on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and the Alliance of Small Island States.
Last week, we adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: our new blueprint for transforming our world. The Agenda, though beautifully crafted, is still words on paper. It is up to us to give meaning to those words. And the second committee is one important avenue to put those words into action.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will undoubtedly shape the way we conduct our business. We were once again, reassured that the special situation of small island developing states (SIDS) was recognised and given due consideration in the Agenda. While our agenda is universal, action must take into account the different circumstances of different countries, and be context-specific. The specific needs of SIDS can be adequately addressed only through applying a SIDS-lens to the issues of our time, as well as to the UN system as a whole. It is flawed to think that SIDS, while facing the same problems and issues as every other country, would be affected the same way. Our geographical particularities, our unique structural challenges, shape the way we are affected, as well as the way solutions are targeted.
One such example is that of financing for development. Financing for development remains a critical area for developing countries. The Maldives is a SIDS, and a Middle Income Country. Our unique geographical characteristics require us to provide basic infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, harbours, sanitation, transport, electricity, and water facilities in nearly 200 islands, all of them, except for two, with populations less than 5000 people, many even less than 1000. This makes service delivery per capita, exceptionally high. Investment in infrastructure and human resources is also necessary to maintain the high standard of development that has enabled us to graduate from least developed country status.
However, because of the categorisation as a middle income country, the Maldives remains ineligible for concessionary financing, forcing borrowing at unsustainable rates, putting further pressure on an already high debt-burden. Therefore, we have been continuously advocating for the special consideration of financing needs in SIDS. We have also been consistently raising our voice for the revision of the LDC graduation criteria. The vulnerability and resilience of countries must be taken into account more prominently than now. Without a holistic look at how countries adapt to their specific contexts, and are able to overcome shocks, development efforts can never be sustainable.
We are also re-assured that the Agenda established links between the various programmes of action for countries in special situation and the Agenda. The SAMOA Pathway identifies all the needs and priorities for SIDS. And this session of the general Assembly will also further consider putting into action, the key commitments under the SAMOA Pathway: including the comprehensive review of UN system support for SIDS, as well as the Partnership Framework to review and follow up on the partnerships announced at the SIDS Conference, and attract new partnerships.
We are also encouraged that the Agenda firmly placed Oceans within the sustainable development debate. Sustainable Development, for the Maldives, is inherently linked to oceans. Traditional methods of pole and line fishing as practised in the Maldives have positive implications for poverty eradication, employment and decent work, long-term food security and nutrition. Our tourism sector, which contributes to over 35% of our GDP, is also dependent on the beauty and bounty of our oceans.
And we cannot talk about sustainable development without talking about extreme weather events and the impacts of climate change on the long-term development of our countries, especially SIDS such as the Maldives. Investment in climate change adaptation and mitigation is already high, placing additional burdens on already-stretched budgets. The negative impacts of climate change threaten to erode development gains made in the past decades, while hampering progress along the way. And therefore, we remain hopeful for a meaningful legally binding and ambitious agreement at COP21 in Paris later this year, which will be a fitting end to a successful year of milestones.
My delegation is determined to ensure that 2015 will be remembered as the year we made the conscious effort to take action. It is not only our duty, but also our moral responsibility. We stand ready to do our part, together with all.