Dr. Ibrahim Zuhuree
Deputy Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of Maldives to the United Nations
at the Plenary of the Seventy Sixth Session of the UN General Assembly:
Report of the Economic and Social Council
2 November 2021
Thank you, Mr. President.
I thank the President of the Economic and Social Council for his Report. The Maldives remains fully committed to the work of the Council.
In 2015, when we collectively agreed to the 2030 Agenda, we were optimistic that political will has been mobilized to usher in a fairer and more sustainable future. However, the Council’s Report confirms what is evident from the world around us – we are clearly not on track to meet the SDGs. This trajectory cannot be blamed on the COVID-19 pandemic alone. We must act in good faith, and with urgency to implement our various agreed development agendas, such as Agenda 2030, Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the SAMOA Pathway, the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Achieving the sustainable development goals is impossible without protecting this planet. We must address the various interlinked environmental crises we face. For Maldives and other SIDS, the climate emergency is not a distant threat; it is our reality today. The recent IPCCC report is clear that we have a narrow window to limit global temperatures to below 1.5 degrees. Domestically, we have set a target of net-zero emissions by 2030. This is one of the most ambitious decarbonization efforts of any country. However we know that it will require more action by developed and big countries to really shift our global trajectory. We need to see more urgent action on all fronts – mitigation, adaptation and support. We hope COP26 results in more ambitious NDCs, a clear commitment to climate finance for developing countries, and financial support for adaptation and resilience efforts.
Today, it is estimated that there are approximately 100 million tons of plastic waste in the ocean, responsible for the death of over 1 million marine lives annually. This year’s ECOSOC Report emphasizes once again, the need to urgently address the dumping of plastic litter and other waste into the ocean. Domestically, the Maldives has taken strong action to combat marine plastic pollution, by enacting a ban on the import of most types single-use plastics. However, current multilateral efforts to address this issue are fragmented and lack coherence. Without coordinated action, we cannot effectively tackle this serious threat to our biodiversity, and to our tourism and fishing industries. For this reason, the Maldives calls for a global, legally binding treaty to combat plastic pollution.
Beyond the environmental pillar, SIDS face extreme sensitivity with regard to trade, tourism, financial flows and food security. In the case of the Maldives’ our largest economic sector, tourism, contracted by more than 30 percent last year. Our fish exports declined. This year’s ECOSOC Report highlights the need for greater focus on meeting the specific and unique needs of SIDS when it comes to sustainable development. For these reasons, we support the finalization of a multidimensional vulnerability index and to ensure that the relevant multilateral support is in place to address unique challenges faced by SIDS.
Given the stress that the pandemic has placed on our fiscal situation, a true recovery must include global debt-relief infrastructure to finance development. In developing countries, securing the necessary financial support for pandemic recovery has been more difficult than ever. This is why we support the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative and welcome the propositions made for new Special Drawing Rights in the IMF. Sustainable development requires financial, technical and capacity building support. Predictable, long-term financing is necessary to allow us to simultaneously address the immediate health crisis and the longer-term economic and social recovery from the pandemic.
We are heartened by the focus that your Presidency has placed on women and girls, and we acknowledge the tremendous efforts of women all around the world, in the formal and informal sectors. However, we note that globally, women were almost twice as vulnerable as men to the impacts of the pandemic. The Report correctly urges us to close the gender gap and call for national responses to the pandemic to be gender-responsive and to integrate women’s participation and leadership.
The Maldives remains firmly committed to reducing the gender-gap by introducing targeted and specific policies and actions to ensure a more inclusive recovery. President Solih places high importance on having women in executive positions: we have women holding a third of ministerial posts in the Cabinet; two female Supreme Court justices; women lead the Judicial Service Commission and the Human Rights Commission; and the Maldives’ Foreign Service has achieved gender parity at the Heads of Missions level. In a historic event, in the April 2021 we elected women for 1/3 of the local council seats.
- The work of this Council must be driven by the goal of meeting the needs of all countries, big and small. Multiple crises, from the pandemic to the climate crisis have demonstrated how co-dependent we are. In other words, to ensure a durable and sustainable recovery from the pandemic, we must ensure that our efforts are equitable and leave no one behind. The Maldives looks forward to a meaningful and results-oriented 76th session and to the ECOSOC intensifying efforts towards the full achievement of all of our development agendas.
I thank you.