Hassan Hussain Shihab,Counsellor,
Permanent Mission of Maldives to the United Nations
At the Second Committee
On Agenda Item 22: Groups of Countries in Special Situations
8 October 2020, New York
Thank you, Mr. Chairman,
- The Maldives aligns with the statement delivered by the Permanent Representative of Guyana, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China and with the statement delivered by the Permanent Representative of Belize, as Chair of AOSIS. I also wish to thank the Secretary-General for his report under this agenda item.
- The global community was unprepared for the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, there are tangible warnings that countries will experience substantial setbacks in achieving SDGs, with record negative growth rates, millions falling back to poverty, and a humanitarian crisis. Indeed, COVID-19 has shed light on the existing tattered approach to development. It has shown how vulnerable, countries, especially those in special situations, are to external shocks.
- As SIDS deal with the cascading impact of the pandemic, climate change is still the greatest challenge of our time, remaining an existential threat to many SIDS including the Maldives. There is a great need for special consideration to address climate change in small island states and least developed countries through financial assistance, technology transfer and capacity-building, as has been reflected in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Paris Agreement, Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030 and the 2030 Agenda. However, there remains a significant climate financing gap that needs to be addressed.
- The Maldives is a Small Island Developing Country that was also an LDC. While not land-locked, the vastness of the ocean that surround us, has given us an appreciation of the unique challenges faced due to remoteness and limited connectivity, and transport related challenges.
- The challenges faced by countries in special situations is one that requires constant support of the UN system, partners and financial institutions. Targeted and tailored solutions need to be crafted to address the specific vulnerabilities of these countries. Fully integrating the Programmes of Action for specific groups to our development work, allows targeted approaches by the UN system, in confronting the unique and specific challenges faced by countries.
- Many countries on track for graduation are extremely vulnerable to shocks – such as disasters, extreme climate events, pandemics such as the one we are facing now. In Small Island Developing States like mine, one big storm, one big shock to the economy, can wipe out decades of development.
- This is why the Maldives has consistently argued for more holistic measures to assess development – ones that go beyond income per capita. Income-based indicators do not reflect holistically, the advancement or vulnerabilities of a country. It doesn’t reflect how resilient a country is to shocks. It doesn’t address the unique circumstances, and specific challenges of every country.
- Following the Maldives graduation from the list of LDCs in 2011, we faced numerous challenges, and we appreciate the support from our partners, to continue facing them. Since 2011, the Maldives has achieved considerable progress and we attribute our strides to important partnerships that were forged along the way. There needs to be greater multilateral cooperation and partnerships to succeed, including with the private sector
- Access to financing facilities is also necessary to maintain a trajectory of development gains. The Maldives continues to urge financial institutions to exercise flexibility in providing concessional financing for SIDS. This current pandemic has brought to fore the toll that debt burdens have on the economies of SIDS and this is why we are calling for an extension of the G20s debt suspension initiative until the end of 2021. The Heads of State level meeting on financing for development in the era of COVID-19 and beyond held on 29 September 2020 was a good starting point for my delegation's calls to move forward with the concrete policy proposals identified in this meeting—including simplified financing options and flexible lending instruments — to tackle the current global crisis and put us on the right path to achieve the 2030 agenda.
- The Maldives looks forward to a result oriented and meaningful 75th session, and to working towards building consensus in addressing issues related to countries in special situations.
I thank you.