Mr. Amr Danyal Shamun
Third Secretary at the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Maldives to the United Nations
at the General Discussion of the Second Committee
on Agenda Item 20 (a)(b): Group of countries in special situations
4 October 2023
Thank you, Mr. Chair,
The Maldives aligns itself with the statements made by Cuba on behalf of the G77 and China, and Samoa, on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States. We wish to express our gratitude to OHRLLS for their continuous support to countries in special situations and the implementation of their specific agendas.
The international community has long recognised the specific vulnerabilities and the need for targeted support for various groups of countries in special situations. Taking care of the most vulnerable among us, must remain a focus of this Committee.
The Maldives' graduation from Least Developed Country (LDC) status continues to offer much for reflection.
As just the third country in the world to have reached this milestone, we were able to alleviate our people from the hardships of developmental challenges. Yet, the bitter truth is that we have not fully realized the promised prosperity that was bound to come with graduation. The central issue lies in the graduation process itself, which has downplayed the enduring structural vulnerabilities of SIDS. This is evident in the case of the many SIDS that have graduated since. These vulnerabilities are deeply rooted in our unique circumstances - our small geographical size and dispersion, susceptibility to climate change, limitations to economic diversification, restricted access to development finance, and exposure to geopolitical shocks. We welcome the focus of the Doha Programme of Action for the LDCs, on sustainable graduation, especially in the context of post-COVID. We call on greater support for the Graduation Support Facility in order to achieve smooth transition and protect the development gains made.
A key structural vulnerability that countries in special situations face is extreme exposure to external shocks. This was evident during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the Maldives, the sudden closure of our borders meant the sudden halt to our tourism industry. Tourism forms the mainstay of our economy, as it does in many small island developing States. The pandemic hit SIDS hard, leading to significant economic setbacks. The Maldives' economy suffered an unprecedented 34 per cent GDP decline in 2020.
Looking ahead, the global community will convene the 4th International Conference for SIDS next year. Despite three decades of targeted development plans for SIDS for our pressing needs, lasting solutions have remained elusive. As the co-chair of the Preparatory Committee for the conference, the Maldives is committed to bringing about constructive outcomes this time, with the support of the international community.
The world is now 1.1 degrees warmer than in preindustrial times, and according to the latest IPCC Report, global average temperatures are expected to surpass 1.5 degrees by the early 2030s. For the Maldives, this is the point of no return. We cannot afford to lose our biodiversity as this puts our very livelihoods at risk.
In this regard, we welcome the announcements from many developed countries and international financial institutions at the Climate Ambition Summit regarding tangible action to cut emissions and deliver climate justice. Developed countries must increase the provision and mobilization of climate finance, for adaptation as well as loss and damage, to go beyond previous efforts.
The objective of $100B/year for climate finance falls short of the magnitude of the challenges we face. Climate finance ambitions should align with the Paris Agreement, steering the global economy towards a low-emission, climate-resilient future.
In addition to the climate crisis, the increase in global food and energy prices has escalated the risk of poverty and hunger in the least developed countries. With the unique set of challenges LDCs face, their development aspirations require substantial international support. The Maldives reaffirms its commitment to stand in solidarity with LDCs in their pursuit of sustainable development, as espoused by the Doha Programme of Action. We emphasize the need for targeted and meaningful assistance that aligns with the priorities of LDCs, thereby accelerating progress towards their realisation of the 2030 Agenda.
Women and girls in LDCs, in particular, continue to face barriers, such as limited access to inclusive and quality education, digital skills, healthcare services, social protection, and decent work opportunities. The Maldives recognizes that sustainable development cannot be achieved without the full, equal, and meaningful participation of women and girls in all aspects of life. To achieve this goal, we are successfully implementing initiatives to promote the involvement of women in leadership roles and in decision-making positions.
Landlocked developing countries face impediments to progress towards the SDGs. Like SIDS, these countries are also highly vulnerable to climate change effects, including drought, desertification, and land degradation. The upcoming third UN LLDC Conference in Rwanda next year offers an opportunity to advance efforts to address these challenges. We recognize the importance of enhancing their connectivity, both physical and digital, to unlock their full economic potential. We support LLDCs in their efforts to overcome trade-related challenges and pursue sustainable and inclusive growth.
Our ask is simple, and our appeal is the same year after year. The rules that govern development assistance must be revised.
Nearly half of the least developed countries and more than one in every three small island developing states and landlocked developing countries are either in debt distress or at high risk. However, most of our countries remain unable to access concessional financing.
We call for a review of development assistance rules and call for tailored solutions for SIDS. This includes not only the enhancement of existing financial instruments but also the design of effective new instruments for sustainable debt management and debt relief.
The immediate and credible reform of the international financial architecture is crucial. This should include reform of the governance of the international financial institutions and multilateral development banks, to strengthen the voice and participation of developing countries, especially the more vulnerable, like the SIDS.
We also ask for strengthened, coordinated, and targeted support of the UN Development System for countries in special situations. This needs to be implemented from the global level to the UN Country teams at the national level – ensuring that the UN delivers as one. UN sustainable development cooperation frameworks need to take into account the Programmes of Action, alongside the SDGs, to tailor make support measures.
In order to continue to build upon the progress already achieved in LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS, it is essential that the international community renews its attention to the specific needs and circumstances of countries in special situations and reaffirms its full commitment to support us in our pursuit of integral and sustainable development.