Second Committee

General Debate

Statement by Ali Naseer Mohamed, Permanent Representative of the Maldives to the UN

3 October 2017

Mr Chairman,

My Delegation wishes to extend to you and the Members of the Bureau, our warmest congratulations on your election. I assure you that you will have my Delegation's full support and confidence as you steer this Committee. We also express our appreciation and gratitude to the outgoing Chair and his Bureau.

This Committee is in an extraordinary position to help in shaping the future of economic development in the member States. The Maldives is one country that benefitted significantly in its partnership with the United Nations. In 1971, the Maldives was of the poorest countries in the world; forty years later, it emerged as a middle income country with social and economic indicators comparable with those in the industrialised world. The successes can be explained through four interrelated strategies that the Maldives pursued: partnerships, investment, innovation, and resilience building.

The Maldives is fortunate to have forged strong and enduring partnerships with the UN and a number of other actors and agencies that helped to propel economic and social development in the country. The partnerships helped us to access the required financial resources and the technical expertise to implement the ambitious projects and programmes that elevated standard of life in the Maldives. It is absolutely necessary for the small island developing States to receive this initial push to reach the first rungs of the developmental ladder, and appreciate the role that our partners play in enabling this. Through platforms such as the United Nations, we now have an enabling environment to foster not only public partnerships, but private partnerships as well. This is recognised even in the context of the 2030 Development Agenda, and we wish to highlight the importance of international cooperation between partners and the UN; and also recognize the importance of context of South-South cooperation.

While foreign aid remains an important source of financing, it is important to be supplemented with domestic financing. The Maldives has invested heavily in capital infrastructure and human capacity. We recognize the integral role that women and youth have to play in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is through these investments that we have in the past attained significant success in the implementation of the MDGs and graduated from the category of Least Developed to an Upper Middle-Income Country.

However, to enter the next phase of the developmental ladder, we require more foreign investments to boost further economic growth. Yet, the lending framework at the international financial institutions do not favour the small states, even though the programmes in the pipeline are sound and bankable projects under any condition. The UN can play an important role in making the lending environment at IFIs more hospitable for small states.

Mr Chairman,

I would also like to emphasize on the importance of innovation. For a country like the Maldives which faces unique economic and environmental challenges, innovative ideas and policies are necessary to overcome these hurdles. Technological and scientific innovation is also necessary to ensure that the natural resources that we are reliant on are used sustainably. And we recognize the role that information and communications technology play in facilitating development as well. In our Voluntary National Review this year, the Maldives demonstrated the innovative policies we have implemented with the aim of realizing the targets enshrined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Government's innovative policies and complimentary investments are what has enabled us progress this far. However, to prevent setbacks, these policies and investments are also guided by the objective of building a more resilient economy and country. An economy that is resilient to external shocks. A nation that is resilient to the natural disasters and impacts of climate change that we inherently face. This is driven by lessons we have learned in the past: my country faced a major setback when the Indian Ocean tsunami struck in 2004, forcing us to delay our graduation from LDC to Middle Income country. But we overcame this obstacle, and have built back better, making our country more resilient and prepared to reduce disaster risks.

Mr. Chairman,

We believe that the United Nations is placed in an extraordinary position to help its member states in building and strengthening their national resilience – economic resilience, social resilience, political resilience, and indeed environmental resilience.  The bilateral and multilateral partnerships we have forged, the investments we have made to modernise the physical infrastructure and expand the human capital, and the innovative policies that we set in place helped to make the Maldives a resilient nation. The UN can work with the governments of the countries concerned in building their national resilience. The Maldives is ready to be a willing and an enthusiastic partner.

I thank you.