Reception marking 15 years since the establishment of the UN Office of the High Representative for the LDCs, LLDCs, and SIDS

Statement by:

His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Asim, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Maldives

21 September 2016

You Excellency Mr Gyan Chandra Acharya, High Representative for the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

In his report to the General Assembly, fifteen years ago, while arguing for the establishment of the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Land-locked Developing States and Small Island Developing States, the Secretary General said,

"The international community has a responsibility to adopt the necessary support measures to reverse the marginalisation of the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS and to promote their expeditious integration into the world economy. The primary responsibility rests with the countries themselves, but progress can be made only with the full collaboration and assistance of their development partners"

Today, we take to heart these words, as we mark 15 years since the Office started functioning. And since its establishment the office has taken its key objectives to heart. With each of the special groups of countries under their purview, the Office has established a truly valuable partnership: both mutually beneficial, and meaningful.

An unusually long title, that many of us perhaps cannot remember, did not deter the Office. Ever expanding mandates with no evident increase in staff did not dampen its spirit and resolve. Instead, the Office has worked to deliver its responsibilities in a coordinated and effective manner.

For the Small Island Developing States, a group which I am pleased to represent here tonight, as Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), OHRLLS has in particular, worked to raise awareness about the special challenges and vulnerabilities of SIDS, advocating on our behalf, and for increased focus and attention to our needs and priorities. In recent times in particular, OHRLLS has mobilised private sector support for the implementation of the SAMOA Pathway, the Programme of Action for SIDS, through its private sector partnership dialogues, and its global business network for SIDS. OHRLLS is a key associate in the Partnership Framework, and in ensuring that SIDS issues are mainstreamed and there is coherence throughout the system for SIDS. As for my country, the Maldives, we have benefited from the close relationship with OHRLLS when we were an LDC, and continue to do so during our smooth-transition phase.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are facing a new era in sustainable development efforts – a new paradigm for sustainable development. However, the reality is that a country can only truly achieve development, when it has become resilient – to the shocks of the economy, shocks from environmental and earned the ability to overcome its own challenges. And this is the ultimate objective of our collective efforts.

With the 2030 Agenda, we have recognised the need for a holistic approach to developing our countries, recognising the inter-linkages between the social, economical and environmental dimensions. Never has the end to be coordinated and coherent within our Governments and indeed, the United Nations, been greater. It is in this vein that the work of OHRLLS is one of the most important, as it has the mandate to oversee development support to three groups of countries identified in "special" situations needing targeted assistance. SIDS certainly count on you, to support our efforts, to raise your voice about our challenges, and to advocate on our behalf.

And one key challenge in the experience of Maldives is contained within our graduation from LDC process. Although we were proud to have achieved a feat that few had achieved before, our graduation didn't mean that our challenges went away. Our small population size, and subsequently high human development numbers determined our graduation, but our vulnerability to environmental shocks, which has the potential to destroy all economic gains is extremely high. Graduation meant that access to preferential and concessional financing is limited – but it does in no way mean that the need for continued investment in infrastructure and services that allowed us to graduate in the first place has gone away.

Much more efforts need to be undertaken to enable countries such as the Maldives, to escape this "island paradox".

Let me end with these words:

For your continued work, tireless efforts, we applaud you.

For your advocacy, and mainstreaming of SIDS issues across the board, for your efforts in mobilising partnerships from the private sector especially, we applaud you.

We stand ready to work with you, partner with you, as we count to more years of collaboration.

Congratulations on your achievements!

I thank you.