Statement by the Republic of Maldives

on Agenda Item 20, Sustainable Development

New York, 19 October 2015


Thank you Chairperson,

The Delegation of Maldives wish to support the statement delivered on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), and make these remarks in our national capacity.

Mr Chairperson,

The year 2015 will be remembered as a milestone when United Nations Member States changed the tide on sustainable development. By adopting the ambitious and historic set of sustainable development goals and targets contained within the 2030 Agenda, we have set ourselves on a path to legitimately tackling poverty, environmental degradation, and social inequality. Our heads of State publicly proclaimed in the General Assembly their commitment and passion for addressing sustainable development and this must be taken as a mandate to act.

However, now that we have finalized our 17 goals, the real work begins. The means of implementation and follow up contained within the 2030 Agenda are equally as important as the goals themselves. The Maldives is pleased to see the outcome document contain provisions on enhancing the capacity in developing countries for data collection and analysis, as well as other methods of assessment and implementation. Improving the technical capacity of national statistical commissions is of particular importance as we begin finalising indicators, and developing clear baselines for this purpose. Collecting and understanding the baselines for each goal and target will help design more effective policy solutions and measure progress over the next 15 years, and with this we eagerly await the indicators for each goal and target, to be released in March 2016. We also urge the relevant United Nations agencies to support developing states efforts around technical capacity building for follow up and review, to reduce adding undue reporting burdens on small states. The Maldives and other SIDS, remain convinced of the importance of partnerships in implementing our priorities. The Maldives strongly believes that only through collaborating with other States, as well as the private sector and civil society, we can harness our shared expertise and resources to achieve universal objectives. It is crucial that SIDS be considered equal partners in the development system, and that these partnerships are based on mutual trust and mutual benefit. One of the key takeaways from the SAMOA Pathway, was the importance of follow up to the partnerships announced in Samoa, as well as seek new opportunities to advance partnerships. In this regard, we support the launch of the Partnership Framework for SIDS during this session of the General Assembly, which will be instrumental in following up on the commitments made, and will capture the priorities and aspirations of SIDS in our path towards attaining sustainable development. With the need to realize the 2030 Agenda, Addis Ababa Agenda, and individual Programmes of Action, the Maldives calls for legitimate efforts to achieve institutional and substantive coherence between the agendas and between the agencies.

Mr Chairperson,

SIDS continue to grapple with the challenges associated with increasingly frequent and intense disasters, as well as rising sea levels, and warming oceans and ocean acidification. Further, we believe that there can be no lasting sustainable development without equal commitment to addressing climate change. The IPCC's latest assessment report continues to offer a dismal outlook for the Maldives and other low-lying countries. A rise of 40 to 63 cm of sea level is expected by 2100 even by the most conservative estimates, and with over 80 percent of the Maldives' land area only one meter above sea level, this poses an existential threat. Urgent action on multiple fronts, including combatting climate change, ensuring access to sustainable energy sources, sustaining the wealth of oceans, among others is of utmost importance.We also underscore the importance of addressing disaster risk. A disaster in a SIDS like the Maldives, can wipe out development gains achieved over many years, in a matter of seconds. We saw this in the case of the Indian Tsunami in December 2004. And we saw this again last year, when the entire capital was left without drinking water for a week, when a fire damaged the only desalination plant in the capital. It is during these times, we understand the importance of ensuring that the measurements we use to gauge progress can better reflect the realities of countries such as the Maldives, which are highly susceptible to economic and environmental shocks.

Mr Chairperson,

The two central industries in the Maldives are tourism and fisheries. And both these industries are reliant on the wealth and health of oceans. This is why Maldives strongly supports the various initiatives around the management and sustainable use of our oceans and seas.

The Maldivian fishing industry cannot compete with illegal fishing and overfishing. Despite these setbacks, domestically, the Maldives is hard at work to achieve ecologically sustainable economic growth. The fishing industry has adopted the "pole and line" technique, empowering local fishers to only capture sustainable amounts while preserving the marine ecosystem, although the lack of capacity for processing and manufacturing within the Maldives means that we are unable to retain much of the income associated with the fisheries. Tourism is reliant on pristine ocean ecosystems, yet coral reefs are threatened by ocean acidification. Our highly successful sustainable tourism industry is based on the precautionary principle. It ensures strict environmental assessments that precede any construction, encourages the use of renewable energy and environmentally friendly materials, and includes improves to the sustainable management of waste such as a new waste-to-energy site to provide electricity directly from heat, reducing reliance on petroleum fuel imports and greenhouse gas emissions. This is why we support the initiatives around highlighting the importance of sustainable tourism for development.

Mr Chairperson,

These accomplishments and accompanying challenges highlight the interconnected nature of the three pillars of sustainable development. We need to work on all of these challenges in a holistic manner, avoiding a silo approach. The MDGs remain incomplete 15 years after their inception. Let 2015 be a year that we can look back on our efforts, as we learn from our previous successes and failures in applying this new framework for development. We have a clear path, and must move forward with an unwavering commitment to not let anyone be left behind.

I thank you.