Agenda Item 19: Follow-up to and Implementation of the outcomes of the International Conferences on Financing for Development
H.E Mr. Ahmed Sareer, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Maldives
To the United Nations
New York, 26 October 2015
Let me begin by aligning ourselves with the statement made by South Africa on behalf of G77 and China and the Alliance of Small Island States. It is my pleasure to speak on this very important agenda item that has far reaching consequences for my delegation. We thank the Secretary General on his report (A/70/320) for the follow-up and implementation of financing for development and to help guide our deliberations today.
The Maldives welcomes the outcomes of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. The many interlinkages between this commitment and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are organic.
The Maldives faces many challenges today - be it in boosting and diversifying our economic growth, combating climate change and its many threats, or dealing with unemployment, inequality and environmental degradation. While we understand the importance of domestic resource mobilization and that national governments are the primary drivers of their own development trajectory, we must also, as a global community, understand the complexity of domestic finance for small countries like ours.
The Maldives is a textbook example of the island state paradox. We have been able to graduate from our LDC status in 2011 - and this has been a blessing and a challenge as well. We continue to face the same systemic challenges that we have always faced as a small island state - limited access to markets, dispersed populations in small areas, over reliance of the economy on sectors that are beyond our national control. These challenges are further pronounced after graduation, as we are unable to access any differential treatment. While our GDP has indeed gone up due to the boom in the tourism sector, there exists critical gaps in sustaining this economic growth as well as in our ability to redistribute its benefits to our scattered populations.
Our capital city Male, an island of around 2.5 square kilometers of total land area, houses more than twenty five percent of the entire population. As for the rest of the 196 inhabited islands, approximately 71 per cent of them have less than 1000 inhabitants. This poses serious challengesin thedelivery of basic services by the Administration, which is politically and legally bound to provide. Even though successiveMaldivian governments haveundertaken programmes of population consolidation, there has been limited success. Moreover, the Government is still required to invest in key infrastructure and sbasic services that are needed to sustain the high levels of development already attained. However, these projects and services are difficult to fund. In this context, the Maldives while technically a middle-income country, finds itself in need of special treatment for concessionary financing and special treatment, especially in the context of development finance and international trade to build and retain the socio-economic stability of the country.
The Maldives also suffers from high debt burdens. Because we lack the domestic resources to provide basic physical infrastructure required to boost economic growth, we are forced to borrow internationally at high rates - which in turn impacts our ability to borrow due to high risk ratings. This vicious cycle impacts our growth and development prospects greatly.
Adding to this are the existential, economic and structural challenges that are caused by climate change. Whatever strides or successes we haveachieved can be wiped out by one disaster. As we witnessed during the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004 that wiped out 60% of our GDP to more recently when a fire in our capital city destroyed the only desalination plant in the capital city, leaving Male’, a population of close to 150,000, with no drinking water for ten days.
This last event brings me to the point of global partnerships. The support that we received from our regional partners during the water crisis, shows how important the role of global partnerships, based on mutual respect and trust, is. Official development assistance, as envisaged in the Addis Agenda remains significant for us, as well.
Mr. Chairman, the challenges that we as SIDS face aren’t just national problems– in many instances, they stem from the inequitable management of the global commons. The Addis Agenda and 2030 Development Agenda are ambitious and provide specific pathways for financing and investing in SIDS to realize our development aspirations and sharing the burden of problems that we have not created but are the victims of. We must make every effort to ensure that the goals we have set ourselves are realized – and the first step for that will lie in the successful implementation of the outcomes of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.
I thank you.