Special Event on Promoting South-South and Triangular Cooperation on Climate Change and Launch of the Southern Climate Partnership Incubator to Support the SDGs
21 April 2016 – 3:00-4:40pm, UNHQ, Conference room 7
Excellencies, Distinguished Ministers, Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to thank the Executive Office of the Secretary-General and the United Nations Office of South-South Cooperation for organizing this special event on the importance of strengthening South-South cooperation.
For the Maldives, South-South cooperation has been essential to our sustainable development and climate change efforts and we expect it to take on an increasingly significant role going forward.
As you are aware, Maldives has the honour to serve as the Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States, AOSIS, a coalition of 44 small island, low-lying, and coastal nations highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
Small Islands are a unique case for sustainable development. In my country, we face a situation where we have a population of just under four hundred thousand people dispersed over almost 200 islands. This means that basic essential services such as schools, hospitals, harbors, and government administration must be provided across a wide expanse, making for very high delivery costs.
This can be a difficult undertaking. Like other SIDS, we have a narrow resource base and too small an economy that is located too far from many of our trading partners to achieve effective economies of scale.
Our small size, limited land areas, and remoteness also makes us extremely vulnerable to impacts that might even seem insignificant to larger countries, such as small tidal surges, water shortages, and coastal erosion. What's more, rising global temperatures are fuelling more frequent and intense weather events, like storms, droughts, and flooding—making the situation harder still.
Rising temperatures driven by climate change have made extreme weather events especially problematic for small islands and underscore the disproportionate risk we face from climate change.
Despite these challenges, we have made tremendous gains in our development and in efforts to combat climate change. Maldives was the third country to graduate from LDC status in 2011.
However, every cyclone, every drought, and every flood has the potential to set back our development gains by years. We are committed to sustaining the development gains we have made and this means fortifying our infrastructure.
We have long recognised that key to our development success is working in partnership with an array of stakeholders – governments, the private sector and civil society. In fact, in 2014, we met in Apia, Samoa and adopted the Samoa Pathway, a blueprint for sustainable development in small islands. The theme of the Samoa Pathway was genuine and durable partnerships to support the global effort of the sustainable development of small islands through concrete, focused and forward-looking and action-oriented programmes.
One of the most important, and growing forms of bilateral and multilateral support for the Maldives is South-South cooperation.
We are fortunate to have very strong relationships with our large neighbours in Asia. They understand the challenges we face and our potential for growth. Infrastructure development carried out in the Maldives through concessional financing from other developing countries stand as a shining example of South-South cooperation.
For example, through a program with the government of China that provided 250,000 energy efficient LED lights, we were able to dramatically reduce energy costs, one of our biggest expenditures, which allowed us to allocate the funds for other development priorities. This may not sound like a significant project, but for a small country and economy such as ours, it's tremendous.
Genuine and durable South-South partnerships are instrumental to the mobilisation of human and financial resources, expertise, technology and knowledge. Above all, partners are powerful drivers of change.
Now that the Paris Agreement and Agenda 2030 require all of us to take action, the need for South-South cooperation has become even more essential and the launch of the Southern Climate Partnership Incubator, which will serve as an important platform to promote cooperation implementing of Paris Agreement and 2030 Agenda, could not come at a better time.
We thank the Secretary General for his efforts in launching this important initiative and to the Government of China for their tremendous efforts and look forward to advancing its work in earnest with real support for implementation on the ground.
Excellencies, Colleagues, Friends,
Our development trajectory is one that we can all be proud of. We have overcome significant challenges together and put our people on a path for making even more progress in the near future if we continue to draw on the strengths of the partnerships that make us greater than the sum of our parts.