Statement  by the Republic of Maldives 

on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States

at the Second Committee of the General Assembly on Agenda Item 20

25 October 2016

Excellencies and distinguished colleagues,

1. I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Alliance of the Small Island States (AOSIS) and we align with the statement made by the Group of 77 and China.

2. We thank the UN Secretary General for his report on this issue and support the draft resolution this year on Agenda Item 20 as a way to align the New Urban Agenda with the UN and to develop the appropriate space for the implementation and follow up and review of the New Urban Agenda.

3. In welcoming the newly approved outcome document, we thank the Government and people of Ecuador for graciously hosting the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in Quito, where a wide breadth of countries and partners participated, exhibiting enthusiasm that we hope will maintain political momentum to implement the New Urban Agenda.

4. We further express our gratitude to the Co-facilitators for their work in negotiating the final outcome document, commend the Bureau and Secretariat for their dedication throughout this process, and congratulate colleagues on this collective achievement. AOSIS is committed to achieving sustainable development and this cannot be realized without sustainability in all human settlements.

Mr. Chairman,

5. In recent years, States have committed to many ambitious agendas and frameworks, from the 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement, to the Sendai Framework. The New Urban Agenda provides a chance for the international community to consider the interlinkages between these issues in the urban-rural context. These agendas need to be aware of one another, not only to coordinate implementation mechanisms, but also to encourage standardized reporting and data for follow up and review processes to reduce the reporting burden on small states.

6. As SIDS we would like to emphasize in the urban context the importance of referencing "human settlements." SIDS have diverse types and sizes of urban spaces, and diverse definitions for urban spaces, and due to our relatively small size, if this conversation and data collected only involves "cities," we are often left out. 59 percent of SIDS populations already live in cities, with much of the remaining populations living in villages and towns. It is therefore important that metrics for urban trends make space for human settlements with populations under 100,000 in order to include SIDS and to help track our progress on urbanization challenges.

7. We urge experts in urban design and development to consider working with to human settlements of all styles and sizes. We need increased technical and human capacity building, as well as support for long-term integrated planning efforts including around data collection and analysis to build baseline information. There is a need for sharing of best practices, as well as new investment, that allows local ownership and appreciates cultural heritage and local governance. For SIDS, urban and rural development is outlined in the SAMOA Pathway and can be read in tandem with the New Urban Agenda.

8. Substantively, we welcome the outcome document's attention to improving connectivity, coastal management, the integration of sustainable consumption and production, and the focus on climate change and building resilience. The increasing frequency and intensity of natural disasters threatens urban environments in SIDS as our human settlements lie in close proximity to our oceans and seas, threatening infrastructure and more. We see repeatedly how damage following disasters, such as the recent Hurricane Matthew, and other climate related events undermine our economic growth and sustainable development efforts.

9. Forty years ago the first Habitat outcome document, the Vancouver Declaration, recognized that the problems of urban areas, which now include urban-rural linkages, "pose a formidable challenge to human understanding, imagination, ingenuity and resolve..." but that "mankind must not be daunted by the scale of the task ahead." We would like to revive this optimism - we cannot have sustainable human settlements without acting on climate change, without raising awareness, without innovation on data and technology that is accessible to all. The Vancouver Declaration also made this realization, making clear that "the problems of human settlements are not isolated from social and economic development of countries". We live in a connect world where what happens in urban locations deeply impacts those in rural spaces and vice versus.

10. Let us work with UN-Habitat and other key actors to begin implementing the New Urban Agenda in across all human settlements so that at the next Habitat conference twenty years from now, we will be able to celebrate having accomplished our shared goal of making cities, towns and villages of all shapes and sizes more functional, resilient, accessible and sustainable. Thank you.