Statement by 

the Republic of Maldives on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States

Agenda Item 19: Sustainable Development

10 October 2016

Distinguished Chair,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). Let me begin by aligning with the statement made by the distinguished representative of the Kingdom of Thailand on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.

I thank the Secretary General for his reporting on the sub-items within Agenda Item 19. This entire agenda item, from climate change to disaster risk reduction to renewable energy, is of utmost importance to small island developing States and we are committed to thoughtful consideration of all the resolutions as the Second Committee remains a key place to address how the United Nations can tangibly help realize sustainable development.

Of specific attention for SIDS is sub-item 19(b) on the follow up to and implementation of the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action, otherwise known as the SAMOA Pathway. It is important that there continue to be multiple spaces for SIDS to highlight our unique vulnerabilities and challenges, and to engage with the international community in order to discuss ways and means to tackle our key challenges.

The HLPF serves as such a forum: to share best practices, and to identify synergies and new solutions. SIDS actively contributed to this year's High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) session, engaging across a variety of panels, side events, and especially in the dedicated session on the SAMOA Pathway. We stress the need to continue having dedicated time targeted for SIDS, as well as sufficient attention across the HLPF to our challenges during the High Level Political Forum.

Mr Chair,

The Second Committee also remains critical as the SIDS resolution provides one space to reflect and further implement our roadmap for sustainable development under the General Assembly.

During the 70th session, the General Assembly decided to launch the SIDS Partnership Framework, which included the Steering Committee. The Partnership Framework is a mechanism to help to track progress of and maintain communication with partnerships, exchange information on best practices amongst SIDS and other global stakeholders, and to identify new partnerships that offer mutual benefit to all engaged parties.

This is the first such framework of its kind within the UN and we are happy to report significant progress in the past year. We have developed reporting guidelines and are now beginning to receive reports and feedback from partners, a positive sign that this process will help make our partnerships more accountable and beneficial for all parties. Additionally, we held two Dialogues throughout the year, during the HLPF, and during the High Level week of the General Debate.  In the coming year AOSIS will continue strengthening the Partnership Framework to inspire new action and more in-depth participation.

Mr Chair,

This year's Secretary General's report on the follow-up to the SAMOA Pathway, presents the initial findings and the ongoing work of the Joint Inspection Unit tasked with reviewing the United Nations System support for SIDS. This Review has provided valuable insight into how the system approaches SIDS and where the gaps and limitations are. One thing that struck us was that over the years with three Programmes of Action, wherein the mandates to the Secretariat have almost doubled, there has been no commensurate increase in support to implement them. The initial findings also highlighted the need for increased coordination and coherence between the two SIDS Units under DESA and OHRLLS, and the need to have more details on the Inter-Agency Coordinating Group on SIDS.

We look forward to seeing the final results of the JIU at the earliest opportunity, so that we may take concrete action to provide SIDS with the necessary support from the UN system in order to enable us to fully implement our sustainable development priorities as outlined in the SAMOA Pathway and the 2030 Agenda.

Mr. Chairman,

Turning to the other agenda items, I reiterate that we cannot address sustainable development without considering climate change. Rising sea levels, increasing extreme weather events, and ocean acidification threaten not only our development, but our very survival. We are excited to see the Paris Agreement meet all requirements for entry into force, but it will be insufficient unless accompanied by actions on mitigation and adaptation.

To combat the interconnected vulnerabilities of SIDS and many other developing states, it is important to immediately address the need for increased human resource and technical capacity, particularly around data collection and analysis. In order to integrate sustainability into policies and programs, we first need the ability to gather and apply relevant baseline data, and we urge active attention on this issue.

Directly linked to climate change for SIDS is our need for effective disaster risk reduction as we are disproportionately negatively impacted by natural disasters, particularly as they increase in intensity and frequency. This past year's disasters from cyclones in the Pacific, hurricanes in the Caribbean, and flooding and drought in the African and Indian oceans only prove that we need to continue expanding investment in resilience, monitoring and prevention, increased preparedness and response efforts. The recent Hurricane Matthew has caused the deaths of as many as 900 individuals in Haiti, in addition to significant damage to infrastructure and basic services, as well as destruction and havoc to some other island states of the Caribbean. These events will only continue to not only hinder but reverse development without coordinated intervention.

Furthermore, one central aspect of mitigating climate change is transitioning to available and economically viable renewable energy sources.  This shift, aside from helping convert to a low carbon economy and providing new areas for technological investment and innovation, also assists SIDS in reducing our dependence on imported fossil fuels. The high costs of imported fuels, due to our remoteness and fluctuating commodity prices, make renewable options additionally appealing and many SIDS have taken the lead in making and realizing commitments to transform our energy consumption. That said, as with data, while SIDS are taking new regulatory and policy approaches, we lack the necessary funding, infrastructure and capacity to act independently.

In listing the ongoing obstacles of SIDS, I would be remiss to not mention the importance of the international community seriously considering alternative ways of measuring needs beyond GDP per capita, which acknowledge and account for the copious structural vulnerabilities that SIDS and other developing countries continue to face. Existing criteria fails to reflect realities on the ground, ignoring that graduating from least developed country status does not eliminate threats of natural disasters, remoteness, nor issues related to our limited resources.

For the 2030 Agenda to be implemented in a coherent and coordinated manner, it has to be adopted as the guiding framework by our countries, but also by the UN System, including the international financial institutions. For this purpose, it is important for the international organisations, including the international financial institutions, to align their support programmes with the terminology and the categorization of the 2030 Agenda. Without harmonization and alignment, all the processes that the international community has negotiated within the past two years, in particular the 2030 Agenda, cannot be successfully implemented.

Mr Chair, in conclusion, AOSIS remains focused on sustainable development and will do so within this set of resolutions. We encourage all member states to appreciate that we need to enact serious change within the coming 14 years to realise the future we want.

I thank you.