Statement by Ms. Thilmeeza Hussain, Deputy Permanent Representative on Agenda Item 19 – Sustainable Development, Second Committee (1 November 2011)

Mr Chairman, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me begin by expressing my delegation’s appreciation of your efforts as the Chair of the Second Committee. I would also like to thank the other members of the Bureau for their continuous support to ensure the successful work of this Committee.

Mr. Chairman,

We would like to take note of the Report of the Secretary-General on the Concrete Recommendations to enhance the implementation of the BPoA and the MSI, A/66/278, and express its sincere appreciation for the work carried out by the Secretariat.

Maldives, along with other SIDS, remains committed to meet the sustainable development goals and priorities in the BPOA and the MSI. We believe that the successful implementation of the BPOA and MSI also depend on the commitment of development partners to support these goals and assist in the implementation of actions to achieve them, particularly through the provision of financial and technical support.

In 1992, SIDS as a special case for sustainable development was recognized by the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio by the international community. In light of this recognition, we must seize the opportunity provided by Rio+20 to ensure that we adequately address the unique sustainable development challenges faced by SIDS. In this regard, we hope to see Rio+20 as a platform to address these implementation gaps of BPOA and MSI and not simply reaffirm that SIDS are a special case with regard to environment and development.  We need to move forward on addressing the implementation gaps through concrete actions, and Rio+20 must deliver on such a purpose.

Mr. Chairman,

To ensure that we effectively address the unique and particular vulnerabilities of SIDS, we join other SIDS in calling for the convening of a third global conference on SIDS to continue the progress we have made through the Barbados and Mauritius global conferences on SIDS.

Mr. Chairman,

For the Maldives, like many of the SIDS, oceans are the backbone of the economy, as we depend on fisheries and tourism for much of our livelihood.   This is why for Maldives, the green economy is really a blue economy.

We are deeply disturbed by the numbers in the recent FAO report that found that 85% of fisheries are either over exploited, fully exploited or recovering from exploitation.  We must take steps to address these issues which are causing our oceans to tip so far out of balance, and therefore endangering the sustainable development of countries such as Maldives.

Additionally, the issue of ocean acidification threatens the long-term survival of marine species and ecosystems globally, including in particular fisheries and coral reefs and related ecosystems.   Livelihoods, food security, cultures and the sustainable development of all nations are at grave risk, but particularly for those of Small Island Developing States like my own.  We also emphasise the critical importance of building the resilience of ocean ecosystems to ocean acidification and climate change.

As a state consisting of more than 1200 archipelagic islands, the Maldives highly depends on the well-being of its reefs, serving as natural coastal defense structures that dampen wave energy and block saltwater intrusion to coastal aquifers.  Climate change and pollution are serious threats to our corals and thus to our economy and society.   For the Maldives, protection of the ocean, and its coral and fish stocks, is directly linked to sustainable development.  The ocean is key to each of the pillars of sustainable development for Maldives and we call for the issue of oceans to be addressed in the upcoming Rio conference.

Mr. Chairman,

As my delegation along with many other SIDS have repeated called for; SIDS should be formally recognized as a special category within the UN system including BWIs and other IFIs; and special provision should be made to enable them to access dedicated financing including soft loans, long term financing mechanisms and also benefits from special concessionary conditions considering the unique vulnerabilities of SIDS.  Our hope is that any special provisions for SIDS be targeted, results-orientated, cost-efficient and measurable.

Mr. Chairman,

The Maldives has always highlighted how climate change severely threatens our development.

Climate change remains the greatest challenge to the Maldives and many SIDS alike, as adverse impacts continue to undermine progress towards development, our security and threaten our very existence.

Sustainable development is closely intertwined with climate change; we cannot separate these two issues; only a clear shift of development in our world towards sustainability can effectively prevent further impacts of climate change on our islands.

The Maldives has maintained that cutting carbon emissions is not a threat to development but instead can form the basis of sustainable development through the creation of jobs and the triggering of technological innovation. For these reasons, the Maldivian government has proudly announced in September 2011 that it will dedicate a minimum of 2% of government revenues to renewable energy investments.

Mr. Chairman,

For Maldives, sustainable development is more than a goal; it is at the core of our very survival.  We remain optimistic that the opportunity we have in Rio, a once in ten-year opportunity, will make significant progress in addressing poverty, global resource inequity and the very survival of the planet – encompassing both the earth and the ocean.  We must go with a bold agenda for progress.

Thank you.