Statement by the Assistant Secretary General Mr Achille Bassilekin III at the 3rd International Conference for Small Island Developing States (SIDS), 1-4 September, Samoa
Mr President; Excellencies; Distinguished Guests; Ladies and gentlemen,
I speak on behalf of the African Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, the ACP, which is one of the largest groups of developing countries in the world, consisting of 80 Member countries of which 36 are Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
Allow me, from the outset, to express our gratitude to the Government and people of Samoa for the excellent organisation of this Conference and for the warm welcome received on arrival to this beautiful island.
The persistent development challenges and the unique vulnerabilities facing SIDS including, their small size, narrow resource and export base, high levels of poverty and indebtedness, remoteness and exposure to exogenous shocks, contribute to making small island developing states a special case for sustainable development.
It is also well known, Mr President, that climate change poses the most serious long-term threat to development and the very survival of small island developing states. In fact, scientific evidence clearly indicates that small island developing states will become increasingly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change, including, sea-level rise and storm surge, floods, droughts, coral bleaching, changing precipitation patterns and extreme weather events
It is against this back drop, that I stand before this august assembly, to humbly convey the expectations of the ACP Group on the outcome of this very important Conference.
The ACP Group believes that the theme of the conference “The sustainable development of small island developing states through genuine and durable partnerships”, is very relevant given the vital role the global community can play, through Cross Sector Partnerships, between government, the private sector and civil society.
Mr President, The ACP Group believes that this conference provides a good opportunity to ensure that Cross Sector Partnerships are established and or strengthened to not only address the above-mentioned development challenges of SIDS, but also to address poverty eradication and to drive inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
In this regard, the ACP Group calls for the strengthening of existing partnerships, such as North-South, SIDS-SIDS, South-South and triangular cooperation and the establishment of new innovative and concrete partnerships, including, public-private partnerships, in order to serve as a catalyst for diversifying and transforming the economies of SIDS.
In order to contribute to a successful outcome of this Conference the ACP Group encourages the international community to renew its political commitment to contribute to the full and effective implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy for Implementation, while ensuring that the Samoa Pathway is unanimously adopted.
Mr President, for Small Island Developing States, access to energy, including renewable energy, remains a major challenge impacting on development. We therefore call on all relevant stakeholders at the international regional and national levels to work towards removing the barriers to technology transfer and development in order to improve energy efficiency and increase the use of renewable energy in SIDS.
Small Island Developing States being surrounded by water, depend heavily on the ocean and marine resources for their livelihoods. Therefore protecting biodiversity and in particular marine biodiversity is critical to the survival of millions of people that live on small islands. We trust that the issue of biodiversity will be adequately addressed in the outcome document of the Conference.
In addition, in many Small Island Developing States, freshwater resources are being negatively affected by pollution, saline intrusion, land degradation, and inappropriate water and wastewater management practices. The ACP believes that these challenges should be addressed in an adequate manner in order to contribute to the health and overall development of SIDS.
Mr President, the ACP is of the view that greater attention must be given to the social dimension of development in small island developing states, including, inter alia, the prevention and or controlling of non-communicable diseases, the empowerment of women, gender equality and youth.
The challenges associated with food security and persistent high food prices threaten the attainment of sustainable development in many SIDS and in this regard we call for a global response to minimize the impacts of volatility in commodity prices at a global level.
Mr President, the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States is also taking place at a time when the inter-governmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda are about to begin. It is therefore an opportune time for small islands present here at this Conference to ensure that their concerns are taken into account in the post-2015 development agenda.
The ACP believes that the overall objective of the post-2015 development agenda should be to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development, through the establishment of a single comprehensive and coherent universal framework, while taking into account different national circumstances, capacities and levels of development.
In addition, the post-2015 development agenda should be developed using an integrated and balanced approach that takes into consideration the persistent development challenges and unique vulnerabilities of small island developing states.
Mr President, at the end of this Conference, it is expected that the outcome document, with its carefully crafted paragraphs would be adopted. We trust that the means of implementation would be adequately addressed to ensure that the document can be and will be implemented and not just mere words cleverly put together to ensure that those with the greatest responsibility can once again have an escape route to not fulfil their commitments and obligations.
In this regard, the ACP recognises that new, additional and predictable financial resources are urgently needed to effectively respond to the development challenges of small island developing states. Equally important, Mr President, are the issues related to capacity building and technology development and transfer, which must also be addressed in a comprehensive manner in order to support the efforts of small island developing states to develop in a sustainable manner.
In concluding, the ACP Group would like to pledge its commitment and encourage each Member State and the international community at large, to work together to ensure a successful outcome of the Conference.
Finally, I would like to indicate that my statement merely highlighted a few points that were extracted from a more comprehensive Declaration prepared by the ACP Group for this Conference. The Declaration was distributed for the information of all delegations.
Thank you very much for your kind attention.
Mr Achille Bassilekin III
Assistant Secretary General of the ACP Group
Sustainable Economic Developt and Trade