CLOSING REMARKS BY JEAN-PAUL ADAM, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE REPUBLIC OF SEYCHELLES, ON THE OCCASION OF THE CLOSING CEREMONY OF THE AIMS REGION PREPRATORY MEETING FOR THE THIRD INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES (SIDS)
Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
The hardest task of all is often to summarise discussions where we all agree on the substance.
I feel honoured to have the privilege of being the last Speaker after three days of intensive debate and deliberation on a subject which is not only close to the hearts of all those representing the AIMS region- it is essential to our very survival as Small Island Developing States.
I take the opportunity to warmly thank the other speakers at this closing ceremony, who through their words, give us the hope and the momentum we need to take our messages to Samoa.
The Seychelles, and Small Islands in general, take this opportunity to salute the President of the UNGA for being with us on this occasion. The General Assembly of the United Nations is the ultimate symbol of equality among nations- large or small- our voices can be heard in that hall. Thank you Mr. President, for reminding us all through your visit, that while we may group ourselves into P5s, G8s, G20s, or G77s, ultimately on the issue of sustainability we must act as the United Nations.
Over the 3 days, our message has been that if we cannot make our islands sustainable- then our planet will not be sustainable.
So let us act as 193 united nations to ensure we are sustainable.
I would also like to express our profound appreciation to Mr. Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary General, and Secretary General for the Third International Conference on SIDS, and to UNDESA- for ensuring that SIDS in the AIMS region have the appropriate institutional support within the UN.
One of our core recommendations from this meeting is of the need to strengthen the institutional support to SIDS within the UN. And we must also strengthen those institutions that are voices for SIDS.
This includes the Alliance of Small island States (AOSIS), and I salute the engagement of the Chair of our grouping, H.E Mrs. Marlene Moses of Nauru, on this subject. I also congratulate her on her determination to move our alliance forward- no matter how stretched the human and financial resources may be. She is also asking the right question.
The advocacy of islands themselves is essential- as well as our ability to monitor, assess, and ensure implementation of promises and actions that benefit SIDS.
We have determined the strengthening of our partnerships among SIDS leading up to Samoa through initiatives such as the Global island Partnership and the Western Indian Ocean Challenge, whereby SIDS themselves may set ambitious targets that can be independently verified. We resolve also to strengthen our regional institutions such as the Indian Ocean Commission to be able to fulfil the needs of regional SIDS synergies, and better advocate for SIDS positions.
In our discussions, we have also highlighted the need for special recognition of the vulnerability of SIDS to move beyond the stale use of GDP per capita as a measure of development. We urge the finalization of a resilience index that can appropriately be used by the UN to better support the development of SIDS.
SIDS remain the most vulnerable to climate change, disasters and extreme weather events. And still often struggle to access appropriate means to build their resilience against such threats.
SIDS are also exposed to transnational security threats such as piracy and drugs trafficking which also place a proportionally heavier burden on our small economies.
But this meeting has been much more about our shared opportunities than about our challenges. The Blue economy represents a shared desire for us to claim new ownership of our oceans- and devise new and innovative development tracks.
The Blue economy is about partnership- as this shared space connects our small and often isolated economies to the wider world economy. We welcome the opportunity to further enhance this partnership with the support of the United Arab Emirates that have agreed to designate a special track of the Sustainability week in Abu Dhabi in January 2014 to the development of the Blue Economy.
Through the Blue Economy, we open up a new frontier for SIDS- but we need the appropriate technology and the means to support this.
If our children are to benefit in future from sustainable fish stocks, it will depend in large part on the empowerment of SIDS as guardians and promoters of this blue economy. And while many may seek short-term profit from minimal investment- for us the ocean is a way of life- and this provides the essence of sustainability.
Sustainable energy for all is also an opportunity for SIDS to simultaneously strengthen their resilience against external economic shocks, and also create a new economic sector that creates growth, investment and employment. Our meeting calls for new means to empower SIDS to harness such energy opportunities.
In terms of trade- SIDS represent a negligible proportion of global trade flows. But with the right framework and targeting of the right products in specific areas, we can create new livelihoods for islanders everywhere. This is also linked to the need to connect young people in islands across oceans, and across regions and we welcome the initiative to create regional youth networks with a view to enhancing entrepreneurship and creating a generation of job creators rather than job seekers. Speaking on behalf of Seychelles, our delegation pledges to ensure the inclusion of a young leader in our delegation in Samoa in 2014.
Much of what we need is already incorporated in the MSI and the BPOA. But we need a new determination to ensure implementation.
We also need to be innovative. As budgets are cut around the world- SIDS must be the examples of how we can do more with less.
This is why SIDS themselves are proposing concepts such as Debt for adaptation swaps.
This is why we are also calling for means by which we can mobilize the potential of ‘blue carbon’, and use our ocean as a first line of defense against climate change.
As we have said at the outset of our meeting- we need action- and we need accountability.
We look forward to the Sustainable Development Goals as a means of enhancing the capacity to ensure the progress of islands, and hence the progress of the idea of a sustainable planet as a whole.
We must ensure that we can bring forth a Sustainable Development Goal that protects oceans as a development space- and thus move beyond extraction and exploitation of the oceanic realms.
We cannot afford to allow sustainability to remain simply a buzzword to sell products, or to justify extra consultancy fees.
The lack of progress on SIDS issues are indelibly linked to the lack of substantial progress on sustainable development.
But in conclusion after these three days, I have every confidence in our shared will to bring about the changes we need.
President Michel proposed four messages to take to Samoa at the start of our conference-
1) That islands are the key to unlocking sustainable development
2) That the Blue economy is our shared opportunity and responsibility
3) That enhancing the connectivity of islands is essential
4) That partnerships can help us strengthen resilience and create new opportunities
These four messages have been more than strengthened over the last three days by the input of all our participants, and I thank you all for your invaluable contributions.
Thank you for your attention.
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