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Speech by H.E, Mr. Danny Faure, Vice President of the Republic of Seychelles on the occasion of the Millennium Development Goals Summit

22.09.2010

New York, Tuesday 21st September 2010

 

Mr. President, Secretary General of the United Nations, Your Excellencies Heads of State and Government, Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

 

As 2015 approaches, we cannot afford to be complacent in our efforts to fulfil the promise of the Millennium Development Goals. 

While we assess the success of our efforts so far, I would also like to invite a discussion on the concept of development itself.  It is our understanding of this concept which will also define how successful we are in actually improving the lives of our citizens. 

Development implies progress.  It implies improvement in all spheres of life. 

Recent events around the world have shown that there is no perfect model that can guarantee development.  There is no one size fits all solution to the challenges of ensuring progress.

In fact we are at a point in history where we must ask the question— what conditions can truly make any one country sustainable?  Part of the answer lies in the fact that no country will truly be sustainable unless we can also ensure that our planet is sustainable. 

The Millennium Development Goals play a critical role in setting us on the path towards sustainability as countries. This will still prove fruitless unless we can also ensure the conditions for sustainability at the global level. We commend the formation of the High Level UN Panel to meet the global sustainability challenge, co-chaired by President Tarja Halonen of Finland, and President Jacob Zuma of South Africa.

While we take stock of our individual achievements we must also address the systemic issues which will allow countries to not only reach targets set but also to improve on them.

I will take a moment to use Seychelles as an example of what a state can achieve through commitment to people centred development.  However, our achievements are also situated within the question of what has to be done to ensure that our progress is sustained.

Seychelles is well on the way towards achieving the targets laid out in the MDGs.   

But Seychelles today faces a development paradox.  Since the early 1990s, our rapid progress, coupled with our small population of 85,000 meant that we exceeded the GDP per capita criteria to benefit from development assistance and affordable  credit.  

To sustain our development , Seychelles borrowed heavily at commercial rates which led to a debt crisis which culminated in 2008 where we approached the IMF for assistance.  With the help of our partners, we have survived this crisis and brought our debt levels down on a path of sustainability. 

It is important to note that a large number of SIDS currently have debt to GDP ratios well in excess of 100%. And as stated, by the President of the World Bank in this forum, 70% of the world’s poor live in middle income countries.

We are faced with the question of how do we finance the next phase of our development? Small island states are too developed to benefit from the concessions offered to LDCs, and are not developed enough to benefit from the advantages of first world status.

In this middle income trap, there is unfortunately a sense that there is no way up.  The status quo becomes the best case scenario.  And regression is a real possibility. 

We are determined to succeed despite these constraints.  I am pleased to inform this Summit that Seychelles will be engaging with the UN system to enter into commitments towards setting MDG Plus targets. 

We are making this commitment for the benefit of our citizens, but also to re-set the challenge of development.  To make development sustainable, Small Island Developing States need access to a wider scope of developmental mechanisms.  Most small island states are considered to be middle income countries, but it is startling to note that their vulnerabilities correspond best with those of LDCs.  In an increasingly interconnected world, the marginalisation of SIDS is increasing, and we need the global development architecture to recognise this.  We need to have formal recognition of SIDS as a developmental category by the UN system and the Bretton Woods institutions.

We are making the commitment to MDG Plus with a focus on the sectors which we consider to be vulnerable.  We need to continue ensuring that our population have access to quality education and healthcare.  Progress depends on an educated and healthy population.  Despite Seychelles achievements in the health sector, we are concerned that we do not have the necessary resources to properly tackle HIV/AIDS.  The data we have at a national level is still unsatisfactory on vulnerable groups.  We remain ineligible to access the Global Fund, as do other island states facing similar constraints.

 

Mr. President , Excellencies,

We have a duty to ensure that we can make sustainable development a reality for the next generation.  This is the true challenge of the Millennium Development Goals.

 For the way forward, allow me to note a few considerations that we should actively discuss and put forward as critical factors for the future of development.

Firstly, I welcome and congratulate the UN Secretary General on his leadership to find new and innovative financing mechanisms.  In these times of austerity, we have heard too much about the difficulty or reluctance of countries, corporations and individuals to meet commitments on financing for development.  The sustainability of our planet depends on us being able to bridge this gap. 

Sustainability also depends on our ability to mobilise ‘green financing’ to make environmentally friendly technology available to those for whom the latest technology remains financially prohibitive.  Small islands for example have great access to renewable sources of energy, but have no means of tapping into the technology that is necessary to harness these resources. 

Climate Change is of grave concern to all island states.  And as many of the funds allocated to climate change adaptation are being channelled through traditional ODA channels, many middle income SIDS are again excluded.  We need to ensure that financing to adapt to climate change is properly channelled and does not simply mean continuation of existing inadequate arrangements.

Secondly, allow me to mention the important role that needs to be played by regional groupings in collaboration with the international community led by the UN System.  Regional groupings can play a strong developmental role by mobilising funding and creating integration parameters which recognise cultural and geographical specificities.   

In Africa we have also seen the positive role that regional organisations can play in enhancing peace and security— critical conditions for development.   In the African region, the worsening instability in Somalia, reminds us that in certain situations we cannot even begin to set developmental targets without first establishing peace and security.  In the meantime, the shadow of terrorism and the continued threat of piracy continue to place a strain on the ability of neighbouring states to pursue development.  The scale of the problem calls for all organisations to commit more time and resources to this problem.

 

Finally, I think it is important that we view development through a lens which is devoid of ideology and assumption.  Ideas do not need to be owned by anybody for them to be successful.  Development is about people. 

Let us ensure that people are at the centre of everything we do.

We are all united by the Millennium Development Goals because we share the desire to improve the lives of our peoples. 

Despite the challenges, we remain optimistic.  The World financial crisis has not dampened our resolve—rather it has made us more determined to truly create the conditions for a sustainable world.

We say today once again, that we will achieve our goals, not only as individual countries, but as citizens of the world.

Thank you for your attention,

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