Government Officials Discuss SIDS Partnerships for SAMOA Pathway, SDGs

High-level officials from small island developing States (SIDS), policy makers, and UN entities discussed emerging environmental issues in SIDS, and ways in which they could be solved through partnerships, during a high-level round table on 'Innovative Partnerships for addressing environmental challenges in implementation of the SAMOA Pathway and the 2030 Agenda.' The event focused on oceans-related partnerships and innovative financing.

The round table took place on 25 May 2016, at the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi, Kenya, and was co-organized by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), UNEP, the UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs) and SIDS (UN-OHRLLS), and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

Opening the meeting, UN Under-Secretary-General Wu Hongbo, DESA, noted that synergies must be ensured between the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SAMOA Pathway, with a focus on strengthening SIDS' resilience. Anote Tong, Former President of the Republic of Kiribati, said ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change is “meaningless” unless it is effectively monitored and followed up. He stressed the importance of "360-degree partnerships" involving all stakeholders, and of capacity building for government officials and their citizens to cope with SIDS's challenges.

On Innovative Partnerships on Oceans, Alvin Da Breo, Grenada's Minister of Agriculture, Lands, Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, presented his government's initiative to protect coral reefs with an Ecosystems Based Approach (EbA). He said the 'Blue Week 2016 and Investment Conference' hosted by Grenada provided a platform for dialogue and networking to advance Grenada's pursuit of a sustainable ocean-based economy. He said Grenada is ready to assist other SIDS in replicating that format.

In the ensuing discussion, participants noted that the resolutions related to oceans and seas adopted at the second UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-2) constitute a concrete road map to achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 on oceans, further highlighting the need to increase investments in disaster risk reduction (DRR) and disaster preparedness to address climate change impacts in SIDS.

On Innovative Financing for SIDS, Elba Rosa Pérez Montoya, Cuba's Minister of Science, Technology and Environment, stressed that innovative finance is often not a stable source of finance and should not replace the responsibility of public sources to finance sustainable development. She called on developed countries to fulfill their official development assistance (ODA) commitments. She noted that, at the fifth Cuba-Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Summit, in December 2014, it was decided to establish a Regional Strategic Agenda to address disaster risk management in the Caribbean region. She also announced that Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti have established in collaboration with UNEP the Caribbean Biological Corridor (CBC), to drive the long-term integration of conservation actions between island states and the preservation of global biodiversity.

Rebecca Loustau-Lalanne, Seychelles' Ministry of Finance, Trade & The Blue Economy, shared her country's experience in turning oceans into a force for sustainable development. She said Seychelles: maximizes the potential of its oceanic territory Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) by applying the Blue Economy concept as a foundation for economic diversification and growth; has developed a debt swap deal with the Paris Club, which works as an innovative financing mechanism designed by The Nature Conservancy, to enable Seychelles redirect a portion of its debt payments to funding nature-based solutions to climate change; and is developing a Blue Bond, in collaboration with the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the African Development Bank (AfDB), to better mobilize finance for its blue economy strategy.

In the ensuing discussion, participants: stressed that SIDS face challenges in accessing financing; provided concrete examples of innovative financing in the areas debt-for-nature swaps and enhanced micro-financing for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); stressed the need to create an enabling environment and integrated policies in order to attract investments for promoting Blue-Green economy and low carbon technologies; and noted that the UN Conference to Support the Implementation of SDG 14, to be held in Fiji in June 2017, will provide an important step in the implementation of SDG 14.

Closing the meeting, Ahmed Sareer, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Maldives and co-chair of the Steering Committee on Partnerships for SIDS, invited participants to attend the first Global Multi-Stakeholder SIDS Partnerships Dialogue, to be held in New York in September 2016. [Event Website] [Summary of Discussion] [IISD RS Story on Second Meeting of Steering Committee on Partnerships for SIDS] 

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