SAMOA Pathway High-Level Review, United Nations, New York
Chair, New Zealand commends this mid-term review of the Samoa Pathways. Let me convey to you the picture that I see as we conduct this review.
There is an unprecedented, man-made storm coming our way. Our youth can see the dark clouds gather at the outer limits of the horizons. We must paddle our canoe to safety and we must do it quickly. We must all paddle in the same direction or we’ll be caught by the storm and die.
What challenges do SIDS face as we paddle towards safety? Let me highlight four challenges which we urge the global community to prioritise action for small island development state.
Firstly, climate change is the greatest threat facing small island development states. They are the global frontline for the effects of climate change. We must deliver a stronger global response that accounts for the disproportionate impact SIDS face from climate change. We reiterate the call for urgent and ambitious global action to limit warming to 1.5 degrees in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change and for action to build resilience in small island development states.
Secondly, the ocean is critically important to SIDS, both environmentally and economically. Pacific Islands Forum members have highlighted this recently by adopting new terminology, such as referring to big ocean states under its Blue Pacific strategy. The international community must provide stronger stewardship of the ocean. We must act urgently to halt harmful practices that damage our ocean, for example, by abolishing harmful fishery subsidies.
Thirdly, we must continue to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in SIDS. New Zealand is a strong supporter of the work done by Pacific SIDS to tackle these challenges, including through initiatives to address gender-based discrimination and violence, to improve access to sexual reproductive health services and to increase the number of women in leadership positions.
Fourthly, we encourage the international community to recognise the unique economic vulnerability of small island development states by modifying concessional finance eligibility rules. Small population and land masses and remoteness all constrain the economic development of SIDS. Debt burdens can exacerbate these challenges and their narrow economic bases can make SIDS more vulnerable to the impacts of external shocks which threaten to wipe out any development plans.
The catastrophic impact of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas has again reminded us that even SIDS with higher per capital incomes face stark vulnerabilities and that GNI per capita is inadequate as the sole criterion for official development assistance eligibility.
Finally, we encourage the international community to be more practical and focused in its support to SIDS. Our rhetoric needs to be matched both by concrete policy changes that support SIDS’ aspiration and by ensuring that development assistance to SIDS is driven by their priorities and is fit for purpose for their smaller bureaucracies. I reiterate again, SIDS have a right to life, the right to live on their ancestral homes, both are under threat from man-made greenhouse gas emissions.
We must support SIDS’ right to self-determination.