Helen Clark: Statement at the Roundtable on Financing for Development: Challenges and Opportunities in Pacific Small Island Developing States

Oct 7, 2016

UNDP is supporting Pacific SIDS to access new sources of financing (especially climate finance) and to develop new and innovative financing solutions. Photo credit: UNDP

I am pleased to join this roundtable on the challenges and opportunities for financing sustainable development in Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS). 

I have been immersed in Pacific Islands’ issues and challenges throughout my adult life. I brought these perspectives and insights to my work at UNDP, emphasizing the importance of building economic viability, climate resilience, access to finance, and addressing the challenges of non-communicable diseases. UNDP will always be a steadfast partner to Pacific SIDS – and indeed to all SIDS – on these issues and other national development priorities.

Pacific SIDS have made important development progress, including on reducing poverty, improving education and health status, and protecting their outstanding natural ecosystems. Many surpassed many of the Millennium Development Goal targets. 

The new 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), however, set the bar for development higher. Notwithstanding all the good work that is taking place to advance human development and build inclusive and resilient societies, there is much to do to achieve the SDGs.

Financing will be key to SDG implementation. The resources needed to fund national development priorities and attain the SDGs will need to be secured and deployed effectively.

Pacific SIDS – and indeed most SIDS – face structural barriers to financing for development, including:
•    more limited domestic resource mobilization capacities than many other developing countries, combined with limited or sometimes no access to capital markets;
•     a limited ability to attract private investment overall; and
•    navigating through complex processes to access much-needed climate finance. 

Many of these constraints were discussed at length in yesterday’s Small States Forum.

New opportunities, however, are emerging for public and private actors to work together on development financing, and innovative new approaches are being developed and tested. These include “blended” finance, ocean finance and opportunities for investing in the blue economy, impact investing, and more.    

UNDP is supporting Pacific SIDS to access new sources of financing (especially climate finance), to develop new and innovative financing solutions, and to broaden financial inclusion.

For example, through UNDP’s Biodiversity Finance initiative – or BIOFIN – we are supporting Fiji, along with SIDS in other regions of the world, to identify innovative sources of financing for investments in forest and species conservation, protected areas, and sustainable coastal zone management.

Through our Pacific Island Financial Inclusion programme, implemented jointly with our associated programme, the UN Capital Development Fund, and other partners, we are supporting low-income households to gain access to financial services and to improve their level of financial literacy. Together we aim to add one million Pacific Islanders to the formal financial sector by 2019. Australia,   New Zealand, and the European Union are important partners in this work.

Today we are proud, together with Pacific Island Forum Secretariat, to present the initial findings of joint research which is exploring how Pacific SIDS can catalyze investment from public and private sources to fund development and initiatives which support environmental protection.

Our work is examining questions such as: 
•    what approaches might accelerate investment in sustainable and affordable energy, or in the blue economy? 
•    what are the comparative advantages of different financing sources? 
•    what role is there for Pacific SIDS’ development partners to use financing in “smarter” ways to catalyze additional public and private investment in PSIDS, reduce risk and vulnerability, and strengthen local actors? 

The aim of this project is to explore funding options and strategies to accelerate investment in key initiatives which will support Pacific SIDS to achieve the objectives of the SAMOA Pathway and the SDGs.

Colleagues from both UNDP and PIFS will shortly speak in more detail about some of these issues. But let me take this opportunity to alert you to the survey which UNDP and PIFS circulated to Pacific Island governments in recent weeks.

The survey asks about national financing for development priorities, and seeks to understand where governments have been making progress, as well as where they are experiencing challenges. We want to ensure that our analytical work is centred around your priorities. We look forward to receiving your responses, and to hearing from you today on issues you would like to see prioritized - so that our research supports your efforts to finance and implement the SDGs and national development priorities. 

In closing, I would like to thank the UNDP, PIFS, and UN DESA teams for their work on this project so far. There is excellent collaboration between our organizations, and we very much look forward to hearing from you all. 

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