Remarks by Helen Clark on Small Islands Developing States Partnership Programme

08 Dec 2010

Remarks by Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator
on the occasion of the Press Conference to launch the
SIDS Partnership Programme
Cancun

It is a great pleasure to join UNDP’s partners for this launch of the Small Islands Developing States Partnership Programme.

I acknowledge all our partners :  the Alliance of Small Island States, represented by Grenada’s Prime Minister; Denmark, represented by the Minister for Climate and Energy who is also the Minister for Gender Equality; and the World Bank, represented by President Robert Zoellick.

Let me highlight three reasons why this SIDS Partnership Programme is so important.

  • First, any action on climate change must be able to meet the needs of small island states. 

For a number of these states, climate change goes beyond being an environmental or economic issue.  It threatens the very existence of small, low lying islands.

UNDP has a specific mandate to focus on the environment, energy, and sustainable development. We work to help countries achieve low-emission and climate-resilient growth, in ways which will also reduce poverty and support the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. 

UNDP has been assisting the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) for some time to develop the “SIDS Dock” initiative, so that the small island developing states have access to funding to meet their climate and development needs.  I would like to acknowledge especially the support of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the UNDP sub-regional office in Barbados.

The SIDS Partnership being announced today is one strand of this work. In it, UNDP will work with the World Bank to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency in small island developing states around the world.

I thank Denmark for providing $14.5 million for this Partnership for 2011. Denmark is an acknowledged leader in renewable energy, and thus is a natural partner in this initiative. Other nations are considering joining, and we hope they will.

  • Second, through this Partnership, the actions taken to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency will, over time, release resources for development. 

AOSIS estimates that SIDS spend up to thirty per cent of their foreign exchange earnings on fossil fuel imports each year. That equates to annual consumption in excess of 220 million barrels of fuel, generating some 38 million tons of carbon dioxide.  

The development of more renewable energy and greater energy efficiency will therefore free up SIDS resources for development priorities, including adaptation, as well as reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Third, this Partnership is a good example of how UNDP and the World Bank can work together to deliver support based on the comparative strengths of each of our organisations. In this case, UNDP and the World Bank will co-ordinate their efforts to support the achievement of SIDS priorities through a formalized framework for collaboration.

UNDP will work to support the capacity of the SIDS to plan, implement, and regulate for low-carbon energy solutions. This is essential for accessing carbon finance, and for attracting private and public investments.

AOSIS has been emphasizing the importance of capacity building in the climate negotiations.  Through this Partnership, we can show what capacity building for sustainable energy solutions can achieve.

As the Partnership takes shape in the coming months, potentially with more partners coming on board, it is to be hoped that it will demonstrate how longer-term climate financing arrangements could function with the support of the multilateral system. Individual agencies can channel their distinct, but complementary, skills towards the same goals of reducing global emissions, supporting communities to adapt to the impacts of climate change, and fighting poverty.