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What can be done to ensure global agreements include and are relevant to Small Island Developing States?


 New irrigation methods revive farming in a Comorian village. (Photo: UNDP)

Today the United Nations and observers marked the official closing of the International Year of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), a reflection of a global agreement by governments to put these countries, small dots as they are on a global map, in the spotlight for all to see their development challenges and realities in the 21st Century.

In this year, 2015, when so many global development processes are coming to a head, including efforts to define and mobilize financing for development, agree a new disaster risk reduction framework in Sendai, and adopt the post-2015 development agenda and Sustainable Development Goals, as well as a new climate change agreement in Paris under the UNFCCCC, the question to be asked is for SIDS is, what can be done to ensure that these global agreements include, and are relevant to SIDS, their size, circumstances and capacities?

These countries, which represent over one-quarter of the UN membership, together with their many partners, gathered in Samoa last September for the Third International Conference on SIDS, a once-in-a-decade opportunity, to present their aspirations for the future.  The voices of islanders are a clarion call to the international community: addressing their sustainable development needs goes hand in hand with meeting global challenges such as climate change, combating non-communicable diseases, and achieving sustainable, inclusive growth.   The ‘SAMOA Pathway’ outcomes on these subjects and the partnerships advanced in Samoa were the product of governments, the UN system, civil society and the private sector, each demonstrating their commitment to SIDS and their sustainable development pathways. This spirit of collaboration should be carried forward into the universal agreements of 2015, thereby advancing the development priorities expressed in the SAMOA Pathway in the years ahead, long after the Year and the 2014 SIDS conference have concluded.

There are already some early signs of progress since the meeting in Samoa.  We are working with the OECD and other partners to strengthen the economic arguments for particular consideration for the situation of SIDS; elsewhere, SIDS have increased their access to funds under the latest Global Environment Facility allocations and they stand to benefit from adaptation funding from the newly capitalized Green Climate Fund.  But much more work lies ahead.  The International Year of Small Island Developing States and the Samoa conference have put SIDS on the map again. SIDS are now active in the 2015 global development debates and we are supporting them to bring their voice to the table. It’s time that the international community, working in partnership with SIDS, consolidates the gains made so that SIDS can be resilient to the inevitable next storm and future price shocks, continue to eradicate poverty, and secure their future as islanders on a vast blue planet.


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