UNDP Administrator Remarks at the Plenary Meeting of the Fourth Summit of Small Island Developing States

May 29, 2024

As prepared for delivery

Mr President, Distinguished delegates, all protocols observed, 

On behalf of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), it is a privilege to add my words of support to the Antigua and Barbuda Agenda for SIDS (ABAS).

It also represents a challenge to the multilateral system to deliver urgent solutions to problems that have lingered for too long. 

Excellencies, if we cannot deliver economic diversification, climate, digital and financial answers in SIDS, we cannot deliver them anywhere. The vulnerabilities that arise from the small size, remoteness and climate vulnerability of SIDS have been well documented in recent years. 

  • On average, SIDS experience 2.1% of GDP loss due to natural hazards -- a figure that is quadruple the losses experienced by larger nations;
  • At the same time, SIDS receive seven times less finance than Least Developed Countries.

This equation is not balanced. 

A full-blown digital transformation in SIDS and a just energy transition are indeed within reach, with international financial institutions, but also the local and international private sector under the right conditions.

This is why the ABAS outcome document focuses so sharply on a multi-layered response on finance for development --that includes achieving breakthroughs on debt treatments, debt swaps, state-contingent debt instruments, guarantees on private investment, foreign exchange hedging and new sources of concessional and non-concessional financing.

We will continue to raise the voice of SIDS at the G20 finance track, the Summit of the Future and the Fourth International Conference for Financing for Development.

Excellencies, UNDP’s renewed offer to SIDS, “SIDS Rising 2.0”, mirrors the ABAS agenda.

  • On resilient economies, UNDP is rolling out support to drive forward blue and green economies – focused on nature-based solutions in tourism, the food sector and urban development, together with key partners like the Global Environment Facility. 
  • On digital transformations: UNDP is a lead agency on building digital capacities on the ground and will expand that pledge across SIDS.
  • On data: Our SIDS Data Platform has consolidated a comprehensive data set, which will be vital to inform the future of development in SIDS.
  • On climate adaptation and mitigation: Our Climate Promise initiative focuses on climate adaptation and mitigation, aligned to the 1.5° Paris agreement target. We pledge to expand our work on next-generation NDCs, but also on the just energy transition.
  • Finally, on finance for development and climate: We believe this is a ‘Gordian knot’ – without breakthroughs in FfD, the vision of resilient economies, digital transformations, climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction is weakened – and this will be a major ‘stress test’ for the international financial architecture over the next months.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As our concrete contribution, UNDP’s "SIDS Rising 2.0" offer is a resounding pledge to help drive the shifts needed as part of the UN family.

That includes supporting SIDS to navigate the massive tides of transformation now taking pace – from nature to finance to digital – and ensure that they become new oceans of opportunity for people across small islands.