Prime Minister, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;
All of us have a long and deep track record of commitment to addressing climate change and sustainable development. Together, we must continue to urge the world to address the numerous and unique challenges faced by Small Island Developing States. We are distinctively vulnerable to the powerful impacts of the climate crisis, and given our small size, at a scale that few other countries face.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the extreme vulnerability of SIDS to external shocks and it has crippled our economies, but the prolonged shut down of global travel brought truly unprecedented challenges. With an economy built on our natural resources, the travel bans across many countries crippled our economy beyond measure. In 2020 alone, we experienced an economic contraction of a third of our economic activity.
The notion that special consideration must be given to SIDS, through financial assistance, technology transfer and capacity-building, is a long established principle in multilateralism. These funds are usually extremely difficult to access, and the application process alone is drawn out and complex, particularly given the size and nature of projects in small islands. Funds established to assist countries in special situations like the SIDS need to be adequate, predictable and accessible.
The Ocean Conference presents a key opportunity for SIDS to build momentum leading up to the conference on issues such as marine plastic pollution, overfishing, biodiversity loss and coral bleaching. We fully support the ongoing efforts to coordinate multilateral action to address the menace of marine plastic pollution, including potentially through an international treaty.
I am confident that the Leader’s Declaration that we are adopting today will once again demonstrate to the international community our solidarity, our seriousness on these issues and the need for actors beyond those in this room – developed countries, International Financial Institutions, the private sector and civil society – to work with us to take decisive and transformational action on these issues that are of paramount concern to us all. We may be small countries, scattered around the globe, but our common vision and unity ensures that as AOSIS we are loud and a powerful force for change.
I thank you.