The expert group meeting is intended as the contribution to the preparation of the Asia-Pacific Countries with Special Needs (CSN) Development Report 2020 entitled “Raising financing through ocean resources to foster sustainable development of small island developing States”. It is being organized in conjunction with the Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development.
The CSN Development Report is a report that addresses development challenges of relevance to least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States (SIDS). The 2020 report will focus on development challenges of SIDS, whose predicaments concern remoteness and small size of their economies, thus limited opportunities to engage with the global economy and to develop viable industries, which hampers their progress in achieving SDGs.
Indeed, if the region’s SIDS remain on their current development trajectory, they will not achieve any of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. On the contrary, SIDS have regressed in several goals, including Goal 2 (zero hunger), Goal 9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), Goal 14 (life below water) and Goal 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions). These worrying trends need to be reversed; urgent policy actions are required, and greater efforts must be made to reach all goals by 2030.
SIDS must make more effective and efficient use of their vast ocean resources, to which their development is intrinsically linked. With the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) for 12 Pacific SIDS spanning a total area of 16.8 million square kilometres, which is on average 31 times greater than their collective land area, the potential for these economies to benefit from ocean resources within their own jurisdiction is tremendous. The vastness of their marine resources offers them the potential to alleviate one of their defining obstacles to sustainable development, namely that of a narrow resource base and few financial resources. In order to achieve this, SIDS will need to devise mechanisms and policies to enhance their ability to generate financial resources for sustainable development from the ocean resources, predominantly through fisheries and tourism.
Fisheries play an important role for livelihoods in SIDS, with offshore capture fisheries and associated processing activities providing major economic benefits. Moreover, tourism has become one of the most important economic activities in SIDS. It has already become the largest economic sector in Vanuatu, Fiji and the Cook Islands and has the potential to become a key source of employment and income growth, as well as poverty alleviation, in others. However, further developing tourism and fisheries in an environmentally sustainable way poses a challenge given the fragile ecosystems of SIDS.
Given the scale of financial resources required to effectively pursue the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, also greater international, regional and subregional cooperation will be critical for SIDS as they will not be able to raise the required financing on their own. Thus, better cooperation can improve access to external funding mechanisms which could finance development projects in SIDS.