Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to welcome you to the ECOSOC Financing for Development Forum Side Event on “Addressing debt challenges in the small island developing States: Views from the Pacific.”
The event is a follow-up of the Pacific Regional Debt Conference co-convened by Fiji and Tuvalu and co-organized by ESCAP and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat at the beginning of this month.
The objectives of this side event are to (i) disseminate the outcomes of the Pacific debt conference to a broader audience, (ii) enhance understanding of the debt challenges of the Pacific and Caribbean SIDS, and (iii) explore solutions to those challenges.
The Pacific debt conference provided a forum for debtors, creditors, and development partners to discuss options and strategies to address the debt vulnerabilities of the Pacific SIDS.
The conference highlighted the rising risks of debt distress in the Pacific SIDS caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It noted with concern that interest rate hikes in developed countries and the Ukraine crisis could further exacerbate their challenges in servicing external debts.
The conference also noted that the Pacific SIDS suffer from significant damages and losses from natural disasters, which are becoming more frequent and severe due to climate change, resulting in weakened fiscal positions as well as increases in public debts.
The challenges of the Pacific SIDS in servicing public debts are not unique: SIDS in the Caribbean and other regions are also extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and other global disruptions.
We need to find common solutions.
In this regard, I am very pleased by the participation in this event of high-level policymakers from both the Pacific and the Caribbean. I would like to express my appreciation to our partners, ECLAC and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, for your support for making this event a success.
I look forward to your deliberations, proposed solutions for the SIDS of the Pacific and the Caribbean to address their debt challenges.
ESCAP stands ready to support our members and work with sister organizations like ECLAC and PIFS in implementing actionable recommendations to make public debts sustainable and achieve the SDGs.
Thank you very much.