Excellencies, Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for inviting ESCAP to the first virtual SIDS Solutions Forum.
SIDS constitutes more than one-third of ESCAP’s member States and associate members.
Although their land areas are small and dispersed across hundreds of islands, SIDS in Asia and the Pacific have an important role to play in the sustainable development of the region. These States are taking care of the largest ocean in the world, establishing some of the biggest marine conservation areas, and managing the healthiest of tuna stocks.
Despite such an important role that SIDS play, they are greatly exposed and vulnerable to climate change and climate-induced disasters. At the most recent meetings of the Pacific Islands Forum, it was again highlighted that climate change remains the single greatest threat to the subregion and that COVID-19 recovery should not delay or weaken critical climate actions that keep climate warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
ESCAP’s support for SIDS in the region is therefore centred around the following three sets of priorities.
First, climate change, disaster risk reduction and sustainable oceans are top priorities and will remain so in the foreseeable future.
The focus of our work in this area is on: SDG and climate financing; promotion of the rights and interests of communities or individuals that are migrating, displaced or relocated due to climate change and natural disasters; and sustainable management of the oceans, including through the piloting and implementation of Oceans Accounts.
The second set of priorities is to support a socioeconomic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and enhance social inclusion and equality.
Building on its mandates, ESCAP offers services to protect people, enhance resilience, restore supply chains and support micro, small, medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
In the area of social inclusion and equality, ESCAP has been active in promoting disability inclusion and compliance through policy development, legislative reviews and promotion of legislative reforms. ESCAP also partners with UN Resident Coordinators and Country Teams to strengthen social protection systems and women entrepreneurship, including through subregional and regional projects and initiatives.
Third, data and policy coherence are ESCAP’s priority of support to SIDS. The focus here is on improving national SDG indicator frameworks, data management and effective monitoring. ESCAP supports the voluntary national review (VNR) process, given its follow-up and review mandate and functions. Regional level assistance to SIDS will also focus on SDG data (SDG Gateway and Progress Reporting), knowledge management and policy support.
ESCAP provides intergovernmental platforms and capacity-building activities for knowledge sharing and consensus-building.
In this regard, ESCAP would like to offer our existing intergovernmental platforms, such as the Asia-Pacific Forum for Sustainable Development, as well as the VNR multi-stakeholder platforms and processes. These could provide a space where various stakeholders, particularly youth and women, can demonstrate collaborative leadership.
I would also like to suggest FAO colleagues to build on and complement the existing knowledge-sharing platforms serving SIDS in the Asia-Pacific region, such as the Asia-Pacific Knowledge Management Hub as well as the Regional Collaborative Platform and its Issue-based Coalitions.
The Asia-Pacific Knowledge Management Hub is a pool of policy expertise where countries can easily identify policy options and practices to facilitate a response to emerging national needs and ultimately accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In closing, ESCAP stands ready to strengthen and coordinate UN-wide efforts to support SIDS by promoting and scaling up local solutions to accelerate the achievement of the SDGs in SIDS.
Thank you very much.