High-time to adopt synergistic approach for SIDS: Pres

Maldives President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu, presided over the Plenary of the Conference on Monday afternoon in his capacity as one of the Vice Presidents of the Conference -- Photo/ President's Office

President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu has called out the international community for a shared and synergized approach to support Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

He made the remarks at the first plenary session of the 4th International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS4) on Monday.

Expressing pride that Maldives have led the formulation of The Antigua and Barbuda Agenda for SIDS with New Zealand, President Muizzu said that this agenda required coordinated, strengthened, and effective support from the international community.

"It needs to be integrated into the Cooperation Frameworks at the national level. And most importantly we need to overcome silos in implementation," President Muizzu said.

President Muizzu questioned whether a ten-year programme can take into account the rapid changes that transform SIDS, and inquired the possibility of shorteting the programme to five years and closely align it with other global development agendas.

Noting that the International Summit on SIDS in Barbados in 1994 adopted the first Programme of Action for SIDS, and the adoption of the fourth such programme at the 4th International Conference of SIDS, President Muizzu further highlighted the prevailing challenges SIDS continued to face.

"Thirty years is not a short time. And it begs the question - what have we achieved over the past three decades? Poverty still exists. The climate crisis is devastating. The natural environment is dying. External debt is rising. Injustice and inequality are rampant. We are losing faith - and hope - in the global mechanisms," he noted.

While urging SIDS to "start believing" in their own ability to navigate the perils of development, President Muizzu said that the vulnerabilities of the SIDS should not be their downfall, but armor.

"At the same time, we will continue to look to the international community - not to dictate to us, but for support."

He also highlighted that the international community must provide SIDS with credit enhancement measures, and reduce costs of borrowing.

"Bilateral partners must employ more innovative solutions including retractive financing, especially at times of shocks. Private sector lenders must partner with official credits in lowering borrowing costs and higher maturities," President Muizzu added.

"Our experience with global climate funds is that they are insufficient, failing to align with the scale of impacts. What we ask today is for increased ambition. Ambition in formulating our next set of NDCs, to course correct to the rapidly narrowing pathway to 1.5-degree target. Ambition in finalizing the New Collective Quantified Goal on climate finance, which must include adequate finance for adaptation."

The Maldives head of state further urged SIDS to take lead.

"We insist for investment in our state and productive capacities," he said, adding that the SIDS should leverage the private sector and make their institutions stronger.

He also emphasized the importance of transforming the delivery of public service, improvement of transparency, and accountability.

"We should demand a seat at the global centres of power if we want the decisions by these bodies to reflect our realities."

He announced that the Maldives is seeking membership of the UN Security Council, the Economic and Social Council and other UN bodies in its bid to secure seats in prominent international bodies.

"SIDS can, and SIDS must lead! We may be small but size does not dictate our destiny. We can shape and steer our future. SIDS must stand as beacons of resilience and innovation. Setting examples for the world to follow," the Maldives president said.