UN experts urge States and development banks to support endangered islands: Small Island Developing States summit


UN human rights experts* today called for urgent action by States, financial institutions and development banks to support small island developing countries struggling with the triple burden of climate disasters, debt crisis and the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ahead of the 4th International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the experts said: “The world community must not remain a passive witness to the struggle of SIDS, who are especially at risk due to their size, geographical remoteness, highly dispersed populations, the limited scale and undiversified nature of their economies, and high dependence on external markets.”

The conference, entitled Charting the Course Toward Resilient Prosperity, will take place from 27 to 30 May 2024 in Antigua and Barbuda to review SIDS’ sustainable development progress and foster partnerships to provide support to these States.

The conference will culminate in the adoption of The Antigua and Barbuda Agenda for SIDS (ABAS) – a Renewed Declaration for Resilient Prosperity, a roadmap to enhance their resilience, recognising that SIDS face the compounding impacts of climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, disasters and natural hazards and economic disadvantages, as well as diminishing ability to withstand external shocks.

“It is critical that States, international financial institutions, multilateral development banks and other donors come together to mobilise adequate resources needed to ensure that peoples living in SIDS are not left behind,” the experts said.

Considering that more than 40 per cent of SIDS are grappling with unsustainable levels of debt, “all options such as one-time debt waivers, enhanced official development assistance, concessional long-term loans and grants must be utilised to relieve their financial stress.”

“SIDS account for less than 1 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, yet they are paying the heaviest price for climate change, resulting in extreme exposure to disasters and natural hazards, such as severe tropical cyclones, floods and droughts, diminishing freshwater resources, desertification, coastal erosion, land degradation and sea-level rise,” the experts said.

“While adopting the 2030 Agenda in 2015, the world’s leaders promised to leave no one behind. To fulfil that promise, they bear the responsibility to do everything within their means to address the challenges faced by the peoples from SIDS and offer them a stable pathway to inclusive and sustainable development through debt relief, financial aid, technology transfer and technical assistance,” they said.

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