Barbados wants more frequent SIDS reviews

Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley says the current  practice of international reviews of small island developing states (SIDS) every five to 10 years, “is inadequate” and called for a biennial assembly of SIDS heads along with the establishment of a governance structure to oversee the implementation of the Antigua and Barbuda Agenda for Small Island Developing States (ABAS)

Addressing the Fourth International Conference on SIDS (SIDS 4), Mottley said Barbados was looking forward to the adoption of  ABAS, which she described as “a renewed declaration for resilient prosperity”.

She told the conference being held under the theme “Charting the course toward resilient prosperity” that the frequency and scale of natural disasters causing human suffering, loss or compromised livelihoods, irreparable physical damage and high economic costs are now regrettably a horrifying global reality.

Mottley said the chasm between United Nations member states’ spoken commitment and finance implementation “condemns us and contradicts our profession of seriousness and sincerity.

“Our people will wonder what are we really doing when they look at this season of superlatives that is causing the untold damage that it is.”

She said the Bridgetown Initiative, the Paris Pact for People and Planet, the SDG stimulus, along with other initiatives, provide a roadmap on how the international community can support the correction of the economic balance sheet of SIDS.

“But we must build a more responsive, fairer and more inclusive global financial system and we must do so with pace and with scope. Speed and scope are exactly what is missing from our agenda, not that we haven’t made progress, but insufficient progress.”

She said that the Bridgetown Initiative, version 3.0, which was launched on Tuesday , “urges consideration of a global solidarity levy for people, for planet, and also allows us to be able to reflect on where these levies can come with the least damage and the least burden on people, whether it is on fossil fuels, windfall profits, whether it is on international financial transactions or emissions from shipping and aviation that are intended all to be able to allow us to do the financing of global public goods, first and foremost climate, but beyond climate.

“Another contributor would have to be in a new framework, a global compact with philanthropy, recognising that they get to spend money on what they want, but we now need them to spend money on what the world needs as well. This will allow us to be able to have adequate financing for climate, but other global public goods that are critical because we are not a one issue people.”

Mottley said recognising these priorities for small island developing states, conscious that when compared with mitigation, there is truly inadequate financing available for adaptation, “and we must not allow the establishment of the loss and damage fund to take our eyes away from the critical financing needed for adaptation.

“We need to be able to address the issue of resilience and prosperity, but financing is not the destination. It is simply the mechanism by which we become capable of executing projects that will allow us to become resilient and ultimately prosperous.”

She said Barbados is on the verge of establishing a blue-green bank with an initial capitalisation that has been promised of US$77 million hopefully will increase. Bridgetown has just hosted the first global supply chain conference to address these most critical issues that will allow us to be able to attain resilience.

She said at that conference in Bridgetown, the Barbados-based Global SIDS Hub Office for Sustainable Development was launched which will serve SIDS worldwide by promoting SIDS-SIDS cooperation, delivering technical support to increase SIDS resilience, facilitate economic diversification, and indeed ultimately promote investment in SIDS.

The Hub’s office will be blue-green economy, digital and green solutions, and it will seek to leapfrog to innovative technologies.

“I should say to you, though, that investment being critical means that we have to get over the issue of adaptation because without adaptation, our countries are likely to become uninsurable, and if we are uninsurable, we are likely to become uncompetitive and uninvestable.

“These are the realities of what we face, and hence we cannot move only singularly to create instruments without addressing the fundamental need for adaptation financing. Similarly, the Climate Vulnerable Forum, or the V20, works to strengthen economic and financial resources to the climate crisis and leads to high-level policy dialogue to drive action on the climate crisis and promotes climate-resilient and low-emission development.”

Mottley said there are currently 68 countries in the V20 Forum with Barbados to assume the chairmanship soon.

But she noted that for the very same countries that are members of the V20 now, “many of them are facing liquidity and solvency crises as we go forward, and hence the importance of addressing issues from debt sustainability and a new deal for finance for all climate countries, so that together, if we can act, we can amplify the voices of the most vulnerable and increase and accelerate the resources that must be directed towards our people”.

“In shock-proofing our societies and economies, we must collectively look to all of those areas of highest vulnerability. In that regard, the current SIDS practice of international reviews every five to ten years, I say simply, is inadequate.

“I call for a biennial assembly of SIDS heads at this stage, along with the establishment of a governance structure to oversee the implementation of the ABAS and all following outcome texts.

“And this is critical, but it must also command the highest attention of the other countries of the world because if the representation of the larger countries who have capacity is at too low a level, then we shall remain unequally yoked in our ability to be able to see progress on the policy agenda,” she added.

She said the task of this generation of leaders in small island developing states, and indeed its citizens, is to complete the work that was started in 1994, when Barbados hosted the first SIDS conference.

“I’m truly grateful that just now the United Nations Secretary General, in our last session, reflected on the need for simplicity with respect to many of the things that affect small island developing states, whether it is special and differential treatment in the World Trade Organisation, or whether it is simplified mechanisms for dealing with financial restructuring and making available longer and cheaper financing available for our people.

“You cannot treat a country that is on the verge of sinking with less than 200,000 people in the same way that you treat a country that has 30 million people with great resources,” she told the conference.

The conference, which ends on Thursday, is aimed at assessing the ability of SIDS to achieve sustainable development, including the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals. It will result in an inter governmentally agreed, focused, forward-looking and action-oriented political outcome document.

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