It is an honour to deliver these remarks on behalf of the Group of twelve Pacific Small Island Developing States.
The SDG goals are important in and of themselves, but they are also indispensable tools for moving us toward net-zero carbon economies and integrating climate action into our development plans.
In the Pacific, we have seen mixed progress in the achievement of the SDGs and targets we had set out. The region has been moving forward nicely on gender equality, building sustainable cities and communities, and building partnerships.
Our economies have been growing generally, in part due to our fisheries and tourism sectors. Yet we have lagged behind a few. And our vulnerabilities to external shocks continue to pose the greatest challenge to the expansion of our economies.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is alarming to note recent reports indicating that even within the larger Asia-Pacific, one of the goals that seems to be lagging behind the most is goal 13 on climate action.
For the Pacific, no other SDG can be effectively achieved unless we address the adverse impacts of climate change first. Sea-level rise, ocean acidification, extreme weather events and water security all threaten our ability to meet these Sustainable Development Goals. In fact, they threaten to turn back the clock on development and threaten our livelihoods and our very existence.
A record number of Pacific SIDS presented their Voluntary National Reviews in July, and more will do so in 2020. This shows the Pacific’s commitment to an all-inclusive approach in achieving our sustainable development aspirations.
Our people are resilient, and we continue to mainstream sustainable development into national and regional planning.
Yet we cannot do it alone. We call on our partners and the international community to meet their international cooperation commitments.
We need predictable and adequate financing and improved access to financing, especially if we are to build the kind of resilient infrastructures called for in our plans. The international community must step up seriously on financing, including ODA commitments and an ambitious replenishment of the Green Climate Fund. And we must be sure that a nation’s vulnerability and fragility in the face of climate change and natural disasters are priority factors for financing decisions.
Closely connected to this is the need for genuine and durable partnerships. Partnerships that work to meet the needs of the people on the ground and that are in line with national priorities will be the key to achieving our targets and goals.
With our unique geographic and economic vulnerabilities, a one-size-fits-all approach will not work, and solutions need to be tailored to our specific and unique circumstances.
We are moving forward in our sustainable development journey, and we see the challenges ahead. Let’s hope that the words “leave no one behind” are more than a mantra, but that they will guide decision-making and remain at the heart of the actions we take.
I thank you.