Background

The Vice Chair invited the Committee to consider how it might help to strengthen coherence in United Nations system support to small island developing States (SIDS) as part of the preparations for the Third International Conference on SIDS (1-4 September 2014, Apia, Samoa). On past occasions, joint statements of CEB to United Nations conferences had captured the collective vision of the system around a particular issue and sent a strong signal of support to the international community. She stressed that the Conference also presented a larger opportunity for the United Nations system to commit to more effectively partnering with SIDS and other stakeholders to address their unique and urgent needs. It was further recalled that at its Second Regular Session of 2013 CEB had decided to hold a high-level side event at the Conference. The Vice Chair expressed appreciation to UN-DESA for taking the lead in producing the draft CEB statement that was before the Committee and invited the representative to introduce the background note.

Discussion

Members expressed support for the statement while making some proposals to sharpen the draft. It was recommended that the statement be more forceful in pledging more and improved coordination and coherence among UN system entities in support of SIDS. A number of suggestions for specific issues concerning SIDS to be added or strengthened were offered, including: trade; treatment in international financial institutions; economic vulnerability and resilience; human security; green economy; sustainable production and consumption; and violence against women and children. It was also suggested that the importance of disaggregated data for monitoring inequalities and disparities should be highlighted in the statement, and that the reference to national innovation should be expanded to also include regional innovation. It was further suggested that the draft statement be reviewed against the recently-issued zero draft Conference outcome document.

In their interventions, several members of the Committee made note of areas in which the UN system could strengthen its support of SIDS, including: having a more coherent approach to working with SIDS, for example, undertaking activities together and coordinating interaction with the various government ministries; addressing the challenges of SIDS graduating from the least developed country (LDC) category, which were, consequently, no longer entitled to special treatment; being more sensitive to realities of middle-income SIDS; responding to SIDS’ plea for a “genuine and durable partnership” for sustainable development; and ensuring that quality rather than quantity of partnerships launched or renewed at the Conference was paramount.

Some members highlighted their individual contributions to the Conference. UNDP was supporting the host country of Samoa through the UN Country team on the ground, including providing surge capacity to the UNDP Samoa office as it responded to host country requests for support with all aspects of the conference. UNWTO would produce a publication on SIDS, focusing on enhancing resilience and economic diversification beyond tourism. ITU would hold an event in advance of the Conference on information and communication technology (ICT) partnerships to drive the sustainable implementation of the SIDS pillars of development. ITU and the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) were also planning to hold a side-event at the Conference that would focus on the deployment of resilient broadband-based ICT networks. IMF also expected to host a side event.

Action

HLCP agreed that the joint UN system statement to the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States would be finalized in light of the Committee’s discussion and based on any additional written comments received. The text would then be submitted to CEB for endorsement at its first regular session of 2014 (see Annex IV).