The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

Remarks at the General Debate of the 4th International Conference on Small Island Developing States

Remarks by UN Under-Secretary-General and UNOPS Executive Director Jorge Moreira da Silva at the General Debate of the 4th International Conference on Small Island Developing States, 29 May 2024.

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Excellencies, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honour to address you today at the 4th International Conference for Small Island Developing States, a once in a decade event to adopt a new programme of action for SIDS.

I wish to acknowledge with appreciation the tremendous efforts made by the host country - Antigua and Barbuda - and the Alliance of Small Island States along with partners to hold the conference amid unprecedented global challenges.

UNOPS has supported the preparatory process with both technical assistance and financial resources in recognition of the importance of an ambitious agenda to chart the way towards resilient prosperity for these highly vulnerable nations.

We welcome the vision underpinning the new programme of action, which details the next 10-years' priorities on strengthening productive capacities. These include natural and human capitals, energy, transport and ICT, institutions, private sector and structural change opportunities.

As per UNCTAD’s commissioned 2021 study, productive capacities in which infrastructure is a key component are highly correlated with resilience. Within its mandate and drawing on new tools such as the National Infrastructure Systems, Modeling, Sustainable Infrastructure Financing Tool and Infrastructure Asset Management, UNOPS stands ready to assist in the implementation of the new Antigua and Barbuda Agenda for SIDS 2024-2034.

We provide fund and grant management expertise to support SIDS in their climate action. And we join the international community in assisting SIDS to address loss and damage, improve national adaptation planning, and undergo a profound digital transformation to better serve their remote communities.

The focus of the new agenda on revitalizing economies, investing in social development, managing disaster risk and preserving environmental integrity speaks of the SIDS’ determination to secure a future for their people and their natural habitats.

And it is the responsibility of all of us in the international community to step up our efforts and support SIDS to build a more sustainable and resilient future.

From facilitating access to predictable and concessional financing and scaled-up climate and biodiversity finance, to increasing the effectiveness of existing development finance.

From scaling up climate action and support - including through climate finance - to offering technological support, capacity building, and seeking and building equitable partnerships.

We know that the lack of robust data collection systems and infrastructure also leads to challenges in quantifying losses and damages arising from climate hazards and disasters - and this is another area we need to work together to support the SIDS.

This conference is a key opportunity to mobilize resources - and propose practical solutions to ensure SIDS can secure a climate resilient future.

This conference is also a moment of reflection on UNOPS performance as an ally of the SIDS.

Over the years, we have worked hard with our partners in SIDS to help deliver sustainable development. This includes supporting better access to renewable energy, water and waste management, marine protection, and health procurement.

We are proud to report that we have committed to working alongside the Alliance of Small Island Development States for the next 10 years to tailor our assistance to each and everyone among SIDS calling for stronger capacity and project implementation services. Our engagement is anchored into a Memorandum of Understanding between UNOPS and AOSIS that is being formalized here at SIDS4.

We stand with SIDS in the adoption of the Multidimensional Vulnerability Index as a complement to the GNI per capita and stand ready to respond to the Secretary-General’s call to test the Index produced by the High-Level Expert Panel and further improve towards its use in enabling access to more adequate and affordable financing.

And we stand with the children and youth of Small Island Developing States and commit to responding to the call to action they made at the Children and Youth Action Summit here in St. John’s to enable a safe future for the young generations of those nations. UNOPS has extended its assistance to this process as well.

In conclusion, the fate of Small Island Developing States is intertwined with that of the entire global community. As we stand at a crossroads, let us reaffirm our collective commitment to supporting SIDS in their pursuit of sustainable development.

UNOPS stands ready to work alongside you all and support a collective effort for a more resilient and sustainable future for the SIDS.

Thank you.

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