Your Excellency, Camillo Gonsalves, Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, St Vincent and the Grenadines,
But above all, a friend of mine, a friend of ours, a friend of the United Nations,
Your Excellency, Inga Rhonda King, President of ECOSOC,
Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
It is indeed a great pleasure to speak at this event on “small island exceptionalism”, and to be with distinguished colleagues from the SIDS Group and across the membership.
I am grateful to St Vincent & Grenadines for organizing this event, and for your tremendous contribution to this Organization – including your thought leadership.
The recent publication by Minister Gonsalves –”Globalised. Climatised. Stigmatised” – is an excellent example of this. I have only had time to skim it and I have to be very honest with you. But it already has a guaranteed place on my bedside table, and I warmly commend its messages to you all. So it’s going to be next to my poetry books.
“Globalised. Climatised. Stigmatised” is a provocative title that very neatly captures the essence of the challenges faced by Small Island Developing States.
Take climate change. SIDS account for less than one percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. But they are at the sharp end of extreme weather events, ocean acidification and rising sea levels – all of which are harming the very industries on which SIDS depend, such as tourism and fishing.
The challenges for SIDS are not uniform and we learned that from your book– there are SIDS in every category of human development – but there are some common threads of course.
For example, SIDS tend to be less well-connected than other developing countries – in terms of shipping, for example. This is particularly true for SIDS in the Pacific. And their size means it is harder for SIDS to achieve economies of scale and economic diversification.
As a result, many SIDS have not been able to leverage the full benefits of globalization. On the other hand, they have been adversely affected by some of the downsides of globalization, such as illicit financial flows and illegal contraband.
And SIDS are also at risk from the inequalities created by globalization, which are contributing to the rising tides of unilateralism, narrow nationalism and ad hock-ery.