UN chief: Small islands need partnerships to address climate change and unique vulnerabilities


Climate change poses a threat to most of the world’s small islands. (Photo: FAO/Sue Price)

NEW YORK, United States, Friday July 31, 2015 – The global challenges facing the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like those in the Caribbean are the international community’s collective responsibility, the top United Nations official told the Security Council yesterday.

“Combatting climate change, promoting sustainable development and addressing the vulnerabilities of SIDS will demand partnership, capacity and leadership,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told council members who were meeting for an unprecedented debate about the situation facing these countries.

According to a concept note provided by New Zealand, which holds the rotating Presidency of the Security Council for the month of July, SIDS face a range of peace and security challenges ranging from traditional armed conflict to transnational crime and piracy, illicit exploitation of natural resources, climate change and climate-related natural disasters and uneven development.

Caribbean SIDS, for example, are vulnerable to drug trafficking and gang-related violence, while unreported and unregulated fishing undermine local economies, noted the Secretary-General.

“Taken together with the broader vulnerabilities faced by many of these states . . .  these challenges can disproportionately affect national stability, fuel conflict across regions and ultimately have an impact on the maintenance of international peace and security,” added the Security Council concept note.

For the Secretary General, the first priority must be to support these States in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

“Second, we need a post-2015 development agenda and sustainable development goals that address the needs of SIDS,” he added.

“Third, we need a meaningful and universal global climate agreement in Paris in December,” stressed the UN chief, noting that SIDS are on the front lines of climate change, with Caribbean countries sometimes experiencing as many as five hurricanes in a season.

He said rising sea levels, dying coral reefs and the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters exacerbate the conditions leading to community displacement and migration, threatening to increase tensions over resources and affect domestic and regional stability in these countries.

Ban said while many are leading by example by accelerating their own transition to renewable energy to secure a sustainable energy future, SIDS must be supported in those actions to combat climate change and adapt to its impacts.

To do that, he said, “a politically credible trajectory for mobilizing the pledged US$100 billion per year by 2020” is needed.

The Green Climate Fund will need to be up and running before the Climate Conference in Paris in December, but a “meaningful, universal climate agreement” must be adopted, concluded the Secretary General.

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