Peseta: economic viability of countries in our region remains under constant threat

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Leaders from small island developing states (SIDS) across the Pacific region convened in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, recently for the seminal Preparatory Meeting of the 4th International Conference on SIDS.

Participants put forth solutions that can lead to a turning point in addressing the challenges of these vulnerable countries, which are dealing with multiple crises while striving to safeguard their people and economies.

This marked the final meeting of the SIDS regions, which comprise the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), following regional conferences for the African, Indian, and South China Seas and the Caribbean.

These meetings are critical constituents for the milestone Fourth UN International Conference on SIDS (SIDS 4), convened by the United Nations General Assembly. They will bring world leaders together to agree on a compelling new plan to achieve sustainable development for SIDS in May 2024. 

In her address, the Chair Peseta Noumea Simi, noted “Over the last thirty years, we have watched our coastlines disappear, our debt amassed to unsustainable levels, and our people struggle. 

As in all SIDS’s regions, agriculture, fisheries and tourism have been severely affected.  We face a situation of insufficient effort and lack of urgency. And action has not been commensurate with need.”

Climate change exacts its toll across our region daily.  Sea level rise threatens homes, ravishes infrastructure and devastates livelihoods.  Rising temperatures are making droughts more pronounced and agriculture more difficult.

The hurricane season will soon be upon us. And we know that one of us, or a few of us, will be impacted.  Others will wrestle with severe drought.

Across the board we will increasingly be affected by extreme weather events. Ocean acidification and marine pollution threaten crops and fisheries. The economic viability of countries in our region remains under constant threat.

And if we are not vigilant and proactive, Pacific debt will spiral out of control, leaving little room to maneuver. 

Ms. Simi emphasized the toll climate change is exacting across the region as well as the debilitating impact of debt, and called for “a SIDS-led process for SIDS and a bold vision for resilient prosperity.”

An outcome document from the meeting has been established and will inform the priorities for SIDS 4. AOSIS noted its continued commitment to amplifying these messages and priorities at international fora to galvanize strong support from the global community for SIDS sustainable development.