Fiame Naomi Mata’afa
Deputy Prime Minister
74th E.S.C.A.P. Session
It is an honour to present Samoa’s statement on the occasion of the 74th ESCAP Commission Ministerial Segment, which will discuss an issue that lies at the heart of our collective achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: namely inequality.
As the host country of the 3rd UN High-Level Conference on Small Island Developing States in 2014, Samoa championed and continues to advocate for strengthened collective efforts to address inequality particularly in the case of countries with special needs such as small islands states, land locked least developed countries, least developed countries and fragile states.
For Small Island Developing States, the SAMOA Pathway, considered to be the sustainable development agenda for SIDS; emphasizes inclusive and equitable growth, “reducing inequalities”, promoting gender equality, and “fostering equitable social development and inclusion”.
SIDS remain a special case for sustainable development in view of their unique and particular vulnerabilities. There is no doubting the merits of the SIDS’s “special case”, defined largely by small size, extreme isolation, limited and narrow resource bases, geographic dispersion, diseconomies of scale, capacity limitations, susceptibility to climate change and natural disasters, and global crises.
The 2030 Agenda embraces all these elements, as do the Pacific’s own regional guiding frameworks such as the Framework for Pacific Regionalism, the Pacific Roadmap for Sustainable Development and the Pacific Leaders Gender Equality Declaration.
This year the United Nations has embarked on a review of the SAMOA Pathway’s implementation, and I would like to thank ESCAP, together with DESA and OHRLLS, for facilitating the Pacific island region’s input to this review. Tonga will host the subregional meeting in June and Samoa will host the interregional meeting in early November.
While the review has yet to draw conclusions, we know that, to ensure these high-level commitments are not empty rhetoric, we must have concrete action and genuine and durable partnerships on the ground. There is a real need to revisit the SIDS Partnership framework and determine durability and level of commitment towards action and results.
As small island states in the ESCAP family, we would therefore like to see better use of ESCAP’s platforms to give due attention to the special development needs of our states, recognition for our sub-regional institutions and efforts to better align the global and regional agenda to our sub-regional priorities and national development strategies.
In this regard, the SAMOA Pathway mid-term review is not only timely but should assist to guide ESCAP’s attention to the special needs of its SIDS membership now and in the future, thus harnessing all available resources and ensuring that we “leave no-one behind.”
Climate change and natural disasters are a serious threat to sustainable development and particularly so for countries in the frontlines with vulnerabilities to impacts. While SIDS agree that the UNFCCC is the main forum for discussing climate change, there must be specific references to climate change that go beyond reiterating the content of the UNFCCC and instead recognize the nuanced relationship between climate change and the SDGs.
To ensure that SIDS are not the grouping that will be left behind, we have over the last few years contributed significantly to the implementation of the Paris Agreement and are doggedly pursuing our goal to ensure that the Oceans Pathway is well and truly integrated into the climate change agenda.
It would be remiss of me if I forego this opportunity to comment on the UN reforms in relation to the achievement of the best possible outreach of assistance, advocacy and representation in the Blue Pacific continent that we live in.
We would strongly urge to retain the Resident Coordinator Offices in the Pacific; we have requested a more balanced spread of countries between at least two of the offices. Let us ensure that our isolation and geographical dispersion is narrowed through equitable representation of organisations in our region.
I might also add, that we are genuine partners and totally committed to contribute to our collective efforts towards sustainable development. To ensure that we have an effective and efficient UN in Samoa, my government recently handed over to the Resident Coordinator a One UN Building which houses 11 UN agencies rent free. There is an invitation for others including ESCAP’s sub-regional office to join the UN family in Samoa.
Finally Mr Chair/President, Capacity building for and investment in effective data collection and data disaggregation are needed in order to identify whether groups are being left behind.
Significant investments in and capacity building for data collection and analysis, especially in developing countries such as Samoa, are essential to be able to live up to commitment for disaggregation of data, to truly measure what is needed, and to make policy adjustments so as to ensure no one is left behind. In Samoa there is emphasis on the importance of prioritization of those most in need or are most impacted by issues such as climate change and natural disasters.
We acknowledge in this regard the efforts of ESCAP to introduce a generic tool that the national statistical offices can use to engage policy makers and enhance understanding and support for disaggregated statistics in the context of “Leave no one behind” and the 2030 Agenda. Thank you for your attention.