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President's Address at SIDS Conference: Our vulnerabilities should not be our downfall

Adapted from an article by Ifraz Ali of Mihaaru, reporting from Antigua and Barbuda.

28 May 2024, MVT 07:31
SIDS CONFERENCE 2024-President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu
28 May 2024, MVT 07:31

President Dr Mohamed Muizzu has called on the international community to not allow the vulnerabilities of a small island nation like the Maldives to become its downfall.

The President made these remarks in his national address at the 4th International Conference on Small Island Developing States being held in Antigua and Barbuda from May 27 to 30.

SIDS was first recognized in June 1992 at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After that, since 1994, a SIDS conference has been held every ten years.

This year's conference is the fourth of its kind. The last SIDS Conference was held in 2014 in Samoa.

President Muizzu highlighted that 30 years of holding the conference is not a short duration, and questioned what had been really achieved in that time.

"Poverty still exists. The climate crisis is devastating. The natural environment is dying. External debt is rising. Injustice and inequality are rampant. We are losing faith – and hope - in the global mechanisms," the President said.

President Muizzu stated that it is time that SIDS started believing in their own abilities and started taking the initiative to work on development goals.

"Our vulnerabilities should not be our downfall. They should be our armour. Our rallying call," he said.

The President highlighted that Maldives, along with other SIDS, are in major need of assistance from the international community.

The President highlighted three main factors in his speech.

Ease in provision of financial aid

"The international community must provide SIDS with credit enhancement measures and reduce costs of borrowing," the President said.

He called on bilateral partners to adopt innovative approaches such as retractive financing, especially at the time of shocks.

He also called on private sector lenders to partner with official creditors to lower borrowing costs and higher maturities.

"Our experience with global climate funds is that they are insufficient, failing to align with the scale of the impacts. What we ask today is for increased ambition," the President appealed.

The President went on to highlight the importance of increased ambition in various aspects of climate financing.

The time to assist SIDS is now

The President stated that the time is now for the UN system, the global development institutions, and the private sector financiers to work as one in an equitable, synergistic manner.

The Antigua and Barbuda Agenda for SIDS "requires coordinated, strengthened, and effective support from the international community. It needs to be integrated into the Cooperation Frameworks at the national level. And most importantly we need to overcome silos in implementation," the President stated.

The President questioned whether it is truly effective in the current situation to hold the conference in ten years, and appealed to consider holding the SIDS conference once every five years instead in light of the current global situation.

SIDS should take the lead

As a final point, the President noted that the time is now for SIDS to take a lead on the global stage.

SIDS CONFERENCE 2024-President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu

Besides strengthening the private sector, the President called on SIDS to transform the delivery of public service, improve transparency and accountability.

Ambitious RasMale' Project

President Muizzu stated that his administration is investing in digital infrastructure and utilizing digital technologies to enhance education, healthcare, and financial services.

He said these will be key in the newly planned eco city RasMale'.

"Ras Malé aims to alleviate our housing crisis, utilising modular housing for the first time in the Maldives," he said.

"It will be more climate friendly and energy efficient - ultimately reaching net-zero emissions. It will be connected digitally as well as through a state-of-the-art transportation system, accessible for all," he explained.

Solidarity with Palestine

"As we speak, Israel is defying the ICJ’s order to immediately halt its attack on the Palestinian people in Rafah. We, the world leaders at this Conference, must unite in calling on Israel to stop the war. Stop the apartheid. And stop the genocide immediately," President Muizzu stated.

He asserted that it is time for Israeli leaders to be held accountable for their actions.

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