Second Committee - Agenda Item 19: Sustainable Development

Intervention by the Republic of Maldives

United Nations, New York, 10 October 2016

Distinguished Chair,

It is an honour for the Maldives to speak at this debate today. Let me begin by aligning with the statement made by the distinguished representative of the Kingdom of Thailand on behalf of the Group of 77 and China and the statement delivered on behalf of AOSIS.

I wish to thank the Secretary General for his numerous reports on this agenda item.  They provide useful perspective and detailed information as we move forward in considering how Second Committee and the General Assembly can best contribute to achieving the critical subject of sustainable development.

Mr. Chairman,

Let me begin by pointing to the recent High-Level Political Forum held in July this year, which marked the beginning of our work to track progress on achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In adopting these ambitious and historic goals in 2015 we established a clear timeline and set of objectives to collectively pursue in order to leave no one behind. The Maldives was glad to see space and time provided to all countries, including vulnerable states like SIDS, to reflect and share best practices regarding means of implementation, and begin work on follow up and review. And today, we are happy to announce that the Maldives has declared its intent to do a voluntary national review at the HLPF in 2017.

We recognize that while 2030 Agenda provides the overarching framework for sustainable development, it is characterized by its focus on countries requiring targeted and focused attention. In this regard, we appreciate this Committee, as the most important space afforded for the follow-up to the SAMOA Pathway, Programme of Action for SIDS. We believe that the Second Committee is a fitting location to enact many of our lessons learned in further detail.

The Maldives has identified increased need for capacity building across the board, particularly around data collection and analysis, to support both implementation and follow up and review of both the SAMOA Pathway, as well as the 2030 Agenda. There is a lack of data around many of the indicators, and we remain constrained in our capacity to collect and analyse baseline data.

Climate Change is the greatest challenge to our sustainable development. This is why we were one of the first ratifiers of the Paris Agreement. Today, we celebrate the entry into force of the Agreement. Yet we must remember: entry into force is the first step: the real change would be working towards implementation, realizing the commitments made in the Agreement, so we can all achieve a better and more sustainable world.

With regard to this implementation, the Maldives is making serious commitments to renewable energy to not only address climate change, but also diversify energy sources as our current reliance on imported fuel is expensive and exposes us to fluctuations in price and availability. The Government has established a renewable energy framework, with targets to achieve a minimum of 60% electricity generated with solar energy by 2020, as well as significant targets for wind and biomass. The Maldives, like many other SIDS, faces limitations in public spending, as well as limited space and infrastructure in place for these changes. But we are committed to do our part. For instance, we are one of the pilot countries participating in the Scaling Up Renewable Energy Program in Low Income Countries (SREP). We are dedicated to taking the lead in this area, and encourage the adoption of low carbon technologies, the improvement of energy efficiency and conservation, and overall diversification of energy supplies.

Mr Chairman,

Pole and line fishing and sustainable tourism are the top two industries in the Maldives, yet it is an ongoing battle to protect our waters and local biodiversity. Ocean acidification, overfishing and illegal fishing threaten not only livelihoods but our traditional lifestyles when it comes to the relationship of Maldivian citizens and the sea. We look forward to the United Nations Conference to support the implementation of SDG14 to be held next year, as a valuable opportunity to raise political momentum and generate renewed efforts towards protecting our oceans and marine biodiversity.

Last year, El Nino increased ocean temperatures, contributed to the death of coral reefs through coral bleaching. Despite these setbacks, the Maldives is proactive, instituting new, strict environmental assessments and guidelines intended to protect coral ecosystems, and generally increasingly the use of sustainable management of waste, and renewable energy. Protect coral ecosystems and combat coral bleaching.

Interlinked with other central SIDS priorities, particularly moving into 2017, is support for the Decade for Sustainable Tourism. Sustainable tourism is critical to sustainable economic growth in the Maldives and we are committed to working with existing partners and pursuing new outreach over the coming decade such that the tourism industry can provide substantive engagement with local communities, our cultural heritage, and increasingly necessary environmental conservation.

We appreciate this opportunity to take stock of our national priorities within Agenda item 19, and to identify what tangible progress on sustainable development we can initiate starting today.

I thank you.