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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

HLPF Issue Briefs 6: Island Voices, Global Choices: Promoting Genuine and Durable Partnerships

Publication Year: 2014 Publisher: UN-DESA


As stated in the Rio+20 Outcome document, ‘The Future We Want’, Small Island Developing States (SIDS) remain a special case for sustainable development in view of their unique and particular vulnerabilities, including their small size, remoteness, narrow resource and export base, and exposure to global environmental challenges and external economic shocks, including to a large range of impacts from climate change and potentially more frequent and intense natural disasters. Their peculiar characteristics and vulnerabilities make it especially difficult for them to realize sustainable development. Food insecurity, human settlements exerting pressure on land, lack of adequate transport networks, degradation of coastal and marine environments, water insecurity, inadequate waste management system, lack of decent work opportunities, and heavy debt burdens are among the key challenges that continue to impact negatively on SIDS.

The special challenges faced by SIDS need to be recognized and addressed as the international community elaborates the post 2015 development agenda. International cooperation plays a critical role, as does the building of partnerships among SIDS and with other countries and actors. Genuine and durable partnership for sustainable development was therefore chosen as the overarching theme of the forthcoming Third International Conference on SIDS, to be held in Apia, Samoa, from 1-4 September 2014.

The agreed objectives of the Samoa Conference are to: (i) assess the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation; (ii) seek a renewed political commitment by focusing on practical and pragmatic actions for further implementation; (iii) identify new and emerging challenges and opportunities for the sustainable development of SIDS and means of addressing them; and (iv) identify priorities for the sustainable development of SIDS to be considered in the elaboration of the post-2015 UN development agenda.

As decided in the General Assembly resolution on the format and organizational aspects of the HLPF, the sustainable development challenges facing the world’s most vulnerable states will be a priority for the Forum. The resolution stipulates that “the meetings of the forum shall devote adequate time to the discussion of the sustainable development challenges facing developing countries, including the most vulnerable countries, in particular the least developed countries, small island developing states, landlocked developing countries and African countries with the aim of enhancing engagement and implementing commitments .”