United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

AOSIS

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Statement by H.E. Ms. Fekita eUtoikamanu,
Ambassador & Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Tonga to the United Nations,
on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island Developing States
CSD]IPM Session on Rural Development
24 February 2009
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Madame Chair, Rural communities serve as guardians of the traditional cultural knowledge and
pristine natural resources of small Island States. Rural development must be meaningful to them.
Therefore, strengthening a full range of rural development strategies, and of course, implementing
them, are two key priorities for Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
Madame Chair, Rural development, natural resource management and poverty reduction are
closely linked in many SIDS. Our rural communities and pristine natural areas are not only an
environmental and social asset, but also serve as a key focal point for visitors, given that tourism is a
leading economic sector in many SIDS. Indeed, this integrated bundle of rural life and resource
management for poverty reduction, form part and parcel of sustainable tourism and the growth
envisioned in this sub]sector. Accordingly, it is important that diversified and sustainable tourism
strategies and activities are incorporated into rural development plans; for example, linking local
agro]industry with other rural development programmes could serve as a useful strategy in reducing
rural to urban migration. In addition, eco]tourism strategies can support rural development, namely
by reducing poverty and preserving the natural environment ]] while also ensuring that future
generations of rural communities and visitors will enjoy pristine but more secured natural resources.
Madame Chair, For SIDS, climate change is a truly cross]cutting sustainable development issue. Many
of our rural communities are geographically isolated, posing barriers to the delivery of essential
services and disaster response services. In addition, many such communities are closely dependent
upon the sustained health of natural resource ecosystems, including subsistence agriculture and
fishing. Thus we recommend that climate change adaptation strategies be up]scaled and
mainstreamed with rural development actions. We also propose that climate adaptation should
strengthen the resiliency of vulnerable rural communities, as well as improve infrastructure such as
early warning systems.
With the intention of empowering women and youth, SIDS should be assisted in developing and
implementing integrated sustainable natural resource management and rural development strategies
which incorporate traditional cultural knowledge and land tenure systems. Rural development and
land conservation strategies which take a gbottom uph approach by working closely with local
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communities and traditional cultural strategies and knowledge, will potentially develop shared
responsibility and local ownership of the development process.
Madame Chair, Rural development strategies and activities should be diversified to support economic
growth in SIDS. For example, SIDS should be assisted in implementing strategies which directly
improve the access of rural communities to markets and to financial services. Rural communities
themselves should be actively involved in developing strategies to strengthen domestic agriculture,
including the sustainable development of biofuels, in ways which also protects and expands food
security. Naturally, too, sustainable agro]diversification strategies should be encouraged in a manner
which broadens what in many cases is a traditionally]narrow export economy. Madame Chair, with
these policy measures, we feel confident that rural development will be meaningful for SIDS in the
context of climate change and making progress in sustainable development.
Thank you, Madame Chair.