Multi-year Expert Meeting on Transport, Trade Logistics and Trade Facilitation, 3rd session - Small Island Developing States
Ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to this third session of the Multi-year Expert Meeting on Transport, Trade Logistics and Trade Facilitation. The focus of the meeting is on the transport and trade logistics challenges facing Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
Today, as we work towards a transformative sustainable development agenda for Post-2015, focusing on challenges faced by SIDS is timely and imperative.
As rightly put by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, SIDS are like a magnifying glass. "When we look through the SIDS lens we see the vulnerabilities we all face. And by addressing the issues facing SIDS we are developing the tools we need to promote sustainable development across the world".
SIDS are not the poorest countries in the world, but they are some of the most vulnerable.
Their smallness and remoteness makes SIDS one-third more vulnerable to external shocks than other developing countries. Their small size limits economies of scale and also hampers domestic market development, leading to dependence on foreign trade and remittances. At the same time, their remoteness leads to extra transport costs, costly duplication of infrastructure and low energy efficiency. Furthermore, their exposure to natural disasters and their vulnerability to climate variability and change, pose a particular threat to the integrity and efficiency of costal transport infrastructure and services. This infrastructure is critical for the trade of SIDS and for other economic sectors, particularly tourism.
Smallness, remoteness and vulnerability, are features that hold back SIDS sustainable development prospects.
It is in this context that just over two months ago, in the third International Conference on SIDS, the international community gathered in Samoa to reaffirm its commitment to help SIDS achieve their development objectives. On our side, UNCTAD made it a priority to raise the profile of transport and trade logistics, not only as a vector of growth and development, but also as a challenge that could seriously compromise the progress already achieved by SIDS and their prospects.
Transport and trade logistics challenges are important to address for these nations. They undermine the mobility of SIDS communities and hamper their access to international markets. SIDS are critically dependent on the availability of efficient and cost-effective transportation services, both for the carriage of goods - primarily by sea - and of passengers or tourists- mainly by air.
The Samoa Conference was a milestone in furthering the transport agenda of SIDS. The outcome document, the Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action (S.A.M.O.A) Pathway also called the S.A.M.O.A Pathway - refers explicitly to transport and related sectors and activities such as tourism, trade, and fisheries as well as cross-cutting considerations such as environmental sustainability, climate resilience, disaster risk reduction and clean energy/energy efficiency. You will note that many of these issues are core to the programme of the present meeting.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It was forty years ago, in 1974, that UNCTAD first called attention to the special circumstances of island developing countries by creating a unit in the UNCTAD Secretariat. It was in fact in UNCTAD IV in 1976 that Member States adopted a first resolution on SIDS. Since then, our work and commitments for SIDS has continued. The present meeting is another example of this commitment and our support to the spirit of the S.A.M.O.A Pathway.
The meeting today provides an opportunity to consider in more detail how best to address the transport and trade logistics challenges of SIDS. But also to consider possible next steps and policy recommendations - and to do so in the context of ongoing and future negotiation processes in different international fora that are of direct relevance to SIDS.
It is against this background, that this third session of the Multiyear Expert Meeting has been convened, to provide a forum for in-depth expert consideration of a range of challenges related to the transport and trade logistics of SIDS.
I am confident that your discussions over the next three days, informed by a distinguished programme of speakers, will help us finding ways to strengthen the resilience and sustainability of SIDS transport and trade logistics systems.
I wish you all success in your deliberations and offer my full support to follow up on the measures and activities that will arise from this meeting.