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Call to Action on Advocacy: Accelerating action towards the 2024 4th UN SIDS Conference

Wednesday 19 – Friday 21 April 2023 | WP3182

Flooded land Fiji

1. 2024 represents a major year in international fora for SIDS, with events on key
issues including international finance reform and climate action leading up to
the 4th UN SIDS Conference (SIDS4) in Antigua & Barbuda in May 2024.
unique climate and economic vulnerability undermine their efforts to develop and
adapt to the impacts of climate change. Improving finance for resilience is vital for
sustainable futures. SIDS experience compounding shocks, with natural disasters
carrying an average annual cost to SIDS of 2% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
according to UNCTAD. SIDS are also Big Ocean States, stewarding unique

2. Speakers, including E.P. Chet Greene, Antigua & Barbuda Minister for Foreign
Affairs, Baroness Scotland, the Commonwealth Secretary General, and Rabab
Fatima, the Under-Secretary General of UN-OHRLLS, laid out a high-ambition
vision for SIDS in 2024.
Discussions were characterised by enthusiasm and a
constructive tone for action. A revolutionary change in approach in the international
community is needed on development, moving away from purely income growth to a
focus on sustainable, resilient prosperity. SIDS4 will anchor on future ambitions, by
encouraging a broadening fiscal space, addressing vulnerability, and sustainable
economic use of the Ocean. The UN High-Level Panel’s new MVI has the potential to
broaden the international community’s understanding of vulnerability.

3. The limitations of using Gross National Income (GNI) per capita alone as a
measure of development and the need for transition support for SIDS as they
graduate from ODA eligibility are clear.
The onerous bureaucracies of many
climate funds and international financial institutions similarly do not factor in the
unique contexts and capacity constraints of SIDS. Unsustainable debt levels were
highlighted as a significant issue for SIDS, with discussion calling for innovative
approaches to managing debt. SIDS often lack data, largely due to capacity
constraints. This impedes their ability to accurately implement development plans and
feeds into the barriers they face in accessing finance. Capacity building is also central
to SIDS long-term resilience. Discussions also covered Multilateral Development
Bank (MDB) reform, disaster risk finance, and loss and damage.

4. SIDS4 has the potential to drive transformational change and consultations will
continue on impactful policy initiatives to launch ahead of the conference.
Conference should be both a celebration of progress and setting the agenda going
forward. This will potentially include a Centre of Excellence on SIDS data, and a new
donor-SIDS partnership via the DAC-AOSIS Taskforce. There is also a role for the
private sector, including crowding in private finance and funding renewable energy
projects in SIDS to support energy security and economic resilience. SIDS4 will
prioritise the role of youth, women and civil society in setting outcomes for future
progress. The Conference will agree the successor to the SAMOA Pathway.
Participants highlighted the need for this to focus on targeted, and actionable
outcomes. Concrete and action-oriented outcomes will be vital for the international
community to deliver for SIDS over the coming decade.

5. The role of communication and advocacy in driving change was central to
The global SIDS Alliance (AOSIS) is developing an action-focused
Roadmap, around which key likeminded partners from Wilton Park can coordinate
messaging and amplify SIDS voices. SIDS will need to ensure they are not just
heard, but also listened to by the international community with their priorities
influencing outcomes. There was a suggestion that the Resilient and Sustainable
Islands Initiative (RESI) is considering a briefing paper mapping different
agendas/advocacy strategies to the timeline for SIDS4. A clear engagement and
communications plan should be developed and this will have the greatest impact
where it deploys impactful voices to share a small number of key messages. Key
events over the next year for SIDS include the regional and interregional SIDS4
preparatory meetings, the SDG Summit, the Small States Forum at the World Bank
Annual Meetings, and COP28. Innovative partnerships beyond traditional partners
(for example, exploring a ‘Davos for SIDS’) will also have a role.


Outcomes and Actions


Access to wider development finance

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