Small island States need special attention, says Alliance Chair

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By Sapeer Mayron, 30 October 2018

The Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (A.O.S.I.S), Dr. Ali Naseer Mohamed called for Small Island Developing States (S.I.D.S.) to believe in their own abilities and to forge their own destinies when it comes to development.

Mr. Mohamed is representing the Maldives in the inter-regional preparatory meeting for the mid-term review of the SAMOA Pathway, taking place this week at the T.A.T.T.E. Building, Apia. 

Mr. Mohamed is also the permanent representative of the Maldives to the United Nations, and the ambassador of the Maldives of the United States and Canada.  

Speaking with the Samoa Observer, Mr. Mohamed said for S.I.D.S., around the world like the Maldives, their two economic drivers are being eroded by environmental damage, which is not of their making.

“Take the Maldives for example. Our two main sectors are tourism and fisheries, both of which need the ocean of be clean, the beaches to be beautiful and the fish to thrive,” he said.

With the rapid degradation of the ocean’s health, the coastlines and the fish, the island nation requires massive investment to maintain the two sectors.

With scarce resources to begin with, Mr. Mohamed said without investment, S.I.D.S. are forced to divert funds from health, education, law and order to fight the impacts of climate change.

“It’s a difficult discussion at the national level,” he said.

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But tourism and fisheries are likely to remain the country’s economic backbone. With a complex geography of 1,200 islands making up the Maldives, the country like many other island nations is limited in how far it can diversity the economy.

“Instead, we can invest smarter, and diversify within tourism and so on. We refuse to be defined by our vulnerabilities,” said Mr. Mohamed.

“Instead we strive to be known by our desire to be resilient, and successfully so.”

One such success is the consistent economic growth in the Maldives over the past 20 years, according to Mr. Mohamed. 

“The song we will keep on singing is ‘I will survive’, we will adapt to cope,” he said.

During the SAMOA Pathway, Mr. Mohamed said he is looking to see how the pledges and commitments partners made to each other in 2014 can be accelerated.

During the official event press conference, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi said partners need to help not only with financial assistance or resources but with expertise and capacity building.

“We may procure assistance from the international community, but we may not be able to utilise those resources within the timeframe required because of the shortage of the necessary expertise within our small island states."

“That’s why when we ask our partners to help us, we ask for everything – technology, capacity, financial resources, because we are short in many, many things.”

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By Sapeer Mayron, 30 October 2018

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