The Enablers

Making the journey to resilient small island developing States together

29 April 2024
H.E. Ambassador Fergal Mythen, Permanent Representative of Ireland to the United Nations

Ireland’s commitment to supporting the most vulnerable

Like all countries, small island developing States (SIDS) aspire to a resilient form of prosperity, where economic growth and well-being are sustained and their economies are robust, diversified, adaptable and able to withstand shocks.

Ireland has long sought to support SIDS in this aspiration, though this often took the form of ad hoc multilateral and bilateral interventions. Recognizing that a more coherent and sustained approach was needed, we worked to consolidate our engagement, and in 2019 we launched our first national Strategy for Partnership with SIDS.

It provided a framework for engagement and support which proved valuable, including in allowing Ireland to respond to the needs of SIDS during the COVID pandemic.

Building on the successes and lessons of the first strategy, our second Strategy for Partnership with SIDS was launched at the COP28 Summit in Dubai, last December. This marks a new phase in Ireland’s partnership with SIDS and reflects the Irish Government’s commitment to building a long-term and ambitious partnership with our fellow islanders.

The Strategy for Partnership with SIDS: an Action Plan with four pillars

The 2022 Palau Our Ocean conference, which Ireland supported and participated in.
© United States of America and Palau

The strategy reflects the work across our Government on climate action, as well as Ireland’s commitment to focusing on those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The Strategy is structured around an Action Plan with commitments across four interlinking pillars: building partnership; climate and oceans; capacity; and advocacy.

Implementation of the strategy is already underway, with particular focus right now on supporting SIDS and the UN in preparing for the 4th International Conference on SIDS in May 2024. Ireland is one of the main conference donors, providing a contribution of €1 million to support the preparations and to ensure there is strong multi-stakeholder participation from SIDS. 

The Global Business Network Forum: Encouraging private sector investment

The new Strategy also commits to continuing Ireland’s longstanding support for the SIDS Global Business Network. This network seeks to harnesses the innovation of the private sector to achieve sustainable development in SIDS. Fostering partnerships among SIDS regional private sector organisations and working towards strengthening inter-regional business alliances, the Network encourages international businesses to embrace SIDS as potential market opportunities.

Importantly, this year the Global Business Network Forum will take place in Antigua, immediately before the SIDS4 Conference. The Forum will explore key themes such as blue-green growth, community empowerment, the enabling business environment, as well as financing and investment.

Micheál Martin, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ireland, together with Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland.
© Micheál Martin

Partnerships: Collective action for sustainable development

The mid-term review of the SAMOA Pathway in 2019. Ireland co-chaired this meeting (and the associated negotiations) with Fiji. The picture shows the President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins (on the left) with UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
© Laura Jarriel / UN Photo

That the SIDS4 outcome, the Antigua and Barbuda Agenda for SIDS, was agreed by consensus in advance of the May conference sends a very strong signal of political will and commitment by the international community to support the resilient prosperity of SIDS.

It is vital however that we put in place strong monitoring frameworks to deliver on what has been agreed. Ireland will certainly do its part. I was honoured to have been appointed by the President of the UN General Assembly as co-chair of the Steering Committee on Partnerships for SIDS, with my colleague Ambassador Ilana Seid, the Permanent Representative of Palau to the United Nations.

How the UN system and member states engage with and address the sustainable development of SIDS has evolved considerably since the SAMOA Pathway was agreed ten years ago. Agency and voice is valued, and collectively we have a better understanding of what SIDS want.

In this context, partnerships and interlinkages too have become more valued. As co-chairs, we hope that the Steering Committee can be a meeting point to share experiences and best practice, weaving together lessons and approaches across all three dimensions of sustainable development – social, economic, and environmental.

It is post-SIDS4 when the real work starts. We have charted the course to the resilient prosperity of SIDS, but we now have to make the journey together.