His Excellency, Ambassador Dr Walton Webson, Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations, participated in the 2022 Effective Development Cooperation (EDC) Summit in his capacity as Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). The three-day summit was held at the Hilton Conference Center in Geneva, Switzerland, from 12 – 14 December.
The EDC Summit included thirteen (13) spotlight events that sought to engage participants on a wide range of development cooperation themes. Spotlight eleven (11) entitled, “Principles for Improved Impact in Small Island Developing States”, was attended by several Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and friends of SIDS, including Ministerial and High-level representatives from SIDS, the United Kingdom, Canada, Norway, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), UN agencies and civil society.
Ambassador Webson delivered a targeted and resonating opening statement on behalf of AOSIS to kick off the event. He iterated that increasing global risks are acutely felt by SIDS, which necessitate swift and decisive action to protect small and vulnerable countries. Therefore, “…multilateralism and securing the support of the international community are more critical now than ever, lest SIDS are swept into oblivion because of the many crises we are facing,” Webson said.
Spotlight 11 officially launched the Principles for Improved Impact in SIDS document, which provides guidance for development assistance in SIDS. The objectives of the Principles are to improve development cooperation, ensure effective aid impact, improve the quality of finance for SIDS, and strengthen partnerships for sustainable development. These objectives are envisioned to wholistically build SIDS resilience across social, economic, and environmental spheres.
SIDS require assistance to address specific development challenges. The Principles will bolster efforts by identifying priority areas for engagement and provide high-level advice by offering concrete policy solutions. These solutions are based on evidence and analysis produced by development partners, multilateral institutions, and SIDS themselves.
Many participants agreed that this initiative was long overdue. The High-level representative from Norway explicitly expressed that the special circumstances of SIDS need to be high on the agenda of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), and International Financial Institutions (IFIs). Others, such as the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation of Cabo Verde, the Minister of Finance of Tonga, Ireland, and Australia, voiced similar sentiments and looked forward to identifying new ways of supporting SIDS.
Leading up to the launch, Ambassador Webson met with key strategic SIDS partners from the Canadian delegation and the British delegation. In these meetings, he urged for the scaling up of partnerships to promote sustainable development in SIDS and further advocated for support of the imminent United Nations Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States (4th SIDS Conference). The 4th SIDS Conference will be held in 2024 in Antigua and Barbuda, and the next ten-year blueprint for sustainable development in SIDS will be adopted upon its conclusion.
Her Excellency Rebecca Fabrizi, the UK’s Special Envoy for SIDS, and Mr Andrew Smith, Director-General of the International Assistance Policy of Canada, showed fervent interest in and support of the 4th SIDS Conference and its pre-conference activities. Other development partners, such as Ireland, also voiced support for the 4th SIDS Conference.
The 2022 EDC Summit signalled the sunset of Antigua and Barbuda’s two-year Chairmanship of AOSIS. Over the past two years, considerable momentum has been gained on critical issues for SIDS. Some include the agreement to establish the Loss and Damage Fund at COP27; the work on the Multidimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI); the negotiation of a Plastics Treaty, among others. In January 2023, Antigua and Barbuda will pass the AOSIS Chairmanship to the Independent State of Samoa.
Ambassador Webson was accompanied to the summit by Mr Tumasie Blair, Deputy Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations and Lead Negotiator on Sustainable Development, AOSIS; Mrs Marguerite St. John-Sebastien, Deputy Lead Negotiator on Sustainable Development, AOSIS; and Mr Javier Spencer, Foreign Service Officer and Adviser to the Chair of AOSIS.
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