FAO Liaison Office in New York

Amplifying the voices of Small Island Developing States, leaving no one behind

24/09/2021

At the virtual Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) Leaders’ Summit held today, FAO Director-General QU Dongyu spoke of FAO’s commitment to supporting Small Island Developing States (SIDS) through an agri-food system transformation driven by innovation and digitalization

24 September, New York – Under the auspices of the High-level Segment of the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly, the Alliance of Small Island States(AOSIS) convened the AOSIS Leaders’ Summit to shed an urgent spotlight on the variety of development and sustainability issues that are increasingly and disproportionately affecting Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The Summit hosted interactive dialogue sessions on the challenges and priorities for SIDS in a post-pandemic context and on actionable solutions for SIDS propelled at the international level.

FAO Director-General QU Dongyu spoke at the high-level event, underscoring FAO’s commitment to SIDS and the multifaceted sustainable development challenges before them, especially in a post-COVID-19 era.

“Small Island States face numerous challenges due to the impacts of the climate crisis, such as frequent natural disasters, land degradation and overexploitation of marine resources,” the Director-General said, pointing to how these challenges and the necessary response mechanisms are at the heart of FAO’s new Strategic Framework 2022–2031, highlighting his call to close the digital divide.

Prioritizing SIDS through digitalization, innovation and the pooling of expertise

External economic shocks, climate hazards and high dependency on food imports are some of the most common challenges before SIDS, already leading in some cases to irreversible socioeconomic and environmental hardships. These challenges have only been accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic, hence FAO’s commitment to SIDS to working for a better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life for all, leaving no one behind. 

Across FAO’s Membership, 41 Members are SIDS. “FAO is proud of its consolidated partnerships with SIDS,” Dongyu said, speaking of FAO’s first-ever dedicated Office of Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs).

As part of the SIDS Solutions Forum convened only a few weeks ago, the Director-General explained, FAO and partners exchanged innovative approaches to agri-food systems transformation and digitalization in agriculture can help SIDS work closer to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the SAMOA Pathway priorities

The Forum fostered a fruitful interchange of ideas, methodologies and technologies among SIDS, including with other countries and key partners, with the aim of bringing together expertise and resources and making them more accessible. These commitments and ambitions shall be operationalized through the SIDS Solutions Platform launched on the occasion, creating a space for knowledge exchange and transfer. 

In parallel to these efforts is also the 1 000 Digital Villages Initiative, whereby FAO is working to transform villages into digital hubs in favour of agri-food systems transformation. FAO’s flagship knowledge exchange platform, the Hand-in-Hand Initiative, is also working to this end, Dongyu said.

Amplifying the voices of SIDS 

Speaking of the convening power of these and other platforms, the FAO Director-General expressed confidence in empowering SIDS and amplifying their needs and priorities moving forward, especially as the world revamps efforts during the Decade of Action through 2030.

“SIDS may be small in land, but they have very vast marine areas with a powerful voice only through alliances such as this one,” he said, adding that “FAO stands ready to help amplify these voices, and work Hand-in-Hand with Small Island States and other development partners to transform agri-food systems to ensure that no one is left behind”.

In his capacity as the Chair of AOSIS, His Excellency Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, convened the Summit to take stock of recurrent challenges among SIDS, highlight priority lines of support ahead of the COP26 Climate Conference, and adopt an AOSIS Leaders’ Declaration capturing the way forward at the service of SIDS.

 

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