Panel Discussion on "Small Islands Developing States and the Global

Welcoming Remarks by the Hon. Minister
Panel discussion on “Small Islands Developing States and
the Global Value Chains: Opportunities and Challenges”
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Distinguished Guests,
 I am very pleased to welcome you to this event today whereby we are
marking the beginning of activities in Mauritius to commemorate the
International Year of Small Island Developing States.
 It is important today that we recall that in December 2012, the United
Nations General Assembly took a decision to mobilise international
interest on the uniqueness of Small Island Developing States and to build
up momentum as we approach the Third International Conference on
Small Island Developing States scheduled to be held from 1 to 4
September 2014 in Apia, Samoa.
 This is the first time that a group of countries was given such recognition
as to have an international year. We trust that SIDS will receive the
strong support and commitment from the international community and
our development partners for their sustainable development.
 As a small island striving to become a High-Income Country, we are
conscious of the hurdles we face due to our unique developmental
challenges. The remoteness from our main markets, our small size and
limited resources are some of the factors which put us at a disadvantage
economically and prevent economies of scale. Coupled to these are the
increasing negative impacts of climate, our unique vulnerability to natural
disasters, the damage to our ecosystems as well as the turmoil of the
global economic and financial crises.
 Twenty-two years have already gone by since the "special case for
environment and development' of SIDS was first acknowledged at the
Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. The world has also witnessed two
International Conferences on Small Islands Developing States, with the
last one being hosted here in Mauritius in 2005.
 We have implemented to a large extent the Barbados Programme of
Action (BPoA) adopted in 1994. We have also been very committed in
implementing the Mauritius Strategy for Implementation (MSI) at the
domestic level as well as in advocating SIDS issues at regional,
multilateral and international levels. The National Report of the Republic
of Mauritius for the 3rd International Conference on SIDS published last
year highlights that there has been substantial progress in areas such as
biodiversity protection and the establishment of terrestrial, coastal and
marine protected areas.
 Although some progress has been achieved, yet gaps still remain in
achieving the full implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action
(BPoA) and the Mauritius Strategy for implementation (MSI). The
limited access to financial and technical resources has limited Mauritius
in its ability to mobilise the necessary funding and technical expertise to
fully implement the BpoA and the MSI. Like most middle-income SIDS,
Mauritius does not have access to appropriate preferential treatment,
concessionary financing, sufficient Official Development Assistance
flows and other special programmes owing firstly to the lack of formal
recognition of SIDS and secondly to criteria that do not recognise our
unique vulnerabilities.
 Now, as we commemorate the International Year of the SIDS, I believe it
is crucial for all of us to join our hands together to highlight the efforts
put in by the SIDS to overcome our unique challenges, to celebrate the
rich cultural heritage of SIDS and to recognise our contributions to the
global community. It is also the time to meet our challenges and close
the gaps by leveraging our strengths through a more coherent,
coordinated and collaborative approach to sustainable development
amongst ourselves and with our partners including the United Nations.
 This panel discussion organised by the Institute of Diplomacy and
Foreign Trade, under the aegis of my Ministry, on “Small Islands
Developing States and the Global Value Chains: Opportunities and
Challenges” will brainstorm on issues which are of prime importance to
us all and is also intended to be the first of a series of activities to mark
the International Year of SIDS.
 I would wish to invite each and every one of you to take the initiative
within your respective Ministries and organisations to celebrate the
International Year of the SIDS. Let us all commemorate 2014 as the
International Year of the SIDS.
Thank You