Steering Committee on Partnerships for Small Island Developing States
The first meeting of the Steering Committee on Partnerships for SIDS was held on 25 February 2016 at UN Headquarters in New York. It was a landmark event for the follow up to the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in Apia, Samoa, in September 2014, when over 300 partnerships were announced. The Steering Committee will play an important role in guiding the partnerships to ensure the full implementation of the Samoa Pathway.
As we embark on this new phase in our journey together, we are hopeful that this venture will go beyond partnerships and find root in supporting SIDS and their special challenges within the broader development system.

Ambassador Ahmed Sareer, Permanent Representative of Maldives and co-chair of the Steering Committee

The Steering Committee, and the partnership framework that we will oversee, was first brought to life in the SAMOA Pathway. Indeed, the concept of the partnership framework was a cornerstone of that document, and it is something that set that Pathway apart from other intergovernmental agreements.

Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, Permanent Representative of Italy, and co-chair of the Steering Committee

I strongly believe that the Steering Committee, under the leaderships of the co-chairs, will provide a strong momentum for the full implementation of the partnerships for SIDS, and spur new initiatives advancing SIDS sustainable development.

Wu Hongbo, UN DESA’s Under-Secretary-General & Secretary-General for the Third International Conference on SIDS

The Steering Committee could serve as a model for partnership follow up in other contexts as well. UN-OHRLLS will be particularly active in advancing the engagement of the private sector through the Global Business Network, which should be linked to the platform overseen by the Steering Committee.

Gyan Acharya, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for UN-OHRLLS

“As we embark on this new phase in our journey together, we are hopeful that this venture will go beyond partnerships and find root in supporting SIDS and their special challenges within the broader development system”, said Ambassador Ahmed Sareer, Permanent Representative of Maldives and co-chair of the Steering Committee. His fellow co-chair, Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, Permanent Representative of Italy, said that “the Steering Committee, and the partnership framework that we will oversee, was first brought to life in the SAMOA Pathway. Indeed, the concept of the partnership framework was a cornerstone of that document, and it is something that set that Pathway apart from other intergovernmental agreements”

The Third International Conference on SIDS was one of the first to have the theme dedicated to “partnerships”. The overarching theme of "The sustainable development of small island developing States through genuine and durable partnerships" lead to commitments of over 300 partnerships to support the effort for SIDS’ sustainable development. “Partnerships” has been recognized as an effective means of implementation in pursuing sustainable development and brought much attention by many Member States and other stakeholders.

The Samoa Pathway made a number of specific calls to the United Nations system and to the international community. Paragraph 101 called for preparation of recommendations for a SIDS Partnership Framework to monitor and ensure the full implementation of pledges and commitments through partnerships for SIDS. In response to the mandate, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), working under the guidance of AOSIS, prepared a set of recommendations in close consultation with Member States. Last December, during the 70th session of the General Assembly, Member States formally established the SIDS Partnership Framework.

The GA resolution (70/202) requested the Secretariat to assist in setting up a Steering Committee on partnerships for SIDS with a view to supporting the follow-up of existing, and promote and advocate for the launch of new, SIDS partnerships. The co-chairs of the Steering Committee, Maldives and Italy, were appointed by the President of the General Assembly.

The first Steering Committee meeting was facilitated by the Co-Chairs of the Steering Committee, Permanent Representative of Maldives, Ambassador Sareer, and Permanent Representative of Italy, Ambassador Cardi. The Under-Secretary-General of UN-DESA, Mr. Wu Hongbo, and the Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for UN-OHRLLS, Mr. Gyan Acharya, were also present and made remarks at the opening session. Ambassador Ahmed Sareer noted that the implementation of the SAMOA Pathway, and of the more than 300 partnerships announced at the Third International Conference on SIDS, will be critical, and he expressed the hope that the Steering Committee could address not only partnerships but all aspects of the Samoa Pathway implementation. Mr. Wu Hongbo emphasized that many partnerships are making encouraging progress, including those involving the private sector, and that the reporting template and upgraded platform that UN-DESA has developed will help to encourage and track further progress. Mr. Gyan Acharya stressed that the Steering Committee could serve as a model for partnership follow up in other contexts as well and that UN-OHRLLS will be particularly active in advancing the engagement of the private sector through their Global Business Network, which should be linked to the platform overseen by the Steering Committee.

At this meeting, the Steering Committee approved its working methods, and UN-DESA presented a standardized reporting template for SIDS partnerships. The Working Methods highlights that the Committee should meet quarterly and that entities of the UN System, international and regional organizations, major group and other stakeholders may be invited by the Co-Chairs on behalf of, and in consultation with the Steering Committee, to contribute, as appropriate. UN-DESA is working closely with the Co-Chairs in finalizing the reporting template and upgrading the online platform for the SIDS partnerships to regularly report on their progress made.

Many Member States emphasized crucial links between the Samoa Pathway implementation and 2030 Agenda implementation, and many noted that the Steering Committee could offer valuable lessons to partnerships in the 2030 context as well as the Samoa partnerships. The Steering Committee will identify gaps and lessons learned in partnerships, and Member States hoped that the partnership framework could be scaled up and applied more broadly in the coming years. H.E. Aliioaiga Feturi Elisaia, Permanent Representative of Samoa to the United Nations said “Samoa views the Steering Committee as a “catalyst” to reach out and to advocate to potential partners both public and private, as a “magnet” to attract and bring them in to appreciate SIDS challenges, and as “glue” to ensure that they work together cohesively and cooperatively for the attainment of SIDS development needs”.

In closing, Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, Permanent Representative of Italy to the UN and co-chair of the Steering Committee, concluded the meeting with some final thoughts: the Steering Committee can be a catalyst for action in implementation of partnerships and the SAMOA Pathway in general.
Copyright 2016 United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs