Small islands plan greater collaboration with private sector through Public-Private-Partnerships
Aruba, March 2016 – A high-level event supporting public-private partnerships in small island developing States (SIDS) took place in Aruba from 22-24 March, 2016. The Public-Private-Partnerships (P3a) conference highlighted the importance of strengthening national and international cooperation for the future sustainable development of small islands through PPPs.
Under-Secretary-General and High Representative Gyan Chandra Acharya being interviewed on the margins of the P3a Conference.

Ms. Charlotte Vick of Mission Blue presents during the Oceans session of the P3a Conference.

(L-R) Prime Minister of Aruba H.E. Mike Eman, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative Gyan Chandra Acharya and Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands H.E. Karel van Oosterom follow discussions at the P3a Conference.

Photo credit: UN-OHRLLS
The three-day event brought together some 300 participants from SIDS and public-private partnership leaders to provide governments, private companies, financial institutions and knowledge centers with the opportunity to network and showcase partnerships in SIDS. A new global business network for small island developing states was launched at the P3a. The SIDS Global Business Network (SIDS-GBN), an initiative of the UN Office for the High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), will link up Small Islands by connecting the SIDS private sector, global business and other national and international stakeholders.

“We are pleased to see the sharing of experiences, lessons learned, and best practices, in public-private partnerships for small islands to contribute to the implementation of the SAMOA Pathway and the SDGs” said Under-Secretary-General and High Representative Gyan Chandra Acharya. “My office is delighted to have launched the new online SIDS Global Business Network at this event, a tool that we hope will continue to facilitate such exchange of information between small islands and the private sector”

Oceans were highlighted at the event as a key area of importance for SIDS with great potential for partnerships. Panelists discussed new models for PPPs utilizing technologies that encourage the uptake of renewable energy while also building the capacities of SIDS and allowing for employment opportunities. The vital role of governments in spurring the growth of renewable energy was raised in addition to the issue of sustainable agriculture, where potential for partnerships between world-class agricultural research institutions and SIDS institutions was identified.

The need for better analysis and new ways to attract youth involvement in sustainable agriculture were highlighted in addition to the great potential for sustainable tourism, which remains the biggest sector in SIDS for income, job creation and growth. The benefit that community-based tourism can bring to women and local communities in small islands was highlighted. Different approaches to ensure that the quality sustainable tourism industry remains is high on the agenda were shared.

For many SIDS, IT connectivity, particularly to reliable broadband through undersea cable remains a key requirement. Regional approaches were explored in addition to ways in which market size can be expanded. Blended financing is a key component to ensuring that PPP projects can be successful. The high cost associated with the preparation stage can be prohibitive for many SIDS.

For SIDS, PPPs are essential for infrastructure plans to be turned into projects and become reality. However the event highlighted the challenges of implementation. Examples on experiences, successes, lessons learned on public-private partnerships in the infrastructure projects were also shared.

Organised by UN-OHRLLS, together with the Government of Aruba and support from the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the P3a provided a platform to mobilize efforts in the pursuit of achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

“Coming together as private and public sector, is something the UN has been encouraging over the last decades. But in reality, if we look at the development, we can see that recently, with all the global challenges, it has become more evident, also to the private sector, that they can not only focus on making gains for the shareholders, but it is also about the shared responsibility towards the future and the global challenges” said Prime Minister of Aruba Mike Eman.

Small Island Developing States are small in terms of population, and in most cases also in landmass. Due to their small size, they continue to encounter challenges in achieving economies of scale. As many of them are remote and isolated from the world’s major markets, transport costs to and from and within the SIDS are among the highest in the world. Therefore, many SIDS have geared their economic activities towards tourism, promotion of cultural and natural heritage, fishing and marine resources, financing, and information and communication technology. PPPs are seen as a potential avenue to address many of these challenges.

Copyright 2016 United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs