Summit in Antigua and Barbuda: UN chief proposes reforms in three areas

Саммит в Антигуа и Барбуде: глава ООН предложил реформы по трем направлениям

.A view of St. John’s, the capital of Antigua and Barbuda, where the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States is taking place. Summit in Antigua and Barbuda: UN chief proposes reforms in three areas Sustainable Development Goals

Finance is the fuel of development, yet many small island developing States (SIDS) are now running on empty. UN Secretary-General António Guterres said this, speaking at the summit on small island states in Antigua and Barbuda on Tuesday.

The Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States is taking place in Antigua and Barbuda from 27 to 30 May. Participants discuss a new decades-long partnership plan and seek solutions to accelerate progress toward sustainable prosperity for SIDS.

Disproportional Damage

Speaking at the forum, the UN chief recalled that small island states are suffering disproportionately from the effects of the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has accelerated inflation and raised interest rates. They are being debilitated by a climate crisis they did not create: natural shocks are becoming more frequent and destructive. Between 2010 and 2019, SIDS lost nearly $100 billion.

“These countries turn to the global financial system for help, but often return empty-handed,” said, speaking at the summit, the UN Secretary General. “As a result, many of them were forced to take on even greater debt obligations. In many cases, SIDS countries pay more for debt servicing than they invest in health and education.”

In order to change the situation, deep reforms are needed in three main areas, he emphasized Antonio Guterres. 

Debt relief

“First, we have to ease the debt burden,” he said. “Many small island states are caught in a vicious cycle of borrowing at high prices and facing climate and financial shocks that make debt repayments nearly impossible. These countries should have access to effective debt relief mechanisms, including the ability to suspend debt payments while global economic conditions remain challenging.”

Reform of Lending Practices 

Secondly, the UN head continued, lending practices need to be changed so that they work for the benefit of the countries of this group. Under current rules, many middle- and high-income SIDS are unable to access concessional financing from development banks, and when they do, they face excessive bureaucratic hurdles.

“We must lower borrowing costs by changing concessional financing rules,” continued António Guterres. “This includes taking into account vulnerability to external shocks.” 

Inclusiveness of international financial institutions

“Third, we need greater inclusiveness in international financial institutions,” said the Secretary-General. – Global institutions cannot be effective if they are not representative. SIDS must have a seat at every negotiating table and their voices must be heard.” not a single small island state will be left behind.”


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