• Loss and Damage Research Observatory
  • Loss and Damage Research Observatory

The Global SIDS Debt Sustainability and Investment Support Service: Towards resilient prosperity for SIDS

Side event at the 4th International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS4)

Hosted by Strategic Advisory Group Co-chairs: H.E. Gaston Alphonso Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda and H.E. Dr Mohamed Muizzu, President of the Republic of Maldives

28 May 2024
1600 to 1730 HRS

Conference venue: Room 7, American University of Antigua College of Medicine, University Park, Jabberwock Beach Road, Coolidge, Antigua

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Context

At the heart of the global climate conversation are the Small Island Developing States (SIDS), which are facing an existential threat due to the impacts of climate change. Despite contributing less than 1% to global greenhouse gas emissions, SIDS face disproportionate and devastating consequences.

IIED's most recent research paper, Sinking islands, Rising debts, shows that the rising frequency and intensity of climate-induced disasters not only threaten their environmental integrity but have devastating economic consequences.

SIDS constitute two-thirds of countries experiencing the highest relative annual losses from such events, creating a ripple effect that manifests in escalating debt. More than 40% of SIDS are nearing or already in debt distress, and an alarming 70% surpass the debt-to-GDP sustainability threshold of 40%. Six SIDS have debt-to-GDP ratios exceeding 100%.

This debt crisis impacts more than just finances; it limits investment in social services, social protection and resilience-building, exacerbating poverty and inequality. Furthermore, it hampers progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals by diverting funds to debt servicing.

For the SIDS, breaking free from this vicious cycle is not just an economic imperative but a question of survival. The interconnected challenges of climate change and debt require a concerted, multifaceted response.

To address these urgent needs, a Strategic Advisory Group (SAG) was established at COP28, tasked with guiding the creation of the Global SIDS Debt Sustainability and Investment Support Service.

The SAG is co-chaired by H.E. Prime Minister Gaston Alphonso Browne of Antigua and Barbuda and H.E. President Mohamed Muizzu of the Maldives. It includes SIDS finance and environment ministries, leading global, regional and local financial institutions and civil society organisations.

Through the concerted effort of the SAG, the Support Service design was shaped by collaborative dialogue sessions, engaging a spectrum of stakeholders in a transparent, inclusive process. The deliberative dialogues with stakeholders enabled the SAG to gather a wide range of inputs to shape an effective and actionable design for the Support Service.

The Service aims to deliver a comprehensive response combining debt sustainability, future protection, investment in resilience and legal support for SIDS.

About this event

The Global SIDS Debt Sustainability and Investment Support Service will be launched at this side event at the SIDS4 Conference.

We aim to present the design document for the Support Service, together with the plan for operationalisation of the Service.

During this side event, stakeholders will engage in panel discussions on how the service structure, governance, and financial mechanisms of the Support Service will work and how it can integrate with the SIDS' new programme of action.

Event objectives

  1. Raise Awareness and understanding of the unique financial and environmental challenges faced by SIDS due to climate change and the pressing need to create fiscal space to ensure investment in climate resilience.
  2. Introduce the objectives of the new initiative for SIDS, focusing on debt sustainability, legal empowerment, and financial mobilisation. The session will outline how this initiative will:
    • provide practical, impactful solutions for debt sustainability,
    • enhance legal negotiation capacities, and
    • unlock financial resources for climate resilience and sustainable development.
  3. Engage and actively seek participation and collaboration from diverse stakeholders, including government representatives, financial experts, legal practitioners, climate activists, and international organisations.
  4. The goal is to create a platform for dialogue, share best practices, and foster partnerships that will support the initiative's implementation and success.
  5. Issue a call to action and gain commitment from global, regional and local leaders, financial institutions and other key stakeholders. This includes advocating for financial investment, technical assistance, and policy support to ensure the initiative's effective rollout and sustained impact in enhancing the resilience and prosperity of SIDS in the face of climate challenges.

Event details

4th International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS4), Antigua and Barbuda

Date: 28 May 2024

Time: 1600 to 1730 HRS

Conference venue: Room 7, American University of Antigua College of Medicine, University Park, Jabberwock Beach Road, Coolidge, Antigua

Event agenda

  1. Welcome
    Mr. Tumasie Blair, Deputy Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Nations
  2. Keynote addresses and launch of the Global SIDS Debt Sustainability and Investment Support Service
    • Addressing the importance of the initiative for SIDS, focusing on climate change, debt sustainability and resilience investment.
      Speakers:
      H.E. President Mohamed Muizzu of the Republic of Maldives and
      H.E. Gaston Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda
  3. About the Support Service

    A detailed presentation about the design and objectives of the Support Service– Ritu Bharadwaj, Team Leader and Principal Researcher, IIED

  4. Panel discussion
    Moderated by Dr Tom Mitchell, Executive Director, IIED
  5. Closing Remarks
    Ahmed Salman Zaki, Director, Multilateral Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Maldives