The General Assembly has asked that the HLPF devote adequate time at its future meetings to continue to address the sustainable development challenges facing small island developing States (SIDS). In 2019, the SIDS session of HLPF will examine social development in SIDS, which is losing momentum in terms of efforts to improve human and social development with gender equality.
Progress on people’s well-being and enjoyment of their human rights are fundamental drivers of sustainable development. However, many SIDS, although in general ranked as medium and above on the Human Development Index prepared by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), still face persistent challenges linked to poverty and inequality. These countries still need to improve the quality of, and access to health and education. Those are important goals in themselves, but also vital for building resilient societies. In addition, for some SIDS, youth unemployment is among the highest in the world. This is a serious challenge and limits the full human potential of all men and women and their access to equal opportunities.
Notwithstanding decades of progress on human development, many SIDS face growing poverty and income inequality, exacerbated by weak social protection systems, and patterns of migration that affect labor markets, and which is a principal cause of social exclusion affecting vulnerable and marginalized groups and communities. Social protection is an effective instrument for protecting against shocks, reducing inequality and promoting inclusive development. A final challenge in this area is insecurity and lack of safety: several SIDS are affected by high rates of crime and violence, including gender-based violence. This is both a brake on development and antithetical to building peaceful and prosperous societies.
Building resilience in SIDS will depend on meeting all the foregoing challenges. This will require comprehensive and integrated policies implemented across the three sustainable development pillars and increased support from and collaboration with the international community. In this regard development finance, including climate finance, the strengthening of well-established relationships with traditional partners, and the nurturing of newer and emerging relationships and partnerships in the context of South-South and triangular cooperation, are important vehicles through which development support might be secured.
This session will have an interactive discussion format, features resource persons and country representatives from across the three SIDS regions, who will share their approaches in addressing the social dimension of sustainable development, and high-level lead discussants.
Background note is available here