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Coming together to help Small Island Developing States to get on a path to realize the SDGs

The challenges and vulnerabilities of Small Island Development States (SIDS) have been exacerbated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has highlighted the urgent need for decisive actions for sustainable and climate resilient recovery. Only a handful of bilateral and multilateral institutions have supported SIDS in mitigating the impact of the pandemic, with only 4% of available COVID-19 funding for developing countries being spent on SIDS. The economic fall-out suffered globally and by these countries in particular has shown the urgent need to reset the agenda so that it better reflects the challenges faced by SIDS and better enables the international community to find viable solutions to address these challenges. The persistent use of historical measures of GDP per capita for accessing concessional funding captures neither who is most affected, nor who is least able to respond to the pandemic. New consensus needs to be built about what constitutes vulnerability, in order to encompass the multiplicity of inter-linking challenges with which every state now has to deal, so that eligibility for resources such as concessional finance is no longer solely dependent on narrow measures such as GDP per capita.

There has actually been growing acceptance of the need for donors and multilateral organisations to consider factors other than GDP when addressing the vulnerabilities of developing countries and in particular SIDS. Recent experiences of consequences arising from the COVID-19 pandemic have raised awareness and deepened appreciation of the pressing urgency for action to be taken. In this regard the latest United Nations General Assembly mandate, in its resolution 75/215, on the potential development, use, finalization and coordination of work within the UN system on a multidimensional vulnerability index (MVI) of SIDS is an important step in this direction

This session will focus on the theme: A Multidimensional Vulnerability Measure for SIDS. It will be in a format of a Fireside Chat among Heads of Government and Institutions.

Proposed guiding questions:
  • What type of resources are currently available to SIDS to enable them to recover from the COVID pandemic? Can all SIDS benefit from these resources?
  • What principles or key elements should underpin the development of a multidimensional vulnerability measure for SIDS?
  • What kinds of vulnerabilities should be reflected in a framework? Should resilience also be reflected?
  • What can a multi-dimensional measure be used for?
  • How can a multidimensional vulnerability index be used by international financial institutions and the UN system?
  • H.E. Mr. Sergiy Kyslytsya (Ukraine), Vice President of ECOSOC
  • Ms. Mafalda Duarte, CEO of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF)

Fireside chat

  • H.E. Mr. E.P. Chet Greene, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Immigration and International Trade, Antigua and Barbuda


  • H.E. Mr. Wavel RamKalawan, President of Seychelles
  • H.E. Mr. Ashni K. Singh, Senior Minister, Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance, Guyana
  • H.S. Ms. Mereseini Vuniwaqa, Minister for Women, Children and poverty Alleviation of Fiji
  • H.S. Mr. Simon Stiell, Minister within the Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Climate Resilience and the Environment of Grenada
  • H.E. Ms. Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations

Lead discussants:

  • Mr. Courtenay Rattray, UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States
  • Ms. Emeline Siale Ilolahia, Executive Director of the Pacific Islands Associations of Non-Governmental Organisations (PIANGO), Fiji (NGO Major Group)
H.E. Mr. Wavel RamKalawan
President of Seychelles
H.E. Mr. Wavel RamKalawan

President of Seychelles

Wavel Ramkalawan was born on Mahé, the principal island of Seychelles. His father was a metalworker and his mother a primary school teacher. He is married to Linda and has three boys, Samuel, Caleb and Amos. He is an ordained minister in the Anglican Church.

It was his work mission as a priest that led Ramkalawan to politics. Through his pastoral work, he came into contact with many people who had been the subject of repression and abuses of human and civil liberties by government. At that time, the church was the only institution that could speak out on these issues.

In 1990, Ramkalawan preached a landmark sermon, broadcast to the nation on the national radio station, in which he questioned the practices of the one-party government and gave voice to the desire of the people for greater freedom, respect for human rights and observance of the rule of law in the country. The sermon was an inspiration for the movement for political liberty and democracy in Seychelles. For as a consequence doing that, he was banned by the one-party state government from being heard and appearing on national TV. This move drew Ramkalawan closer into politics. In 1991, still a priest, he joined others who had been active in opposing the government, such as Roger Mancienne and Jean-Francois Ferrari, to form Parti Seselwa, initially an underground organisation, and became its leader.

After the coming into force of the new constitution in 1993, two other opposition parties joined Parti Seselwa to form The United Opposition (UO) and to contest the 1993 general elections. The party won 9% of the vote, enabling it to appoint one member (Ramkalawan) to the National Assembly.

In 1998, Ramkalawan led his party The UO into the second multi-party general elections. The party polled 27% of the national vote and increased its National Assembly representation to three. Ramkalawan became the first directly elected member of the party in the Assembly, winning his home constituency of St Louis. He led St. Louis until handing it over to a young politician to stand in the largest constituency of the country, Anse Etoile, and win the seat. In addition, Ramkalawan was elected Leader of the Opposition, a post he relinquished in 2011 when his party boycotted the National Assembly elections in the search for electoral reforms. In 2016, his party won majority in the National Assembly elections. He also led as the Leader of Opposition leading a majority in the Legislature.

In December 2015, Mr. Ramkalawan led a united opposition in a controversial presidential election which the movement lost narrowly by 1% to Mr. James Michel; who scored 50.15% to Ramkalawan’s 49.15% Mr. Ramkalawan led the National Assembly delegation at the Pan African Parliament and the SADC PF, where he chaired the Democratisation, Governance and Human Rights Committee. In the National Assembly, he chaired the Truth & National Reconciliation Committee, the Defence and Security Committee, the Islands Committee and the Finance & Public Accounts Committee.

On 26th October 2020, Mr. Wavel Ramkalawan was sworn in as the President of the Republic of Seychelles.

H.E. Ms. Patricia Scotland
Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations
H.E. Ms. Patricia Scotland

Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations

Patricia Scotland was born in the Commonwealth of Dominica. She is the tenth of twelve children and grew up in London. She completed her LLB (Hons) London University at the age of twenty and was called to the Bar at Middle Temple at the age of twenty-one.

Her career has been marked by achieving a number of extraordinary firsts, not least of which was to be the first woman in the more than 700-year history of the office to serve as Her Majesty’s Attorney-General for England and Wales and for Northern Ireland.

While holding these and other senior ministerial office she was given responsibility, inter alia, for gender equality, domestic violence, forced marriage, and international child abduction, and from these positions promoted diversity and equality of opportunity, particularly for women and girls.

As the only woman to have been appointed Secretary-General of Commonwealth she is placing special emphasis on mobilising the 54 nations of the Commonwealth to tackle climate change – including its disproportionate impact on women – and, through women’s enterprise, to build the resilience of smaller or more vulnerable countries. Eliminating domestic violence and violence against women and girls is another area of focus.

H.S. Mr. Simon Stiell
Minister within the Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Climate Resilience and the Environment of Grenada
H.S. Mr. Simon Stiell

Minister within the Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Climate Resilience and the Environment of Grenada

Simon is a senior minister in the Government of Grenada and currently holds the portfolio of Minister for Climate Resilience and the Environment. He previously served as Minister for Education and Human Resource Development, Minister of State with responsibility for Human Resource Development and the Environment, and as a Parliamentary Secretary within the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Forestry and Fisheries.

Simon is also a member of Grenada’s Upper House of Parliament, the Senate, where he currently serves as Leader of Government Business.

Prior to his return to Grenada, Simon had a successful career spanning some fourteen years within the technology sector, holding senior executive positions in a number of industry leading companies, from Silicon Valley based technology start-ups, to major corporations including Nokia and G.E.C.

Simon originally trained as an engineer and holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Westminster in the United Kingdom.

Ms. Mafalda Duarte
CEO of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF)
Ms. Mafalda Duarte

CEO of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF)

Mafalda Duarte is CEO of the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), an $8.5 billion multilateral fund supporting climate action in 72 developing countries for over a decade. Since assuming her position in 2014, Mafalda has implemented a pioneering vision centered on blazing new paths in leadership and learning in scaled climate action. CIF’s more than 300 investments are well known for enabling breakthroughs in renewable energy deployment and access, sustainable forestry, and climate resilience. Mafalda is harnessing CIF’s unique business model—one that prioritizes sounder investment decisions and behavior change over traditional project finance—to achieve the triple win of market creation, investment returns, and social inclusion. Under her leadership, CIF has developed new programs and investment vehicles to rapidly help drive up global ambition on climate. Prior to CIF, Mafalda served in a variety of high-level positions at the intersection of climate action and international development in over 30 developing countries, working within governments and organizations such as the African Development Bank and the World Bank. She has been quoted in Reuters, BBC World Service, and Al Jazeera.

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