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UNIDO at SIDS4: new partnerships and innovative solutions for Small Island Developing States

06 June 2024


St. John’s, 27 May 2024 – Director General Gerd Müller led a UNIDO delegation to the 4th International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS4) in St. John's, Antigua and Barbuda, which brought together more than 20 Heads of State and Government, ministers from over 100 nations and 4,000 other participants from the private sector, civil society, and academia. SIDS4 marked a significant milestone for UNIDO, strengthening several strategic partnerships to promote investments and deliver projects in support of Small Island Developing States. 

The conference concluded with the adoption of a new 10-year action plan, "The Antigua and Barbuda Agenda for SIDS (ABAS)", which sets out a new, ambitious path for sustainable development for small island developing states (SIDS), addressing their unique challenges stemming from small size, remote location, narrow resource base and vulnerability to external shocks, particularly climate change impacts and rising fossil fuel and food import prices.   

A key objective of the ABAS is to build sustainable, resilient and diversified blue, green and digital economies with the ability to tap into higher added value sectors and to leapfrog to innovative technologies. It also focuses on improving overall debt sustainability, access to development assistance, the mobilization of concessional finance for sustainable development and climate change adaptation, as well as creating an enabling environment for private foreign direct investment. To facilitate access to finance for SIDS, the Agenda recommends considering incorporating SIDS’ multi-dimensional vulnerabilities into existing practices and policies. 


Director General Müller stressed UNIDO’s expertise and commitment to support the implementation of the Agenda in his contributions to the High-Level Meeting on Resource Mobilization for SIDS, convened by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, and the First Interactive Dialogue on revitalizing SIDS economies. In his statement to the SIDS4 Plenary, Müller called on industrialized countries to deliver on their commitments, such as the 0.7% target for Official Development Assistance (ODA) and the Loss and Damage Fund, to enable SIDS to achieve resilient prosperity, stating: Only 1.5% of global ODA is invested in the SIDS. This is unacceptable. What is necessary is a multi-billion dollar investment offensive in blue green economy, food security, agro-tech, Industry 4.0, and renewable energy.”   

He emphasized that UNIDO is ready to assist SIDS with concrete projects and initiatives through the new UNIDO Global SIDS Hub in Barbados, which was launched ahead of SIDS4 together with Barbados Prime Minister Mottley. The Global Hub will enhance UNIDO's technical support to SIDS and strengthen SIDS-SIDS industrial cooperation worldwide, aiding in economic diversification, clean energy and investment promotion.  

Signing of a Joint Declaration with the President of the Seychelles and SIDS DOCK Wavel Ramkalawan and Nikolaus Marschik, Secretary General, Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs.
Award Ceremony with Secretary General Nikolaus Marschik, Federal Ministry for European & International Affairs , Representatives from SIDS DOCK and Dr. Vince Henderson, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dominica.

In support of the new Hub, the UNIDO Director General, the Seychelles President Wavel Ramkalawan on behalf of SIDS DOCK, the energy initative of the AOSIS, and the Secretary General of the Austrian Ministry of European and International Affairs, Nikolaus Marschik, signed a joint declaration on enhanced support for the implementation of the ABAS, particularly through the UNIDO-led Global Network of Regional Sustainable Energy Centres. During a high-level reception, the Director General received an SIDS DOCK Leadership Award for the technical support provided by UNIDO under the SAMOA Pathway. 

As part of a UNIDO-organized side event on the mobilization of innovative financial instruments for the Global South, Director General Müller and Ms Sylvia Wisnwiski CEO of Finance in Motion signed a Joint Declaration to cooperate on new innovative financial instruments, to provide critical funding to SMEs in the blue and green economy in the Global South.

Signing of JD with Sylvia Wisniwski, CEO of Finance in Motion and group picture with participants of the side event: Director Escipion Joaquin Oliviera Gomez, International Trade Centre, Palau Permanent Representative Ilana Seid, OACPS Assistant Secretary-General Cristelle Pratt, United Nations Global Compact Assistant Secretary-General Sanda Ojiambo, Finance-in-Motion CEO Sylvia Wisniwski.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland agreed with Director General Müller to reinforce the long-standing cooperation between the Commonwealth Secretariat and UNIDO for sustainable economic growth in Commonwealth countries and the wider Global South by joining forces to provide technical assistance, promote South-South and triangular industrial cooperation, and harness the potential of the blue economy for SIDS

Signing of JD with Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland.
With Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland and Prime Minister of Tonga Siaosi Sovaleni.

Finally, UNIDO and Mr. Didacus Jules, Director General of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), also signed a Joint Declaration to promote dialogue, policies, and projects advancing economic diversification and sustainable industrialization in the Caribbean region.  

UNIDO also co-organized several high-profile side events on showcasing the support of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) at SIDS4. The Global Ocean Energy Alliance (GLOEA) event highlighted the need to build public-private partnerships between the evolving ocean energy industry in the Global North and the SIDS. The side event showcased the pathbreaking ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) project in Sao Tome and Principe and wave energy conversion project in the Kingdom of Tonga. The “Barbados BLOOM Cleantech Cluster” event featured pitches by the entrepreneurs supported by the Cluster on their circular economy solutions and introduced the forthcoming replication of the Cleantech Cluster model in other SIDS.  

Side event “Achieving Climate, Economic & Social Resilience in Caribbean SIDS” From left to right: Isaac Solomon, President (Acting) CDB, Trinidad and Tobago Minister Pennelope Beckles-Robinson, St.Lucia Prime Minister Philip Pierre, Grenada Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell, St.Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Terrance Drew, Grenada Minister Kerryne James, Devon Gardner (CCREEE).

The "Achieving Climate, Economic & Social Resilience in Caribbean SIDS" side event, jointly organised by the UNIDO-supported Caribbean Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (CCREEE), highlighted Caribbean SIDS’ possibilities for switching to renewables, developing their own sustainable energy infrastructure, decoupling from fossil fuels and transitioning to green hydrogen, while highlighting UNIDO's wider efforts through the Global Program for Green Hydrogen in Industry and the new UNIDO Global SIDS Hub.  

Another side-event on the development of fair supply chains for low-carbon herbal and botanical products from SIDS was organised in partnership with the SIDS DOCK Island Women Open Network (IWON).  

Finally, Director General Müller held several bilateral meetings with heads of state, ministers, and development partners. In his meeting with Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda, the host of the SIDS4 conference, Müller offered to support the establishment of the new SIDS4 Centre of Excellence in Antigua with technical expertise through UNIDO's new Global SIDS Hub. 

With Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda.
With Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda.