President Muizzu Advocates for Climate Resilience, Digital Transformation, and Resource Mobilisation at SIDS4

President Dr Mohamed Muizzu has delivered a series of speeches at the 4th International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS4), highlighting the critical issues of climate resilience, digital transformation, and resource mobilisation.

Advancing Climate Resilience

In his keynote address at the side-event “From Ambitions to Practice: Advancing SIDS4 Goals through the Climate Smart Resilient Islands (CSRI) Initiative,” President Muizzu underscored the importance of resilience for SIDS. He remarked, “Resilience is the reason why Small Island Developing States from across the world are gathered here today in Antigua and Barbuda. Despite our small size, SIDS are demonstrating remarkable resilience. We may be among the most vulnerable, but our unwavering determination makes us formidable fighters in the battle against climate change.”

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Dr Muizzu highlighted the Maldives’ leadership in the CSRI Initiative, which aims to foster inter-regional collaboration among SIDS. This initiative seeks to utilise the unique geographies of island nations to streamline development efforts through peer learning and sustainable practices. He stressed the urgency of global solidarity, calling for immediate and ambitious climate action. “We are in a climate crisis. Our actions must match the crisis at hand. And we must take action now,” he asserted.

The CSRI Initiative is designed to link sustainable development goals with climate action, offering a holistic approach to addressing the adverse effects of climate change. President Muizzu encouraged other SIDS to join the initiative, emphasising that effective collaboration and support from international partners are crucial for its success.

Digital Transformation for Development

On the second day of the conference, President Muizzu addressed the side-event “Smart Maldives: Journey towards a Digitally Inclusive Community,” where he discussed the Maldives’ achievements in digital transformation. He outlined the unique challenges faced by the Maldives, an archipelagic state with 1,192 islands and a population of 500,000. “These challenges are inevitable and pose a significant challenge for any Government to provide a satisfactory level of public services and to ensure an equitable level of development for all,” he noted.

President Muizzu highlighted the role of digital solutions in overcoming these challenges. He stated, “Leveraging digital solutions enables us to adapt to climate change, enhance healthcare and education, improve public service delivery, diversify economies, and create more livelihood opportunities.” He pointed to the Maldives’ success in achieving universal telephone coverage and developing numerous web applications and portals that bring critical services to citizens.

Looking ahead, President Muizzu outlined innovative uses for 5G technology, such as drone networks for medical supply delivery, smart road systems, and AI-integrated GIS for environmental monitoring. He also emphasised the importance of robust cybersecurity infrastructure to protect against digital threats, highlighting the establishment of the National Cybersecurity Agency and plans to introduce necessary legislation.

Mobilising Resources for Sustainable Development

In his address at the High-Level Meeting on Resource Mobilization for SIDS, President Muizzu tackled the financial challenges faced by SIDS, especially those that have graduated from the Least Developed Country (LDC) category. He discussed the paradox of increased borrowing costs and restricted access to affordable finance post-graduation, which hampers development efforts and forces difficult choices between essential projects.

“We are forced to choose between funding the establishment of new schools versus constructing seawalls. We are forced to choose between investing in clean water versus investing in sanitation and coastal protection. These are choices that we should not be forced to make,” he lamented.

President Muizzu proposed three solutions to address these financial challenges:

1. Reforming the International Financial Architecture: He called on shareholders of multilateral development banks to reform lending practices, enabling SIDS to access funds at highly concessional rates.

2. Scaling Up Private Finance Flows: He urged developed country partners and the private sector to share risks associated with investments in SIDS, creating a corridor of confidence for private investments.

3. Expanding Horizons: He encouraged SIDS to think big, build state and productive capacities, and actively seek support from international partners.

President Muizzu’s speeches at SIDS4 have resonated with the international community, highlighting the resilience, innovation, and collaborative spirit of SIDS. His call for ambitious climate action, digital transformation, and financial reform underscores the need for genuine partnerships and international solidarity to achieve sustainable development goals.

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