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Pacific Islands Facing ‘Existential Threats’

Pacific Islands Facing ‘Existential Threats’ Need Special Attention, Vanuatu’s Leader Tells UN

Joe Natuman, Prime Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu, addresses the General Assembly. UN Photo/Cia Pak

29 September 2014 – Taking to the General Assembly podium today, Vanuatu’s Prime Minister, Joe Natuman said that as a Pacific small Island developing State (SIDS), his country was confronted with unique development challenges, which needed to be addressed by the UN and international community.

“For some Pacific States, we are facing existential threats and we cannot address the issue of sustainable development alone, unless climate change challenges are addressed seriously by the international community,” said Mr. Natuman.

The international community needs to “act now and fast” to ensure that “we steer clear of the dangerous path of the current carbon pollution trajectory,” he added. Vanuatu, whose population is dispersed over its 83 island, has a small economy which is vulnerable to internal and external shocks. These characteristics have determined and shaped its development outcome.

For decades now, Vanuatu’s economy has been growing and increasing its per capita incomes. Scheduled to graduate from least developed countries (LDC) category in December 2017, Vanuatu is not without its concerns.

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“We appreciate the UN’s focus on smooth transition for graduating countries but we also urge the UN not to divert from the real question, the question of the way we will be treated as SIDS after graduation,” he said, adding that future development must address ocean management, energy security, and gender equality.

Mr. Natuman also underscored the “unfinished business” of the UN in bringing closure to its work on decolonization especially in neighbouring, New Caledonia. Bigger and richer countries must be the burden bearer for smaller nations, so that “demonstrate the willingness to live as a village, a world community of friends and not aggressors,” Mr. Natuman said.


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