Global Multi-stakeholder Small Island Developing States Partnership Dialogue

Statement by Ambassador Mona Juul at Global Multi-stakeholder Small Island Developing States Partnership Dialogue, 10 July 2019.

Thank you, co-chairs.

I am very pleased to share some of Norway's experience in successful partnerships at country level with Small Island Developing States.

I will make six points about such partnerships:

  1. the importance of ownership and dedication,
  2. the need for partnerships to be long term,
  3. they must be based on needs identified by SIDS,
  4. mutual respect and interests are key for the implementation,
  5. the portfolios should be diverse, combining political and strategic partnerships, with operational and tangible ones,
  6. and, finally, the fact that appropriate funding is pivotal

To illustrate these features of good partnerships, I will draw on some examples.

First, about the ownership and the time perspective.  

Norway has a partnership with countries in West Africa on establishing the outer limits of the continental shelf far out in the sea.

This co-operation involves a group of countries, including two SIDS: Cabo Verde and Guinea-Bissau.

The outcome of the co-operation is important for example for the countries to utilize their rights to natural resources on or below the seabed.

The partnership started in 2009.

After extensive scientific and legal work, and as a remarkable example of regional co-operation, seven West African countries presented a joint submission to the UN in 2014.

Thereafter it takes several years before the UN Commission on the Continental Shelf presents its findings.

In the meantime, the close co-operation between Norway and the group of countries continues, for example to maintain expertise and capacity to follow up on the process.

My point with this example is to illustrate that many important processes span over a number of years. In this case, it has so far been 10 years.

This partnership really has to be long term, with strong national ownership, as well as dedication by all parties.

Another essential element in good partnerships is that they are needs based.

A fitting example might be our long lasting partnership with AOSIS on the BBNJ-process.

BBNJ is, simply put, the negotiations on a new agreement on marine resources located far away from any coastline.

It is complex, and capacity is scarce.

SIDS as big ocean states early on identified needs - needs for partners.

The same goes for Norway.

We have always lived by and of the sea.

We have common interests, and joined forces with SIDS to develop the required capacity.

Therefore, for a long time already, we have co-organized a range of workshops for country representatives, and we learn from each other.

We meet the needs. That is a key factor why this partnership is so fruitful.

Furthermore, it is an operational partnership that makes a political difference.

This is important – there must be a close link between cooperation at the political level, about moving global agendas forward, and at the operational level, about creating change on the ground.

I will illustrate further with an example from the political level.

The blue economy offers many opportunities. We need to strengthen our partnerships to safeguard the oceans for sustainable harvesting.

This is the backdrop for the work of the High Level Panel on Sustainable Ocean Economy, initiated by the Prime Minister of Norway.

This Panel is an important global partnership where Heads of Fiji, Jamaica, and Palau count among the fourteen world leaders who form the panel.

Their work points to the importance of the UN Ocean Conference next year for staking out the course to meet today’s challenges of resource management, pollution etc.

This High-Level Panel is a good example of a partnership with SIDS at the highest political level.

Another example, also of political significance, which I will use to make a point about diverse portfolios, is the work to get rid of plastics in the ocean.

At the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi this spring, Norway proposed a resolution with the aim of strengthening global governance to combat marine litter and micro plastics.

We truly appreciate the co-operation with, and strong support, from many SIDS during the negotiations.

To this end, let me also commend the leaders of the CARICOM countries who just few days ago adopted the St. John’s declaration on beating plastic pollution.

This leads me to the President of the General Assembly. I applaud her work against plastic litter. Norway was honored to collaborate with her and Caribbean SIDS for the “Play it Out” public outreach in Antigua and Barbuda a few weeks ago. The groundwork for the St. John’s declaration I mentioned happened there.

These are examples of partnerships of various lengths and levels of intensity, to reducing plastic litter.

The point I wish to highlight is that we need a diverse portfolio of partnerships in order to increase impact.

I could have mentioned many more partnerships with SIDS. For example, on climate negotiations, where SIDS are really leading the way.

Or, the co-operation among board members of the sizable Green Climate Fund, where the PR of Samoa did a great job, which the PR of the Seychelles is now continuing. We truly appreciate joining forces on important questions like access to funding for SIDS.

Funding – difficult but crucial.

A lot can be achieved with limited amounts of money, if the parties have trust in each other, compatible interests and dedication.

But, a common factor among successful partnerships is that the funding is adequate. Some times that requires a little money, other times huge sums are required.

Since this is a crucial factor for successful partnerships, let me encourage all developed partners to dig deep in their pockets.

For example, we need more countries to double their funding to the Green Climate Fund, where Norway alone will contribute 500 million USD over the next three years.

For me it is impossible to talk about funding for SIDS without mentioning ODA, concessional financing, and the possibility for graduated states to receive necessary assistance when hit by catastrophes.

I could not agree more with Secretary General Guterres, when he stated to the CARICOM’s leaders in St. Lucia last week:

“I agree with you that eligibility for Official Development Assistance and other forms of concessional financing should include vulnerability criteria, in addition to Gross National Income per capita.”  

I will end with the Secretary General’s words, and wish they help gain traction on these important questions.

I hope my rather diverse use of examples may be helpful to shed light on what we experience as crucial elements of good partnerships:

  • The most important is to be real partners. Projects do not suffice.
  • National ownership and needs are the foundation.
  • Partnerships must be long term and whole-hearted. Everyone must be dedicated and strive towards the same goal.

These conclusions are in line with what the co-chairs of this forum have helped identify and put on paper previously.

Let me once again thank you, dear colleagues from Belize and Ireland, for your work to promote good partnerships.

I sincerely hope many gain inspiration and form great partnerships with SIDS. I highly recommend it!

Thank you, co-chairs.