Developed countries must use integrated approach to assist developing States – President Ali

President Dr Irfaan Ali

President Irfaan Ali today laid out several areas where developed countries need to assist Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the COVID-19 environment.

President Ali was at the time delivering his address at the ‘FAO Brussels Dialogue on weathering COVID-19 in Small Island Developing States: A pathway to resilience,’ virtual event.

The President said the complexities facing SIDS demand multi-dimensional and integrated approaches. He added that the magnitude of the existing socio-economic challenges necessitates a new era in international cooperation.

“The more developed countries must immediately take steps to support Small Island Developing States through a menu of mechanisms, including debt relief, balance of payment support to help SIDS meet their food import bills, technical support for agriculture, capacity building and financing for agricultural development,” President Ali said.

The Head of State said the FAO must become strident advocates for small and vulnerable states.

“These organisations must support the call for debt service payment and to deploy these deferred payments to enhance food security in Small Island Developing States,” he pointed out.

President Ali further called “on the international community to advance SIDS disability and provide the requisite financial and technical support to bolster resilience efforts. We are duty-bound to think collectively and act in solidarity to save humanity.”

The pandemic has affected food security, nutrition, climate resilience, health, tourism, education and remittances.

The President highlighted that the vulnerabilities of SIDS are compounded by the dependence of food imports, especially given their limited natural resource base.

Additionally, he pointed out; Covid placed limitations on trade and access to markets. The President said such disruptions could undermine SIDS economies if not swiftly remedied.

“Preserving and improving the food economy should be an essential component of the socio-economic response to the COVID-19 crisis. Addressing food security, however, cannot be undertaken in isolation to other socio-economic challenges,” Dr. Ali underscored.

At the same time, the President reminded the SIDS that they too have a role to play to accelerate progress towards sustainable, nutrition-based food systems to address their food security challenges.