Members of the Small States Forum (SSF) met in person on October 15, 2022.
Members discussed the exceptionally difficult challenges that they face as they navigate the current global overlapping crises that have exacerbated structural vulnerabilities. The compounding impact of these shocks has deeply hurt their economies, along with concomitant social impacts and rising climate risks. Managing the global impacts of the war in Ukraine, leading to high fuel and food prices, at a time when their economies had barely started to recover from the impact of a two-year old pandemic, has stretched their limited capacities. These impacts are occurring against a backdrop of rising climate risks to which these economies are highly exposed. Near-term economic prospects of small state economies face downside risks related to heightened global uncertainty, tightening financial conditions, and a possibility of global recession, which could further stress their economies and populations.
Several Members have responded to these challenges with policies that sought to strengthen their fiscal frameworks, social protection systems, learning programs, and climate resilience, leveraging the use of digital technologies and innovative financing solutions. But the longterm agenda remains vast. With their resources and capacities committed to fighting the shorter-term impacts of these multiple shocks, longer-term development priorities have suffered immensely. Most small states find themselves farther away from achieving the SDGs than they were in 2019. Most remain poorly prepared to deal with climate change, which is likely to affect all small states – be they island, coastal, or landlocked – more intensively than other countries. Their investments towards adapting to climate change, building resilience, and diversifying their economies have stagnated and their fiscal space is more constrained because of elevated debt burdens. Some members called upon the international community to support capacity building efforts and knowledge exchanges on good practices in the areas of climate resilience and sustainable use of natural resources in small states.
The issue of the high debt burden in several Member States has been highlighted in previous SSF communiques. This major source of vulnerability has been exacerbated by the compounded impacts of the global overlapping crises. Members look to the World Bank and IMF for continuing capacity-building and technical support on fiscal policy and debt management in small states.
This Forum has been pushing for more urgent action on climate change which is the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security, and wellbeing of small states. Members call on all parties to the Paris Agreement to ensure that COP 27 delivers clear progress on turning pledges and commitments into action and a scaled-up ambition to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial level. Members urge world leaders, especially the big emitters, to commit to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. The previous communique had called upon the World Bank to give priority to small states in undertaking analytical work to provide them with timely technical advice on climate action. Members appreciate that the World Bank has started preparing Country Climate Development Reports for several small states.
Members value the international support that has enabled them to respond meaningfully to the multiple crises. In that context, the Forum thanked the World Bank for continuing to provide robust volume of IDA resources towards responding to the pandemic and subsequent shocks. Members call upon the international community to expand concessional resources to enable small states to put their long-term development programs back on track. Members call upon development partners to ensure appropriate support to all small states, including island, coastal and landlocked states facing structural development constraints and high exposure to multiple vulnerabilities