Small island states could struggle to overcome COVID’s impact, Seychelles’ president tells (virtual) regional forum
In a long-distance meeting made necessary by the COVID-19 era, the President of Seychelles, Danny Faure, participated in the first-ever virtual summit of the heads of state and government of the Organisation of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS), State House said on Thursday.
In his remarks, Faure called on all OACPS leaders “to be bold, be the agents of change as we face the unknown. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the shortcomings in every country, and global cooperation and solidarity is what will help us address them.”
He said that the well-documented vulnerabilities of Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) have become evident during and in the immediate aftermath of the first phases of this crisis.
“It is apparent that the crisis is likely to have a lasting negative economic impact on our countries. This could further lead to serious negative impacts on social indicators if governments cannot fund a decisive multi-sector response in the next 12 to 18 months,” added Faure.
The historic summit on Wednesday was chaired by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta under the theme ‘Transcending the COVID-19 Pandemic: Building Resilience through Global Solidarity.’
Faure highlighted the issue of the high gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, which is impeding SIDS’ access to international development aid, including loans at preferential rates to fund their post-COVID-19 recovery and adaptation efforts.
“Because of the high dependence of SIDS on tourism, the impact of the crisis will induce a significant decline in our economies in 2020 with a substantial increase in unemployment and a drastic drop in the value of their currency. In the face of this global crisis, can the high GDP per capita measure be a reliable indicator for countries with tiny populations?” he asked.
The head of state of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, expressed appreciation for the support rendered by the United Nations in the initial response to the health crisis.
“Seychelles, along with many other small island states, however also requires specific support to weather the crisis and strengthen its capabilities to recover and rebound. SIDS are in dire need of fiscal space to support the recovery effort,” he said.
He called for a greater sense of solidarity among development partners to find innovative approaches to help Small Island Developing States overcome the crisis.
“The SIDS community is, therefore, calling for an urgent and strong sense of solidarity amongst development partners and stakeholders in finding innovative approaches for helping small island states overcome the crisis. Together we can use the recovery as a way to shape a more sustainable, inclusive, and resilient path to development,” said President Faure.
He concluded in saying that “these are extraordinary times, and the need for solidarity has never been more urgent. I count on your support.”
Source: Seychelles News Agency