India had organised the first India-PSIDS and India-CARICOM leaders' meeting in New York last year when New Delhi had announced a $26 million grant to CARICOM nations and Pacific Small Island Developing States.
India has underscored its commitment to assist the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) as they deal with the “double blows” of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change which has also impacted the tourism sector in the scenic islands.
The SIDS are islands of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. They are relatively remote, vulnerable to environmental challenges, such as climate change, and generally small in size.
India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador T S Tirumurti during a first virtual ambassadorial meeting of the Steering Committee on partnership for SIDS this week, said the COVID-19 pandemic has flattened the planet in terms of its impact and distress caused but it has impacted disproportionately on countries and regions, particularly on the SIDS.
“The COVID-19 pandemic flattened the planet in terms of its impact and distress caused. But it has impacted disproportionately on countries and regions, particularly on SIDS. In many ways, COVID-19 and climate change have come as a double blow for SIDS,” Tirumurti said.
Citing the impact of the pandemic on the tourism sector, which he said has come to a complete halt, Tirumurti noted that the devastation has been far more for SIDS for whom the sector accounts for almost 30 per cent of the GDP.
“India stands ready to partner and is already partnering with the SIDS. We are fully conscious of your priorities and your requirements. We will do our best to see how we can partner you in this quest,” he said.
Tirumurti highlighted India’s efforts to assist the SIDS nations in dealing with the impact of COVID-19 and climate change.
He said India is assisting the SIDS partners to combat COVID-19 under the India-UN Development Partnership Fund, which was established in 2017 to provide for assistance to developing countries, including Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and SIDS for projects that contribute to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.
India is also committed to assist its SIDS partners to tackle the impact of climate change, he said, adding that a regional initiative was launched in Suva on Wednesday under the India Fund which will see Solar Photovoltaic systems installed on buildings of national significance in Fiji, Micronesia, Palau, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
India is also partnering with the SIDS in the area of capacity building, Tirumurti said. “We have agreed to set up an Institute for Sustainable Coastal and Ocean Research, a network of marine biology research stations, and the setting up of IT laboratories for Pacific Island states.”
India had organised the first India-PSIDS and India-CARICOM leaders’ meeting in New York last year when New Delhi had announced a $26 million grant to CARICOM nations and Pacific Small Island Developing States for high impact developmental projects in the areas of their choice.
CARICOM stands for the Caribbean Community and Common Market and is an organisation made up of 15 Caribbean nations to promote economic integration among members.
In addition, a Concessional Lines of Credit of $300 million was announced which can be availed for undertaking inter alia, solar, renewable energy and climate related projects based on each country’s priorities, he said.