Expert views

It is time: to act!

29 April 2024
Message from Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director, International Trade Centre

The Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS4) will soon convene in Antigua and Barbuda.

The main question I am asking myself is: How do we make this conference count?

As a Jamaican and someone who has worked on behalf of SIDS for many years, I know firsthand that some of the challenges SIDS are facing, especially when you look at climate change, are about pure survival. Small businesses are particularly affected by challenges that are unique to SIDS, including high exposure to climate change’s impacts, lacking economies of scale, inefficiencies in business environments and the delivery of business support services, and insufficient affordable financing. These must be faced head-on if we are to deliver on the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

I also know that SIDS need to move away from this “survival mode” and towards crafting long-term solutions. And supporting small businesses in SIDS is critical for helping resolve, or at least mitigate, these challenges and making these long-term solutions possible.

Pamela Coke-Hamilton. © Antoine Tardy

At ITC, we know small businesses and we understand SIDS. That is why we are proud to bring the voices of the private sector to the SIDS4 conference, and to this Trade Forum edition.

I believe the most urgent topics that need attention at SIDS4 are structural change, debt resilience and moving beyond GDP, the blue economy, and water scarcity. Developing a monitoring and evaluation mechanism that will drive the implementation of the agreed outcome document is another critical factor for the conference’s success. We can’t afford for SIDS4’s results to be on paper only, with no action on the ground.

In this special Trade Forum issue, we are looking at how we can “chart the course toward resilient prosperity for small island developing States”, the theme of this year’s conference. We are keen to share with you the voices and views of the main players from this conference, and not less importantly, that of the private sector and small businesses.

For instance, our features on a small ice cream business in the Caribbean and a kava trader in the Pacific, respectively, will show you how these entrepreneurs are striving to turn their businesses into real market opportunities.

We have and will continue to work with SIDS governments and institutional partners on several strategic interventions, which you can read about in our ITC Shares contributions as well as in our expert views. These include thoughtful contributions by the Secretary of the SIDS4 conference, UN Under-Secretary-General Li Junhua, the Prime Ministers of Mauritius and Antigua and Barbuda, H.E. Pravind Jugnauth and H.E. Gaston Alfonso Browne, respectively, the Vice-Minister for ASEAN Affairs of Timor Leste, H.E. Milena Rangel, as well as the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, and OACPS Secretary General H.E. Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti.

As the main thought leaders on SIDS, they discuss how economic diversification and investment in the blue and green economy play a crucial role for future prosperity.

In our interview series, you can read about the financing opportunities available through the Asian Development Bank, the importance of private sector engagements presented by the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organization, and what the cross-over between the green and blue economy looks like in real life, as experienced by the Alligator Head Foundation in Jamaica. We are also happy to include inputs from Ireland as a significant global SIDS supporter in our “Enabler” category.

We are confident that our collective efforts can turn SIDS into more sustainable, inclusive, and resilient economies, leading in turn to more prosperous and peaceful communities. I hope this edition provides you with insight into this complex topic, and we look forward to hearing your ideas for the future.