As Tuvalu battles sea level rise, the greatest threat to its survival, the island nation also faces great challenges in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.This is a target that most likely wont be met until 2065, as forecasted in a UNDP regional human development report.

“The forecast comes as no surprise, as Tuvalu and other similarly vulnerable Pacific Small Islands Developing States faces unique challenges in achieving SDG’s,” presented Feleti Teo, Prime Minister of Tuvalu at the Plenary of the Fourth International Small Islands Developing States Conference in Antigua and Barbuda.

“Tuvalu’s capacity to achieve the SDGs is severely compromised by our exposure to climate risks, limited resources, geographical isolation, and underdeveloped infrastructure.”

Over 3,000 delegates have descended into Antigua and Barbuda for the SIDS4 conference, an event that happens once a decade to create a roadmap for SIDS on their journey towards sustainable development. This roadmap is implemented with the support of UN agencies, and global development partners.

At the very first SIDS conference in Barbados the Barbados Programme of Action for Sustainable Development of SIDS (BPOA) came into being, ten years later in Mauritius at SIDS2 the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the BPOA was adopted. In 2014 at the SIDS3 in Samoa the Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action Pathway (SAMOA Pathway) was endorsed.

Here at the SIDS4 in Antigua and Barbuda the outcomes document is the “Antigua and Barbuda Agenda for SIDS (ABAS) a Renewed Declaration for Resilient Prosperity”. Developed through consultation across the Small Islands Developing States, this has reflected upon the past decade of challenges and achievements to smartly chart a new forward that strengthens and fosters the resilience and prosperity of SIDS.

“While the recognition of SIDS by our multilateral systems is deeply appreciated, the special case and unique vulnerabilities of SIDS further exposes the raging challenges that SIDS must contemplate,” said Prime Minister Teo.

“Therefore, the ABAS underscores the special case and unique challenges of SIDS and emphasises the importance of heightened international collaboration, strong and smart partnerships, and transparent governance to tackle SIDS unique environmental and developmental challenges.”

Tuvalu is approximately 25 square kilometres of land in total across nine atoll islands. Much of Tuvalu is less than one meter above high spring tide levels making the threat of sea level rise very real for the residents of Tuvalu. It is currently forecast that over half of Tuvalu’s capital will be flooded by 2050 due to sea level rise putting the survival of Tuvalu and her people, at risk.

To help address this Tuvalu is committed to a long term plan to reclaim and elevate land, fortifying Tuvalu’s resilience against climate change induced sea level rise.

“Tuvalu continues to experience intense land erosion, wave surges, and coastal inundation with the worst flooding experienced during the high tide season in February and March this year. We urge Small Islands Developing States to unite in addressing the issue of sea level rise at the High-Level Meeting during the UNGA79 on September 25 this year,” stated Prime Minister Teo as he expressed the wish of Tuvalu that this issue remains as a permanent agenda of the UN General Assembly.

“In February of this year, my government announced 21 immediate strategic priorities, with eight of those priorities aligning well with the “What do SIDS want?” goal in the ABAS. As a SIDS nation and one that is highly vulnerable to climate change and sea level rise, Tuvalu is committed to strengthen mitigation and adaptation efforts in collaboration with SIDS, the UN, and development partners.”

Prime Minister Teo ended his statement calling upon all to work together to build a resilient, just, and equitable future, securing a sustainable legacy for the future.

“The ABAS has been charted, we must act now.”

Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Feleti Teo, presented to the plenary on day one of the Fourth International Conference on Small Islands Developing States (SIDS4) in Antigua and Barbuda.

The SIDS4 conference is held from 27 to 30 May 2024.