Statement By Premier Of The British Virgin Islands Dr. Hon. Natalio D. Wheatley on the Fourth International Conference On Small Island Developing States

Fourth International Conference On Small Island Developing States:

Interactive Dialogue 2: “Enhancing Critical Forms Of Financing And Aid Effectiveness Through Collaborative Partnerships: A Conversation”

Tuesday, 28 May: From 4:00 Om To 6 P.M.

Statement By Premier Of The British Virgin Islands Dr. Hon. Natalio D. Wheatley

Distinguished Co-Chairs,


Distinguished delegates

A pleasant good afternoon.

“Leave no one behind” is the mantra adopted by the international community. If we are going to live up to this mantra, it means no one must be left behind in building climate resilience or achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It also means no one must be left behind in accessing the resources they need to make progress in these critical areas. At its heart, Excellencies, this Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) is really about not leaving the SIDS behind.

As an Associate Member of ECLAC, the British Virgin Islands is a member of the SIDS family. However, we find ourselves locked out of climate finance, and development finance more generally. Our needs are great and we do not receive any form of external budget support. This is a very serious problem because for many Associate Members like us, a resource gap exists where we do not have the needed resources to build up our climate resilience and sustainable development.

Just last night those Associate Members present here in Antigua and Barbuda met to discuss this critical issue. Our political status and per capita income are cited as the reasons for not being eligible for support, but our vulnerability has not been properly factored into decisions by donors and even our Administering Powers.

Like other SIDS, Associate Members are affected by more frequent and powerful storms, sea-level rise, global inflation and high borrowing costs. We are just as vulnerable as other islands. Just like other SIDS, we need concessional financing and grants to close this gap, as well as the technical assistance we lack in our small government administrations. For the new SIDS Programme of Action to be meaningful to us, we need access to climate finance. To get that access, we need the support of the international community.

The Associate Members’ relationship with the United Nations (UN) is critical in this regard. Last year we held a BVI-UN sustainable development forum on Tortola and just last month had a policy dialogue with the UN on improving access to development finance. We have a mechanism for engagement with the UN that keeps the UN system engaged and supports our collaboration on sustainable development and climate resilience.

While this approach has been beneficial to us, UN agencies still have very severe limitations in what they can provide based on our specific circumstances. This is despite our ongoing recovery needs after being devastated by two category five hurricanes in 2017. This needs to change to ensure Associate Members are not left behind. The MVI should apply to us as well.

It is important to keep in mind that the British Virgin Islands and other Associate Members do not participate in the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development or the Paris Climate Change Agreement. That is why this platform is so important to us. A specific UN forum for Associate Members on Sustainable Development is needed to help address these issues. Such a forum can help to keep the UN system engaged on our vulnerability and the real financing needs that we have if we are to achieve the SDGs.

In closing, distinguished co-Chairs, I want to thank the UN system for its ongoing support to the British Virgin Islands and ask that support measures to the Associate Members of the UN Regional Commissions is directly considered as a part of the new SIDS Programme of Action, including access to climate finance, and development finance more generally, based on our vulnerability.

I thank you.

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