Speech in the 2018 World Peace and Love Conference presented by H.E. Mr. Ali'ioaiga Feturi Elisaia
H.E. Mr. Ali'ioaiga Feturi Elisaia
Ambassador of Samoa to the UN
Dr. Hong, President of the Federation of World Peace and Love, Mr. Moderator, dear colleague, distinguished panelists, ambassadorial colleagues, ladies and gentlemen. In the Pacific, they say that you can say no to a sibling, brother or sister, but you can't say no to a friend, especially if he's an elder person who you respect so much. So I think that the two former panelists have beautifully set the scene for our discussion. For me, I will try to operationalize the love, peace, and happiness in the specific context of my own country and hopefully that will also have some reflection of the Pacific region. I think the sustainable development goals are an ambitious plan to change human society by addressing pressing global challenges. Collectively, they make up the ingredients of our UN recipe for achieving the five P’s: namely, People, Planet, Peace, Prosperity, and Partnership, so delicately woven into our 2030 agenda.
So let me focus on the importance of partnerships in the context of our 2030 agenda from the perspective of a small island nation. Confession time. To be brutally honest, there is no way Samoa would be able to achieve any of the SDGs on its own. True, you may have different sets of partners depending on individual SDGs, but there is no way under the sun we can go it alone, more so by design than by choice. So, partnership is part of Samoa's DNA. It is an enabler, a facilitator, and importantly, the means to implement the 2030 agenda.
In fact, our ability to achieve the other 16 SDGs hinges upon the collective willingness of our government, our development partners, our business community, civil society, and NGOs to work together to form meaningful partnerships as required by SDGs 17, because implementing our ambitious agenda will require not just more resources, but combined efforts to improve the equality, effectiveness, and impact with all types of development cooperation we can nurture. Mr. Moderator, can we rewind back to September 2014, where the overarching theme for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States that the Pacific hosted was, and I quote, “Sustainable development of small island developing States through genuine and durable partnerships.” That’s the key and the reason why we purposely selected that field.
What Samoa needed then and more so now are durable and genuine partners, and I mean lots and lots of them. But why the two? Well it’s quite simple. A genuine partner is unpretentious and accepts you for who you are. It makes the time to understand your particular issues and always stands ready to provide support if available. A durable partner, on the other hand, is one who is committed to working with you over the long term, to find and implement solutions to overcome challenges you face and you identify. Such a partner will always be with you in both the highs and lows of your journey through uncharted waters of life, no matter what. Importantly, knowing that you have the empathy and understanding of such partners is comforting and reassuring to the extent that even if they are not in the same room or in the same place with you, it gives you a level of comfort and confidence and can empower you to take a leap of faith and do some of the things you normally wouldn’t do on your own. So where is the reality?
Between now and 2030, different partnerships will be formed and developed, depending on Samoa’s evolving priorities and needs and the global dynamics. Partnerships can be the traditional North-South partnerships, the emerging of South-South, the well-tested triangular partnerships, the normal SIDS-SIDS partnerships, or the culturally proven island-island partnerships. Importantly, every partnership matters and has value, and none is inferior and subservient to the other.
And when as an island you belong to the UN group of special challenges and vulnerabilities in the context of sustainable development, cannot afford to be selective and picky. So, from Samoa’s perspective, when it selected that conference field four years ago, and fast forwarded to today when we are implementing the SDGs, nothing has changed at all in terms of our faith in partnerships. In fact, partnership has reached a level of maturity, where its transformational role is not only more apparent, but it is intrinsically ingrained in Samoa’s defaults and way of doing things.
All these have allowed us to move beyond the concept of donor-recipient relationship to one of partnership where each accepts and fulfills commitments to ensure growth of that relationship. Empowered partnerships after all are based upon mutual trust, equality, respect, and accountability. They are anchored in national ownership and require political will delivered through predictable commitments. Partnerships in all its forms should be utilized, enhanced, and strengthened to ensure meaningful engagement and achieve the vision of self-reliance. Not all partnerships need to be through financial resources, technical assistance through capacity building, knowledge and idea exchange through peer-review recognition, transfer of populace, proven and affordable technologies are equally important.
It is important to view partnership in their totality where all stakeholders, the UN included, to be engaged. Partnerships constitute a shared agenda among all partners involved, consolidated through commitment towards mutual accountability, shared risks, and a focus on resource. Such commitments include being engaged over the long haul, accountability, and transparency, plus the opportunity to be able to continually review the status of the partnerships. Partnerships for sustainable development are also premised on the sharing of risks including integrity, openness, and transparency of our partners, and trust we have in our national systems to ensure we are a monitorial process. I think in the final analysis, partnerships imply shared responsibilities where successes are celebrated and failures are not opposite.
It is important to see our lessons learned so that successes are captured and used again and again while failures are minimized and not repeated. To this end, we are not starting from scratch. The best practice from existing partnerships will be used to shape our approach to the implementation of the SDGs. Let me conclude, Moderator, by saying the obvious. Genuine and durable partnerships endure the times of change. By being a member of a family of nations and by partnering with international community and the United Nations, this has brought Samoa 56 years of uninterrupted and stable existence as a small and proud independent nation and people.
There is a testimony to these partnerships which with and within the United Nations and the fact that Samoa graduated from the LDC category over four years ago, on the first of January 2014. Partnership has brought Samoa this far and beyond the post-graduation period. Samoa will continue to require the unwavering support of its circle of friends to help sustain its new Caribbean status. I thank you.
*Presented in the World Peace and Love Conference at the United Nations on April 5, 2018 in New York