TANETI MAAMAU, President of Kiribati, described the theme of the Assembly’s session as a powerful wakeup call, with the focus on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals renewed and centred around recovery and building resilience. “We must nurture our people, to create healthier and more peaceful communities and societies,” he said. Accordingly, his Government aligned the Kiribati 20-year Vision with the development frameworks guiding the United Nations, including the 2030 Agenda and the SAMOA Pathway, in a manner that prioritizes its people. To ensure inclusive, transformative sustainable development that “leaves no one behind”, his Government is working to mobilize support to marginalized communities. He expressed his commitment to the Human Rights Council, noting that the body adopted Kiribati’s universal periodic review report in 2020. Against that backdrop, he welcomed the adoption of the mutually enforcing approach that respects the sovereignty of a member State under review and encourages it to progress its human rights obligations in harmony with its traditional values.
Mitigating the impacts of the pandemic continues to be a challenge for Kiribati due to the reliance on imported goods, he said. Trade policy must be holistic and synergized with broader development priorities. His Government prioritizes the improvement of digital connectivity, as digital trade holds great potential for inclusive growth and socio-economic development. Turning to the COVID-19 response, he acknowledged the support received from the United Nations and from development partners, including such essentials as medication, food and health equipment. Kiribati is on track to have more than 50 per cent of its population vaccinated. More than 70 per cent of the population abroad have been safely reunited with their families. But since the discovery and outbreak of the Delta variant, the remaining nationals, especially the seafarers, have again been left stranded. His Administration will continue to work tirelessly to repatriate them.
Noting that Kiribati’s vast ocean resources sustain its economy, culture and people’s livelihoods, he said securing the limits of the country’s maritime boundaries against the threats of sea-level rise and climate change is of vital importance. Once delimitation of the maritime boundary is submitted to the Secretary-General in accordance with United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, maritime boundaries would remain permanent and shall not be affected by climate change and sea level rise. As the 2019 Commonwealth Blue Charter Champion for sustainable coastal fisheries, Kiribati will lead efforts promoting collaborate research, workshops and seminars, exchange best practices and showcase success cases among Commonwealth countries.
Recognizing that Kiribati remains vulnerable to climate change, the country will continue to build national resilience and enhance actions aligned with climate-resilient sustainable development, he said. “Our resilience as a global community is being tested,” he said, stressing: “We need to recommit ourselves to our obligations under the Paris Agreement, by putting the needs of our peoples first, and remain guided by what is best for our people”. Biodiversity and climate change are closely linked and cannot be addressed one without the other. “Kiribati is committed to raising ambitions for the post-2020 global biodiversity and climate change targets,” he said, calling upon leaders to enhance collective efforts.
Identifying food security as a shared priority across all small island developing States, he emphasized that it remains a priority under the SAMOA Pathway, as well as the Kiribati 20-year Vision plan. His Government supports the call by the Secretary-General for convening a Food Systems Summit. The Summit dialogue can trigger the creation of robust food systems in-country, he said, encouraging leaders to participate.
Read the full statement, in PDF format.
Access the statements from previous sessions.