Remarks by UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the closing of the Small Island Developing States Global Business Network Forum

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26 May 2024


President of the Maldives,

Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda,


Ladies and gentlemen, all protocol observed,

We are here in beautiful Antigua and Barbuda for the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States, SIDS4, opening tomorrow.

But allow me before I start to express my full solidarity with the people and the government of Papua New Guinea – a member of the SIDS – and my condolences to the victims of the devastating, devastating landslides that have cause horrific death and destruction.

Tomorrow’s Conference will agree on the Antigua and Barbuda Agenda for SIDS, which charts a course of action to meet today’s overlapping challenges and crises, in partnership with the international community.

Because Small Island Developing States cannot achieve the sustainable, inclusive development they need only on their own.

Mobilizing the resources needed by SIDS will require a sustained commitment from the international community. And public money will not be enough.

Multistakeholder partnerships, including especially with the private sector, will be essential.

From financing renewable energy to promoting sustainable tourism and mobilizing capital for climate resilience, SIDS will need to leverage private sector investments, expertise, and innovation.

I urge governments to take the lead in developing conducive regulatory and policy environments, underpinned by strong and accountable public institutions.

And I urge Multilateral Development Banks to adapt their business model, to substantially mobilize private finance at reasonable cost, and contribute to de-risking private investment.

And I urge the private sector to play its part.

First, by taking deliberate, time-bound action to align your activities with the Sustainable Development Goals, across all dimensions of your businesses.

For example, with high levels of interest in critical minerals, I urge you to assess the full impact of mining on deep-sea habitats, before making irreversible decisions.

Aligning all business practices with the SDGs will require changes to corporate governance models – and to internal incentives.

Second, I urge you to prioritize climate action by developing and implementing ambitious, credible, and verifiable net-zero plans.

This means addressing emission reductions across the board, with a view to marine protection and decarbonization of the shipping sector.

And third, I ask that you use your voice and influence with governments to push for greater ambition across the spectrum of SDG implementation, and particularly climate action.


This dynamic SIDS Global Business Network Forum has helped to mobilize the private sector in preparation for the SIDS4 Conference.

The Forum provides a clear entry point for the private sector into the SIDS agenda.

It provides an excellent platform for fostering innovation, building partnerships, driving accountability, and ensuring that business practices are aligned with success for SIDS.

The Global Business Network supports SIDS across a range of activities, from helping to attract investment in the blue and green sectors, to enabling Micro-, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises to thrive.

It can help to expand digital connectivity and ensure accessibility and affordability – key to improving access to education and healthcare and enhancing disaster preparedness, prevention and response.

Digital transformation also presents opportunities for economic diversification, particularly for women and young people.

This Forum has tackled all of these issues.

Strengthening the Global Business Network, together with the SIDS Partnership Framework, will help to support implementation of the ideas expressed today.


The financing challenges faced by SIDS go far beyond this group of countries. They are symptomatic of financial turmoil in the developing world.

The global financial system is outdated, dysfunctional and unjust, and is failing to provide a safety net for many developing economies mired in debt.

The United Nations is pushing for deep reforms to make it more representative of today’s world, and more responsive to today’s challenges.

Developing countries including SIDS need access to capital at low cost. They can then leverage this to secure outside investments. They also need debt relief and a mechanism for long-term debt sustainability.

The Summit of the Future in September will be an opportunity to create political momentum for these reforms.

It will also agree on a Global Digital Compact aimed at increasing access to digital technologies, including for SIDS and Least Developed Countries.

We must ensure that all countries and communities have access to both the finance and the technologies needed to transform their energy, food and digital systems.

Distinguished guests, Excellencies,

Thank you for being part of this Global Business Network Forum.

Together, let’s work to deliver a better, more resilient, more sustainable future for the people of Small Island Developing States.

And together let’s raise our voice for the reforms that are needed for a fairer and a more effective international financial economic system able to provide to the SIDS the resources and the capacities they deserve and they need.

Thank you very much.


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