October 11, 2019, United Nations Headquarters, New York, U.S.A.: The Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe became the seventeenth (17th) Small Island Developing State (SIDS) to accede to the Statute Establishing SIDS DOCK. The Honourable Mr. Osvaldo C.V. Abreu, Minister of Public Works, Infrastructure, Natural Resources and Environment, attended a symbolic signing ceremony at the fifth session of the Assembly of SIDS DOCK, held on 28 September 2019, at the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Chamber, on the sidelines of the seventy-fourth (74th) UN General Assembly, at UN Headquarters, in New York City, United States (U.S.).
SIDS DOCK was launched in 2015, and is the only UN-recognized international organization with all the rights and privileges for addressing climate change, resilience, and energy security in small islands. Small islands comprise more than one-fifth of the total membership of the UN, and have stewardship over more than 20 percent of the world’s oceans.
In his opening remarks before the Assembly of SIDS DOCK, Minister Abreu thanked the President of the Assembly and its members for welcoming São Tomé and Príncipe as its newest member. “For São Tomé and Príncipe, joining the SIDS DOCK Treaty is a significant step for my country as we try to transform our energy sector, and we recognize that doing this can only make us more resilient to the impacts of climate change. Already, we are experiencing rising sea levels, deforestation, landslides, and droughts that are having a devastating effect on one of the world’s best cocoa, a major export commodity for the people of São Tomé and Príncipe. Less rainfall means that we cannot plant in the dry season, and less water in the natural springs that serve as natural reservoir for drinking water supply to the populations, therefore, access to water is also a major problem, and transforming our energy sector can help address some of these issues,” the Minister noted.
The Minister also expressed concern about the limited capacity of the Satomean economy to guarantee foreign exchange convertibility in favor of private investors in the renewable energy sector, and called for support in this regard. The Minister also invited SIDS DOCK Members and development partners to assist Sao Tome and Principe to ensure the continuity of different forms of external support, and hence, to sustain the stable growth path in the post-graduation period for the Least Developed Countries (LDC) category in December 2024. The country of 200,000 people is the second-smallest African sovereign state after the Republic of Seychelles, a SIDS DOCK Founding Member.
Under the SIDS DOCK umbrella, São Tomé and Príncipe is receiving support from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), based in Cabo Verde, under the project “Strategic program to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency investments in the electricity sector of São Tomé and Príncipe”. ECREEE is the SIDS DOCK hub for African SIDS.
During the SIDS DOCK-UNIDO Samoa Pathway Mid-Term Review High-level Luncheon Event: “Mission Transforming Lives! The Network of Regional Sustainable Energy Centres for Small Island Developing States,” held 27 September 2019, at the Delegates Dining Room, UN Headquarters, during his intervention, Minister Abreu said that while it has been challenging implementing the SAMOA Pathway, the dedicated programme of action for SIDS, he said that the country was looking forward to the preparation of a toolkit to harmonize monitoring and reporting on its implementation and that of the 2030 Agenda, on the ground. In commending the initiative by the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), the Minister noted that it will play an important role in helping to advance critical statistical capacity constraints and data poverty.
Minister Abreu was accompanied to UN Headquarters by a High-Level Delegation from São Tomé and Príncipe, which included, The Honourable Ms. Elsa Maria Neto d’Alva Teixeira de Barros Pinto, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Communities, and Mr. Luiselio Pinto, Special Advisor to the Minister of Public Works, Infrastructure, Natural Resources and Environment.