UNGA78: Lack of progress on Sustainable Development Goals unacceptable- Solomon’s PM Sogavare to 78th UN General Assembly

Manasseh Damukana Sogavare, Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventy-eighth session.


Mr. President,
Your Excellencies Heads of State, Heads of Governments
Ministers, Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
I bring greetings from the people of Solomon Islands to this August
We reaffirm our commitment to the principles of this 78 years old
organization, for a world of peace with shared prosperity, progress
with partnership, and a sustainable future with dignity and liberty.
Mr President,
The people of Solomon Islands extend our congratulations to a
fellow Islander from Trinidad and Tobago, His Excellency
Ambassador. Dennis Francis on your election as President of the
78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
We also acknowledge your predecessor, His Excellency Ambassador
Csaba Korosi for his stewardship throughout the 77th Session of the
General Assembly. I wish him every success in his future
I too would like to join the international community in conveying,
on behalf of the people of Solomon Islands our deepest condolences
to the Government and people of the Kingdom of Morocco and Libya
respectively. We pray for speedy recovery and that the Almighty give
strength and comfort to those who have lost their homes or loved

Mr. President,
The choice of this year’s theme is very interesting given our current
state of world affairs and is one that resonates well with Solomon
Islands. Eight years ago, in this very Hall, we made a pledge to save
our planet, eradicate poverty and address the climate crisis.
Collectively we resolved to adopt the 17 Sustainable Development
Goals (SDGs) in our bid to ensure that “no one is left behind”. The
Paris Agreement is also a testament of that unified resolve.
However, today the health of our planet has declined and poverty
has increased. We are also presented with a runaway climate crisis
that threatens our very existence and questions our resolve.
These multiple predicaments coupled with the toxic mix of geopolitical power posturing, conflicts and economic downturn has
interrogated our collective commitment to the very purpose of our
organization and the effectiveness of multilateralism in our fast
changing world.
Taking stock of our achievements, it is unacceptable that 85
percent of global Sustainable Development Goals are either off
track, regressed or stagnant. The gravity of this situation cannot be
ignored, especially for LDCs and SIDS.
The theme presented not only highlights the failure of
multilateralism but raises the immediate need for us to restore our
trust and reignite our solidarity by upholding our global
commitment within the principles and spirit of the UN Charter.

Mr. President,
The theme further presents an opportunity for us to take stock of
our own shortcomings and to see where we can breathe new life
into the 2030 Agenda. If it means re-engineering our method of
collaboration, and raising our ambition to bolster and accelerate
global action in the next seven years, then we must start today.
As a LDC we are heartened by the international community
support to extend our preparatory period to graduate in 2027. We
thank you for your solidarity and support. Solomon Islands
remains committed to have our Smooth Transition Strategy in
place by the end of 2024.
We are reviewing our 2016-2035 National Development Strategy,
and have prioritized infrastructure resilience, digital connectivity,
technology transfer, investment, trade and energy reforms to
ensure our graduation is resilient, sustainable and irreversible.
This is our effort to salvage and rescue the 2030 Agenda.
To propel our economic recovery and build our resilience we need
bilateral and multilateral support to advance our development
aspirations and address our vulnerabilities. In that vein we once
again reiterate our call for an enhanced UN in-country presence.

Mr. President,
We therefore call for the immediate implementation of the six
priorities of the Doha Programme of Action 2022 – 2031 and
translating these commitments into reality. We also welcome
Solomon Islands inclusion in the pilot phase of the Early Warning
Systems through the ‘Resilience Building Mechanism’ and look
forward to the utilization of the iGrad facility to support our
transition initiatives towards graduation.
The world’s commitment to multilateralism must be strengthened.
Solomon Islands call for a stronger political will from the ‘haves’’
to grant LDCs with non-reciprocal trade arrangement and
Generalized System of Preference arrangement. Good neighborly
relations means caring and striving for all, the 47 LDCs account
for only 1 percent of global trade.
We acknowledge and value South- South cooperation because it is
less restrictive, more responsive and is aligned to our national
needs. We applaud the People’s Republic of China for their
initiative in accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda
through their Belt and Road Initiative, Global Development
Initiative, Global Security Initiative and Global Civilisation
Initiative. During my discussion with President Xi Ji Ping in July
2023, Solomon Islands and China reached an understanding to
establish a comprehensive strategic framework that aims to
achieve our National Development Strategy and the 2030 Agenda
through these transformative initiatives.
These initiative carries significant importance in promoting,
implementing and achieving the United Nations 2030 Agenda for
Sustainable Development Goals.
We call on all partners to adopt this transformative partnership
model. If we are to rebuild trust and reignite solidarity then let us
start by changing how we engage and reforming our international
financial architecture.
Our appetite for transformative change has never been higher and
we look forward to working closely with all Partners who are
genuine to partner with us in our path to achieving the
Sustainable Development Goals.

Mr. President,
I call for the establishment of a SIDS permanent seat in decision
making body within the international financial architecture to
ensure inclusivity.
As a Small Island Developing State, we support the Fourth Small
Islands Developing Countries Conference scheduled to be held in
Antigua and Barbuda in May 2024. The gathering is expected to
present a roadmap of collective action to succeed the SAMOA
Pathway. We have every confidence this new partnership will be
ambitious and recommit global action to the unique and special
needs of SIDS.
On the matter of the development of the Multi-Dimensional
Vulnerability Index. Solomon Islands supports the call for the
adoption of the Multi-Dimensional Vulnerability Index (MVI) and
its operationalization and implementation during this 78th UN
General Assembly. This is a SIDS initiative that takes into account
the cross dimensional vulnerability of SIDS to recover and build
back better. Therefore, the modus operandi of the International
Financial Institutions must be reformed to address our special
circumstances vulnerability.

Peace, Security and Development
Mr. President,
There can be no sustainable development without peace, and no
peace without sustainable development. The world cannot achieve
the SDGs with all the conflict and wars that is going on. The past
seven years has shown us that.
Solomon Islands reiterate its call for the cessation of all conflict
including the Ukraine war. We must restore faith in our Charter
and give peace a chance. We must better understand and listen to
each other more and seek a diplomatic solution to all conflict.
Wars have exacerbated our vulnerability, broken our trust and
undermine our solidarity. It remains a great distraction from our
development agenda. Swords must now be converted to plough. It
is time we sow seeds of peace so that we can reap the fruit of
progress, prosperous and sustainability.

Mr. President,
We continue to call for an expanded, democratic, equitable,
transparent and accountable Security Council that represents
today’s realities. This include a dedicated Small Islands
Developing State seat.
Solomon Islands registered our interest nine years ago to serve in
the Security Council for the period 2031 – 2032. Today we
continue to seek international support for our candidature and
thank those who have given their support. We again reiterate our
strong belief in multilateralism and reaffirm our commitment to
the spirit and purpose of the UN Charter.

Pacific Games 2023
Mr. President,
Solomon Islands will host the 17th Pacific Games, the region’s
largest and premium multi sporting event for the first time in our
history from 19th November to 2nd December. Our shores will be
graced by the presence more than 5000 athletes of 24 countries
and territories within the Pacific region including Australia and
New Zealand. We stand united and proud to deliver on this
regional commitment.
Solomon Islands’ is grateful and appreciates the ongoing support
from our bilateral and multilateral partners, in particular People
Republic of China who has become our leading infrastructure
partner. We also thank Saudi Arabia, Australia, New Zealand,
Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Korea and Japan for
their support as well.

Climate Change
Mr. President
Countless voices have echoed the same sentiment that Climate
Change remains the single greatest threat to our people and
planet. But have we seriously and truly taken heed? Ambition
under the Paris Agreement remains low. We need to keep the 1.5
degrees Celsius alive and close the mitigation gap.
The Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement is critical to keep
everyone honest, know where we are, what we need to do and how
to keep the 1.5 goal alive. Loss and Damage mechanism needs to
be resourced and operationalized. Global trust needs to be
restored to uphold the credibility of the Paris Agreement. We must
walk the talk by taking drastic climate action.
Solomon Islands welcome the International Court of Justice (ICJ)
deliberations on the Vanuatu initiative for Climate Justice. We
must accelerate our transition to a low carbon economy and
further support the Port Vila initiative for a just transition from
fossil fuels. Developed countries must take the lead in financing
the construction of climate resilient safe islands in SIDS. This
must be a global priority.

Rights of Persons with Disability
Mr. President,
Solomon Islands is pleased to inform the General Assembly that
we have ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with
Disability. The National Disability Inclusive Policy and the Mental
Health Policy provides the framework for implementation to ensure
the rights of persons with disabilities are promoted and protected
at all levels.
We are cognizant of our duty to provide enabling environment and
mechanism that enables our people to exercise their fundamental
rights as provided for under our Constitution.

Right to self-determination
Solomon Islands reaffirm the right to self-determination as
enshrined under the UN Charter. On the question of New Caledonia
and French Polynesia, Solomon Islands notes with deep concern
the credibility of the latest referendum in New Caledonia. We
urgently call on the relevant body and stakeholders to look into this

Embargo on Cuba
Mr. President,
Solomon Islands note with deep concern the six-decade old
embargo imposed on Cuba. This unilateral action undermines the
spirit of multilateralism and Cuba’s progress towards achieving the
2030 Agenda. We urge our friend and partner the United States of
America to lift the unjust economic embargo placed on Cuba. This
is an opportunity to rebuild trust and reignite solidarity.
Embargoes do not auger well with the resolve of this August body
to leave no one behind.
I take this opportunity on behalf of the people of Solomon Islands
to thank Cuba for its support to our health sector through the
training of our medical doctors over recent years.

Our Ocean
Mr. President,
Two days ago Solomon Islands signed and became amongst the
first signatories to the Agreement on the Conservation and
Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of areas Beyond
National Jurisdiction a subsidiary to the United Nation
Convention on the Laws of the Sea.
Solomon Islands in collaboration with the Pacific Island Forum
Fisheries Agency will host a Summit on the implementation of
SDG 14.4 next year in Honiara. This will be done in coordination
with UN Special Envoy for the Ocean. The Summit will showcase
Pacific leadership in Tuna fisheries management. The outcome
will feed into the third UN Ocean Conference in June 2025.
We note the ongoing work of current intergovernmental negotiating
committee to develop an international legally binding instrument
on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment. This is
critical to maintaining the health, productivity, and resilience of
our ocean and is in line with 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific

Nuclear issues
Mr. President,
The Pacific has been a victim of power politics long before we
became a member of this organization. The Battle of Guadalcanal is
recorded in history as one of the fiercest battle of World War 2, a
war that was not of our making. The lack of urgency eight decades
ago to remove these UXOs comes at a great cost to Solomon Islands
in finance and lives.
On this juncture I would like to thank the Government of the
United States of America for their continued assistance to the
efforts to date. However, more needs to be done to address this
threat. I call on responsible countries to remove the UXOs and
compensate lives affected and lost.
Since the inception of the United Nations in 1945, the Pacific
Islands remained a stage for power projection by developed
nations. As a consequence, from 1946 to 1996, approximately 300
nuclear devices were tested in the Pacific, including in the Marshall
Islands, French Polynesia and Kiribati. Did we have a say in this?
Mr President, these countries and their people must be
compensated commensurably.

Mr. President,
The nuclear footprint of big powers in the Pacific is intrinsically
carved into our history and genes. Certain populations to this day
continue to suffer from health issues because of nuclear testing
and dumping in the Pacific.
As a signatory to the 1985 Treaty of Raratonga, Treaty on NonProliferation of Nuclear Weapons, our commitment to keep our
Blue Pacific Continent nuclear free is non-negotiable. We ratified
the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty earlier this year which is a
testament to our conviction and principle for a nuclear free
Pacific. We remain concerned on the development of military
nuclear investment within Pacific region and its potential to
trigger nuclear arms race and its implication for our nuclear free

Fukushima nuclear waste water
Mr. President,
Solomon Islands stands with like-minded Pacific islanders and is
appalled by Japan’s decision to discharge over a million tonnes of
treated nuclear wastewater into the ocean.
We note IAEAs assessment report is inconclusive and that the
scientific data shared remains inadequate, incomplete and biased.
These concerns were ignored. If this nuclear waste water is safe it
should be stored in Japan. The fact that is dumped into the ocean
shows that it is not safe.
The effect of this act is transboundary and intergenerational and is
an attack on global trust and solidarity. So the message is clear
The increased warming and acidification of the ocean against the
discharge of treated nuclear water over a period of 30 plus years
poses worrying risks for our people’s well-being and future.
We call on Japan to explore other options in addressing the treated
nuclear wastewater and to immediately stop discharging it into the
Pacific Ocean. If we are to rebuild trust and reignite global
solidarity, we must be honest and frank in protecting our oceans
which is the lifeblood of our people.
Mr. President,
I am morally and ethically obliged to speak for humanity, the
voiceless, and our children’s children. We are the ocean, it is our
past, our present, our future. It is the foundation of our very
existence, it is our identity.
Please stop the discharge of nuclear treated water or history will
judge us.

Mr. President,
In framing the future we want we need a reformed rule based
international system that is future ready and responsive to today’s
reality. A change of attitude and approach is needed. The need to
understand and reach out to the vulnerable is critical.
We must restore our faith in the UN Charter and end all wars.
Renew and reaffirm our focus with vigor matched with resources
to deliver on our 2030 Agenda.

Mr. President,
We only have one life to live.
So let us right the wrongs of the past by rebuilding trust and
reigniting solidarity to accelerate action on the 2030 Agenda and
its sustainable development goals towards peace, prosperity,
progress and sustainability for all.
I close by paraphrasing Winston Churchill.
Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty and so bear ourselves
that, if humankind and United Nation last for a thousand years,
men and women will still say: This was their finest hour.
Iu mi Tugeda (together) for a better United Nation.
To God be the Glory great things He has done.
May God bless you all and May God bless the United Nations.

Thank you.–ENDS


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