Reporting on the United Nations General Assembly through Island Voices

NEW YORK, 1 October 2019 – World leaders gathered last week at the United Nations Headquarters to signal how they will boost action to respond to the climate emergency, ensure health and well being of people, accelerate achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and support small island developing States.

Through the period 23 to 27 September, 2019 five high-level summits took place, namely the: Climate Action Summit, High-level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage, Sustainable Development Goals Summit, High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development and the High-level Midterm Review of the SAMOA Pathway.

Working behind the scenes to report on the proceedings was a group of fifteen journalists from small island developing States (SIDS) who were selected through the Island Voices journalism campaign by the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS). Their presence was an opportunity to focus on global issues through an island lens.

Group photo with High Representative Fekitamoeloa ‘Utoikamanu and Director Heidi Schroderus-Fox

Welcoming the journalists to the United Nations, Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu, High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States said “The discussions that are taking place here at the global level has direct impacts on the lives of islanders back home. This is why your presence is critical. Because it is through you that these stories can be told to audiences back home.”

Throughout the high-level week, the journalists were immersed not only in the major summits but also covering the speeches of the heads of state and governments from their respective countries. Furthermore, several journalists moderated interview panels with high level participants, covering major development issues ranging from oceans to private sector partnerships.

UN-OHRLLS also took the opportunity to turn the spotlight on the journalists, carrying out video interviews where they shared their perspectives on the major development issues their island nations are facing, the role of the media in reporting on the SAMOA Pathway as well as sharing their advice for young journalists starting their careers in small island developing States. A three-part video of the interviews will be released in the autumn of 2019.

Opening of the Midterm Review of the SAMOA Pathway

High on the agenda for the journalists was the Midterm Review of the SAMOA Pathway held on 27 September which provided leaders with the opportunity to discuss progress on combating the devastating impacts of climate change, building economic and environmental resilience, and other challenges facing SIDS.

27 September, 2019. Press conference for the Midterm Review of the SAMOA Pathway.

Speaking at the dedicated press conference for the SAMOA Pathway Midterm Review, High Representative ‘Utoikamanu said “The SAMOA Pathway stands for the voices, priorities and hopes of small island developing States to build inclusive and sustainable societies.” She added, “It is a roadmap for action. This Midterm Review represents a strategic moment. It affords us the opportunity to review and to renew the international community’s commitments to small island developing states.”

The SAMOA Pathway is the overarching 10-year framework adopted in 2014 at the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States in Apia, Samoa. It guides island nations in their global, regional and national development efforts and is an integral part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The political declaration adopted at the Midterm Review by UN Member States outlines the progress made on implementing the SAMOA Pathway while identifying gaps and remaining challenges, including the climate crisis as well as socio-economic concerns.

The Island Voices journalism campaign was made possible through the financial support of the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.