His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain,

His Excellency Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain,

His Excellency Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations,

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, 

Distinguished Participants, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I commend His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain, and the World Health Organization for ensuring that this important event takes place this year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is truly an honour to take part in the Bahrain Visions Forum and I am delighted to be a part of what is a timely and important discussion.

Excellencies,

2020 has been a devastating year. And what makes it unique is that these difficulties have spared no corner of the world.  What lies before us is not just an unprecedented health crisis posed by COVID-19. This health crisis has developed into an economic and social crisis, the impacts of which will linger for years to come.

2020 has also ushered in the decade of action and delivery, giving us a chance to reassess our journey in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in a world where much has changed in the last 5 years. One thing is absolutely clear; transformative action is needed. This is why the Bahrain Visions Forum comes at the most opportune time.

It is clear that we must continue to work together in addressing the challenges in achieving the SDGs, and ensure that no one and no country is left behind. COVID-19 has also shown that no country, big or small, rich or poor, can face the crisis alone. We have been fortunate that our friends in the international community have helped us in our journey so far.

Despite the urgency of the COVID-19 response, we must not lose sight of our medium- and longer-term development goals. The realisation of these goals is vital to ensuring we build back better, greener and stronger.

Excellencies,

The Maldives has long placed great importance on SDG 13 and has been a champion of addressing the issue of climate change. It is clear that climate change and sustainable development are undeniably linked. It has left us with a narrow window of opportunity to reverse its negative effects.   

The impacts of climate change are here with us today – from hurricanes in the Atlantic, to forest fires on the West coast of the Americas. Closer to home, we are seeing higher tidal waves, winds, coral bleaching, sea swells and flooding. The science is irrefutable and the time for waiting is over.

Unless we can reverse the current global trajectory of climate change, we are threatening the attainment of many SDGs, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable among us.

Excellencies,

As a small island state, or as I prefer, a large ocean state, with over ninety thousand square kilometres of ocean, the Maldives’ fate is tied to the health and wealth of our ocean. We rely on the ocean for not just our tourism, food supply and transportation; it is also deeply linked to our identity, culture and way of life. We have all seen the plague of plastic pollution in our ocean, islands and waterways. We must act now with utmost urgency.

Recognizing that change starts at home, we have pledged to phase out single use plastics by 2023 and will continue to work with like-minded countries to preserve the health and wealth of our ocean.

Excellencies,

Our Government, and I personally, place great importance on the implementation of SDG 5 – ensuring Gender Equality. In this regard, we have allocated a third of local council seats to women. I am also proud to announce that, for the first time, we have achieved gender parity among Heads of Missions in our Foreign Service. It’s a personal commitment of mine and gender equality is a key pillar of ensuring we achieve our sustainable development goals.

Excellencies,

We are under no illusions. The difficulty in achieving the 2030 Agenda has been made more challenging due to COVID-19.

As a small island state, we are vulnerable. Vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, vulnerable to external shocks, vulnerable to rising commodity prices and vulnerable to the decline in tourism. We know that we need to build climate-resilient infrastructure and take steps to ensure that our implementation of the SDGs are broad and inclusive to overcome these vulnerabilities.

It is only through genuine partnership and cooperation in a spirit of multilateralism and leaving no one behind that we will be able to build a secure, resilient and prosperous world for everyone.

I thank you.