STATEMENT BY H.E. MR. PHILLIP H. MULLER, AMBASSADOR,
PERMENANT MISSION OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE MARSHALL ISLANDS TO THE UNITED NATIONS, AT THE PLENARY MEETING OF THE UNITED NATIONS GNERAL ASSEMBLY, ON THE GLOBAL FOOD AND ENERGY CRISIS
AGENDA ITEM 48
NEW YORK 18 JULY 2008
Mr. Secretary-General, Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
My delegation addresses this august body on a matter of grave and immediate importance. While we deeply appreciate the shared global challenges of an energy and food crisis, the Republic of the
Marshall Islands is truly at the front line of this global emergency. The Republic of the Marshall Islands now lacks basic energy security.
Unless urgent international action is taken, the
Marshall Islands will exhaust its present fuel supplies this September – this is a dire situation in which we may be left without electricity for the foreseeable future.
On July 3rd, His Excellency Litokwa Tomeing, the President of the Republic of the
Marshall Islands , issued a proclamation declaring a state of emergency because of rising fuel and food costs; this declaration was accompanied by Executive Orders to immediately implement nationwide energy conservation measures, as well as action plans for every government ministry and agency. We are taking direct measures - our National Disaster Committee is preparing for the worst, but is also seeking to ensure immediate energy security as well as medium and long-term conservation and alternative energy strategies which reduce reliance on imported fossil fuel. As a small island developing state, we are well aware of our limitations to successfully meet these challenges without the immediate assistance of member states and multilateral actors. Our concentrated attention to this crisis also impairs our ability to devote our limited resources to addressing the threat of climate change impacts upon our low-lying nation.
Even though our consumer use charges have increased almost four-fold in the past year, and even with substantial tariff increases, our utility companies are now struggling desperately in completing basic financial obligations to fuel suppliers. Raising consumer prices even higher only serves to further deprive our population of lifeline essential services. The unmet gap between revenues and energy costs now poses an incredible economic threat to our continued development. Global energy price shocks have also placed basic food staples nearly out of reach for much of our population, and have had a crippling effect on the transport of basic necessities, including medical care, to our rural outer islands. We are now fast-tracking domestic agricultural projects to reduce our heavy dependence upon imported food.
We are seeking the assistance of all member states, including bilateral development partners, as well as the cooperation of the Secretary-General, the UN system, and its specialized agencies, to avert a looming national crisis of unimaginable magnitude. We are also asking these same partners to work with us on a fast-track planning initiative to identify, evaluate and implement cost-appropriate, sustainable energy strategies. In this regard, we reference our recent note circulated to the Secretary General’s office, as well as the outreach of our national embassies around the world.
We are pleased to report that we have recently requested the assistance of UNIDO and UN-Energy, as potential partners in our attempt to meet this critical challenge. We are identifying means to expedite our proposed membership in UNIDO. We also embrace our recent conversations with key bilateral development partners, but we also note that we are still facing critical immediate and long-term challenges.
The overwhelming flood of statements for this plenary meeting makes it clear that our experience is by no means isolated, even if we are at the front line of this crisis. The
Marshall Islands proudly adds our voice to this urgent and complex global dialogue. But we will only be able to continue to do so with the immediate partnership of the global community.