30/01/2004
Press Release
DEV/2456



NASSAU FORUM ADOPTS DECLARATION, STRATEGY PAPER IN PREPARATION


FOR MAURITIUS MEETING ON SMALL ISLAND STATES


(Received from a UN Information Officer.)


NASSAU, 30 January -- At the end of a five-day interregional meeting held in Nassau, Bahamas, ministers and representatives of more than 40 small island developing States (SIDS) approved today both a Declaration and a Strategy Paper presenting their key expectations and priorities in preparation for the upcoming Mauritius Conference to Review the Barbados Programme of Action on the Sustainable Development of SIDS.


This ministerial declaration, officially called “The Nassau Declaration”, expresses concerns about the “weakening economic performance” of many SIDS since the adoption of the Programme of Action, due in part to their declining trade performance.  “We recognize that international trade is important for the building of resilience and sustainable development of SIDS”, it states.  The Declaration deplores “that SIDS are unable to effectively participate in the multilateral trade negotiations, resulting in their further marginalization” and calls upon “the WTO (World Trade Organization) to recognize the special case of SIDS and take appropriate action”.


The Strategy Paper also approved today in Nassau asserts that “there is an urgent need for greater democracy, transparency and inclusiveness in the international financial and economic system to allow for the effective participation of SIDS in international financial decision-making processes and institutions, and in the process of setting international rules, codes, norms and standards”.


Earlier this week, the President of the fifty-eighth session of the General Assembly, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saint Lucia Julian R. Hunte,said that, following the dismantling of preferential arrangements under agreed rules of WTO, “the agricultural commodities that financed the development of many SIDS -- sugar, bananas and cocoa among them -- have, under competition, been damaged, some beyond repair”.


The Nassau forum was convened to synthesize the conclusions of regional meetings held over the last year in preparation for the main United Nations conference scheduled this year, the International Meeting for the 10-Year Review of the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of the Small Island Developing States, that will take place in Mauritius from 30 August to 4 September 2004. 


The Nassau Meeting was attended by more than 300 representatives of small island developing States in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and South China Seas, and the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans.  They included ministers and governmental representatives, including observers from a dozen of donor countries, from United Nations regional economic commissions, United Nations specialized agencies, and invited experts and moderators.


The Nassau Declaration notes that the current emphasis on security worldwide “has resulted in the diversion of resources from the sustainable development agenda”.  “Security must be viewed in a multidimensional fashion, including threats such as natural disasters, food security, water security, incidence of HIV/AIDS, narco-trafficking, and illegal trade in small arms”, it adds.  “There is a need for more international cooperation and technical and financial support to SIDS to face these threats, as these new obligations create particular difficulties for all SIDS, particularly those with large coastal areas and the archipelagic SIDS.”


The ministerial declaration reaffirms the continued validity of the Programme of Action as the fundamental framework for the sustainable development of SIDS, and the small islands’ commitment to the targets and timetable in the Millennium Development Goals.


The ministers said that they appreciate the support provided by the international community over the past decade in assisting small islands address their needs in the context of the Programme of Action, but they note in their Declaration “that not all commitments have been honoured”.  “We emphasize the urgent needs of small island developing States for new and additional financial resources, provided in adequate, predictable and timely flows, in order to respond effectively to these challenges”, it adds.  Earlier this week, the Secretary-General of the Mauritius Meeting, Anwarul Chowdhury, revealed that overall assistance for small islands has fallen from $2.3 billion in 1994 to $1.7 billion in 2002.


On climate change, the Strategy Paper states that “the adverse effects of climate change and sea-level rise continue to threaten the sustainable development, livelihoods and existence of SIDS”.  “The failure of most industrialized countries to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions means that the vulnerability of SIDS will be increased and that adaptation to climate change continues to be a major priority for SIDS”, it adds.  To this end, SIDS urge the international community “to ensure the immediate ratification and entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol”, to “take further urgent action to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions, including through the development and increased use of renewable energy” and to “support SIDS in the development and implementation of national climate change action plans”.


The Strategy Paper also emphasizes that “the increasing incidence of health issues such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, drug resistant malarial strains, dengue, nutritional disorders, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases and their impact on sustainable development is a major concern in SIDS, including SARS, West Nile Virus, birdflu and other new and emerging diseases”.  It urges the international community to support the effective control of these diseases through ensuring “that the needs of SIDS are addressed in all existing and new programmes on HIV/AIDS, malaria, dengue and tuberculosis”, in order to make resources readily accessible to them.  Small islands also call for “enhanced accessibility to effective pharmaceutical drugs at affordable prices”.


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