19/01/2004
Press Release
ENV/DEV/749



BAHAMAS MEETING (26-30 JANUARY) TO DEVELOP COMMON PLATFORM


FOR SMALL ISLAND STATES WORLDWIDE


NEW YORK, 19 January (Department of Public Information) --  Some 300 representatives of small island developing States in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and South China Seas, and the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans will gather in the Bahamas from 26 to 30 January to attend an interregional preparatory meeting to develop a common platform for a review of the 1994 Barbados Programme of Action for Small Islands.


The forum is expected to synthetize the conclusions of regional meetings held last year in preparation for the main United Nations conference scheduled this year -- the International Conference 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.


Small islands face major vital challenges such as the rising sea levels caused by global warming which threatens the very existence of some of them.  Islands are also particularly vulnerable to cyclones and storms, as demonstrated by the destruction wreaked on Niue in the South Pacific in the first week of January, which left 20 per cent of its population homeless.  Resources necessary to clean up and rebuild this island are estimated to be three to four times its annual gross domestic product (GDP).


Though the Barbados Programme of Action has only been partially implemented, partly due to a reduction of the foreign aid that they received over the last decade, small island developing States have increasingly worked as a relatively efficient and influential group on the international scene in spite of their geographic dispersion, and they pragmatically strive to present their common concerns in order to both become more integrated in the world economy and protect their fragile ecosystems.


The Bahamas meeting will address a variety of both existing and emerging vital issues for the future of small islands, including good governance, trade, tourism, freshwater, energy, transport and communications, and HIV/AIDS.  The common priorities for action identified by the Bahamas meeting will then be presented at the twelfth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development from 14 to 16 April in New York.


“The international community, equipped with the lessons of the last years, needs to come together to support, in real terms, the genuine aspirations of the small island developing States and their determined efforts for a new resurgence in Mauritius to bring true benefit and progress for the women, men and children of this most vulnerable segment of the humanity”, recently stated the Secretary-General of the International Conference for the 10-Year Review of the Barbados Programme of Action, Anwarul K. Chowdhury.


Delegates to the Bahamas meeting will include governmental representatives, representatives of associate members of the United Nations regional economic commissions, United Nations specialized agencies, non-governmental organizations, and invited experts, including lead speakers and moderators.  Many developed countries are expected to attend the meeting as observers.


For further information, please visit www.best.bs or http://www.sidsnet.org/, or contact at the United Nations (New York), François Coutu, tel:  (1-212) 963-9495, e-mail:  coutu@un.org; Abraham Joseph, tel:  (1-212) 963-4839, e-mail:  josepha@un.org; Diane Quarless, tel: (1-212) 963-8563, e-mail:  quarless@un.org; or at the Bahamas Information Services, Chris Symmonett, tel. (242) 327-0070; e-mail:  chrissymmonett@yahoo.com.


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