Ministers adopt Declaration on small island developing States

30 January 2004 –

Ministers and senior government officials meeting in Nassau, Bahamas, today adopted a Ministerial Declaration reaffirming the validity of the Barbados Programme of Action - a blueprint adopted 10 years ago for the sustainable development of small island developing States (SIDS).

Culminating a weeklong Interregional Preparatory Meeting, the Declaration constitutes a common platform for the International Conference for the 10-year review of the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of the Small Island Developing States, to be held in Mauritius from 30 August to 4 September.

The Declaration reaffirms commitment to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a series of time-bound targets adopted at a 2000 UN Summit aimed at eradicating a range of social ills. It also acknowledges that small island development States have made some progress in implementing the Programme of Action "largely through domestic measures, despite the impediments posed by their structural disadvantages and vulnerabilities."

But the Declaration voices concern over the weakening economic performance of many of these countries 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," the Ministers state.

Concerned that these nations are unable to effectively participate in multilateral trade negotiations, the Declaration calls on the World Trade Organization (WTO) to "recognize the special case of SIDS and take appropriate action."

Voicing appreciation for support rendered so far, the text notes, however, that not all commitments have been honoured, while changing internal circumstances are further exacerbating the challenges faced by SIDS. The Declaration calls for "greater support for and improved coordination among" development partners for the effective implementation of the Programme of Action.

"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," the Declaration says.

When the forum opened on Monday, Anwarul K. Chowdhury, the Secretary-General of the Mauritius, meeting stressed that SIDS, though facing a set of specific challenges, have a great contribution to make to the global community.

"For the conference in Barbados, our slogan was 'Small Islands, Big Issues,'" Mr. Chowdhury, who is also Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, had said. "For Mauritius, reflecting today's realities, I would like to adjust it to say: 'Small Islands, Big Potential.'"

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