Anwarul K. Chowdhury, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (SIDS), told the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) in New York that regional groups are often better able to negotiate with development partners.
"They know the region's strengths and weaknesses. They know of the region's capacities and resources," he said. "They are also better placed to initiate and push ahead with projects and programmes with the governments of the region."
He said regional organizations could help overcome the small size and minuscule populations of SIDS by helping to set up regional development programmes that have individual national components.
Mr. Chowdhury was addressing the opening of three days of CSD talks on small island developing States. This week's talks are serving as a preparatory meeting for a five-day conference on the same issue starting 30 August in Mauritius.
The Mauritius summit has been established to review what progress has been made on the programme of action approved at a previous conference in 1994 in Barbados on the sustainable development of SIDS.
That programme includes such issues as climate change, tourism, natural disasters and waste. The Mauritius summit is also expected to examine trade, HIV/AIDS and information technology.
"No single group of countries is as vulnerable" as the world's 40-plus SIDS, Mr. Chowdhury said, calling for a more dynamic process to monitor whether improvements are being made.
CSD Chairman Børge Brende of Norway told the meeting that many of the goals and actions recommended in the Barbados plan have not been implemented yet. Mr. Chowdhury said the Mauritius summit would focus on why there had been such serious shortfalls.
José Antonio Ocampo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General's progress report to today's talks. He said the report highlighted the most critical areas facing SIDS, including climate change and protecting coastal areas from rising sea levels.
Mr. Ocampo said the report also examined challenges that were not anticipated at Barbados in 1994, such as terrorism and transnational organized crime.