United Nations


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

23 April 1994


Item 9 of the provisional agenda* 
 Statement by the Group of Eminent Persons on the 
 Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing 
States, Bridgetown, Barbados, 21-22 April 1994 
Almost two years ago, at Rio de Janeiro, the nations of the world  
joined together to assert their common determination to safeguard  
the future of the planet and its inhabitants. Agenda 21, the  
global plan of action that the Rio Summit (United Nations  
Conference on Environment and Development) adopted, addresses the  
pressing problems of today, while seeking to prepare for the  
challenges of the next century through a transition to  
sustainable development. 
Small island developing States are an integral part of that  
blueprint for sustainable development. Chapter 17.G of Agenda 21  
defines small island developing States and islands supporting  
small communities as a special case for both environment and  
development, presenting special challenges to the planning for  
sustainable development. It further recognizes that these States  
will be constrained in meeting such development without the  
cooperation of the international community. 
The Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of small  
island developing States has been convened by the United Nations  
General Assembly to provide a comprehensive framework for the  
implementation of Agenda 21 in the specific context of those  
At the invitation of the Governor-General of Barbados, Her  
Excellency Dame Nita Barrow, GCMG, DA, an independent panel of 10  
eminent persons met in Barbados on 21 and 22 April 1994 to  
examine progress and prospects for sustainable development and  
its implications for small island developing States. In  
particular, the Group was mandated to: 
(a)Present comprehensive recommendations on ways in which to  
respond to the challenges faced by small island developing States  
in planning for and achieving sustainable development; 
(b)Suggest innovative measures to mobilize international  
awareness of and support for programmes in this regard; 
(c)Recommend ways of strengthening institutional capabilities, at  
the subregional, regional and international levels, to respond to  
the sustainable development priorities of small island developing  
States, with particular reference to human resources development  
and capacity-building, technology development and transfer, and  
inter-island exchange of information and expertise; 
(d)Suggest ways to enhance the involvement of major groups in  
sustainable development issues, especially as they affect small  
island developing States. 
At the outset of its deliberations, the Group of Eminent Persons  
had the benefit of a round-table briefing session involving the  
ex-officio participation of high-level representatives of the  
United Nations system and relevant regional organizations and  
institutions, as well as the Chairpersons of the Commission on  
Sustainable Development, the Preparatory Committee for the  
Conference, and the Alliance of Small Island Developing States. 
A list of the Eminent Persons who participated in the meeting is  
found in annex I to this report. Annex II contains the list of  
round-table participants. 
Having met at Bridgetown, Barbados, on 21 and 22 April 1994 on  
the eve of the first Global Conference on the Sustainable  
Development of Small Island Developing States, we make the  
following statement: 
The momentum generated at the Earth Summit is faltering. The  
failure of the developed countries to honour the commitments made  
at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development  
is undermining the global partnership forged at Rio de Janeiro.  
While some Governments have begun to respond seriously to the  
agreements reached at Rio de Janeiro, the most encouraging  
developments have occurred primarily at the level of people and  
the non-governmental and sectoral organizations through which  
they act.  
The industrialized countries have not shown the political will  
nor have they provided the additional resources required to  
realize the partnership. 
Without access to the needed resources and technology, developing  
countries cannot fulfil their part of the bargain.  
This calls into serious question the prospects for sustainable  
A way to provide new impetus must be found.  
The Barbados Conference provides that opportunity, particularly  
in respect of small island developing States. The decisions taken  
at Bridgetown will have wide implications for the implementation  
of Agenda 21. The Conference deserves the attention of  
Governments at the highest level and the strongest possible  
institutional and operational support from the United Nations. 
We note that, although individually the small island developing  
States are small, collectively they exercise jurisdiction over  
one sixth of the earth's surface, which includes significant  
marine and coastal resources, in particular coral reef and  
mangrove eco-systems, and global fish stocks, as well as some of  
the most distinctive human cultures and populations. In addition  
they represent one fifth of the membership of the United Nations  
and its agencies. 
Small island developing States should recognize their combined  
strategic strength and use it creatively in pursuing self-reliant  
and sustainable development.  
In this regard we wish to pay tribute to the important role that  
the Alliance of Small Island States has played, since its  
creation in 1990, in forging a coalition to promote the cause of  
small islands internationally. 
We recognize that human beings are the central focus of  
sustainable development, and we emphasize the critical  
contribution of indigenous people, women and the youth in all  
efforts of small island developing States to achieve sustainable  
development. Investing in human development also means  
safeguarding the needs and rights of children. 
We recommend that: 
1.Small island developing States should use the natural  
cohesiveness of their societies to encourage greater  
collaboration between Governments, non-governmental organizations  
and the private sector in support of their sustainable  
development. The vital sectors of transport, communications,  
tourism, insurance and banking, for example, lend themselves  
readily to such collaboration.  
Two specific examples would be: 
(a)For small island developing States to agree on the adoption of  
common standards and principles for eco-tourism, consistent with  
Agenda 21, designed to protect and maintain the ecological,  
natural and cultural heritage that constitutes such important  
assets to the countries concerned and the world community. In  
relation to this, such an agreement should also provide for each  
State to levy a fee for this purpose with the support and  
cooperation of the world tourism industry; 
(b)For small island developing States to consider seriously, with  
regard to the issue of high insurance rates, either joining  
together in a regional grouping to pool and thereby diversify  
their risks and achieve lower premiums or considering a mutual  
insurance fund where the insured would be the owners. A  
partnership between government and the private sector negotiating  
together can significantly lower the insurance premiums.  
2.New and additional financial resources are required to break  
the cycles of poverty, debt and unsustainable development in  
small island developing States. The Global Environment Facility  
(GEF) needs to be made more flexible and accessible to cater to  
the special needs of small island developing States if it is to  
be successful as a fund for global sustainable development. 
3.The representation of small island developing States on  
international financial institutions and GEF should be  
strengthened. In this regard, the eligibility of those States to  
benefit from the newly restructured GEF should be assured.  
4.In order to mobilize international public awareness and  
support, the Alliance of Small Island States should be  
strengthened and supported appropriately to allow it to carry out  
its important political negotiating mandate in advancing the  
interests of small island developing States. In addition,  
goodwill ambassadors for those States should be appointed.  
5.An international centre for sustainable development, which  
would link and support national and regional centres of small  
island developing States, should be established and situated in  
one of these States.  
6.Special measures should be developed to mobilize and facilitate  
investment in small island developing States. Such measures could  
include corporate investment and the establishment of community  
development banks supported by and in cooperation with regional  
development banks. 
7.The proposals before the Conference for the establishment of a  
technical assistance programme for small island developing  
States, utilizing the model of technical cooperation among  
developing countries, should be supported. 
8.Efforts should be made to create a vulnerability index and to  
develop more appropriate methods for measuring the economic  
development of small island developing States that do not rely  
excessively on the GNP per capita indicator. 
9.The United Nations should establish an adequate institutional  
mechanism to ensure the continued focus on the special needs and  
vulnerabilities of small island developing States. Such a focus  
should also be reflected in the plans and programmes of United  
Nations specialized agencies and programmes. 
10. A global network for the collection and exchange of data  
pertaining to small island developing States should be  
established. Those States should be active participants in the  
generation of data, not merely its passive recipients.  
11.Because small island developing States are in many respects  
the front-line victims of global warming and sea-level rise,  
there is an especially strong case for increasing assistance to  
those States in areas such as monitoring climate change and sea- 
level rise and the development of low-coastal defences against  
rising sea-levels, integrated management of coastal zones and  
planning to ensure sustainable development of marine resources  
and other anticipatory and preventative measures. 
12.An inventory of biodiversity resources should be undertaken in  
small island developing States together with the creation of  
indigenous bioindustries to produce high value-added, endemic  
bio-products. High priority should be accorded by international  
development cooperation organizations to supporting these  
initiatives. In this regard, the importance of traditional  
knowledge and wisdom of island peoples should be recognized and  
their rights protected. Creative partnerships should be developed  
that would allow them to enjoy their full entitlement to the  
intellectual property rights and profits realized from the  
commercial exploitation of their biodiversity resources. 
13.Small island developing States should develop and strengthen  
the education and training of systematic-biologists. Institutions  
for systematic-biological studies such as botanical gardens and  
aquaria that have been subject to serious deterioration and  
degradation should be restored. 
14. Metropolitan powers should follow sustainable development  
policies in the context of the island territories that they  
administer and should act with responsibility with regard to the  
fragile eco-systems under their control. 
15.The need for an equitable, non-discriminatory and supportive  
international economic and trading climate conducive to  
sustainable development of small island developing States is  
critical. The impact of trade blocs on the economies of those  
States should be further examined with a view to enhancing the  
access to markets for their exports. 
16.Better telecommunication and data transfer systems among small  
island developing States should be promoted. By joining together  
they would be able to negotiate more beneficial telecommunication  
contracts that would more adequately meet their needs.  
17.The establishment of regional environment trust funds should  
be pursued. 
18.Small island developing States should embark on the path  
towards more sustainable development, taking responsibility for  
their future and challenging developed countries to accompany  
them as partners. 
       Bridgetown, Barbados 
       22 April 1994 
(Signed) H.E. Dame Nita BARROW, GCMG, DA (Signed) H.E. Mr. Samuel  
 Governor-General of Barbados  Permanent Representative 
      of the Cooperative 
      Republic of Guyana to 
      the United Nations 
(Signed) H.E. Chief Eleazar CHUKWUEMEKA (Signed) Prof. Tetsuo  
 ANYAOKU     Economic botanist and 
 Commonwealth Secretary-General  adviser to the  
      delegation of Japan to 
      the Global Conference 
(Signed) Mrs. Ella CISNEROS  (Signed) Ms. Hilda LINI 
 President     Member of Parliament 
 Together Foundation for   Vanuatu 
 Global Unity 
(Signed) Mr. Ian CUMMING   (Signed) H.E. Mrs. Fetaui MATA'AFA 
 Chairman     High Commissioner of  
 Leucadia National Corporation,  Western Samoa to 
 New York     New Zealand 
(Signed) H.E. Mr. Maumoon Abdul GAYOOM (Signed) Mr. Maurice  
 President of the Maldives   Chairman, Earth Council 
Members of the Eminent Persons Group 
Patron and Convener 
Her Excellency Dame Nita Barrow, GCMG, DA 
Governor-General of Barbados 
1.His Excellency Chief Eleazar Chukwuemeka Anyaoku 
Commonwealth Secretary-General 
2.Mrs. Ella Cisneros 
Together Foundation for Global Unity 
Venezuelan philanthropist and entrepreneur 
3.Mr. Ian Cumming 
Leucadia National Corporation, New York 
4.His Excellency Mr. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom 
President of the Maldives 
5.His Excellency Mr. Samuel R. Insanally 
President of the forty-eighth session of the United Nations  
General Assembly and Permanent Representative of the  
Cooperative Republic of Guyana to the United Nations 
6.Professor Tetsuo Koyama 
Economic botanist and adviser to the delegation of Japan to the  
Global Conference 
7.Ms. Hilda Lini 
Member of Parliament, Vanuatu 
8.Her Excellency Mrs. Fetaui Mata'afa 
High Commissioner of Western Samoa to New Zealand 
9.Sir Shridath Ramphal 
University of the West Indies 
10.Mr. Maurice Strong 
Chairman, Earth Council 
List of participants in the round-table dialogue and briefing 
 for the Group of Eminent Persons on the Sustainable Development 
of Small Island Developing States 
1.His Excellency Mr. Razali Ismail 
Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations 
Chairman of the Commission on Sustainable Development 
2.Her Excellency Ms. Penelope Wensley 
Australian Mission, Geneva 
Chairman of the Preparatory Committee 
3.Her Excellency Ms. Annette des Iles 
Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago to the United  
4.Dr. Vili Fuavao 
South Pacific Regional Environment Programme 
5.Mr. Edwin Carrington 
Secretariat of the Caribbean Community 
6.Mr. Stephen Lewis 
United Nations Children's Fund 
Special Representative 
7.Mr. Jorge Gavidia 
United Nations Environment Programme 
8.Professor Bishnodat Persaud 
Centre for Environment and Development 
University of the West Indies 
9.Professor Joycelin Massiah 
Regional Programme Adviser 
United Nations Development Fund for Women 
10.Professor Lino Briguglio 
Islands and Small States Institute 
University of Malta 
11.Dr. Stanley Reid 
Department of Management Studies 
University of the West Indies 
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Date last posted: 16 February 2000 14:26:35
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