United Nations

A/CONF.167/L.6/Add.1


General Assembly

Distr. LIMITED  

4 May 1994

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH


Agenda item 9 (b) 
 
 CONSIDERATION OF PLANS AND PROGRAMMES TO SUPPORT THE SUSTAINABLE 
 DEVELOPMENT OF SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES AND THE UTILIZATION 
 OF THEIR MARINE AND COASTAL RESOURCES, WHICH INCLUDES MEETING 
 ESSENTIAL HUMAN NEEDS, MAINTAINING BIODIVERSITY, AND IMPROVING 
 THE QUALITY OF LIFE FOR ISLAND PEOPLE, AS WELL AS MEASURES THAT 
 WILL ENABLE SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES TO COPE EFFECTIVELY, 
 CREATIVELY AND IN A SUSTAINABLE MANNER WITH ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGES 
 AND TO MITIGATE THE IMPACTS ON AND REDUCE THE THREATS POSED TO 
 MARINE AND COASTAL RESOURCES: CONSIDERATION OF THE DRAFT 
 PROGRAMME OF ACTION FOR THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF SMALL 
ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES 
 
Report of the Main Committee 
 
Rapporteur: Mr. Takao SHIBATA (Japan) 
 
Addendum 
 
Preamble 
 
1.The Main Committee held a number of informal meetings on the  
preamble of the draft programme of action (A/CONF.167/L.1) and  
considered it at its ... meeting, on ... May. 
 
2.At the same meeting, the Committee decided that the preamble of  
the draft programme of action should read as follows: 
 
PREAMBLE 
 
1.In 1992, at the United Nations Conference on Environment and  
Development, the world community adopted Agenda 21. 1/ Agenda 21  
reflects a global consensus and political commitment at the highest  
level on development and environment cooperation. The cooperation  
of all States is a prerequisite for the fulfilment  
of the objectives of Agenda 21. Such cooperation must also respond  
to the special circumstances and particular vulnerabilities of  
countries through adequate and specific approaches. 
 
2.The Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small  
Island Developing States is the first global conference on  
sustainable development and the implementation of Agenda 21. Agenda  
21 represents a comprehensive document, carefully negotiated and  
wherever referred to in the programme of action should be looked to  
as a whole. 
 
3.The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development 2/ identifies  
human beings as being at the centre of concerns for sustainable  
development. Development initiatives in small island developing  
States should be seen in relation to the needs and aspirations of  
human beings, and their responsibility towards present and future  
generations. Small island developing States have valuable  
resources, including oceans, coastal environments, biodiversity  
and, most importantly, their human resources. Their potential is  
recognized, but the challenge for small island developing States is  
to ensure that they are used in a sustainable way for the well- 
being of present and future generations. Although they are  
afflicted by economic difficulties and confronted by development  
imperatives similar to those of developing countries generally,  
small island developing States also have their own peculiar  
vulnerabilities and characteristics, so that the difficulties they  
face in the pursuit of sustainable development are particularly  
severe and complex. 
 
4.There are many disadvantages which derive from small size. These  
are magnified by the fact that many island States are not only  
small but are themselves made up of a number of small islands.  
Disadvantages include a narrow range of resources, which forces  
undue specialization; excessive dependence on international trade  
and hence vulnerability to global developments; high population  
density, which increases the pressure on already limited resources;  
overuse of resources and premature depletion; relatively small  
watersheds and threatened supplies of fresh water; costly public  
administration and infrastructure, including transportation and  
communication; and limited institutional capacities and domestic  
markets, which are too small to provide significant scale  
economies, while their limited export volumes, sometimes from  
remote locations, lead to high freight costs and reduced  
competitiveness. Small islands tend to have high degrees of  
endemism and levels of biodiversity, but the relatively small  
numbers of the various species impose high risks of extinction and  
create a need for protection. 
 
5.The small size of small island developing States means that  
development and environment are closely interrelated and  
interdependent. Recent human history contains examples of entire  
islands rendered uninhabitable through environmental destruction  
owing to external causes; small island developing States are fully  
aware that the environmental consequences of ill-conceived  
development can have catastrophic effects. Unsustainable  
development threatens not only the livelihood of people but also  
the islands themselves and the cultures they nurture. Climate  
change, climate variability and sealevel rise are issues of grave  
concern. Similarly, the biological resources on which small island  
developing States depend are threatened by the large-scale  
exploitation of marine and terrestrial living resources. 
 
6.Many small island developing States are entirely or predominantly  
coastal entities. Due to the small size, isolation and fragility of  
island ecosystems, their renowned biological diversity is among the  
most threatened in the world. This requires that in pursuing  
development, special attention be paid to protecting the  
environment and people's livelihoods. It also requires the  
integrated management of resources. 
 
7.In some small island developing States, the rate of population  
growth exceeds the rate of economic growth, placing serious and  
increasing pressure on the capacity of those countries to provide  
basic services to their peoples, and placing a high burden on women  
in particular as heads of households. Although their population  
density may be high, many small island developing States have small  
populations in absolute terms, insufficient to generate economies  
of scale in several areas, and thus limited scope for the full  
utilization of certain types of highly specialized expertise. They  
experience high levels of migration, particularly of skilled human  
resources, which not only places undue burden on training  
facilities but forces small island developing States to import  
high-cost foreign expertise. 
 
8.The lack of opportunities for achieving economies of scale,  
together with their narrow resource base, tends to limit the total  
production of small island developing States to a narrow range of  
crops, minerals and industries, both manufacturing and services.  
Any adverse development concerning these productive sectors,  
whether arising from market factors, natural or environmental  
constraints, is likely to lead to significant reductions in output,  
a fall in foreign-exchange earnings and increased unemployment. 
 
9.Partly because of their small size and partly because of their  
vulnerability to natural and environmental disasters, most small  
island developing States are classified as high-risk entities,  
which has led to insurance and reinsurance being either unavailable  
or exorbitantly expensive, with adverse consequences for  
investment, production costs, government finances and  
infrastructure. 
 
10.Because the per capita income of many small island developing  
States tends to be higher than that of developing countries as a  
group, they tend to have limited access to concessionary resources.  
Analysis of the economic performance of small island developing  
States, however, suggests that current incomes are often  
facilitated by migrant remittances, preferential market access for  
some major exports and assistance from the international community.  
These sources are neither endogenous nor secure. Furthermore,  
incomes of small island developing States have generally been  
unstable over time: natural and man-made disasters, difficulties in  
the international market for particular commodities and recession  
in some developed economies often reduce incomes in small island  
developing States dramatically, sometimes by as much as 20 to  
30 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in a single year. 
 
11.Because small island development options are limited, they  
present special challenges to planning for and implementing  
sustainable development. To meet that challenge, the most valuable  
asset of small island developing States is their human resources,  
which need to be given every opportunity to fulfil their potential  
and contribute meaningfully to national, regional and international  
development consistent with the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21.  
Small island developing States will be constrained in meeting those  
challenges without the cooperation and assistance of the  
international community. The sustainable development of small  
island developing States requires actions that address the above  
constraints to development. Those actions should integrate  
environmental considerations and natural resource conservation  
objectives and gender considerations consistent with the Rio  
Declaration and Agenda 21, into the development of social and  
economic development policies in international, regional,  
subregional and/or bilateral cooperative programmes related to  
islands. 
 
12.Within small island developing States the critical contribution  
of women to sustainable development and the involvement of youth to  
the long-term success of Agenda 21 should be fully recognized.  
Accordingly, youth should be encouraged to contribute to the  
decision-making process and all obstacles to the equal  
participation of women in this process should be eliminated to  
allow both youth and women to participate in and benefit from the  
sustainable development of their particular societies. 
 
13.Sharing a common aspiration for economic development and  
improved living standards, small island developing States are  
determined that the pursuit of material benefits should not  
undermine social, religious and cultural values nor cause any  
permanent harm to their peoples or to the land and marine resources  
which have sustained island life for many centuries. In Agenda 21,  
the international community committed itself to: 
 
(a)Adopt and implement plans and programmes to support the  
sustainable development and utilization of their marine and coastal  
resources, including meeting essential human needs, maintaining  
biodiversity and improving the quality of life for island people; 
 
(b)Adopt measures which will enable small island developing States  
to cope effectively, creatively and sustainably with environmental  
change and to mitigate impacts and reduce threats posed to marine  
and coastal resources. 
 
Those commitments were later incorporated into General Assembly  
resolution 47/189 of 22 December 1992, which called for a Global  
Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island  
Developing States. 
 
14.In establishing the basis for a new global partnership for  
sustainable development, States have acknowledged their common but  
differentiated responsibilities in respect of global environmental  
degradation as stated in Principle 7 of the Rio Declaration.  
Principle 6 states that the special situation and needs of  
developing countries, particularly the least developed and those  
most environmentally vulnerable, shall be given special priority.  
Under chapter 17G of Agenda 21, small island developing States and  
islands supporting small communities are recognized as a special  
case for both environment and development, because they are  
ecologically fragile and vulnerable and their small size, limited  
resources, geographic dispersion and isolation from markets all  
place them at a disadvantage economically and prevent economies of  
scale. 
 
15.It is in that context that the following programme of action  
addresses the special challenges and constraints facing small  
island developing States. Because sustainable development is a  
process, not a phenomenon, the programme of action focuses on the  
next steps that can be taken along the comprehensive path to  
sustainable development which will follow the principles endorsed  
by Governments at the United Nations Conference on Environment and  
Development. The programme of action contains a synopsis of actions  
and policies that should be implemented over the short, medium and  
long term. The reports of the regional technical meetings, held in  
preparation for this Conference, remain an important point of  
reference since they contain a broad collection of recommended  
actions for the pursuit of sustainable development in small island  
developing States. 
 
16.The programme of action presents a basis for action in 14 agreed  
priority areas and defines a number of actions and policies related  
to environmental and development planning that should be undertaken  
by small island developing States with the cooperation and  
assistance of the international community. In general, financing  
for the implementation of the programme of action will come from  
countries' own public and private sectors. Elements for inclusion  
in the medium- and long-term sustainable development plans of small  
island developing States are recommended, along with the necessary  
measures for enhancing their endogenous capacity. Regional  
approaches to sustainable development/environment problems and  
technical cooperation for endogenous capacity-building are  
proposed; and the role of the international community is outlined,  
including access to adequate, predictable, new and additional  
financial resources and optimal use of existing resources and  
mechanisms in accordance with chapter 33 of Agenda 21, and measures  
for endogenous capacity-building, in particular for developing  
human resources and promoting access by small island developing  
States to environmentally sound and energy-efficient technology for  
their sustainable development. In that context, non-governmental  
organizations and other major groups should be fully involved. 
 
17.The programme of action identifies priority areas with specific  
actions necessary to address the special challenges faced by small  
island developing States. In fulfilling those actions several  
cross-sectoral areas are identified, for example, capacity- 
building, including human resource development; institutional  
development at the national, regional and international levels;  
cooperation in the transfer of environmentally sound technologies;  
trade and economic diversification; and finance. 
 
Notes 
 
1/Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and  
Development, Rio de Janeiro, 3-14 June 1992, vol. I, Resolutions  
Adopted by the Conference (United Nations publication, Sales No.  
E.93.I.8 and corrigendum), resolution 1, annex II. 
 
2/Ibid., annex I. 
 
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Date last posted: 16 February 2000 14:26:35
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