United Nations

A/52/319


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

4 September 1997

ORIGINAL:
SPANISH


                           United Nations

 
                                                    A/52/319
                                                                  
                                                    Original: English


General Assembly
Fifty-second session
Item 100 (f) of the provisional agenda*

     * A/52/150 and Corr.1.


          Environment and sustainable development: Implementation 
         of the outcome of the Global Conference on the Sustainable 
                Development of Small Island Developing States


                      Report of the Secretary-General


Contents                                                   Paragraphs  Page

  I.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    1-2        2

 II.  Review of progress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    3-21       2

      A.  Vulnerability index. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    3-7        2

      B.  Modalities for resource mobilization . . . . . .    8-10       3

      C.  Small island developing States technical 
          assistance programme and information network . .   11-12       3    

                                                              
      D.  Natural disasters. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   13-17       3

      E.  Energy in small island developing States: 
          Activities of GEF. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   18-19       4

      F.  Strengthening the secretariat. . . . . . . . . .   20-21       5

III.  Future programme of work . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   22-23       5


        I.     Introduction


1.   At its fifty-first session, the General Assembly
adopted resolution 51/183 of 16 December 1996, in which
it requested the Secretary-General: (a) to prepare, in 1997,
a report on a vulnerability index for small island developing
States  in collaboration with the United Nations Conference
on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations
Environment Programme (UNEP) and  other relevant United
Nations and non-United Nations organizations;  (b) to seek
the views of Governments on the creation of an informal
open-ended working group within the existing International
Framework of Action for the International Decade for
Natural Disaster Reduction, with a view to ensuring full
integration and participation of small island developing
States in the mapping of a disaster reduction strategy and
in improving access to disaster and warning information;
(c) to maintain the Small Island Developing States Unit
within the Department for Policy Coordination and
Sustainable Development, which has since merged into the
new Department of Economic and Social Affairs, at an
appropriate level of staff and to improve the structure and
organization of the Unit, in accordance with resolution
49/122 of 19 December 1994; and (d) to implement fully
the relevant provisions of resolution 49/122 regarding a
strengthened capacity of UNCTAD to carry out the research
and analysis necessary to complement the work of the
Department of Economic and Social Affairs. In addition,
the Assembly requested the Department for Policy
Coordination and Sustainable Development, in its
coordinating role, to look into appropriate modalities for
mobilizing resources for the effective implementation of the
Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of
Small Island Developing States, 1/ thereinafter referred to as
the Programme of Action.

2.   In the same resolution, the General Assembly
requested the United Nations Development Programme
(UNDP), in cooperation with Governments, to continue to
implement fully all provisions of resolution 49/122 in order
to operationalize the Small Island Developing States
Technical Assistance Programme (SIDSTAP) and the Small
Island Developing States Information Network  (SIDSNET).
The Assembly also called upon the international
community, including the Global Environment Facility
(GEF), to support commercial energy development in small
island developing States, and requested the
Secretary-General to submit to it at its fifty-second session
a progress report on the particular actions taken to
implement the resolution. The present  report has been
prepared in response to that request. It is based on
information provided by the relevant organizations and
describes actions taken as at July 1997.

        II.    Review of progress

        A.     Vulnerability index


3.   In response to the request of the General Assembly,
the Department of Economic and Social Affairs undertook
initial studies in order to provide a conceptual framework
for the development of a vulnerability index. A background
paper was prepared and distributed to small island
developing States, organizations of the United Nations
system and academic and research institutes for comments
in December 1996. The paper provided an analysis of the
inherent vulnerabilities of small island developing States,
discussed a possible approach to the vulnerability issue, and
suggested that consideration be given to the construction
of an economic vulnerability index and an ecological
vulnerability index, each composed of a number of
appropriate indicators.

4.   By March 1997 more than 20 responses had been 
received from Governments, United Nations bodies and
specialized agencies, regional organizations and research
institutes. Those responses were supportive of the main
thrust of the background paper. The majority of them also
contained observations and suggestions on specific
indicators that might be considered for inclusion in the
vulnerability index.

5.   At its meeting held from 22 to 24 January 1997,
Working Group III of the Committee for Development
Planning reviewed the background paper and made a
number of suggestions on the components of the
vulnerability index, which are contained in the Committee's
report to the Economic and Social Council on its thirty-first
session. 2/

6.   The Department of Economic and Social Affairs
revised the background paper on the basis of comments and
suggestions received from the various commentators. Two
consultants have been engaged to evaluate the availability
of data, the optimal number of variables to be included in
each index, the most appropriate variables to be included
and various aggregation methods. That phase of technical
work is expected to be completed by November 1997. An
expert group meeting is planned for early December in New
York, at which time the results of the technical work will
be reviewed.

7.   Working Group III of the Committee for Development
Planning, which will meet in New York from 17 to 19
December 1997, will review the results of the technical
work and the outcome of the expert group meeting and will,
as requested by the General Assembly in resolution 51/183,
submit its views and recommendations on the issue to the
Commission on Sustainable Development at its sixth session
and to the Committee at its thirty-second session, both of
which will transmit the outcome of their deliberations to the
Assembly at its fifty-third session through the Economic and
Social Council.


         B.    Modalities for resource mobilization


8.   Regarding the mobilization of resources to facilitate
the implementation of the Programme of Action, the
Department of Economic and Social Affairs undertook
consultations with representatives of the Alliance of Small
Island States in New York and with organizations within the
United Nations system in the first quarter of 1997. On the
basis of the consultations, the Department of Economic and
Social Affairs decided that one way to facilitate the
mobilization of additional external resources would be
through a meeting of donors and representatives of small
island developing States. To improve the likelihood that
such a meeting would result in tangible outcomes, the small
island developing States have been requested to prepare a
portfolio of documents on priority projects in the areas
covered by the Programme of Action that cannot be
implemented without the support of external resources
beyond those currently envisaged.

9.   In view of the low technical capacity of a number of
small island developing States, the Department of Economic
and Social Affairs took the initiative to explore the
possibility of their obtaining technical assistance in
preparing project documents from regional and subregional
intergovernmental organizations, selected United Nations
organizations and research institutions working on issues
related to small island developing States. The response to
that initiative was encouraging. Fourteen organizations have
offered to assist small island developing States on request.
UNDP agreed to assume responsibility for coordinating
requests for technical assistance by small island developing
States at the regional and subregional levels. In keeping
with that decision, small island developing States have been
invited to channel their requests through regional or
subregional offices of UNDP that have been designated by
the UNDP Administrator. Those offices will also be
responsible for coordinating the efforts of cooperating
organizations assisting small island developing States in the
preparation of project documents.

10.  In July 1997, the Secretariat wrote to small island
developing States, inviting them to prepare project
portfolios for presentation at a donors' conference.
Concurrently, the Secretariat notified prospective bilateral
and multilateral donors of that initiative. The date of the
meeting of representatives of small island developing States
with prospective donors, to be called by the Department of
Economic and Social Affairs in collaboration with UNDP,
will depend on the progress small island developing States
make in preparing their project portfolios.


       C.     Small island developing States technical
              assistance programme and information
              network


11.  In addition to the activities supported by UNDP at the
country, regional and interregional levels, the activities
undertaken by UNDP in the context of follow-up to the
Programme of Action include the preparation of a technical
assistance programme covering the 14 chapters of the
Programme of Action, the completion of a four-volume
directory of experts on small island developing States and
institutions designed to facilitate the use of the capacities
of those States in the implementation of the Programme of
Action and an assessment of the needs of the Caribbean
small island developing States in areas such as productivity
enhancement, industrial standardization,
telecommunications, port management, civil aviation and
computer technology.
                
12.  During the period under review, UNDP also launched
a pilot information network for small island developing
States that will provide them with the capacity to exchange
information through the Internet, for example, interactive
calendars, forums, mailing lists, Web directory, databases
of contacts and other features. It will focus on three chapters
of the Programme of Action   those concerning tourism 
resources, coastal and marine resources and energy
resources   and will be managed by centres of excellence
in each region. In the context of capacity enhancement for 
regional training institutions, at the request of UNDP, the
International Training Centre of the International Labour
Organization conducted initial training sessions with
selected regional institutions of small island developing
States. Lead training institutions were identified, and
training sessions were held in Barbados, Fiji and the
Seychelles.


                        D.    Natural disasters


13.  Following the discussions on the International Decade
for Natural Disaster Reduction at the fifty-first session of
the General Assembly, the secretariat of the Decade
launched a consolidation process for the remainder of the
Decade (1997-1999) by developing a comprehensive and
structured action plan. The action plan involves all relevant
partners within the Decade's International Framework of
Action and is based on consultations with Member States,
intergovernmental organizations, the Decade's Scientific
and Technical Committee, national committees and focal
points, and other relevant international organizations as well
as scientific and technical institutions and non-governmental
organizations.

14.  Consolidation activities within the United Nations
system are closely coordinated by the United Nations
Steering Committee for the Decade. Regional approaches 
evaluating the Decade's achievements and defining a
disaster reduction strategy for the twenty-first century are
key to the Decade's overall success. In that respect, the
vulnerability of small island developing States and their
requirements for effective disaster reduction capacities and
measures will obtain priority consideration, in line with the
recommendations of the Commission on Sustainable
Development at its fourth session and those of the General
Assembly in resolution 51/183.

15.  The consultations on the Decade's consolidation
programme focus in particular on the Programme of Action.
The Scientific and Technical Committee includes
membership from Jamaica and Tonga. As part of the
Decade's inter-agency coordination activities, specific
concerns of the small island developing States are
represented in cooperation with the Department of
Economic and Social Affairs, the World Meteorological
Organization and its Typhoon Committee, the United
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization,
the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, the
World Health Organization and UNDP. The secretariat
collaborates closely with regional and intergovernmental
organizations, such as the Pan American Health
Organization, the Caribbean Community, the Organization
of American States and the South Pacific Forum.

16.  The Programme of Action is also considered within
the Decade's implementation of General Assembly
resolution 50/117 B of 20 December 1995, on early-warning
capacities for natural disasters and similar events with
adverse effects on the environment. The Decade's
secretariat is in consultation with several donor countries
on project proposals to reduce vulnerability in support of
sustainable development and for the improvement of
early-warning systems, which include specific pilot
activities in small island developing States. The project will
take into consideration the recommendations made by the
Commission on Sustainable Development at its fourth
session.

17.  The South Pacific Programme Office of the United
Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs represents the
Decade in the Pacific region and has organized several
regional disaster management meetings under the auspices
of the Decade. The South Pacific Disaster Reduction
Programme, implemented by the South Pacific Programme
Office in 18 Pacific States, receives coordinated support
from all bilateral donors active in the Pacific.


         E.    Energy in small island developing States:
               Activities of GEF


18.  The GEF operational strategy has been developed to
guide it in the preparation of country-driven projects. The
GEF operational strategy in climate change incorporates the
policy guidance of the Conference of the Parties to the
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The strategic thrust of GEF-financed climate change
activities is to support sustainable measures that minimize
damage by reducing the risk or the adverse effects of
climate change. GEF finances long-term measures, enabling
activities and short-term mitigation projects.

19.  The long-term measures are prepared in the context
of the operational programmes in the area of climate change
and include the removal of barriers to energy conservation
and energy efficiency, the promotion of renewable energy
by reducing implementation costs and the reduction of the
long-term costs of low greenhouse gas-emitting energy
technologies. All three of these operational programmes are
supporting the development of environmentally sound,
renewable sources of commercial energy with demonstrated
viability and the improvement of the efficiency of existing
technologies and end-use equipment based on conventional
energy sources. GEF has funded two projects for small
island developing States in the above-mentioned areas: a
demand side management demonstration for Jamaica and
a sugar bio-energy technology project for Mauritius. The
Facility has financed a number of other projects and project
preparation activities, which are directly and/or indirectly
supporting commercial energy development and efficiency
improvement in small island developing States. A number
of these are enabling activities   priority activities identified
by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention. So far
small island developing States have benefited from the
following projects:

                (a)     Regional planning for adaptation to climate
change: Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize,
Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint.Kitts and Nevis, Saint
Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago;

                (b)     Pacific Island Climate Change Assistance
Project: Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Marshall
Islands,  Micronesia, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and
Vanuatu;

                (c)     Country projects: Cape Verde, Maldives, Papua
New Guinea and Seychelles.


         F.    Strengthening the secretariat

20.  The General Assembly, in resolution 51/183,
requested the Secretary-General to maintain the Small
Island Developing States Unit within the Department for
Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development (now
part of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs) at
an appropriate level of staff and to improve the structure
and organization of the Unit, and to implement fully
relevant provisions of resolution 49/122 regarding the 
strengthened capacity of UNCTAD to carry out the research
and analysis necessary to complement the work of the
Department of Economic and Social Affairs. In the context
of the reform proposals presented in the report of the
Secretary-General (A/51/950), priority attention is attached
to reinforcing areas of work related to small island
developing States. Thus, in the organization of the new
Department of Economic and Social Affairs, it is proposed
to strengthen suitably the Small Island Developing States
Unit in the Division for Sustainable Development and to
enhance its capacity to provide advisory services to small
island developing States. At its ninth session, in April and
May 1996, UNCTAD decided to continue to support small
island developing countries in the framework of the
Programme of Action and in accordance with the relevant
provisions of resolution 49/122. To that end, a post at the
P-4 level has been established in the Office of the Special
Coordinator for Least Developed, Landlocked and Island
Developing Countries following the recent restructuring of
UNCTAD.
                
21.  The ongoing work of UNCTAD in support of the
implementation of the Programme of Action consists of: (a)
preparation of a background study on external shocks and
the vulnerability of small island developing States as an
input to the expert group meeting on vulnerability indices
planned by Department of Economic and Social Affairs for
early December 1997; (b) preparation of a forthcoming
publication entitled  Small Island Developing States: Issues
of Globalization, Specialization and Regional Cooperation;
(c) construction of trade efficiency indices relevant to small
island developing States; and (d) direct assistance to small
island developing States in the preparation of economic and
trade-related projects for submission to the donors'
conference to be convened by the Department of Economic
and Social Affairs in collaboration with UNDP.


       III.    Future programme of work

22.  At its fifth session, in 1997, the Commission on
Sustainable Development adopted resolution 5/1 on the
modalities for the full and comprehensive review of the
Programme of Action. 3/  In that context it decided to
undertake the review of the outstanding chapters and issues
of the Programme of Action at its sixth session, in 1998.
Furthermore, it recommended that the General Assembly
convene a two-day special session immediately preceding
its fifty-fourth session, in 1999, for an in-depth assessment
and appraisal of the implementation of the Programme of
Action. The Commission also decided that it would carry
out the full review of the Programme of Action within its
approved programme of work at its seventh session, which
would serve as the preparatory process for the special
session of the Assembly in 1999. At its nineteenth special
session, devoted to an overall review and appraisal of the
implementation of Agenda 21, the Assembly endorsed the
recommendation of the Commission and noted that the
special session of the Assembly on issues related to small
island developing States would represent a significant
contribution to achieving the objectives of the Global
Conference for the Sustainable Development of Small
Island Developing States.

23.  As requested in paragraph 10 of General Assembly
resolution 50/116, a report on the plans, programmes and
projects for the sustainable development of small island
developing States that have been implemented in response
to the Programme of Action, as well as those that are under
implementation and those that are envisaged for
implementation within five years of the date of the report,
will be submitted to the Assembly at its fifty-third session,
in 1998.


                              Notes

1/  Report of the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of 
Small Island Developing States, Bridgetown, Barbados, 25 April-6 May 1994
(United Nations publication, Sales No. 94.I.18 and Corr.1 and 2).

2/  Official Records of the Economic and Social Council, 1997, 
 Supplement No. 15 (E/1997/35).

3/  Ibid., Supplement No. 9 (E/1997/29), chap. I.

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