TUVALU
 
 

Statement

by

The Honourable Saufatu Sopoanga,OBE
The Prime Minister of Tuvalu 

at the
World Summit on Sustainable Development

Johannesburg, South Africa
2 September 2002

Mr. President, 
Your Excellency Thabo Mbeki, 
The People of South Africa
The People of the Earth Excellencies
Ladies and Gentlemen:

Tuvalu places great importance on this Summit. During Rio, we were not members of the United Nations. Now as a full member of the United Nations, we are proud to be part of this Global Family that gives us equal rights and status irrespective of our smallness.

Mr. President, while Agenda 21 and this Summit overall recognised Tuvalu and SIDS as a special case, my delegation strongly feels there is a need to ensure the voice of SIDS is allowed to be heard within any negotiations involving the United Nations as a whole. My delegation believes the application of the Vienna process in this Summit had allowed certain countries, particularly the leading industrialised countries and a number of 'favourites' in the G77 to dominate the deliberations, ignoring small countries such as Tuvalu.

I draw your attention to this dilemma, Mr. President, mainly because we small island developing states had consistently appealed our special case to the rest of the world, particularly those of the leading industrialised nations. We want the islands of Tuvalu, our nation, to exist permanently forever and not to be submerged underwater merely due to the selfishness and greed of the industrialised world. This is why we had proposed right from the outset, for the establishment of a legally binding framework to set targets and timeframes for renewable energy given the direct link between energy and climate change. Unfortunately, our proposal never saw the light of the day, due mainly to the actions of countries that refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

Even before Rio, we had told the world during the 1990 Second World Climate Change Conference held in Geneva of the adverse impacts we were already experiencing in Tuvalu. Our story had not changed Mr. President. Up to this point in time, the devastating impact of climate change and sea level rise had increased both in momentum and magnitude. Just a few weeks ago, a period when the weather was normally calm in Tuvalu, unusual waves flooded the capital island of Funafuti. A number of households were evacuated from their homes. It was at low tide with no strong winds when 10 meters waves washed right across the land and straight to the lagoon side. It was a very scary experience.

Climate change inevitably affects SIDS and everyone else. Therefore, we must insist that all parties, especially the highest per capita emitters of greenhouse gases, take immediate steps to ratify the Kyoto Protocol as a matter of urgency.

Mr. President, how long more do we have to repeat our story to the world? When will the leaders and negotiators of the leading industrialised countries take the moral high ground? For Tuvalu, we will regard the Summit to be a successful one if a minimum target of 15% on new renewable energy is set. Thus we welcome very much the stand of the European Union and other countries in this regard. Economic gains through trade and globalization must not be pursued at the expense of increased poverty and environmental degradation and worsening of global warming and sea level rise.

Without additional resources most of the partnership initiatives arising from this process will be meaningless. Tuvalu therefore calls on the Summit to commit additional resources to implement, besides energy & climate change initiatives, other key focal partnership areas such as water & sanitation, transport & communications, health improvement, human resource development & capacity building, tourism & trade.

Please, allow me to once again convey the gratitude and appreciation of the People of Tuvalu to our traditional donor friends, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, European Union including multilateral organizations. We also extend our special appreciation to the Republic of China who had become the major donor to Tuvalu.

We wish to express our gratitude to the Summit for accepting the Chapter on SIDS and we look forward to the international community joining us in the review of the Barbados Plan of Action in 2004.

The need for governance and good practices to be enforced at regional and national levels cannot be understated. How can we in the developing world expect more resources when we are reluctant to clean our own backyards from corruption and the likes? My delegation therefore calls on all developing countries to uphold the principles of good governance and respect for human rights. It is the primary responsibility of individual countries to ensure that development priorities are identified and implemented, based on the three pillars of sustainable development.

To conclude Mr. President, Tuvalu endorses the well established fact that no country can build a secure future for its citizens by acting alone. As US inventor and statesman Ben Franklin once said while the 13 colonies in America were declaring their independence from the British crown, and I quote: "We must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we will all hang separately".

Tuvalu mo te auta 
Thank you Mr. President.