UN Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs,
with support from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)

94-09-05: Statement of Tuvalu, H.E. Mr. Otinielu Tausi



The electronic preparation of this document has been done by the

Population Information Network(POPIN) of the United Nations Population

Division in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme






Thank you Mr Chairman

     It is a great honour for my country to be represented at the

International Conference on Population and Development. Population

issues are a prime concern in our pursuit of sustainable long term

development in our country


     For my delegation, the enormity of this meeting is a little

overwhelming. You will appreciate this when I tell you that there are

more participants in this Conference than live in the whole of Tuvalu.

Mr Chairman

     Small states, including those in the Pacific, are often overlooked

or marginalised at international fora. This is not the case here and I

wish to express my thanks to the ICPD Secretariat and the many donors

who have made possible our participation in this very important meeting.

Together with our Pacific colleagues, we are already actively involved

in the discussions and we look forward to further contributions over the

next eight days

     As I have already said my Government places the highest priority

on population issues. We have many problems in regard to overcrowding

and unsustainable population growth. These trends are beginning to

impact severely on our environment and our economic development.

Consequently we are heartened by the recognition in the Programme of

Action that population is a multi-dimensional issue. Population,

environmental and development issues are inseparably linked. 

     This said, I must state that the biggest threat to Tuvalu's

population is an environmental one. The islands I come from rise no

higher than a few metres above sea-level. We are continually threatened

by a seemingly increasing number of natural disasters resulting from

global climate change. Our very existence is threatened. We could be the

first country to disappear as and when the sea-level rises.

     It is in this context that I wish to urge both developed and

developing countries alike to modify their unsustainable patterns of

production and consumption. These patterns, if allowed to continue, will

inevitably lead to sea level rise and the disappearance of my country.

The world community will then be faced with 10,000 environmental



     My Government, in full cooperation with our non-governmental

sector, is refining and implementing our population policy. This policy,

which will complement our other development and environmental policies,

has three main concerns: One - Rural-urban migration and the effect this

is having on our traditional lifestyle;  Two - Management of land

resources in a manner which is consistent with the spatial distribution

of our population; and  Three - Establishment and implementation of

effective information, education and communication programmes on

population at both the formal and informal levels

     In seeking to grapple with these concerns, the most difficult task

facing the Government is how to address the crucial and sensitive issue

of land. Against modern practices in relation to modern land usage stand

our traditional land tenure systems. The Government hopes that

resolution of this issue and adoption of efficient land management

practices will go some way to ameliorating our population and

environmental concerns.

      After our people, land is our most limited and most valuable

asset. Its centrality is indicated by the way it permeates every aspect

of our lifestyle and culture. We have a symbolic relationship. The land

is us and we are the land.

     As a precursor to improved land management, we are moving

increasingly to decentralize our Government administration. In so doing

we seek to extend the benefits of effective land usage as widely as

possible. This, we think, is meaningful and sustainable

decentralization. Not only will it more effectively counteract rural-

urban drift but also bring the tangible benefits of development to those

of our far-flung islands which have previously been neglected.

      Mr Chairman

     Our total population is less than 10,000 but our land

area is a mere 26 square kilometres. We recognize therefore that our

population growth rate of 1.7% is unsustainable in the long r m. Our

target is to reduce this rate to 1.0% per annum by 2004. We think it is

a realistic target

     To achieve this we are adopting comprehensive information,

education and communication programmes. Our formal curriculum is being

revised to educate children about population issues and our informal

education system is taking the issues to the outlying islands and


     An important part of these programmes is education about family

planning techniques and the options available to everyone. We are

stressing the need for equal participation in family planning from both

husband and wife. Equally important is our insistence that all family

planning be voluntary. No coercion will be tolerated

     All these issues are already reflected in the Programme of Action.

There are, of course, many other important ones and I can say that

Tuvalu is committing a significant portion of its limited resources to

addressing them as well. However, we like many others, need the help of

the international community. If, therefore, the international community

is truly committed to addressing population problems, then it must turn

its words, and in particular the Programme of Action, into reality.Mr


     The road ahead is long, and in places it may be tortuous. For tiny

countries like Tuvalu, the challenges will be all the more daunting. The

reality for Tuvalu, as for all the Pacific Island Countries, is that we

are an integral part of the international community. And along with many

other countries, we face severe resource limitations. The truth,

therefore, is that we cannot achieve our population and development

goals alone

     The Programme of Action has involved a lot of talking and a lot of

nice words. But for it to have any teeth, it must be backed by the

financial resources of our development partners

     Let me conclude now with my wishes for this Conference.

     Firstly, I wish that the Conference recognizes the linkages

between population, environment and development issues, as Agenda 21

recognized the linkages between environment and development.

     Secondly, I wish that in its discussions the Conference resolves

the difficult issues in the Programme of Action through mutual

understanding, accommodation and consensus.

     Thirdly, I wish that through this Conference the international

community commits itself wholeheartedly to the implementation of the

Programme of Action.

     Finally I wish that we never lose sight of the fact that we

represent our people. We have an obligation to represent their

interests. As I speak I think of friends and family in my home island.

They, and millions like them around the world, will be affected by the

decisions we make over the next few days.

      With these humble wishes I thank you Mr Chairman.

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