THREE-DAY PREPARATORY SESSION FOR MAURITIUS MEETING REVIEWING PROGRESS OF SMALL ISLAND STATES OPENS AT HEADQUARTERS

14 April 2004
ENV/DEV/763

THREE-DAY PREPARATORY SESSION FOR MAURITIUS MEETING REVIEWING PROGRESS OF SMALL ISLAND STATES OPENS AT HEADQUARTERS

14/04/2004
Press ReleaseENV/DEV/763

Commission on Sustainable Development                      

Twelfth Session                                            

2nd Meeting* (AM)

THREE-DAY PREPARATORY SESSION FOR MAURITIUS MEETING REVIEWING

 

PROGRESS OF SMALL ISLAND STATES OPENS AT HEADQUARTERS

Part of Sustainable Development Commission’s Twelfth Session

The twelfth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development this morning began three days of preparations for the International Meeting to Review the Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, to be held from 30 August to 3 September in Mauritius.

The Barbados Programme of Action, adopted at the 1994 Global Conference for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, identified priority areas and indicated necessary actions to address the challenges faced by small islands.  In 1999, a special session of the General Assembly assessed the Programme and called on the international community to provide effective means and financial resources to support the sustainable development of small islands.

The Mauritius meeting, said Anwarul K. Chowdhury, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, would examine, among other things, why there had been serious shortfalls in the Programme’s implementation over the past 10 years, and why matters had not advanced following the Assembly’s five-year review in 1999.

Mr. Chowdhury, who is Secretary-General of the Mauritius International Meeting, said the main questions before the Commission today included how could the upcoming international meeting make a positive difference in promoting the welfare and well-being of all the people in small island developing States; and how could those States gain the support, genuine commitment and political will of partners in order to make substantive headway in the implementation of the Barbados Action Plan.

Introducing the Secretary-General’s report on the review of progress in the implementation of the Programme of Action, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Jose Antonio Ocampo said the report sought to paint with a broad brush a picture of where the small island developing States found themselves in terms of fulfilment of the mandates contained in each chapter of the Programme of Action.

He said that while many had recorded strong economic performance, favourable progress in important human development indicators and improved national institutional frameworks for the coherent management of the broad sustainable development agenda, there was clear evidence of the continuing economic and environmental vulnerability of small island developing States.  Any comprehensive effort to assist those States should seek to strengthen their collective ability to address their vulnerabilities.

Jagdish Koonjul (Mauritius), Chairman of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, presented the Strategy Paper for the further implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action, which was adopted by small island ministers at a January meeting in the Bahamas and which the Group had proposed be used as the basis for the negotiations of the 10-year review.

He said it was clear that the successes achieved in the past 10 years could largely be attributed to efforts made at the domestic level and through national measures handled with meagre resources.  The current environment called for greater understanding and cooperation from the wider international community in reaffirming the commitments made.  While some considered the Paper too long and lacking priorities, he believed it was a reflection of the range of issues confronting small islands, all of which needed to be addressed in a holistic approach.

Also this morning, the Commission completed its bureau with the election, by acclamation, of Toru Shimizu (Japan), Bolus Paul Zom Lolo (Nigeria) and Eva Tomic (Slovenia) as Vice-Chairpersons.  Mr. Lolo will also serve as Rapporteur.

The Commission also adopted its provisional agenda, as orally revised, and its organization of work.  It also approved the request for accreditation of Global Water Partnership, Lake Chad Basin Commission and Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative as observers in the work of the Commission’s twelfth session.  In addition, it authorized those intergovernmental organizations accredited to the World Summit for Sustainable Development to also participate in the Commission’s current session.

Furthermore, the Commission approved the request of the following eight non-governmental organizations and other major groups as observers to the Mauritius meeting and its preparatory meeting:  Action pour une Gestion Rationale de l’Environnement en Mauritaine (AGREEM); Aldet Centre-Saint Lucia; Association of Development Agencies (ADA); Association Women Sun of Haiti (AFASDA); Centre de Documentation, de Recherches et de Formation Indianocéaniques (CEDREFI); Centre for Rights and Development (CEFRAD); Coalition for Community Participation in Governance; and Global Islands Network (GIN).

Also addressing the Commission this morning was Borge Brende, Norway’s Environment Minister and Chairman of the Commission; Paulette Bethel, Permanent Representative of the Bahamas, who presented the outcome of the interregional preparatory meeting, held in Nassau, Bahamas, from 26 to 30 January; and Don Mackay (New Zealand), facilitator for the negotiations on the Strategy Paper.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Ireland (on behalf of the European Union), United States, Tuvalu and the Russian Federation.

The next plenary of the Commission will be on Friday, 16 April.

Background

The Commission on Sustainable Development met this morning to open its twelfth session, which will continue until 30 April.  Beginning today, the Commission will convene three days of preparatory negotiations for the International Meeting to Review the Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Development States, to be held from  30 August to 3 September in Mauritius.

The Barbados Programme of Action, adopted at the 1994 Global Conference for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, included the following issues:  climate change, tourism, natural disasters, wastes, freshwater, land resources, energy, biodiversity and transport.  The Mauritius Meeting is also expected to address emerging issues that affect small islands:  trade, HIV/AIDS, information technology, new security concerns, and the economic potential of island cultures.

Before the Commission is the report of the Secretary-General on the review of progress in the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (document E/CN.17/2004/8), which states that progress in implementing the Programme has been mixed.  Key emerging challenges to the sustainable development of small island States include those related to the implementation of effective strategies for poverty eradication and the pursuit of people-centred development, coping with the effects and the cost of international security threats on travel and tourism, the development of cultural industries, and addressing urgently the growing problem of HIV/AIDS.

It is important that small islands ensure that tourism development is pursued within the context of an integrated development plan that is cognizant of social considerations and environmental management requirements.  Financial and technical support from regional and international tourism organizations in support of national efforts would be useful, including assistance in the development of guidelines and best practices appropriate for maximizing social, economic and environmental benefits -- or, as relevant, minimizing harm -- from tourism development.  Partnership initiatives in this regard should be encouraged.

Concerted efforts are required to address the economic, social and environmental dimensions of poverty, according to the report.  Attention must be given to poverty reduction initiatives.  Sustained poverty reduction will require empowering the poor to implement productive activities.  A particular challenge will be to meet the needs and aspirations of youth as they prepare to join the workforce.  Skills training and other informal training programmes are urgently required.  International support is needed for the efforts of island States to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, in particular for those lagging behind in reducing poverty and those with persistently high child mortality, as well as combating HIV/AIDS. 

Redoubled support is also required for the efforts of island States to reduce their vulnerability to shocks, including through diversification of their economies.  Many island States have been dependent on preferential market access, which multilateral trade liberalization will render less important, and these countries need special assistance in strengthening trade capacity.

Other concerns of small island developing States deriving from economic globalization include the treatment by the World Trade Organization (WTO) of subsidy measures taken by those States to compensate for their inherent structural disadvantages and the need for assistance from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and other relevant institutions to enhance the capacity of those States for trade policy analysis and trade negotiations, including through integrated assessments of the impacts of trade-related measures on key sectors such as agriculture and services, including tourism.  At the international level, there is a need for agreement on the implementation of smooth transitional measures for graduating least developed countries.

Mainstreaming adaptation to climate change into an intersectoral sustainable development strategy should remain a priority for small island developing States.  This calls for integrated planning and decision-making on coastal zone management, fisheries, agriculture, tourism, energy, health and water resource management.  Regional institutions for the monitoring and assessment of climate change and sea-level rise should be strengthened to afford the island States the requisite technical and skilled human resources for more effective management of national climate change adaptation projects.  Crucially, the international community needs to redouble efforts to put in place an effective regime to deal with climate change and its consequences.

To be effective, disaster preparedness and risk management should be reflected in the national sustainable development strategies of small island developing States and integrated into all sectoral policies and plans.  Regional institutions should be strengthened to provide the required research, risk assessment and forecasting and to assist island States with emergency response and mitigation measures.  Cooperation with the international community, in particular, international financial institutions, was needed to address the issue of affordable insurance and reinsurance schemes for small island developing States.  Regional insurance schemes also need to be explored.  This is considered integral to building resilience in these disaster-prone countries.

With respect to freshwater resources, sanitation and waste, there is a need for more effective legislation, management and enforcement measures.  Improved tracking and management of the movement and disposal of hazardous and toxic substances is particularly important for the protection of the fragile marine ecosystems of island States.  Their concerns regarding the exposure of their marine ecosystems to the trans-shipment of nuclear waste and the absence of compensatory regimes or emergency funds in the event of accidents should be appropriately addressed at the international level. 

Financial, technical and technological support for the development of appropriate waste management systems in those States would be very welcome.  Partnership initiatives to support recycling, reuse and other environmentally sound waste management systems should be explored.  A continuing challenge remains that of devising and implementing policies and approaches for integrated watershed, coastal zone and marine ecosystem management.  Also, the strengthening of regional organizations for fishery assessment and management is important.  Legislation is required to empower national and regional agencies to undertake monitoring, surveillance and enforcement measures to minimize illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and overharvesting of fishery resources.

With respect to land resources, small island developing States require support to strengthen land tenure and management systems and to implement appropriate technologies to enhance agricultural production and diversify husbandry, particularly for small landholders.  The general lack of capacity at the national level to combat land degradation and the effects of drought needs to be urgently addressed.  There is also recognition of the need to integrate indigenous knowledge into land use planning.

All island States should complete national energy policies and ensure that they are integrated into national sustainable development policies and plans.  Energy efficiency initiatives and the development of projects on renewable energy should be pursued with the support of regional organizations and the international community.  Regional initiatives to support the research and development of alternate sources of energy should be identified and strengthened.  International support for the development of renewable energy sources appropriate for island States, through investment and partnership initiatives, should be explored.

A critical requirement in implementing national sustainable development strategies is a supporting infrastructure for the effective exchange and movement of information.  With international backing, the Small Island Developing States Information Network (SIDSNET) should be restructured and enhanced to support capacity development in small island developing States, including through coordination with other relevant sustainable development networks, such as the Capacity 2015 Information and Learning Network.  Suggestions for the improvement of SIDSNET include upgrading its design to encourage wider community usage, cataloguing capacity development methodologies and establishing regional oversight committees.

To further sustainable development in small island developing States consideration should be given to creating novel strategies to strengthen the implementation of the Programme of Action.  Such an effort should involve a collaborative approach that includes the small island developing States, the development partners, the donor community, the regional organizations and the United Nations system.  There is, in particular, a need for more systematic monitoring and assessment to indicate progress or lack thereof in implementing the Programme of Action and to identify the factors hindering its implementation.  This could be undertaken within the new framework and the established programme of work of the Commission on Sustainable Development.

There is a need for strengthened regional mechanisms for cooperation to share information and lessons learned, to promote regional and interregional exchange and to undertake joint projects and research activities, thus enhancing the generation and dissemination of information to support the implementation of sustainable development in island States.  Regional mechanisms should also assist them by devising ways and means for developing and implementing strategies.

The establishment of effective sustainable development financing mechanisms is needed, including through regional development banks.  This should encompass innovative financing, such as social investment funds to help alleviate poverty.  There is also a need to develop a small grants programme for capacity development for sustainable development, using the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for seed funding.  The Global Environment Facility (GEF) small grants programme is now being extended and will provide opportunities in this regard.  Additional sources of seed funding should be identified.

In the area of capacity-building, international and regional support and assistance would be welcome for the proposed establishment of a consortium of tertiary institutions for capacity development and education, and for standard-setting for sustainable development in small island developing States.  There is a need to ensure that sustainable development education and training provides linkages between sectors such as water, energy, land and coastal zones.  There should be a national-level commitment to ensure that education maintains a strong relevance to local conditions, notably by reviewing curricula so that they meet the needs of communities.  Practical applications of education in management and participatory skills are needed, as well as information and communications technology and vocational training.

The success of small island developing States in implementing the Programme of Action at the national level will depend on effective human, institutional and technical capacity related to policy development, monitoring of implementation and coordination, especially through the support of regional organizations.  At the global level, it is essential that development partners support agreed goals and assist in the implementation of actions to achieve them, particularly through the provision of financial and technical support.

Also before the Commission is a letter dated 26 March 2004 from the Permanent Representative of Qatar to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (document E/CN.17/2004/12), forwarding the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, which is annexed to the letter and which the “Group of 77” developing countries and China propose to use as the basis for the negotiations of the 10-year review of the Barbados Programme of Action.

The document, which was adopted by the Small Island Developing States Ministers meeting in the Bahamas in January, was endorsed by the Group of 77 and China at its meeting at the ambassadorial level on 4 March 2004.  Comments and/or concerns that have been expressed or may be expressed by some members of the Group on the document will be taken into consideration during the negotiations which will be led by Jagdish D. Koonjul (Mauritius), Chairman of AOSIS, on behalf of the Group of 77.

Also, annexed to a note by the Secretariat (document E/CN.17/2004/9) is a list of eight non-governmental organizations and other major groups recommended for accreditation to the International Meeting and its preparatory meeting.  They are:  Action pour une Gestion Rationale de l’Environnement en Mauritaine (AGREEM); Aldet Centre-Saint Lucia; Association of Development Agencies (ADA); Association Women Sun of Haiti (AFASDA); Centre de Documentation, de Recherches et de Formation Indianocéaniques (CEDREFI); Centre for Rights and Development (CEFRAD); Coalition for Community Participation in Governance; and Global Islands Network (GIN).

The provisional agenda and status of documentation for the session for the Commission’s twelfth session are contained in documents E/CN.17/2004/1 and Add.1.  A note by the Secretariat (document E/CN.17/2004/L.1) contains a list of three intergovernmental organizations that have applied for accreditation in the work of the Commission’s twelfth session:  Global Water Partnership, Lake Chad Basin Commission, and Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council.

Statements

BORGE BRENDE (Norway), Chairman of the Commission, recalled that last year the Commission had adopted a new multi-year programme of work.  The twelfth session was the first session under the new work programme to follow up on the outcome of the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development.  The twelfth and thirteenth sessions of the Commission offered a unique opportunity to focus on action to achieve globally agreed targets related to water and sanitation and human settlements.  The current session would devote its first three days to preparations for the Mauritius International Meeting to review the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States.  That Meeting would be a critical opportunity to assess developments under the Programme of Action and inspire an international focus on small island developing States.

Speaking in his national capacity, Mr. Brende said there could be no doubt that small island developing States deserved the special attention of the United Nations and the wider international community.  He recalled the Secretary-General’s report, which stressed that such States experienced a range of specific challenges arising from small populations and economies, weak institutional capacities and remoteness from international markets.  The living conditions on small islands were also shaped by their fragile ecosystems and their particular vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change.

Indeed, although small islands contributed the least to global climate change and sea level rise, they suffered most severely from their effects.  He said the road to Mauritius had thus far included a number of regional meetings, and the Commission was grateful to those governments that had hosted the gatherings, including Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago and Cape Verde.  Mr. Brende had addressed the interregional preparatory meeting this January in Nassau, Bahamas.

He went on to draw the Commission’s attention to the Secretary-General’s report and the recommendations contained therein.  He also recognized the informal consultations that had taken place between delegations in New York.  He urged delegations to make the most of this three-day preparatory session recalling the catchphrase for the Mauritius conference:  “SmallIslands, Big Stakes”.  He added that the Commission’s high-level segment next Friday would include a one-hour debate on the conference.

JOSE ANTONIO OCAMPO, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the Secretary-General’s report, which he said represented the culmination of an extensive review exercise, involving national and regional assessments, technical workshops to consider in-depth issues of key concerns, preparatory meetings in the three small island developing States regions and an interregional meeting at the ministerial level, held in the Bahamas in January.

The report, he said, described the mixed fortunes of the small island developing States during the period of review.  While many had recorded strong economic performance, favourable progress in important human development indicators and improved national institutional frameworks for the coherent management of the broad sustainable development agenda, there was clear evidence of the continuing economic and environmental vulnerability of those States.

That vulnerability was best illustrated, he said, as the joint effect of volatility in export revenues, loss of preferential market arrangements, the limited capacity of many of those States to compete effectively for private financial flows, susceptibility to climate change, high incidence of HIV/AIDS, the effects of transnational crime, and reduced official development assistance, among other factors.  In light of those economic, social and environmental factors, any comprehensive effort to assist those States should seek to strengthen their collective ability to address them.

The report, he continued, sought to paint with a broad brush a picture of where the small island developing States found themselves in terms of fulfilment of the mandates contained in each chapter of the Programme of Action.  Some of the critical areas were climate change, the protection and effective management of coastal zones and marine ecosystems, and transport and communications.  The report also drew attention to emerging challenges not envisioned at the time of the adoption of the Programme of Action, but which over time had undermined the capacity of those States to effectively pursue a strategy towards sustainable development, including HIV/AIDS, terrorism and transnational organized crime and improved governance.

Analysis of the experiences of small island developing States demonstrated the general need for the strengthening of human and institutional capacity to improve planning, decision-making and implementation for sustainable development in those States.  The report offered a range of practical recommendations for consideration by the preparatory meeting.  He hoped that the review exercise would lead to tangible, pragmatic initiatives in support of the efforts of those States.

ANWARUL K. CHOWDHURY, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, and Secretary-General of the Mauritius Conference, said that the opening of this latest round of negotiations for the 10-year review of the Barbados Programme of Action was the most important step in preparing the substantive documents to be adopted at the close of the conference in September.  Positive engagement in the exercise and genuine commitment to helping small island developing States meet their objectives would ensure the success of the Mauritius meeting.

The 1994 Barbados Action Plan was the guiding document outlining the challenges and problems facing small island developing States, he continued.  He underscored that the General Assembly’s mandate for the upcoming conference had specifically called for stakeholders at Mauritius to “seek a renewed political commitment by the international community”, and to focus on practical actions for the further implementation of the Programme of Action taking into consideration new and emerging issues, challenges and situations since the Programme’s adoption.

Mauritius, then, would examine, among other things, why there had been serious shortfalls in the Programme’s implementation over the past 10 years, and why matters had not advanced following the Assembly’s five-year review in 1999.  He added that it would also be necessary to incorporate concrete actions regarding new and emerging issues, such as HIV/AIDS, new information and communications technologies, security and market access.  South-South cooperation should also feature prominently in the efforts to promote sustainable development for small island developing States.

So, he said, the main questions before the Commission today included:  How could the upcoming international meeting make a positive difference in promoting the welfare and well-being of all the people in small island developing States? And, how could small island developing States gain the support, genuine commitment and political will of partners in order to make substantive headway in the implementation of the Barbados Action Plan?

As substantive work on those and other issues got under way in New York, he was pleased to note that positive earlier informal consultations were already setting the tone for ultimate success –- reaching agreement on most of the outcome document before Mauritius.  He added that, if necessary, further informal consultations could be held in Mauritius on 28 and 29 August, just ahead of the opening of the conference.

After briefly touching on various aspects of the organization of work for Mauritius, he said that he had been urging delegations to seriously consider the outcome of the conference.  And while it would not be easy to pinpoint priorities that would address every concern of every participant, it would nevertheless be essential to identify the main concerns of small island developing States for the immediate future.  “While there are many priorities”, he said, “we are all aware that everything cannot be implemented at once and, hence, the necessity to focus on specific issues.”

Among other things, he had also urged that the role of the intergovernmental regional organizations such as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Pacific Islands Forum be enhanced in implementation efforts.  Such groups were better placed to initiate and push ahead –- along with governments -- with projects and programmes in their respective island or developing regions.  He added that when delegations considered follow-up mechanisms, they should pay particular attention to the role regional groups could play in that regard.

He went on to say that a proactive monitoring system for the Mauritius outcome was necessary.  But, such an approach would require that shortfalls in implementation be identified quickly –- on a periodic, if not annual, basis.  Solutions should then be suggested and implementation pushed forward, while identifying actors who would be responsible for initiating the revamped processes.  He added that he had also highlighted the role the private sector and civil society could play in the implementation of the Mauritius outcome.

Finally, he said that in order for Mauritius to be a success, it was essential that all stakeholders participate enthusiastically in the preparatory process.  The international community, now equipped with 10 years of experience, needed to come together in real terms to support the genuine aspirations of the small island developing States.

PAULETTE BETHEL (Bahamas) presented the outcome of the interregional preparatory meeting, held in Nassau, Bahamas, from 26 to 30 January.  The meeting, she said, represented the integration of the three regional preparatory meetings, held in Trinidad and Tobago, Samoa and Cape Verde.  It received the reports of four expert group meetings, whose inputs served as background material for the Bahamas meeting.  Some 22 ministers, vice-ministers and government representatives of the 43 members of AOSIS met to chart the way forward for the Mauritius meeting.

They exchanged information on best practices, as well as on the hindrances on implementing the Barbados Programme of Action, she said.  They also highlighted new challenges and emerging issues since the adoption of the Programme of Action.  They also reiterated the call for renewed political will and action at the international level and increased financial resources to assist small island developing States in implementing the Programme of Action.  Welcoming the efforts of the small island developing States, they also expressed the need for greater support from the international community, especially donor development partners.

The meeting concluded with the adoption of two documents, she reported.  The first, the Nassau Declaration, elaborated the political will of small island developing States to achieve the targets set out in the Millennium Development Goals and the outcome of the Johannesburg Summit.  In the Declaration, ministers reaffirmed the continued validity of the Programme of Action and considered that the 10-year review as critical to give effect to efforts to achieve sustainable development.  They also expressed concern at the weakened economic performance of many small island developing States.  In addition, they acknowledged the value of increased cooperation among those States, and emphasized the need for increased assistance to those States so they could respond to their sustainable development challenges.

The second document, she said, was the strategy paper for further implementation of the Programme of Action, which would contribute significantly to the discussion at the current meeting and to a tangible outcome of the Mauritius meeting.

JAGDISH KOONJUL, (Mauritius), Chairman of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, then presented that Group’s Strategy Paper of further implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action.  That document had been adopted by small island developing States leaders at the Nassau interregional meeting this past January and later endorsed by the Group.  It would be used as a basis for negotiations during the Mauritius meeting.

The long and arduous road -- from the breakthrough at Rio in 1992 to concrete commitments made at Barbados in 1994 -- that had finally led to the recognition of the special challenges those States faced, had yielded some success.  But, looking back over the 10 years since Barbados, it was clear that those successes could largely be attributed to the efforts made at the domestic level and through national measures handled with meagre resources.

As the struggle to implement the Barbados Programme continued, it was important to recognize that changing external and internal circumstances were creating greater challenges for the small island developing States.  The current environment, therefore, called for greater understanding and cooperation from the wider international community in reaffirming their commitments from both Rio and Barbados.

He went on to say that the Strategy Paper developed by the small island developing States, in broad-based consultations with non-governmental organizations and other civic actors, followed the structure of the Barbados Programme and highlighted emerging issues, as well as specific areas that were hampering the Programme’s full implementation, which should be urgently addressed.  Those areas included lack of resources, lack of capacity, insufficient access to appropriate technology and poor trading ability.  Indeed, many small island developing States were experiencing weakening economic performance, due in large part to declining trade and commercial activities.

The Strategy Paper, therefore, called for increased financial resources, technology transfers and technical assistance to enable small island developing States to build appropriate capacity and strengthen their economies, as well as strengthen their resistance against external factors.  It called for new and innovative sources of funding, since existing mechanisms did not adequately address the unique vulnerabilities those States faced.  It also called for recognition of small island developing States regarding trade issues.  As for new and emerging trends, it highlighted HIV/AIDS and security concerns as potential challenges.  While those were no doubt concerns for many developing countries, he said that their effects on small islands were certainly more catastrophic.

Finally, he said that many partners considered the Paper too long and lacking priorities.  But, it was the AOSIS’ view that the document was indeed a reflection of the range of issues confronting small island developing States, all of which needed to be addressed holistically and comprehensively.  That said, the Alliance was amenable to holding discussions on the document.

DICK ROCHE, Minister of State with Special Responsibility for European Affairs of Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that the Mauritius meeting would be a unique occasion to formulate clear positions in light of the review of the implementation of the Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals in 2005, and thereby help to ensure that the voice of the small island developing States was heard.

The outcome of the Mauritius meeting, he said, should focus on implementation, be action-oriented and have strong added value.  The meeting should not be an exercise in unnecessary renegotiation.  Rather, it should seek to reinforce the importance of national, country-driven and country-owned plans and strategies for poverty reduction and sustainable development.  It should also focus on the role of the international community in supporting those national plans and strategies.

The European Union had a strong history of cooperation with many of the small island developing States through the African, Caribbean and Pacific Framework, through which those States had received high levels of development assistance from the Union.  Taking into account the bilateral assistance provided by individual European Union member States, the Union was their largest development partner.  Also, small island developing States were key partners of the Union in advancing the climate change agenda.  Related to that was the important task of the development and use of renewable sources of energy and the dissemination of sound and efficient energy technologies.

The Union, he said, saw the Mauritius meeting as a critical opportunity to track developments and inspire international action, as envisaged in the Millennium Summit and the World Summit for Sustainable Development.  The Union had adopted the achievement of the Millennium Goals as a central guiding orientation for its development policy.  It supported an integrated approach to the implementation of all of the recent global conference outcomes, including those of Monterrey and Johannesburg.  Mauritius 2004 could be an essential part of that approach.

DAVID A. BALTON, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Fisheries of the United States, said his country looked forward to participating in the Mauritius conference.  While small island developing States had made strides since 1994, much remained to be done.  The United States remained committed to the full implementation of the Barbados Plan and recognized the unique vulnerabilities of small islands.  He briefly drew attention to a number of projects, initiatives and partnerships the United States had set up with small islands.

While he welcomed the earlier presentation of the Group of 77’s Nassau Strategy Paper, the United States was concerned that that document had been developed chiefly by the small island developing States and did not reflect the views of the wider international community.  It was the United States’ view that the Mauritius outcome documents be short, balanced and forward-looking and, to that end, his delegation had just distributed a non-paper which it hoped would serve as a framework document for the Conference.

He said the Nassau Strategy Paper often read like a list of demands upon the wider international community, losing sight of the fact that the Barbados Action Plan was, first and foremost, a set of commitments and obligations to be driven by the small island developing States themselves, with the assistance of the wider international community.  He added that the Strategy Paper also addressed several controversial issues and it proposed significant changes to several long-standing international agreements.

His delegation was prepared to discuss the Paper, but would suggest that if, at the end of the week, it appeared to others as it did to the United States that a serious divergence of views would emerge, then that Paper should be left as it was and used at Mauritius as one document among the many being considered.  He hoped delegations would focus on a shorter, more practical document.  The United States was here in the spirit of good faith, and looked forward to the upcoming negotiations.  He hoped a successful outcome was possible.

BIKENIBEN PAENIU, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Industries of Tuvalu, said that he was appreciative of the support and special consideration accorded to small island developing States in the process leading up to the Johannesburg Summit.  He noted the concerns highlighted by donor partners.  The small island developing States should be flexible where necessary, while not compromising on the principles elaborated in the Strategy Paper presented, to make that Paper workable.  The Commission’s current session was a grand opportunity for dialogue.  The Strategy Paper was not a small island developing States strategy paper alone, but a paper that should be the basis for partnership between those States and donors.  He recommended that all delegations see the process as an opportunity for dialogue, and not disregard what the small island developing States came up with at the Nassau meeting.

Emphasizing the vulnerability of small island developing States, he reiterated his appeal for greater responsibility on the part of international financial institutions to take into account the unique vulnerability of those States.  One of the questions to be addressed was why the Barbados Programme of Action had not worked over the past 10 years.  The main reason for that was the lack of capacity and funding.  He reiterated his full support for the statement delivered by Mauritius.

NIKOLAI V. CHOULKOV, Deputy Director, Department of International Organizations of the Russian Federation, said he was convinced that the 10-year review must be a significant part of the implementation of the World Summit for Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg in 2002.  Modalities had been set out and a multi-year programme of work had been adopted by the Commission to build on the objectives of the Johannesburg Summit.  With that in mind, the focus should, henceforth, be on implementation of sustainable development for all.  The outcome of the International Conference on Financing for Development, held in Monterrey, Mexico, should guide efforts to ensure international cooperation and resource allocation to achieve the objectives to be reached at Mauritius.

Of specific issues that should be addressed at Mauritius, he drew attention to maritime law and other geographic and unique regional concerns.  It would also be crucial for delegations, during the preparatory process, from small island States to set out not only what the wider international community needed to do to ensure the achievement of the Barbados goals, but what commitments they themselves would undertake to that end.

DON MACKAY (New Zealand), facilitator for the consultations, said he was honoured to take on that important role in such a vital process.  There had already been two sessions of “informal informals” on 28 March and 8 April, which had given delegations an opportunity to express general views and go through the Strategy Paper on a section-by-section basis.  At the conclusion of the second meeting, he had indicated that he would circulate an informal paper of his perceptions of the discussions to aid delegations.  The informals were positive and delegations shared a commitment to reaching an outcome that added value.  He was confident that it would be possible to move the preparations ahead in a significant way in the next three days and make progress on the draft outcome document.  The agenda for the Mauritius meeting would also be addressed in the consultations.

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*     The 1st Meeting was held after the conclusion of the eleventh session.

For information media. Not an official record.