GENERAL ASSEMBLY DECIDES ON NEW DATES FOR MAURITIUS INTERNATIONAL MEETING: 10 - 14 JANUARY 2005

11 June 2004
ENV/DEV/787

GENERAL ASSEMBLY DECIDES ON NEW DATES FOR MAURITIUS INTERNATIONAL MEETING: 10 - 14 JANUARY 2005

11/06/2004
Press ReleaseENV/DEV/787

GENERAL ASSEMBLY DECIDES ON NEW DATES FOR MAURITIUS

INTERNATIONAL MEETING:  10 - 14 JANUARY 2005

Opportunity to SupportSmallIslands That Must

Not Be Missed, Says Meeting’s Secretary-General, Anwarul Chowdhury

NEW YORK, 10 June -- The United Nations General Assembly decided today to postpone until 10-14 January 2005 the international conference on small islands previously scheduled to be held from 30 August to 3 September in Mauritius.  The host country required this postponement following delays in the construction of the conference centre due to unusually heavy rains during the first months of this year.

“I am very happy that the General Assembly was able to take a quick decision on this matter.  This will help us to pick up the momentum lost in view of the change of dates”, commented the Secretary-General of the International Meeting, Anwarul K. Chowdhury.  “The Mauritius conference provides a critical window of opportunity for the future of small islands.  If this occasion to extend the international community’s support to small island developing States in their development efforts is not successful, it might take decades before such an opportunity arises again”, he added.

The purpose of the Mauritius International Meeting is to review the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States that was approved by the Barbados Conference, in 1994.  Small islands will have a rare opportunity in Mauritius to seek partnerships and innovative ways to help them address their most vital challenges.  The 1994 Programme of Action included issues such as climate change, tourism, natural disasters, wastes, freshwater, land resources, energy, biodiversity and transport.  The Mauritius International Meeting is expected to also address emerging issues that have become critical to small islands: trade, HIV/AIDS, information technology, new security concerns and the economic potential of island cultures.

The General Assembly also confirmed the role of Ambassador Don MacKay of New Zealand as Facilitator in the negotiations leading to the Mauritius conference.  Mr. MacKay played a key role during negotiation sessions held in March, April and May in New York.  Although these talks were held in a positive and constructive spirit, agreement has not yet been reached on thorny issues such as climate change, trade relations, market access, renewable energy sources and proposals for new financing mechanisms.  Pre-conference negotiations will likely continue next autumn and in the days immediately preceding the Mauritius conference.

Press contact: Francois Coutu, United Nations Department of Public Information, tel.: (212) 963-9495 or (917) 815-8176, e-mail: coutu@un.org.  Mauritius International Meeting Web site: http://www.un.org/smallislands2005/.

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For information media. Not an official record.