|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Commission on Sustainable Development
12th & 13th Meetings (AM & PM)
Delegates Call for Renewed Attention to Special Situation of Small Island
States as Commission on Sustainable Development Holds ‘SIDS Day’
Devoting a day of its two-week annual session to small island developing States, the Commission on Sustainable Development heard calls today for renewed efforts to recognize the vulnerabilities and special situations of those States and for urgent action to help them build resilience and a sustainable future.
Opening the second week of the session, the day’s meetings also served as the Preparatory Committee for the high-level Mauritius +5 review planned for the sixty-fifth session of the General Assembly, and as a forum to consider progress towards the sustainable development of small island developing States.
Many speakers stressed that the review should serve to inspire a renewed commitment by the international community to addressing fully the needs and concerns of its most vulnerable members. Grenada’s representative, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, emphasized that the progress made by small island States towards sustainable development was clearly inadequate, and their very viability was in jeopardy.
She said that, while the 43 small island developing States had made progress in terms of some of the Millennium Development Goals, they had not advanced as much as most other categories of States, and had sometimes regressed in their economic growth, poverty reduction and debt sustainability, she said, adding that the Secretary-General’s and other relevant reports forced the international community to acknowledge the need for an urgent acceleration.
In a similar vein, Cheick Sidi Diarra, United Nations Special Adviser for Africa and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, highlighted the importance of recognizing the vulnerability of small island nations, which was beyond question. There was a need for action at all levels and the time had come to turn goodwill into action, he stressed. Small island States themselves must drive the Mauritius Strategy, he noted, underscoring the importance of developing new partnerships and strengthening existing ones.
Jamaica’s representative, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, emphasized that, although the unique challenges and vulnerabilities of small island States were widely acknowledged, no commensurate action had been taken to address them. However, their vulnerabilities — including small size, remoteness, exposure to external shocks and global environmental challenges, and narrow resource base — had increased significantly since the Mauritius meeting five years ago, which formed a troubling backdrop for the high-level review. She said the review should not focus exclusively on negotiating an agreed outcome, but produce tangible results and action-oriented outcomes.
Speaking on behalf of the Pacific Island Developing States, Tuvalu’s Minister for Finance, Economic Planning and Industries recalled the dramatic impact of the global economic crisis on the Pacific region and on all small island States. He said that, without consistent, quality and internationally comparable data recognized by United Nations agencies, Pacific island States could not properly evaluate progress and ensure that projects were targeted appropriately and delivered results.
Also addressing the Commission were the Assistant Minister for Technology and Sustainable Development of Indonesia, as well as representatives of Spain (on behalf of the European Union), Australia, United States, China, Italy, Barbados, Maldives, Antigua and Barbuda, Solomon Islands, Guatemala, Cape Verde, Japan, United Republic of Tanzania, Samoa, Fiji, Mexico, Mauritius, India, and Switzerland.
Also participating in the discussion were representatives of the following civil society major groups: workers and trade unions, youth and children, indigenous peoples, and non-governmental organizations.
In the afternoon, the Commission held an interactive dialogue based on the Secretary-General’s report on the “Integrated review of the thematic cluster of mining, chemicals, waste management, transport and sustainable consumption and production in small island developing States” (document E/CN.17/2010/14). The panellists were Bruce Graham, an environmental consultant working mainly with the Government of New Zealand, who served as the resource person on waste management; Immaculate Javia, a trainer in small-scale mining for the European Union/Mineral Resource Authority in Papua New Guinea; Amjad Abdulla, Director General, Ministry of Housing, Transport and Environment of the Maldives, resource person on transport; and Gordon Bispham, Chairman of the Urban Development Commission and expert for the Caribbean Policy Development Centre on small island developing States, who was the resource person on sustainable production and consumption patterns.
Participating in that interactive dialogue were representatives of Jamaica (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China), Spain (on behalf of the European Union), Grenada (on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States), Saudi Arabia and Cuba.
Also participating were representatives of the following civil society major groups: workers and trade unions, farmers, and women.
A representative of the International Telecommunications Union also made an intervention.
In other business, the Commission, acting as the Preparatory Committee for the High-level Mauritius +5 Review, adopted a draft decision, as orally amended, by which it recommended that the General Assembly adopt a draft decision requesting its President to conduct further consultations with Member States in order to determine the procedural aspects of the review.
The Commission will reconvene at 10 a.m. tomorrow, Tuesday 11 May, to hold a multistakeholders dialogue on partnerships for sustainable development.
Opening the second week of its two-week annual session, the Commission on Sustainable Development met this morning to hold its annual Small Island Developing States Day, which also served as the Preparatory Committee for the high-level Mauritius +5 review planned for the sixty-fifth session of the General Assembly, and as a forum to consider progress towards the sustainable development of small island developing States within the framework of the thematic cluster under review by the Commission.
LUIS ALBERTO FERRATÉ FELICE, Chairperson of the Commission and Minister for the Environment of Guatemala, said the meeting served a dual purpose: offering an integrated review of the thematic cluster of the eighteenth session; and acting as the Preparatory Committee for the high-level review of the follow-up to and implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for the further implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, to be held on 24 and 25 September, during the sixty-fifth session of the General Assembly.
He said it should be recognized that small island developing States had assumed their commitments under the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy of Implementation with seriousness and a sense of ownership, and had made considerable efforts to implement them. The high-level five-year review would offer the international community an opportunity collectively to consider what else could be done to fill important gaps in implementation and to effectively help small islands meet continuing and new challenges, on the basis of a better understanding of their special economic and ecological vulnerabilities in a changing global setting.
With climate change increasing the vulnerabilities of small islands and potentially magnifying the risks, he continued, developed countries had an ethical responsibility to provide them with financial support, primarily for adaptation and mitigation needs. There had been a thorough five-year review and high-level preparatory processes at the national, regional and interregional levels in the months leading up to the global review process being launched today. The small island developing States-led process of informal consultations was under way to ensure that the five-year review would add value and achieve concrete outcomes to help advance further implementation of the Mauritius Strategy.
CHEICK SIDI DIARRA, Special Adviser on Africa and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, said it was important to recognize the vulnerabilities of small island developing States, which was beyond question. Action at all levels was needed to help them build resilience and a sustainable future for themselves. The time had come to turn goodwill into action, he stressed. Reiterating that small island developing States themselves must drive the Mauritius Strategy, as highlighted in the Secretary-General’s report, he emphasized the importance of strengthening partnerships where they existed and developing new ones. South-South partnerships were important, as were private-public ones.
The post-Copenhagen negotiations must recognize the special situation of small island developing States and respond accordingly, he stressed. Last Saturday, an interregional meeting of small island States had convened to consolidate the outcomes of the three regional preparatory meetings. Implementation of the Mauritius Strategy could be accelerated without prejudicing the outcome, he said, adding that it should result in building resilience. Renewable energy resource centres for small islands and marine and coastal resource centres to support capacity-building efforts in small islands are examples of concrete deliverables that could be contained in the outcome of the Mauritius+5 review. Regional centres could boost their capacity and facilitate appropriate technology transfer, he said, calling on all partners to approach the draft political declaration for the high-level review meeting in a spirit of partnership.
THOMAS STELZER, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, noted that 10 years after the adoption of the Barbados Programme of Action, small island developing States remained especially vulnerable to external shocks. The five-year review of the Mauritius Strategy would offer an opportunity to document areas of real progress and identify areas for further action. It was important to note the serious efforts, actions and programmes carried out by small island States themselves, with support from the United Nations system, regional institutions and the international community at large, but it was necessary also to recognize the remaining gaps and room for improvement. Everyone must recommit themselves to the full implementation of the Mauritius Strategy, focusing on concrete and specific areas.
It was necessary to strengthen the coping capacity of small island States and to go beyond the adoption of national strategies, he said, adding that the United Nations system could assist in various ways. The international community also needed to place emphasis on tangible outcomes from the Mauritius Strategy review process, and to give small island States all the support they rightly deserved. The five-year review process should not merely raise awareness, but serve as a catalyst for helping small island States, while at the same time encourage international partners to place a higher value on mutually cooperative collaboration. Cooperation among small island developing States of different regions should also be encouraged, and their perspectives mainstreamed into other relevant global events, he stressed.
Introduction of Report
TARIQ BANURI, Director, Division for Sustainable Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the report of the Secretary-General on the review of the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy (document E/CN.17/2010/9), saying it provided a global synthesis of national and regional review reports, focusing on the overall development of small island developing States and describing their special circumstances. It noted their special vulnerability to ecological shocks and their impact, he said, noting that despite remarkable development in the last 10 years, small island States remained vulnerable to ongoing shocks. The report also discussed progress, lessons learned and continuing challenges to implementing the Mauritius Strategy in terms of the economy, environment and social systems and institutions.
DESSIMA WILLIAMS (Grenada), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), said the Secretary-General’s report, and those from the three regional meetings, evidenced the disturbing reality that the vulnerabilities of small island developing States had become further entrenched in some cases, and that the resilience of many had decreased. The progress they had made towards sustainable development had clearly been inadequate.
Citing the Secretary-General’s report with regard to the Millennium Development Goals, she said that, while the 43 small island developing States had made progress in terms of gender, health and some education and environment goals, they had advanced less than most other groupings, or sometimes regressed in terms of economic growth, poverty reduction and debt sustainability. As a group, small island developing States were in fact failing to advance towards the targets of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, she pointed out, noting that the findings of the reports forced the international community to acknowledge that their very viability was in jeopardy and that an urgent acceleration of action was needed.
The Governments of all small island nations were fully seized of the situation and were appropriately engaged in ways to respond to the crisis and limit its impact, she said. Indeed, they had made every effort to implement the Mauritius Strategy, despite inadequate resources, existing constraints and emerging challenges. However, increased international support was urgently needed, and promises of capacity-building support and technology transfer must be realized. The Alliance urged the international community to fulfil existing commitments, and increase support to small island developing States so that concrete progress could be made towards eradicating poverty and pursuing climate-resilient development in all the islands. It was also critical to their sustainable development that global consumption and production patterns change, particularly in relation to the urgent need to reduce carbon dioxide emission, because the islands’ very survival was at stake, she said.
JANICE MILLER, Director, Economic Affairs Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica, spoke on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, saying that, although the special and unique challenges and vulnerabilities of small island developing States were widely acknowledged, no commensurate action had been taken to address them. The international community had long established that small islands were a special case for sustainable development, as evidenced by the multidimensional challenges from beyond their borders that had gravely depleted their limited capacities.
She said that, notwithstanding their own national and regional efforts, the vulnerabilities of small islands — including small size, remoteness, exposure to external shocks and global environmental challenges, and narrow resource base — had increased significantly since the Mauritius meeting five years ago, which formed a troubling backdrop for the high-level review. She stressed that the review should not focus exclusively on negotiating an agreed outcome, but produce tangible results and action-oriented outcomes. The Group of 77 and China hoped and expected that the review would strengthen the international community’s collective resolve and inspire a renewed commitment to addressing fully the needs and concerns of its most vulnerable members.
JUAN ANTONIO YÁÑEZ-BARNUEVO (Spain), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Mauritius Strategy provided a unique partnership and framework for cooperation between the small island developing States and the wider United Nations membership, aimed at addressing specifically and exclusively the problems of island States. The European Union therefore entered today’s discussion recognizing a clear sense of small island ownership of the process, but above all with a firm commitment to promoting and implementing thoroughly the priorities set forth in the Mauritius Strategy, and fully convinced of the importance of sustainable development, poverty reduction and the Millennium Development Goals.
Small island States received a large part of European Union development aid, either through direct bilateral assistance or multilateral aid programmes, he said. Cooperation had been increasing and was expected to continue in the context of the commitments into which the European Union had entered under the Mauritius Strategy. Furthermore, it had already recognized the special vulnerabilities of small island developing States, for example through initiatives such as the Global Climate Change Alliance, in which small island developing States, together with least developed countries, were identified as the priority group for cooperation on climate change.
Emphasizing the European Union’s commitment to remaining active in supporting the efforts of all developing countries towards attainment of the Millennium Development Goals, he said it would prioritize support for those countries lagging farthest behind, the least developed countries and countries in situations of fragility, where poverty was of particular concern. In line with the Copenhagen Accord, the European Council had recognized, in December 2009 and most recently in March 2010, that immediate action on climate change required scaled-up financial support for adaptation, mitigation, forestry, technology development and transfer, and capacity-building.
The Copenhagen Accord committed the European Union and its member States to contribute fast-start funding of €2.4 billion every year over the period 2010‑2012, he said. In that respect, the European Union and its member States were working collectively to provide a progress report on the implementation of their 2010 fast-start funding commitments by the next session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in June. Part of the European Union’s funding would be devoted to initiatives aimed at enhancing the integration of climate change into development strategies and implementing concrete adaptation measures. There was a need to strengthen efforts to promote action in the area of adaptation, with the aim of reducing vulnerability and building resilience in small island developing States, and supporting the Mauritius Strategy was crucial in that respect, he said.
LOTOALA METIA, Minister for Finance, Economic Planning and Industries of Tuvalu, speaking on behalf of the Pacific Island Developing States, said that insufficient, inadequate data was a major challenge facing Pacific island States. Without consistent, quality and internationally comparable data recognized by United Nations agencies, they could not properly evaluate progress and ensure that projects were targeted appropriately and delivered results. It was also important to recognize that small island States were highly vulnerable to external shocks, he said, recalling the dramatic impact of the global economic crisis on the Pacific region and on all small island States. The crisis could only be properly addressed through increased international action and support, he said, emphasizing that many small island nations depended on marine resources for food security and economic growth.
Noting that the Pacific had shown global leadership in protecting marine biodiversity, he recalled that, in 2008, Kiribati had created what had been at the time the world’s largest marine protected area. The Federated States of Micronesia, Palau and the Marshall Islands were involved in the Micronesia Challenge, which committed them effectively to conserve at least 30 per cent of near-shore marine resources and 20 per cent of terrestrial resources across the Federated States of Micronesia by 2020. That groundbreaking initiative helped protect resources that supported the livelihood of the Micronesian people, and contributed to global diversity protection for everyone’s benefit.
However, marine resources were being depleted by action beyond the control of small island developing States, he pointed out, noting that the world’s oceans had lost more than 90 per cent of the large fish upon which humans relied for food and income, among other things. More fish were caught now than the oceans could replace. There was a need for real commitments by the international community to better manage fish stocks so as to ensure sustainability and greater economic self-sufficiency. The international community must consider innovative options to reduce or restructure their fleets in order to allow small island nations to develop their own fisheries. That should be reflected in the political declaration, he stressed, adding that the international community could not talk meaningfully about sustainable development without acknowledging that the very survival of many small islands was at stake.
GARY QUINLAN (Australia), noting that the review came at a critical point in the global debate on sustainable development, said that between now and September, States had an opportunity to renew their political commitment to the vision conceived in Rio, consolidated in Barbados and reaffirmed in Mauritius. Now was the time to assess what progress had been made and what barriers remained. Australia, for its part, had a longstanding and expanding commitment to partnerships with small island developing States and was working closely with them to implement the Mauritius Strategy, he said, noting that his country was providing $350,000 to support the five-year review.
Small island developing States faced a range of challenges in pursuing their own sustainable development, he said, adding that rising temperatures and sea levels, as well as food scarcity, were a reality threatening their very survival. Declining fish stocks, limited availability of freshwater and the high cost of food imports were just some of the other decisive challenges that small island States faced daily, many of which differed from those facing other developing countries.
It was essential to recognize and understand such differences, and that small island developing States had a voice in determining their own priorities for action, he emphasized. Australia would continue to work with them to develop flexible and practical actions to meet their sustainable development goals and ensure that their voice was heard in international forums. In addition, Australia had invested $150 million to help small islands in the Pacific region to adapt, and was now starting to work with those in the Caribbean on responding to the threats posed by climate change.
RICK BARTON ( United States) said the Barbados and Mauritius meetings had focused global attention on the plight of small island developing States, sparking a process that had been the starting point for major sustainable development initiatives, the protection of coral reefs and the Micronesia Challenge. To achieve sustainable development, it was necessary to enhance resiliency in natural and manmade systems, he said, adding that efforts in September should focus on tangible action, rather than revisiting the text of the Mauritius Strategy. They must also focus on developing a short, balanced document, while continuing work to address climate change since the very existence of some low-lying small islands was at stake.
He said that, under President Barack Obama, his country had taken unprecedented action to tackle climate change. The United States strongly supported the Copenhagen Accord and the joint mobilization of $100 billion per year by 2020 to address climate change. That must be a priority for most vulnerable countries, including small island developing States, he stressed. The United States would commit $244 million in fiscal 2010, and had requested $240 million for 2011 to help the adaptation efforts of small island developing States, he said, pointing out that sustainable development for them was broader than just climate change. It also meant addressing water, health, food security, waste management, chemical management and trade.
LIU YUYIN (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the development of small island developing States was an indispensable part of global sustainable development. The deterioration of the ecological environment and frequent natural disasters were posing unprecedented challenges to the development of States, he said, adding that, due to their size, small island States found themselves in particularly dire straits. There should be special support policies targeted at the needs of countries in special situations, he added.
He emphasized the need to enhance the capacity of small island developing States to achieve sustainable development by implementing effective actions according to their own specific conditions. There were many islands in China, which, as a developing country itself, fully empathized with small island developing States. The Chinese Government had steadily deepened its cooperation with small island States, providing assistance within the limits of its capabilities in the common endeavour to promote global sustainable development.
PAOLO SOPRANO, Director, Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea of Italy, said small island developing States had long realized that, although they had contributed only minimally to climate change, they were the most affected by it. Five years ago, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) ministers had developed regional mechanisms such as the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, to which Italy had given the initial seed resources allowing it to establish a technical team and subsequently build up its extensive record of achievements.
He said his country would continue to help build up the Centre, and hoped other countries and regions would be encouraged to take similar steps. Italy also supported the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, he said, adding that, in the Pacific, it provided support for national efforts to address climate change through tailored forms of assistance, in line with each special case and the capacity of each small island nation. Italy’s climate-change cooperation programme with Pacific small islands had been launched three years ago, he said, adding that today it had 30 projects and initiatives in the countries concerned.
SELWIN CHARLES HART (Barbados), associating himself with the Group of 77, the Alliance of Small Island States and the Pacific Island Developing States, said States should remind themselves that, while improvements had clearly been uneven and levels of international support disappointing, substantial progress had indeed been made. With little support, small island States had done their part to integrate sustainable development into national development plans and processes, he said. Although there had been recognition that they constituted a special case, that status was not taken into account when considering developmental and international needs. The best national and regional efforts would be undermined without a supportive international environment sensitive to the needs of small island States, he warned.
The implementation gap would not be closed by words, but by actions at the present session and in other forums where other decisions on survival would be taken, he continued. Words would remain hollow as long as States continued to block progress in small economies, while arguing that some countries were not deserving of special treatment, or when small island developing States that were also least developed countries were forced to graduate from that category with mere words for support. The United Nations system must not continue to treat small island States as a subject of research, as it had done for the past 16 years, he stressed, adding that it must put special arrangements in place to address their vulnerability and help them achieve sustainable development.
ABDUL GHAFOOR MOHAMED ( Maldives) pointed to the increasing vulnerability of small island developing States and the lack of a dedicated response, or financial and programming mechanisms to address small-island-related challenges. There was no doubt that existing United Nations support for small island States was inadequate, as it did not offer them real, measurable, tangible support, he said, stressing that the Organization’s response must demonstrate comprehensively the way in which it addressed the challenges confronting small islands.
Calling for the formal development of a United Nations small island developing States category, he noted that many people already supported that concept. Small island States must be treated as a special group to ensure that concessionary financing was accessible. He reaffirmed the need for results-oriented, targeted support for small islands and expressed hope that it would be forthcoming, particularly as the United Nations moved towards the Mauritius +5 review.
CONROD HUNTE (Antigua and Barbuda), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, reiterated the importance and continuing relevance of the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy. He said his country’s vulnerability as a small island developing State had increased over the last five years due to the combined effects of climate change, high energy costs and the financial crisis. Many factors that increased the vulnerability of small island States were not of their own making, he said, calling for a through review of their situation and underscoring the need for programmes to help them.
All aspects of the Mauritius Strategy and the Barbados Programme of Action were in need of enhancement, he said, noting in particular that improvement was needed in the areas of affordable energy and integrated sustainable management of core resources and freshwater sources. Small island States also needed assistance on sustainable use and capacity-building, particularly with respect to adapting to climate change. They also needed access to grants and debt forgiveness, he said, adding that migration also required increased attention.
COLLIN BECK ( Solomon Islands) pointed out that, although the development of small island States required special attention due to their vulnerability, their issues continued to be addressed on an ad-hoc basis. The Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy had not been addressed in a meaningful way, he said, adding that too much bureaucracy surrounded small island issues. He called for improved policy coordination and country-level implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy by the entire United Nations system.
Pointing out that none of the Pacific small islands was on track to meet all the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, he said there must be renewed commitment to invest directly in national sustainable development mechanisms, through technology transfer, capacity-building and other means that would empower national populations and spur development. He was encouraged by triangular cooperation, saying it gave small island developing States some “breathing space”. He also acknowledged Italy’s contribution to sustainable development in the Pacific region, adding that climate change was increasingly everyone’s destiny.
ANA CRISTINA RODRÍGUEZ-PINEDA (Guatemala) said it was very important to restate her country’s support for the Mauritius +5 review and for the alliance that had established the climate change negotiations, since Guatemala shared their perception of urgency. The negotiations must yield tangible results during the course of the current year, she emphasized.
ANTONIO PEDRO MONTEIRO LIMA (Cape Verde), associating himself with the Alliance of Small Island States and the Group of 77, said today’s observance was an opportunity to examine the overall situation of small island developing States in light of climate change and the global economic crisis. There was a vicious cycle, which was worse in the situation of small island developing States, whose people were threatened by poverty and an uncertain future. Such problems were contributing to instability and worldwide insecurity, all at a time when Europe was experiencing the fallout from multiple crises, which were all the result of greed. The problems were undermining the global system and, in fact, increasing poverty.
It was necessary to get to the root of the causes of the harm affecting all countries, he stressed. States must get beyond the “laissez-faire attitude” preventing the most vulnerable from overcoming their poverty. Everyone wanted to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and come up with outcomes favourable to the Mauritius process, but States must look at their collective capacity to ensure that small island States did not “go under the water” due to massive and clandestine migration, lack of water, droughts and salination of water sources owing to rising sea levels. All those factors were causes of conflict and could plunge entire societies into dreadful situations, he warned.
SHIGEKI SUMI ( Japan) said that, as an island nation, his country recognized the special needs and vulnerabilities of small island developing States, which had been amplified in recent years by the negative impact of climate change. For many years, Japan had cooperated closely with them. At the fifth Japan-Pacific Islands Forum Summit Meeting in Hokkaido last May, the Prime Minister had announced that Japan would provide ¥50 billion to assist Pacific island countries in the next three years.
Japan’s commitment had been extended to Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member States as well, he said, recalling that, since the first ministerial-level conference in Tokyo in 2000, Japan had provided them with aid in line with the priorities of the Mauritius Strategy. The second such conference was scheduled for August, when a new cooperation framework, covering climate change, among various other issues, was expected to be adopted.
In New York, the Permanent Mission of Japan was conducting close bilateral discussions with many Pacific island countries and CARICOM members on various issues, he said. There was an urgent need to move forward with negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, he said, adding that, under the Hatoyama Initiative, the Japanese Government was providing approximately $15 billion in public and private financing until 2012 to assist a broad range of developing countries with migration efforts, as well as other countries vulnerable to the negative impact of climate change.
MODEST JONATHAN MERO (United Republic of Tanzania), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, said he was aware that some efforts were being deployed to address the needs of small island developing States and the challenges of climate change, but they were inadequate. Recalling that his country had recently lost one small island, which had been submerged, he said it was now time to reinforce interventions in the small island developing States.
ALI’IOAIGA FETURI ELISAIA ( Samoa) said the vulnerabilities and challenges of small island States and the associated opportunities were already well documented, but their full impact had not been comprehensively discussed. While some solutions had been suggested, an integrated approach was needed urgently. The remoteness of Pacific small islands was a major impediment to their economic growth, and they were twice as isolated as their Caribbean counterparts. Their maritime, agricultural and forest infrastructure needed strengthening, he said.
Noting that the digital divide was getting bigger, he said it was vital to invest in the connectivity and infrastructure of Pacific small island States and to give their citizens access to quality education and health care. The needs of Pacific small islands were common knowledge and did not require second-guessing. It was necessary to help them help themselves by supporting key areas in which their resilience and ability to fend for themselves could be strengthened so they could overcome their inherent challenges, which were, in fact, all solvable.
PIO TIKODUADUA, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister of Fiji, associating himself with the Group of 77, the Alliance of Small Island States and the Pacific Small Island Developing States, said that evidence of climate change was abundant, but while pledges had been made in the past, urgent action was needed as time was not on the side of small island States. Their survival was dependent on support from the international community, the commitment of the United Nations to small island States and their own commitment as island people.
MARIA TERESA ROSAS JASSO, Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, said her delegation supported efforts for the effective implementation of the Mauritius Strategy, and considered it important that the international community establish appropriate mechanisms for the benefit of small island States. Mexico also agreed that it was extremely important that the entire international community do all it possibly could to take the most ambitious measures concerning climate change. Such efforts would provide an appropriate response to the major challenges of climate change, particularly for small island States.
DJAHEEZAH SUBRATTY (Mauritius) said her country was actively pursuing a sustainable development strategy, despite constraints it faced in doing so, and called on the international community to continue efforts to implement the Mauritius Strategy. Recalling that Mauritius had hosted the 10-year review of the Barbados Programme of Action, she said national and regional assessment reports showed that regional progress was due largely to the efforts of the small island States themselves. The same reports consistently described regional challenges, calling for renewed efforts and support, especially in the wake of the recent multiple global crises. Specific support was needed to speed up the economic diversification of small island States, including trade support to help them recover from the effects of the crises.
IAN EDDINGTON, speaking for the workers and trade unions civil society major group, said he was encouraged by specific references made to funding, and reminded Member States that it did not work unless commitments were honoured. He also invited small island States to reciprocate by responding to those commitments in an efficient and profitable manner. Regarding global warming, he said small island nations were different in that they were the “litmus test” of global warming. If the “more comfortable” countries did not support their concerns, what prospects would the world face in the not too distant future? he asked. Small island lives were lost because of inefficient transport mechanisms, especially in times of emergency, and they also had to deal with pollution from profitable mining enterprises. He asked small island States to consider working with the trade union movement to advance an industrial relations programme.
VIJAI SHARMA, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests of India, said small island States had made progress towards the Millennium Development Goals relating to socio-economic issues, but there was cause for concern as economic growth, which was vital for poverty eradication, had not kept up with the pace required. He concurred with the assessment in the Secretary-General’s report that income did not automatically translate into greater coping ability, noting that more objective criteria were needed to evaluate vulnerability. The high cost of transporting goods to small island States was clearly a result of small volumes and long distances, he added.
Recognizing the special challenges faced by small islands in pursuing sustainable development, he said his country had recently revisited its 20-year-old coastal management system in light of climate-change-induced sea level rise and the growing pressure on biodiversity. India had looked at new approaches to securing the livelihoods and habitats of coastal people through space-technology aid, tighter environmental protection standards, more sophisticated cumulative assessments and a stronger knowledge base.
As part of South-South cooperation, India had shared its development experience and technological resources with small island States and helped them implement projects, including some intended for adaptation to the adverse effects of climate change. Others were in the field of information and communication, waste management, remote sensing, hydrographic survey, telemedicine, public transport, education, irrigation systems, food and agriculture and fisheries. India had committed $70 million in project aid to small island developing States, in addition to $350 million in concessionary loans and credit lines, he said.
LEONG CHIA JANG, speaking for youth and children, said that, among the key challenges faced by small island States were climate change, economic resilience and capacity-building. It was a well-established fact that they would bear the brunt of climate change, she said, urging all countries to establish bold national action plans so that the potential of young children would not be hindered. The economic resilience of small island States must be strengthened, and there must be commitment and support for that goal from the international community. All parties must also be committed to technology transfer and capacity-building, she said, reiterating the importance of encouraging export diversification in order to maintain the relevance of small island States in the global economy.
A representative of non-governmental organizations, noting that the challenges of tackling climate change were greater and bleaker every year, said that, in light of trade-related and climate change challenges, the key to the sustainable development of small island States lay in building domestic economies, particularly in sectors less vulnerable to the impact of climate change. International commitments had been made in terms of adaptation, but they lacked the necessary urgent means to realize them.
The story was similar in terms of biodiversity and official development assistance, he said, asking whether repackaging the Mauritius Strategy in a review document would help small island States or whether a more profound review was needed. What were needed were more honest commitments, not words that rang hollow, he said. There must be better action in mitigation and adaptation. A review of the Mauritius Strategy must draw attention to the historical fact that some countries had over-consumed their fair share of resources. They must finance efforts to implement the Mauritius Strategy. A failure to provide support to developing countries was a threat to Mother Earth, human rights and to small island developing States overall.
GRACE BALAWAG, speaking for indigenous peoples, stressed the need for significant action by the Commission, saying that, given the current environmental crisis, small island States, in particular, had witnessed more devastating disasters and more frequent storms. When their lands and resources disappeared or were gravely altered, the survival of local populations was threatened. In addition, mining seriously impacted sustainable livelihoods that were dependent on the land and water, she said, adding that it was necessary to share the burden in responding to the ecological and climate crises.
She said it was also imperative that the Commission and all stakeholders persist in ensuring that the necessary mechanisms were provided for the participation of all stakeholders, including indigenous peoples, at all stages of the review process towards small-island-specific sustainable development. In addition, she appealed to the Commission, Member States and all stakeholders to uphold the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Ms. WILLIAMS ( Grenada), taking the floor once again on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, said that due to the wealth of statements, small island States did not lack for company. She thanked development partners for their valuable support over the last five years, and all those who had contributed. She expressed hope that the fast-start financing mechanism would soon be operational, and thanked the European Union and all others engaged in making it appear in national capitals and in programmes and projects on the ground. She also thanked, among others, Australia, China, Italy and Japan for their support. Regarding informal consultations on the draft political declaration, she said the process was open and should be closed as soon as all inputs were received.
MATTIA PORETTI (Switzerland) said the international community must support the small island States as they were an integral part of the human heritage. They were greatly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and it was therefore vital that the international community make all efforts to help them combat the effects of climate change. Defining goals beyond 2012 was also crucial, he added.
DANA KARTAKUSUMA, Assistant Minister, Technology and Sustainable Development, Ministry of Environment of Indonesia, associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that, as an archipelagic nation, his country understood and shared the special concerns of small island developing States, particularly with respect to sustainable development and the Millennium Development Goals. Despite their vulnerabilities, the small island States had steadfastly advanced sustainable development and the Goals, but their hard work and progress, as well as their very existence, were threatened by the negative effects of climate change.
He said the Mauritius +5 review in September would be a momentous occasion to evaluate commitments to small island States, their progress towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals and their sustainable development challenges. It was important that the review enable small island States to strengthen their capacities in the face of the dangers of climate change and other external factors. It was equally important that the review place emphasis on scaling up long-proven strategies and policies to meet the immediate needs and concerns of small island populations, as well as explore new viable solutions. Effective management should be emphasized, and it was necessary to rethink the approach to consumption and production, he said, adding that the importance of financing to advance sustainable development should not be overlooked.
Mr. BANURI, Director, Division for Sustainable Development, then presented the Secretary-General’s report on the “Integrated review of the thematic cluster of mining, chemicals, waste management, transport and sustainable consumption and production in small island developing States” (document E/CN.17/2010/14), prior to an interactive dialogue.
Commission Chair Felice (Guatemala) moderated the panel discussion, which featured Bruce Graham, an environmental consultant working mainly with the Government of New Zealand who served as a resource person on waste management; Immaculate Javia, a trainer in small-scale mining for the European Union/Mineral Resource Authority in Papua New Guinea; Amjad Abdulla, Director General, Ministry of Housing, Transport and Environment of the Maldives; and Gordon Bispham, Chairman of the Urban Development Commission and expert on small island developing States for the Caribbean Policy Development Centre, who served as resource person on sustainable production and consumption patterns.
Mr. GRAHAM, identifying key waste management priorities for the small island States, said sustainable financing was a key issue to be addressed as most progress made in the area of waste management had been externally funded. To become more self-sufficient, island States should make an annual investment of about $30 per capita in an internal waste management investment. Such an investment would be extremely beneficial, he said, noting that the cost of poor waste management ranged from $20-$100 per capita annually.
He also highlighted a desire for development in the area of technology transfer within small island States, saying Japan’s introduction of anaerobic landfill operations had been successful. Lastly, he stressed the need to secure corporate involvement at the global level, adding that, since small island States were typically last on the supply chain, it was important to implement extended producer responsibility in order to prevent high waste levels.
Ms. JAVIA said small-scale mining faced many constraints in Papua New Guinea, relating to environmental issues, land degradation, soil and environmental pollution, river contamination, mercury usage and child labour. In addition, HIV and AIDS were cross-cutting issues that must also be addressed. While small-scale mining was necessary for the sustainable livelihood of indigenous peoples, there were problems that had to be faced after the big mines left, such as environmental pollution.
She said one of the main issues affecting small-scale mining in Papua New Guinea was the absence of surveys or databases on the activity, she said. It also lacked a legal framework, she said, noting that neither environmental and safety issues nor HIV/AIDS could be addressed when frameworks were not in place. That was a real problem in Papua New Guinea and other small island developing States involved in small-scale mining. Another problem was financial constraints, which must also be addressed, she added.
Mr. Abdulla said the transport sector was a lifeline for small island States, noting that the sea transport network served to connect the islands. The cost of providing transport was huge, particularly in the Maldives, but locals did not fully understand the real costs. In effect, the Government had begun providing subsidies meant to create opportunities to find new income sources and maintain the transport sector in a sustainable manner. He emphasized that economies of scale were a major challenge for small island States seeking to create viable business opportunities, but they were open to investment in the green economy, particularly green technology.
Mr. BISPHAM stressed that sustainable consumption and production must be underpinned by certain principles, starting with the issue of participation — there was a role for both Government and non-government actors to work closely together. Another important question that must be addressed was that of equity, he said, pointing out that the gap between the “haves” and the “have nots” continued to widen, and would create more challenges for countries seeking sustainable development. It was necessary to ensure better distribution of the wealth created at the national level, he added.
Emphasizing the need to support the principle of resource efficiency, he said that using existing resources in a much more environmentally sustainable way was of utmost importance, adding that multisectoral, multistakeholder processes must be followed and continued. There was also a need for much coordination and collaboration among and between the actors involved, noting that both horizontal and vertical integration were needed when approaching sustainable consumption and production programmes. Furthermore, the issue opened the door for the establishment of the management practices, investment and capacity-building activities necessary for constructing a green economy. In order to make sensible choices in terms of shaping lifestyle patterns, it was necessary to create decent jobs and pursue decent work for all citizens, so they could have a direct hand in improving their quality of life, he said.
In the ensuing discussion, several speakers cited issues relating to climate change — coastal erosion, coral bleaching, rising temperatures and particularly sea level rise — as major threats to health and survival. The adverse effects of climate change, particularly on small, and therefore extremely vulnerable, States, also created development and security challenges.
Many speakers stressed the significance of transport-related issues, noting that high costs had constrained the development of efficient and sustainable air, land and maritime services. Waste management and chemicals were also challenging areas for small islands States, it was noted, as some speakers noted that transboundary movements of hazardous waste and chemicals remained a critical issue to be addressed. To overcome those challenges, financing and the international community’s support for the national efforts of small island States was crucial, delegates said.
Mr. GRAHAM pointed out that electronic waste was a growing concern and urged more global corporations to help close the loop in the supply chain by taking waste products back to where they came from.
Mr. BISPHAM, asked about the feasibility and possible ratification of an interim global compact for small island developing States, said that issues such as financial costs and capacity on the national level should be taken into consideration prior to ratification. Addressing a comment about the need to focus also on macroeconomic aspects, including income distribution, he agreed that it was critically important, and action must be taken to ensure that income distribution was a considered factor in a wider agreement.
Ms. JAVIA, asked whether eco-tourism could be a possible alternative to small-scale mining in Papua New Guinea, said it was unlikely that the country’s indigenous peoples would accept eco-tourism as they preferred activities that would help sustain their livelihoods. Farming was another possibility, she said, but the environmental destruction caused by large mine operations meant that small-scale mining would remain the primary source of income for the indigenous peoples.
Mr. ABDULLA, responding to a comment about the importance of technology as a cross-cutting theme, cited the need for small island States to use the technology currently available to them, with the immediate objective of reducing air and maritime greenhouse gas emissions. States must not wait until the right technologies were in place, he said, given that they often were not aware of which technologies were available and how to obtain them.
Contributing in today’s discussion were representatives of Jamaica (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China), Spain (on behalf of the European Union), Grenada (on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States), Saudi Arabia and Cuba.
Interventions were also heard from representatives of the following civil society major groups: workers and trade unions, farmers, and women.
A representative of the International Telecommunications Union also addressed the meeting.
Following the interactive dialogue, the Commission turned to procedural issues relating to the high-level review meeting in September, projecting on screen the proposed organization of work.
The Commission, acting as the Preparatory Committee, then adopted a draft decision, as orally amended, by which it recommended that the General Assembly adopt a draft decision requesting its President to conduct further consultations with Member States in order to determine the procedural aspects of the high-level review.
Commission Chairperson FELICE ( Guatemala) said in closing remarks that small island States had reported mixed progress, and challenges persisted in several areas. Their vulnerabilities continued to increase and must be recognized. There was also a need to step up efforts to implement the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy, and to increase sustainable funding and foster partnerships, he said, adding that the Rio Principles and macroeconomic issues must be taken into account.
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