UN official to lead
talks on improving
conditions in small
"I am working with my colleagues throughout the UN system as well as civil society and private sector organizations to come in and support the small islands," said Anwarul K. Chowdhury, Secretary-General of the International Conference for the 10-year review of the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, to be held in Mauritius from 30 August to 3 September.
Briefing reporters in New York on an interregional meeting set to run from 26 to 30 January in Nassau, Mr. Chowdhury called attention to the special vulnerabilities of small-island developing States, which often suffer from factors associated with remoteness, size, limited economic opportunities, vulnerability to natural disasters and HIV/AIDS.
When it comes to island nations, "we generally associate our thinking of them with their idyllic natural beauty but we do not consider how fragile their economies are, how fragile their ecosystems are, how vulnerable they are to natural disasters," said Mr. Chowdhury, who is also UN High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.
The Nassau conference will consolidate the results of previous regional gatherings with a view to producing a strategy paper for consideration at a meeting in April to finalize preparations for the Mauritius talks.
Ambassador Chowdhury pledged to galvanize participants in the Bahamas event, which will involve not only representatives of small island countries but also other development partners such as regional organizations and donor States.
"As the Secretary-General of the Conference, I'm trying to have an informal exchange among all stakeholders in the Bahamas to see what each other are thinking of for the Mauritius outcome," he said. "So this is intended to really start the dialogue very early in the process."
With development cooperation facing numerous challenges, he called for a prioritized approach to key points. "We need to focus on issues that are of utmost importance," he said.
"My effort is to get a good outcome which is implementable, which is focused, which gets the partnership - and effective partnership - of all stakeholders," he added.