16 April 2004


Press Release

Commission on Sustainable Development                      

Twelfth Session                                            

3rd Meeting (PM)

preparatory session for international meeting

on smallisland developing states concludes

Negotiations to Continue on Draft Outcome Document;

Meeting Convenes in Mauritius 30 August – 3 September

The Commission on Sustainable Development this afternoon concluded its three-day preparatory session for the International Meeting to Review the Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, with the adoption, as orally revised, of the agenda and provisional organization of work for the Meeting.

Updating the Commission on the negotiations on the draft outcome for the International Meeting, to be held from 30 August to 3 September in Port Louis, Mauritius, facilitator Don MacKay (New Zealand) said that a productive discussion had been held on the basis of the Strategy Paper presented by the “Group of 77” developing countries and China.  It was agreed, he said, that a large number of the 86 paragraphs in the Paper would require further work.

Therefore, he continued, there was agreement on the need to hold two days of informal consultations in Mauritius on 28 and 29 August, prior to the opening of the International Meeting.  It would also be useful to hold further “informal informals” in New York to advance work on the draft.  He proposed a two- or three-day meeting in the middle of May, more information on which would be provided to delegations.  Also, a compilation text would be put together to assist delegations consisting of the Paper and proposals made during the negotiations.

The Commission authorized Mr. MacKay to continue his consultations after 30 April with a view to reaching agreement on the remaining pending issues for the preparations for the International Meeting.  It also agreed to the two-day informal consultations in Mauritius prior to the opening of the International Meeting.

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 International Meeting, noting that the documentation for the Meeting had all been issued as documents of the Commission on Sustainable Development, said he would submit those for re-numbering, in order to make those available for the Mauritius Meeting.

He said that a paper circulated in the room contained the requests received so far for the side events in Mauritius.  He drew attention to a civil society forum from 27 to 29 August, prior to the Conference.  So far, only eight non-governmental organizations were accredited by the deadline, but he believed there was still considerable interest among non-governmental organizations to participate.  It might be worthwhile to consider how best to provide them with that opportunity.

Regarding the extrabudgetary voluntary funds for the participation of the small island developing States in the Conference, he said that efforts were being made to ensure sufficient resources for their full participation.  The response had been good, but there was still a shortfall in funds.  He appealed, once again, to his colleagues to come up with the necessary resources to enable those delegations to be in Mauritius from 28 August, when the informal consultations would begin.

Commission Chairman Børge Brende (Norway) said that the small island developing States had big potential and that they faced big challenges.  Today, the small islands agenda was also big.  It had changed since the adoption of the Barbados Programme of Action.  Ten years ago, the small islands agenda had a predominantly environmental focus.  In the discussions in the lead-up to the Mauritius Meeting other topics, such as security, HIV/AIDS and the importance of building resilience in small islands had been added to that agenda.

At the Mauritius Meeting, he said, the international community would have a chance to undertake a comprehensive review of the challenges facing small islands.  He urged all delegations to make the Mauritius Meeting an opportunity for the small islands to take centre stage.  “We need to find practical and workable solutions to the challenges ahead together.”  Although a lot of work remained, he believed the constructive attitude shown by delegations at the preparatory meeting bode well for the run-up to Mauritius.

According to the draft provisional organization of work, contained in document E/CN.17/2004/L.3, the International Meeting would consist of plenary meetings; meetings of the Main Committee, to consider all outstanding matters relating to the draft outcome documents; side events; and a high-level segment to be convened on 2 and 3 September.

The agenda for the International Meeting is contained in document E/CN.17/2004/L.2 and the draft report of the three-day preparatory meeting, also adopted this afternoon, is contained in document E/CN.17/2004/L.4.

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.

For further information on the three-day preparatory meeting, see Press Release ENV/DEV/763 issued on 14 April.

The Commission on Sustainable Development will continue its twelfth session at 10 a.m. on Monday, 19 April, when it begins its consideration of water, sanitation and human settlements.

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.