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Amb. Penelope Wensley convened the Preparatory Committee of the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States Monday morning. She said that with only 34 weeks until the Conference, the PrepCom meets at a time when expectations of the UN have never been higher, demands on the system never greater, and the world community is struggling to cope with a proliferation of problems. The first challenge is to capture attention and use this PrepCom to raise the level of awareness, knowledge and understanding of the problems of small island developing States (SIDS). She stressed that this meeting is one of the first opportunities for governments to turn the ideas and concepts of sustainable development into practical, concrete plans and programmes. The aim of the PrepCom should be to provide a model for pragmatic, useful actions that can be managed and implemented at the national, regional and international levels. By the end of this two-week session, the PrepCom should reach agreement on the Conference outcome and produce an outline of a "programme of action" for SIDS.

Nitin Desai, Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development (DPCSD), said that the PrepCom marked the mid-point in the Conference process and preparations to date have helped clarify the issues. The case for the special consideration of SIDS has emerged clearly from the reports of the technical meetings and the vulnerabilities listed warrant international support and greater regional cooperation. These problems are readily identifiable and can be alleviated. The success of the Conference, therefore, will be a test of the continued commitment of governments to the Rio process.

After adopting the agenda and the programme of work (PC/5 and Corr.1, as amended by the Bureau), the Chair opened the general debate on Agenda Items 2 and 3.

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