Daily report for 4 May 1994

Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of SIDS


In one of its more eclectic sessions, the Plenary heard reportsfrom representatives of the NGO Islands Forum, adopted the reportof the Credentials Committee (A/CONF.167/7), reopened the GeneralDebate to hear two statements, and heard the presentation of a casestudy on early warning systems.

NGO FORUM: Calvin Howell, on behalf of the CaribbeanConservation Association, said that it is important thatgovernments, in partnership with NGOs, commit to the implementationof Chapter 27 of Agenda 21. He expressed hope that at the end ofthe process there would be no need to retain the brackets aroundthe word "action."

VILLAGE OF HOPE: Colin Hudson reported on the Village ofHope, which contains more than 300 significant exhibits. 23,000school children and more than 12,000 adults have visited. There isnow a proposal to make the Village of Hope a permanent exhibitionand other delegates have expressed interest in establishingVillages of Hope in their own countries.

SUSTECH '94: Bobby Khan, Barbados Manufacturing Association,said 14 island States and 50 small businesses from islandsparticipated in SUSTECH '94. NGOs and the private sector must beinvolved in building models for sustainable development in SIDS.

BARBADOS ENVIRONMENTAL ASSOCIATION: Gordon Bispham said thatthe NGO Forum should be part of all UN Conferences. There is a needto coordinate, facilitate, communicate and allow new thinking andimaginative initiatives.

PAN-AFRICAN MOVEMENT: Dr. Pauulu Kamarakafego saidsustainable development must be rooted in sustainable livelihoodsand sustainable human development. The rights of indigenous peopleof SIDS must be respected. There is also a need to ensure access tocredit and capital.

NGO ACTION PLAN: The NGOs then presented their Action Plan,which was summarized by Dr. Caroline Sinavaiana (Pacific ConcernsResource Centre), Dr. Pynee Chellapernal (Centre for Documentation,Research and Training on the South West Indian Ocean), Joan French(Caribbean Policy Development Centre), and Waldaba Stewart(Pan-African Movement).

The Preamble highlights: the vulnerabilities of SIDS; population;colonialism and militarism; terms of trade and aid; the strengthsof small size; the requirements of sustainable development; andputting people at the centre of development. The Action Plancontains a series of 81 recommendations for action by governmentsand 23 recommendations for action by NGOs and indigenous people.The NGOs and indigenous peoples also adopted a resolution thatestablishes the International Network of SIDS NGOs and IndigenousPeoples (INSNI).

Gloria Goffe spoke on behalf of peoples with disabilities. Shepresented a series of recommendations, including: people withdisabilities should have equal rights guaranteed by theConstitution; barriers to equality must be removed; and people withdisabilities must be consulted on matters concerning their needs.

Damodar Penton, Pan-African Movement, who spoke on behalf of youth,called for reallocation of military budgets to social services andthe environment, an end to the economic blockade of Cuba and debtforgiveness for SIDS.

From atop a chair, Enoch Astapha spoke on behalf of the youth underage 14. Since young people make up a large population in developingislands they should be given a responsibility in local government.He called for an end to the dumping of wastes in rivers, seas,lakes and other waters and a halt to deforestation and recklessland use. He called on Heads of Government to give a global gift tothe children of the world by universal ratification of theConvention on the Rights of the Child.

Audrey Roberts, Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era,presented the resolution by the Women's Caucus, which included:creation of an enabling environment for women's participation inimplementing the Programme of Action; respecting the right of allcolonized people for independence; and access to training,information and sustainable development technology for women.

Desrey Fox, Barbados Environmental Association, spoke on behalf ofindigenous people, who did not participate adequately at thisConference. Indigenous people need to participate in all processesrelated to sustainable development, which is their life. She calledfor the guarantee of intellectual and cultural property rights ofindigenous peoples and demanded the right to self-determination.

INTERNATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS UNION: Philip Cross saidthat a programme of action for the Caribbean was adopted in April1992, which includes upgrading telecommunications legislation,development of telecommunications policies, human resourcesdevelopment, and satisfying vital communication needs such as newsnetworks, video services and disaster preparedness.

UNITED NATIONS UNIVERSITY: Amb. Lucille Mair (Jamaica),Chair of the UNU Governing Council, elaborated on the UNU's work onthe environment, under its Sustaining Global Life Support Systemsprogramme, implementation of Agenda 21, preparation of a textbookon environmental economics, and international environmental law.

Amb. Gerhard Henze (Germany) introduced a case study on the earlywarning capabilities of the Caribbean Meteorological Organizationand the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency(A/CONF.167/CRP.7). John Scott, Center for Public ServiceCommunications, then presented the details of this case study.


On Tuesday night, the extended bureau met until 3:30 am tonegotiate the unresolved paragraphs on finance in the Programme ofAction. The agreed language, which appears throughout the text,reads: "The implementation of the Programme of Action will requirethe provision of effective means, including adequate, predictable,new and additional financial resources in accordance with Chapter33 of Agenda 21." There is also reference to the "optimal use ofexisting resources and mechanisms" in the text.

On Wednesday evening, the Main Committee convened in formal sessionto adopt its report, as contained in A/CONF.167/L.6 and addenda1-16, which contain the Preamble and the 15 chapters of theProgramme of Action. The rapporteur, Takao Shibata, made severaloral amendments to the draft report, which will be reflected in thefinal text. Brazil, supported by Colombia, made a statement for therecord on the need for compensation for the use of knowledge intraditional and customary practices of local communities andindigenous people. The Main Committee then approved the Programmeof Action and agreed to transmit the text to the Plenary foradoption.

Joy Hyvarinen, on behalf of the World Wide Fund for Nature, saidthat the NGOs had hoped that the developed countries would breathenew life into the Rio process at this Conference, but this was notthe case. Although the Conference provided recognition of theurgent situation in SIDS and UNCED language was maintained, NGOshad hoped for greater movement towards the creation of new andinnovative financing and economic mechanisms. Dr. Jeremy Leggett ofGreenpeace International criticized the developed countries for notaddressing climate change, especially two related crises -- theeffect on the global insurance industry and coral bleaching. Bothof these crises have a negative impact on SIDS. He said that theinternational community has missed another opportunity to wake upand there may not be many more to come.

In her closing remarks, the Chair, Amb. Penelope Wensley, thankedall the participants and commented on the harmony and partnershipbetween developed and developing countries that has made thisProgramme of Action possible. Despite the criticisms, she said thatthey had achieved something here that is worthy of pride -- thefirst concrete step by the international community to fulfill oneof the commitments of UNCED. This is not rhetoric, she added. It isa Programme of Action that clearly and comprehensively defines theactions required to put SIDS on a sustainable footing. The meetingconcluded with expressions of thanks by Guinea Bissau, Greece (onbehalf of the EU), Algeria (on behalf of the G-77), China, Trinidadand Tobago (on behalf of AOSIS), New Zealand (on behalf of Canada,Australia and New Zealand), Romania (on behalf of himself, since hewas the only one present from his region), the US, Iceland (onbehalf of the Nordic countries), and Barbados.


On Tuesday, the contact group met through the evening and newproposals on the structure were tabled. On Wednesday morning thegroup met for a final round of debate. Delegates were urged torestrict their comments to the new text and not to engage inrhetorical debate. Nevertheless, members of the group were allowedto reopen previously agreed paragraphs.

As it stands, the Declaration contains a short preambular sectionand lists a number of areas in which participating States affirmtheir commitments. These are: human resources; natural resources;ecological fragility; economic vulnerability; capacity building;constraints to sustainable development; partnership; national,regional and international implementation; and public awareness.

The atmosphere took a turn for the worse when some of thecontentious issues gave rise another round of protracted debate.These issues included: the participation of major groups; ownershipof natural resources; climate change, response strategies and theframework convention; references to the debt burden on SIDS; andactions to reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns ofproduction and consumption. On this last point, a major donorcountry said that the only way this point could be retained was ifit were moved to the section on national implementation. Referencesto growing population pressure were dropped in anticipation of thecircular debate that was bound to follow in Plenary. The debatelasted close to five hours before the group adjourned and the textwas sent for translation.

At 8:00 pm the Plenary resumed in informal session to discuss thelatest draft prepared during the afternoon by the Chair of thecontact group, Amb. Besley Maycock. The differences over naturalresources were resolved with language referring to the sovereignrights of SIDS over their own resources. The debate continued intothe evening ironing out the final wrinkles .


At the conclusion of the Second AOSIS Summit, the Chair of AOSIS,the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, gave a press briefing.He was accompanied by the Prime Minister of Vanuatu, the PrimeMinister of Barbados, the President of Nauru, the Minister of theEnvironment of Mauritius, and the Ambassador of Trinidad and Tobagoto the UN.

The Summit had discussed the need to strengthen cooperation withinthe Alliance. The Chair said that while AOSIS was far from happywith the allocation of finances, it recognized that commitments hadbeen made at this Conference. He further noted that the price offreedom is eternal vigilance. The AOSIS leaders agreed that percapita measures for the appropriation of ODA are irrelevant andthat sets of indicators should be used. While they weredisappointed that so few Heads of State and Government were able toattend the Summit, they noted that the Summit was a usefulprecursor to the High-Level Segment.


Following three days of debate on the Barbados Declaration,delegates breathed a sigh of relief that something -- anything --had been agreed to and sent for translation. The Declaration,described by some as no more than a whimper, is not expected tobecome part of the lexicon of sustainable development in the nearfuture. However, it does show that the two-and-half yearsnegotiating the Rio agreements were not completely in vain -- noone has yet been able to say it better.


HIGH-LEVEL SEGMENT: The High-Level Segment will convene thismorning at 10:00 in Conference Room 1. Speakers in the morning willprobably include: the Presidents of the Republic of Nauru, Kiribatiand Cuba, as well as the Governor General of Papua New Guinea, thePrime Ministers of Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua andBarbuda, the Bahamas, and Vanuatu. Ministers from China, the US,Iceland, Australia, the Marshall Islands, Cyprus, Venezuela,Jamaica, Mauritius, the UK, Brazil and the Maldive Islands may alsodeliver addresses. In the afternoon, the speakers' list includesthe President of Guyana, the Premier of Niue, the Prime Ministersof Tonga, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and theGrenadines, the Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of Japan, thespecial representative of the Prime Minister of Pakistan, and theDeputy Prime Minister of the Cook Islands. Ministers from Fiji,Malaysia, Germany, Solomon Islands, Seychelles, Western Samoa,Canada, India, New Zealand, Colombia and the British Virgin Islandsare also expected to take to the rostrum.