Summary report, 25 April – 6 May 1994
Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of SIDS
Amidst the sun, sea, corals and sand that draw hundreds ofthousands of tourists to small islands every year, the UnitedNations Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of SmallIsland Developing States met in Bridgetown, Barbados, from 25 April- 6 May 1994. Yet, during the course of the two-week meeting,delegates were constantly reminded that small island developingStates (SIDS) are much more than vacation paradises. They also facenumerous problems, including poverty, high unemployment, shortagesof freshwater, sewage and waste disposal concerns, and thepossibility of total annihilation due to climate change induced sealevel rise.
During the course of the Conference, delegates negotiated thefifteen-chapter Programme of Action that sets out a series ofrecommended actions for the sustainable development of SIDS at thenational, regional and international levels. Delegates alsonegotiated and adopted the Barbados Declaration, which was supposedto give the Programme of Action its political impetus. In addition,they listened as more than 40 Heads of State and Government,ministers and other high-level government officials participated inthe High-Level Segment and roundtable discussion during the finaldays of the Conference. By the time the final session was gaveledto a close, this first post-Rio global Conference had succeeded incharting a new course for a group of countries whose needs haveoften been ignored by the international community.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CONFERENCE
The United Nations Global Conference on the Sustainable Developmentof Small Island Developing States has its roots in Chapter 17 ofAgenda 21. UN General Assembly resolution 47/189, which establishedthe Conference, set the following objectives: review current trendsin the socio-economic development of small island developing States(SIDS); examine the nature and magnitude of the specificvulnerabilities of SIDS; define a number of specific actions andpolicies relating to environmental and development planning to beundertaken by these States, with help from the internationalcommunity; identify elements that these States need to include inmedium- and long-term sustainable development plans; recommendmeasures for enhancing the endogenous capacity of these States; andreview whether institutional arrangements at the internationallevel enable these States to give effect to the relevant provisionsof Agenda 21.
The Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the Conference held itsorganizational session in New York on 15-16 April 1993. PenelopeWensley, Australia's Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva andAmbassador for the Environment, was elected Chair of the PrepCom.The Committee also elected four Vice-Chairs: Takao Shibata (Japan),Ioan Barac (Romania), John Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda) and Jos‚ LuisJesus (Cape Verde). Barbados, as host country, was an ex officiomember of the Bureau. The PrepCom adopted guidelines suggestingthat its consideration of SIDS should include actions at the microlevel aimed at environment and development planning, measures forenhancing local skills and expertise, and medium- and long-termsustainable development planning.
REGIONAL TECHNICAL MEETINGS
As part of the preparatory process, two regional technical meetingswere held. The first meeting for the Indian and Pacific Oceans wascoordinated by the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme(SPREP) and was held from 31 May - 4 June 1993, in Vanuatu. Thesecond meeting for the Atlantic/Caribbean/Mediterranean regions washeld in Trinidad and Tobago from 28 June - 2 July 1993. The meetingwas coordinated by the Caribbean Community (Caricom), withassistance from the UN Economic Commission for Latin America andthe Caribbean.
FIRST MEETING OF THE PREPARATORY COMMITTEE
The first session of the PrepCom was held in New York from 30August - 10 September 1993. By the conclusion of the two-weeksession, the PrepCom had set the process in motion for the adoptionof a programme of action for the sustainable development of SIDS.While delegates were able to reach agreement on the majority of the15 chapters in the Programme of Action, the Preamble and thechapter on implementation, monitoring and review remained entirelyin brackets. As a result, delegates called for an additionalsession of the PrepCom to be convened.
48TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY
At its 48th session in the Fall of 1993, the UN General Assemblydecided that the first session of the Preparatory Committee shouldbe resumed for a period of five working days to complete thepreparatory work assigned to it, including the review of the draftProgramme of Action for the sustainable development of SIDS.General Assembly Resolution 48/193, adopted on 21 December 1993,also decided to convene the Conference in Barbados from 25 April to6 May 1994, including a high-level segment from 5-6 May. Theresolution urged that representation at the Conference be at thehighest possible level and decided to convene one day ofpre-Conference consultations at the venue of the Conference on 24April 1994. The resolution also: endorsed the decisions of thePrepCom regarding the participation of associate members ofregional commissions and NGOs in the Conference and its preparatoryprocess; endorsed the PrepCom's decisions regarding the provisionalrules of procedure and the provisional agenda for the Conference;requested the Secretary-General to ensure the timely submission ofthe report of donor activities requested in Decision 11 of thePrepCom; requested the Secretary-General, through the Department ofPublic Information, to widely disseminate the goals and purposes ofthe Conference; and invited all member States and organizations tocontribute to the voluntary funds.
RESUMED SESSION OF THE PREPARATORY COMMITTEE
The PrepCom met in a resumed session from 7-11 March 1994, at UNHeadquarters in New York. Delegates spent most of the week ininformal sessions where they painstakingly negotiated the remainingbracketed text in the Programme of Action. For the most part,delegates based their comments on a comprehensive informal paperprepared by the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), "SuggestedAmendments to the Draft Action Programme for the SustainableDevelopment of Small Island Developing States." This documentcontained the AOSIS/G-77 amendments and other comments andfacilitated the work of the Committee. While delegates spent themost time on Chapter XV, "Implementation, Monitoring and Review,"and the Preamble, they also removed some of the brackets in theother 14 chapters, and commented on the Barbados Declaration.
At the conclusion of the resumed PrepCom, most of the bracketedtext remained in the preamble and Chapter XV. Sections of thepreamble that remained in brackets included: human beings as thecenter of concern for sustainable development; reference toenvironmental destruction caused by external interventions; despitepopulation density, the small population size of SIDS inhibits themfrom generating economies of scale; the vulnerability of theeconomic performance of SIDS; women's critical contributions tosustainable development; the special situation and needs of theleast developed countries; and references to the primaryresponsibility of national governments for implementing theProgramme of Action.
In Chapter XV, issues that remained to be resolved included:reference to the international community's commitment to meetingAgenda 21 agreements on implementation; the role of the public indecision-making; reordering of economic priorities in the use ofresources and increased use of economic instruments; the role ofthe private sector and the rights of resources owners andintellectual property rights; increasing public awareness andinformation dissemination; the sharing of financingresponsibilities for sustainable development in SIDS; the role ofthe UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) in monitoringimplementation of the Programme of Action; and other institutionalfollow-up to the Conference.
Pre-Conference consultations were held Sunday, 24 April 1994, toreach agreement on several procedural and organizational matters.Amb. Besley Maycock, Permanent Representative of Barbados to theUN, was elected Chair of the pre-Conference consultations. Thedecisions taken were based on document A/CONF.167/3, "Organizationof Work, including Establishment of the Main Committee of theConference." The provisional rules of procedure, as contained indocument A/CONF.167/2, were recommended for adoption by theConference. Costa Rica, on behalf of the Latin American and theCaribbean Group, nominated the Prime Minister of Barbados, L.Erskine Sandiford, as the President of the Conference and BranfordTaitt, the Barbados Minister of Foreign Affairs, as the exofficio Vice-President. Maycock announced that the WesternEuropean and Others Group (WEOG) had proposed New Zealand andGermany and the Asian Group proposed Samoa and China asVice-Presidents. Nominations to complete the Bureau were postponedto allow the African and Eastern European regional groups to selecttheir candidates.
The provisional agenda, as set out in document A/CONF.167/1, wasapproved for adoption. The proposals contained in documentA/CONF.167/3 regarding the division of agenda items between thePlenary and the Main Committee, time limits for general debate, theestablishment of the Main Committee of the Conference, thetimetable for work, the organization of meetings, the High-LevelSegment, the Credentials Committee, and procedures for thepreparation of the report of the Conference, were adopted forrecommendation to the Conference. The Chair announced that allefforts would be made to accommodate delegations who are notrepresented at the Head of State or ministerial level toparticipate in the High-Level Segment.
On Monday, 25 April 1994, the Government of Barbados welcomedConference participants to its country with a colorful NationalWelcoming Ceremony at the Sir Garfield Sobers Complex, amidst pompand circumstance, music, dancing, and TV cameras that broadcast theevent live throughout the region. In his opening address, the PrimeMinister of Barbados welcomed all delegates and NGOs and invitedeveryone to mix business and pleasure within the limits of nationallaws. He described the many vulnerabilities of small islanddeveloping States. He added that Barbados is doing what it can toimplement sustainable development policies.
The next speaker, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, saidthat this Conference marks the first time that a UN globalconference is held in a small island developing State. The UNstrives to make development a national reality. Samuel R.Insanally, the President of the 48th UN General Assembly andPermanent Representative of Guyana to the UN, said that thisConference marks the first test of the commitments made by theinternational community at the Earth Summit in Rio two years ago.SIDS should use their great human potential to confront theenvironmental challenges before them.
Amb. Annette des Iles, the Chair of the Alliance of Small IslandStates (AOSIS) and Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobagoto the UN, said that AOSIS will do everything it can to ensure theConference is a success. She invited all developed countries tojoin AOSIS in implementing the commitments they made in Agenda 21.
Following the speeches, there were a series of dance, cultural andmusical presentations by the Royal Rarotongans from the CookIslands and a number of Caribbean dance companies. There was alsoa performance by the Barbados Combined Choirs and the RoyalBarbados Police Force Band. Perhaps the most creative performancewas given by the students of Barbados Secondary Schools, who dancedthemselves into a human reproduction of the logo of the Conference.At the conclusion of the dance, a 14-year old Barbadian girl gavean impassioned plea to everyone to work hard, using their hands andtheir heads, to achieve sustainable development.
On Monday afternoon, 25 April 1994, UN Secretary- General BoutrosBoutros-Ghali welcomed the delegates and noted that this Conferencemarks an important moment in the history of development and itfaces three special tasks: to draw attention to the special needsof SIDS; to address the particular issues that impact SIDS; and toadd to the momentum generated in Rio. The international communityas a whole, as well as SIDS themselves, will look to the Conferencefor leadership. Boutros-Ghali spoke of the unique characteristicsof SIDS: distance from markets and supplies; scarcity of naturalresources; small population size; lack of economies of scale; costsof communication and transport; and vulnerability to natural andman-made environmental damage. He noted that the development anddestiny of SIDS are linked to coastal and marine resources. Toooften poor coastal and marine management has undermined sustainabledevelopment. He cautioned that unless properly managed, tourism candegrade the environment upon which it depends. But more thananything else, people are an asset to SIDS. He urged the Conferenceto address the impact of population on the development of SIDS. TheConference must also ensure that the agreements reached in Barbadoscan be implemented. Developing countries need financial andtechnical resources to implement Agenda 21 and, despite theprogress in many fields, developed countries need to provide anenabling economic environment for this to happen. The Secretary-General stressed the role of the UN -- where the General Assemblyaffords each member State, no matter how small, one vote -- as theforum for international cooperation on development.
The newly-elected President of the Conference, Erskine Sandiford,told the delegates that the international community had doneBarbados a great honor by convening this meeting. The Conferencehas its roots in the UNCED process and is the clear indication thatSIDS represent a distinctive category of States that deservespecial attention. He added that it has been agreed at the highestlevel that all States need to act in concert to achieve sustainabledevelopment. It is important to put an end to the vicious circle inwhich a vast majority of countries are locked and that threatenstheir continued survival. This resolve to change must be translatedinto concrete action. Sustainable development should be theultimate goal. It is not an arcane concept, but a matter ofsurvival, which involves a change in values and attitudes towardpeople. He also called for a greater flow of assistance and morecooperation among SIDS. NGOs will play a crucial role and greaterparticipation needs to take place at the national, regional andinternational levels.
Sandiford then moved to Item 3 of the agenda (A/CONF.167/1), theadoption of the rules of procedure, as contained in A/CONF.167/2.Item 4 was the adoption of the agenda, followed by the election ofofficers. Sandiford announced that after the pre-Conferenceconsultations officers had been selected from the following groups:Asia -- Samoa and China; Western European and Others Group -- NewZealand and Germany. The African Group announced the nomination ofMauritius and Niger and the Eastern Europeans nominated Hungary,with the other seat to be filled after further consultations. Cubawas selected from the Latin America and Caribbean region. BranfordM. Taitt, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Barbados, was electedas the ex officio member of the bureau. The Conference thenelected Amb. Penelope Wensley (Australia) as the Chair of the MainCommittee. The President then moved to Item 6 of the Agenda,organization of work, including establishment of the Main Committeeof the Conference (A/CONF.167/3). Together with the comments inparagraphs 12-15 of A/CONF.167/L.3, delegates adopted the programmeof work. The Conference also took note of the other issuesdiscussed in the pre-Conference consultations, including agreementsreached on the High-Level Segment. Item 7(a) on the agenda, theelection of the Credentials Committee, saw Austria, Bahamas, Chile,China, C“te d'Ivoire, Mauritius, the Russian Federation and the USelected by acclamation.
Dame Nita Barrow, Governor-General of Barbados, then presented thereport of the meeting of the Group of Eminent Persons onSustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (A/CONF.167/5). She said that the report contained interestingconclusions on the special vulnerabilities of SIDS that are nowmore widely understood. While awareness has increased, there isstill a lack of appreciation of the value of island ecosystems.SIDS exercise jurisdiction over one-sixth of the Earth's surfaceand they should seek to use their strengths. The report contains 18recommendations that are neither expensive nor difficult toimplement and that should be followed if Governments are to live upto their commitments in Rio.
During the five days that followed, the general debate wasconducted in Plenary. There were a total of 112 speakers, including67 UN member States, 4 UN observer States, 17 UN agencies,programmes and funds, 12 intergovernmental organizations, and 12non-governmental organizations. Delegates also heard reports ofcase studies on tourism and sustainable development, naturaldisasters, sustainable development of small island developingStates, alternative energy sources, coastal management, and earlywarning systems.
PROGRAMME OF ACTION FOR THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES
Most of the substantive negotiations took place in the MainCommittee, which met continuously from Tuesday, 26 April, throughWednesday, 4 May, under the chairmanship of Amb. Penelope Wensley.The Main Committee's task was to finish what the PrepCom had begunand, thus, focussed its work on reaching agreement on the draftProgramme of Action, as contained in document A/CONF.167/L.1. Whilethere was already agreement on six of the 15 chapters, there werestill a number of square brackets in the Preamble and eightchapters, including Chapter XV, which contains the vital issues offinance, technology transfer and institutional follow-up to theConference. The Main Committee also entertained several newproposals, which were deemed to be non-controversial, andincorporated them into the document. During the course of the week,the corridors and small conference rooms were host to numeroussmall informal-informal consultations on many of the contentiousparagraphs as delegates sought consensus. On the night before theMain Committee was due to complete its work, a small contact groupmet until 3:30 am when participants finally reached agreement onthe paragraphs related to finance -- the issue that was,predictably, the most difficult to resolve.
The following is a summary of the Programme of Action for theSustainable Development of Small Island Developing States.
At the beginning of the Conference a number of theparagraphs in the Preamble were still in brackets, including suchconcepts as: acknowledgement that this Conference is the firstglobal conference on sustainable development and the implementationof Agenda 21; identification of human beings as the center ofconcerns for sustainable development; environmental destructioncaused by external interventions; the small population size of SIDSinhibits them from generating economies of scale; the vulnerabilityof the economic performance of SIDS; reaffirmation of women'scritical contributions to sustainable development; the specialsituation and needs of the least developed countries; andreferences to national governments as being primarily responsiblefor the implementation and financing of the Programme of Action.
The issue of reference to Agenda 21 was resolved in the first twoparagraphs by adding the following phrase: "Agenda 21 represents acomprehensive document and wherever referred to in this documentshould be referred to as a whole." Paragraph 3 states that "The RioDeclaration on Environment and Development identifies human beingsas being at the center of concerns for sustainable development.Development initiatives in small island developing States should beseen in relation to the needs and aspirations of human beings, andtheir responsibility towards present and future generations."
The fourth paragraph emphasizes SIDS vulnerabilities due to theirsmall size. Reference to environmental destruction caused byexternal interventions in the fifth paragraph, now reads: "Recenthuman history contains examples of entire islands rendereduninhabitable through environmental destruction owing to externalcauses."
Reference to the concept of SIDS' custodianship over a large partof the world's marine environment was deleted in a demonstration offlexibility by AOSIS.
In paragraph 7, the reference to linking population and economiesof scale was resolved as follows: "Although their populationdensity may be high, many small island developing States have smallpopulations in absolute terms, insufficient to generate economiesof scale in several areas, and thus limited scope for the fullutilization of certain types of highly specialized expertise."
Paragraph 10 references the fact that since per capita income ofmany SIDS tends to be higher than that of developing countries asa group, they often have limited access to concessionary resources.AOSIS was successful in incorporating a reference to theinstability of SIDS incomes over time into this paragraph.Paragraph 12 references the critical contribution that women andyouth make to the long term success of Agenda 21 in SIDS.
Paragraph 14 notes that States have acknowledged their common, butdifferentiated, responsibilities for global environmentaldegradation, as stated in Principle 7 of the Rio Declaration. Theparagraph also notes that in Principle 6 it was stated that thespecial situation and needs of developing countries, particularlythe least developed and those most environmentally vulnerable,should be given special priority.
I. CLIMATE CHANGE AND SEA LEVEL RISE:
This chapterhighlights the possible impact that climate change and sea levelrise might have on SIDS. Recommendations for national actioninclude: ratify the Climate Change Convention and MontrealProtocol; collect data on climate change and sea level rise; assessthe effects and socio-economic implications of the impact ofclimate change; formulate comprehensive strategies and measures onadaptation to climate change; and promote more efficient use ofenergy resources. Recommended regional actions include: monitor andimprove predictive capacity for climate change; strengtheninformation exchange mechanisms; and support national efforts.Recommendations for international action include: implementation ofthe prompt-start resolution of the Climate Change Convention;development of adaptive response measures to the impact of climatechange and sea level rise; improved access to financial andtechnical resources for monitoring climate variability and sealevel rise; and providing access to environmentally sound andenergy efficient technologies.
II. NATURAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTERS:
This chapteremphasizes the need for SIDS to increase their preparedness andresponse capacities to natural and environmental disasters. Thiscan best be achieved through the promotion of early warningsystems, strengthening broadcast capacity and telecommunicationslinks, sharing of experience, and integrating natural disasterconsiderations in development planning. Recommended national actionincludes: strengthening disaster preparedness and management,including the capacity of local broadcasting, and establishment ofa national disaster emergency fund. Regional action includes:establishment and strengthening of regional institutions to supportnational efforts in disaster mitigation, preparedness andmanagement; sharing experience, information and resources betweenSIDS; increasing access to telecommunications links; and supportfor the operation of national disaster emergency funds.International actions include: assisting SIDS in establishingand/or strengthening mechanisms and policies to reduce the impactof natural disasters; improve access to technology and relevanttraining; provide and facilitate support and training for disasterpreparedness and relief programmes; and support the disseminationof information useful in pre-disaster planning.
III. MANAGEMENT OF WASTES:
The special vulnerability of SIDSto waste management problems was highlighted, particularly in viewof limited land surface in these countries. In paragraph 23(transboundary movement of wastes), there was disagreement on whoshould bear the burden of the impact of passage of shipstransporting toxic and radioactive wastes through oceans and seas.Agreement was not reached until the last day. The sentence inquestion now reads: "The passage of ships carrying toxic andhazardous wastes, chemicals and radioactive materials is ofinternational concern and of priority concern to small islanddeveloping States."
Agreement was also reached on the new paragraph 24.A(viii), whichreads: "In conformity with the Basel Convention and relevantdecisions taken by the Parties to that Convention, the small islanddeveloping States should formulate and enforce national laws and/orregulations that ban the importation from OECD countries ofhazardous wastes and other wastes subject to the Basel Convention,including hazardous wastes and other wastes destined for recyclingand recovery operations."
IV. COASTAL AND MARINE RESOURCES:
This chapter aims atdeveloping SIDS' management capacities both in the coastal area andin their exclusive economic zones (EEZs). Recommendations fornational action include: establishing and/or strengtheninginstitutional, administrative and legislative arrangements for thedevelopment of integrated coastal zone management plans; designingcomprehensive monitoring programmes for coastal and marineresources; and developing and/or strengthening nationalcapabilities for the sustainable harvesting and processing offishery resources. Regional and international actions include:strengthening the capacity of regional organizations to undertakeactivities in coastal and marine areas; gathering and sharing ofinformation and expertise; cooperation in facilitative fishingagreements between SIDS and foreign fishing groups; monitoring ofEEZs; use of the relevant results of the 1993 World CoastConference and the work carried out within the UNEP regional seasprogramme and the results from other relevant intergovernmentalconferences to prevent further marine and coastal degradation.
V. FRESHWATER RESOURCES:
The importance of freshwaterresources for SIDS and the limits they impose on sustainabledevelopment are highlighted in this chapter. The last paragraph tobe resolved addresses the need to safeguard watershed areas. Aftermuch negotiation, the final version of paragraph 28 containsreference to safeguarding watershed areas and groundwaterresources, including treatment and distribution of limited watersupplies, and protection against contamination from human andagricultural wastes.
Recommendations for national action include: the development,maintenance and protection of watershed areas; irrigation systems;distribution networks and appropriate catchment systems; adoptionof appropriate standards for the management of freshwaterresources; monitoring and responding to the impacts of natural andenvironmental hazards; encouraging the development and acquisitionof appropriate technology and training for cost-effective sewagedisposal; and desalination and rainwater collection.
Recommendations for regional and international action include:regional cooperation in training and research to assist Governmentsin the development and implementation of integrated water resourceplans; improved access to technologies for freshwater catchment,production, conservation and delivery; enhancing the capacity todevelop and implement integrated water resource plans; training andawareness campaigns for water conservation; and assessing theimpact of climate change on freshwater resources.
VI. LAND RESOURCES:
This chapter focuses on the need toelaborate land management plans in conjunction with other uses andpolicies. Recommendations for national action include: preparationand review of land-use plans; encouragement of appropriate forms ofland tenure; formulation and enforcement of laws, regulations andeconomic pricing and incentives to encourage the sustainable andintegrated use, management and conservation of land and its naturalresources; support for appropriate afforestation and reforestationprogrammes; and increased attention to national physical planningin both urban and rural environments. Recommendations for regionaland international action include: training and capacity-buildingopportunities; collection, synthesizing and sharing of information,knowledge and experience among SIDS; support for the improvedavailability of shelter; and the development and improvement ofnational databases.
VII. ENERGY RESOURCES:
In view of SIDS' dependency on energyimports, energy conservation and the development of renewablesources of energy need to be encouraged. Recommendations fornational action include: implement appropriate public education andawareness programmes to promote energy conservation; promote theefficient use of energy and the development of environmentallysound sources of energy and energy efficient technologies; andestablish and/or strengthen research and development of new andrenewable sources of energy. Recommendations for regional andinternational action include: establish or strengthen research andpolicy capabilities in the development of new and renewable sourcesof energy; promote regional cooperation between SIDS on energysector issues; develop effective mechanisms for the transfer ofenergy technology; and encourage international institutions andagencies to incorporate environmental efficiency and conservationprinciples into energy-sector-related projects, training andtechnical assistance.
VIII. TOURISM RESOURCES:
This chapter focuses on tourism asboth an opportunity for SIDS development and an activity that mustbe integrated with environmental and cultural concerns. Thischapter was the source of little debate. A new paragraph oncombatting illicit drug trafficking and money laundering wasproposed, led to some debate and was eventually moved to Chapter X.Recommendations for national action include: ensure that tourismdevelopment and environmental management are mutually supportive;adopt integrated planning and policies to ensure sustainabletourism development; and adopt measures to protect the culturalintegrity of SIDS. Recommendations for regional and internationalaction include: encourage joint marketing and training programmesbetween SIDS; promote recognition of the value of tourism in SIDSto the international community; facilitate efforts at the nationaland regional levels to assess the overall impact of tourism, toplan sustainable tourism and develop eco- and cultural tourism.
IX. BIODIVERSITY RESOURCES:
This chapter emphasizes theimportance of biodiversity, particularly of marine and coastalspecies, to SIDS. The paragraph that proved to be the mostcontentious addressed the rights of those whose indigenousknowledge and know-how of biodiversity are overtaken by commercialexploitation of the resources. After a lengthy debate that began atthe PrepCom, the paragraph now reads: "Ensure that the ownershipof intellectual property rights is adequately and effectivelyprotected. Ensure, subject to national legislation and policies,that technology, knowledge and customary and traditional practicesof local and indigenous people, including resource owners andcustodians, are adequately and effectively protected and that theythereby benefit directly, on an equitable basis and on mutuallyagreed terms, from any utilization of such technologies, knowledgeand practices or from any technological development directlyderived therefrom."
Other recommendations for national action include: formulate andimplement integrated strategies for the conservation andsustainable use of terrestrial and marine biodiversity; ratify andimplement the Convention on Biological Diversity; promote thedesignation of protected areas; generate and maintain gene banks ofbiogenetic resources; conduct detailed inventories of existingflora, fauna and ecosystems; and support the involvement of NGOs,women, indigenous people, and other major groups in theconservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and biotechnology.
X. NATIONAL INSTITUTIONS AND ADMINISTRATIVE CAPACITY:
Thischapter addresses the need to integrate environmental concerns intonational institutions and administrative arrangements, specificallyin terms of economic and development planning. Recommendations fornational action include: strengthen institutional arrangements andadministrative capacity to integrate environment and economicpolicy in national planning; develop implementation strategies andschedules; establish or strengthen environmental agencies; increasethe involvement of NGOs, local communities and other major groups;improve public education; develop national, provincial/State andlocal environmental regulations; and enact domestic legislationrequired for the implementation of the wide range of internationalenvironmental conventions and agreements relevant to SIDS.
Regional and international action should include: improve access tofinancial and technical assistance to strengthen nationalinstitutions and administrative capacity; support the developmentof a small islands sustainable development information network;assist in providing training and capacity-building services; andpromote closer cooperation to improve national and internationalmeasures to combat illicit drug trafficking and money laundering.
XI. REGIONAL INSTITUTIONS AND TECHNICAL COOPERATION:
Thischapter concentrates on the role that UN and non-UN regionalorganizations can play in assisting SIDS at the national level ininstituting and implementing regional programmes, and coordinatingprojects and assistance. Most of the recommendations are forregional action, and these include: improve coordination amongregional bodies for the sustainable development of SIDS; formulateregional programmes and strategies jointly between regional bodiesand national authorities; develop a SIDS technical assistanceprogramme; establish and support regional sustainable developmentcenters; draft model environmental provisions as a guide forcountries; prepare environmental law training manuals; and conductregional and in-country workshops on environmental law and theimplications of international environmental instruments.
XII. TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATION:
The focus of this chapteris the lifeline provided to SIDS by transport and communication.The most difficult paragraph in this chapter addressedinternational telecommunications costs to SIDS. AOSIS advocatedlowering international telecommunications costs to SIDS while someof the developed countries argued that this was not within theirmandate. It was only on the final day of negotiations that text wasagreed to. It reads: "Promote improved internationaltelecommunications at the lowest possible cost for small islanddeveloping States, while recognizing the need to create anenvironment conducive to the investment in telecommunicationsinfrastructure and service to benefit local business and people."Other recommended international actions include: develop innovativeenergy-efficient transport solutions; cooperate with national andregional bodies in designing and enforcing effective quarantinesystems; and promote research and development in telecommunicationsand transportation relevant to the sustainable development of SIDS.Recommended national and regional action includes: strengtheningtransport services; upgrading domestic communication facilities;addressing quarantine problems; and increasing cooperation in civilaviation, shipping and telecommunications.
XIII. SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY:
As well as emphasizing theimportant role of science and technology in building SIDS' capacityfor sustainable development, this chapter examines the need toincrease the use and availability of environmentally-friendlytechnologies. Recommendations for national action include: promotegreater emphasis on research, development and training in scienceand technology; encourage the use of endogenousenvironmentally-friendly technologies; develop or ensure access todatabases on environmentally-sound technologies; and promote andstrengthen the role of women in science and technology. Regionaland international action should: assist SIDS in accomplishing thenational action, policies and measures listed above; develop andstrengthen regional ocean sciences networks; facilitate access toand the development of environmentally-sound technologies; takeinto account the needs of SIDS for training in integrated coastalzone management; facilitate the full involvement of scientists andother experts from SIDS in marine scientific research; andaccelerate development of the coastal module of the Global OceanObserving System.
XIV. HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT:
This chapter looks atmechanisms to improve the quality of life in SIDS. The issue thatproved to be the most difficult to resolve was the reference tofamily planning, which appears three times in the chapter. In adiscussion that resembled the recent PrepCom for the InternationalConference on Population and Development, the Holy See and Maltawanted to ensure that if reference to family planning had to beincluded in the Programme of Action, the understanding should beclear that it could not be interpreted as condoning abortion orforms of contraception that are not sanctioned by the CatholicChurch. After six hours of intense negotiation in a small contactgroup, consensus was reached. The second sentence of paragraph 61now reads: "Poor health and social services and nutrition andhousing, low levels of female participation in development, currentinsufficiency of education, information and means, as appropriate,for the responsible planning of family size, and inadequate familyplanning services demonstrate the need for attention to humanresource development issues."
Paragraphs 64.A(iii) still contains reference to family planningand health care and (iv) still contains reference to maternal andchild health care and the responsible planning of family size.However, a new paragraph 65 was added, which reads: "Therecommendations and language contained in this chapter should in noway prejudice discussions at the International Conference onPopulation and Development to be held in Cairo in September 1994."This is similar language to that used in Chapter 5.66 of Agenda 21.
XV. IMPLEMENTATION, MONITORING AND REVIEW:
This lengthychapter addresses the essential requirements for the implementationof the Programme of Action. As expected, this chapter was the mostdifficult to negotiate and delegates spent considerable time on it,both during the two sessions of the PrepCom and at the Conferenceitself. The most contentious paragraphs were those on finance. TheChair eventually had to put together an extended bureau, which metover the mid-Conference weekend and during the evenings to work outthe necessary compromises. Agreement was finally reached at 3:30 amon Wednesday, 4 May -- less than 10 hours before the Main Committeewas scheduled to come to a close.
While recognizing that Governments will be primarily responsiblefor the implementation of the Programme of Action, internationalcooperation will be essential to support and complement suchefforts. With this in mind, the chapter is divided into foursections -- national implementation, regional implementation,international implementation, and institutional arrangements,monitoring and review.
A. National implementation:
The implementation of theProgramme of Action will require adequate resources from both thepublic and private sectors. Resources should be further increasedto meet the sustainable goals and priorities articulated byoptimizing the impact of available resources and by exploringincreased use of economic instruments, promotion of private sectorinvestment and the use of innovative financial mechanisms. Withregard to trade, SIDS should seek to develop a more diversifiedproduction structure for goods and services. SIDS should alsoencourage measures enhancing the capacity for the development ofindigenous technology and utilizing appropriate andenvironmentally-sound technology, while adequately and effectivelyprotecting intellectual property rights. There are alsorecommendations on the adoption of legislation to supportsustainable development; national institutional development;information dissemination; participation of NGOs and major groups;and human resource development.
B. Regional implementation:
On the regional level,coordinated approaches should be developed for the mobilization offinancial resources for national and regional efforts to implementsustainable development. Regional development banks and otherregional and sub-regional organizations should also be encouragedto increase their technical and financial assistance. Otherrecommendations include: cooperative development and sharing ofappropriate technology through regional organizations; support fornational efforts to develop comprehensive legislation in support ofsustainable development; support for national efforts to implementeffective institutional models; and support for national efforts atcapacity building through human resource development.
C. International implementation:
D. Institutional arrangements, monitoring and review:
Thiswas a new section introduced by AOSIS at the start of theConference and based, to a large degree, on the consultationsundertaken by Canada and Argentina at the resumed PrepCom. In thefirst sub-section on intergovernmental follow-up, the Commission onSustainable Development is urged to monitor and review theimplementation of the Programme of Action within the context of itsmulti-year thematic programme of work. The UN General Assemblyshould also review implementation. In the sub-section on reporting,the Secretary-General is urged to prepare analytical reports on theimplementation of the Programme of Action in preparation for CSDreviews in 1996 and 1999. The Inter-Agency Committee on SustainableDevelopment (IACSD) should also make the necessary provision toconsider system-wide coordination in the implementation ofConference outcomes at the inter-agency level. At the UNSecretariat level, a "clearly identifiable, qualified and competententity" within the Department for Policy Coordination andSustainable Development should be put in place. There are alsorecommendations for action at the regional and sub-regional levels.
The second document emanating from this Conference was theDeclaration of Barbados (A/CONF.167/L.4/Rev.1). The Declaration isintended as a statement of the political will that underpins theprecise agreements contained in the Programme of Action.
The Declaration reaffirms the UNCED agreements, including the RioDeclaration on Environment and Development, the Statement of ForestPrinciples, Agenda 21, the Framework Convention on Climate Changeand the Convention on Biological Diversity. Casting itself in thespirit of those agreements, the Declaration contains two parts. Inthe first, the participants at the Conference affirm the importanceof: human resources and cultural heritage; gender equity; the roleof women and other major groups, including children, youth andindigenous people; the sovereign right of SIDS over their ownnatural resources; vulnerability to natural and environmentaldisasters; climate change and sea level rise; limited freshwaterresources; special situation and needs of the least developed SIDS;economic vulnerability; capacity building; constraints tosustainable development; and partnership between Governments, IGOs,NGOs and other major groups in implementing Agenda 21 and thisProgramme of Action.
In the second part, the participants declare the importance ofnational, regional and international implementation, including thereduction and elimination of unsustainable patterns of consumptionand production, and the provision of effective means for theimplementation of the Programme of Action, including adequate,predictable, new and additional financial resources.
The final version of the Declaration reveals the extent of theedits that had to be made by the UN Secretariat after the Plenaryhad reached agreement in principle. The Declaration made tortuousprogress through a number of drafts and formats, and emerged in theend as a relatively clear statement of the contradictory nature oflife in the small island developing States and the recognition nowaccorded to their specific plight within the internationalcommunity.
On 5-6 May 1994, 45 Heads of State and Government, specialrepresentatives and ministers participated in the Conference'sHigh-Level Segment. The High-Level Segment focused on the theme of"Forging Partnerships for Sustainable Development," which lies atthe heart of the commitments made by the international community atRio. This theme was adopted because it was felt that the uniquecharacteristics of SIDS -- their small size and populations,limited resources and isolation from markets, high transport andinfrastructure costs, vulnerability to natural disasters and to thevagaries of the international economy -- call for the forging ofnew types of partnerships to achieve sustainable development. Eachdignitary was given seven minutes to address the theme, butinevitably the average length of statements was twice that.Speakers included the prime ministers of Barbados, Trinidad andTobago, Bahamas, Vanuatu, Tonga, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia,St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Niue; the presidents of Nauru,Cuba, Kiribati, Micronesia, and Guyana; the Governor General ofPapua New Guinea; ministers from Iceland, Australia, Cyprus,Venezuela, Jamaica, Mauritius, Brazil, Maldives, Fiji, Malaysia,Germany, the Solomon Islands, Indonesia, Seychelles, Samoa, theCook Islands, Pakistan, Belize, Haiti, Grenada, and New Zealand;deputy ministers from China, the United States and Colombia; andministerial representatives and special envoys from the MarshallIslands, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Republic of Korea, Japan,India and Italy.
The recurring themes included: the new partnership that must beforged to achieve sustainable development for SIDS, includingtransfer of technology; the end of the traditional donor-recipientrelationship; implementation of the relevant conventions that canfurther the sustainable development of SIDS; the impacts of marinepollution and of sea level rise; improving the status of women; theredistribution of wealth within and between countries; and common,but differentiated, responsibilities between developed countriesand SIDS.
In the summary report of the debate, the participants identifiedthe major assets of SIDS as being their coastal and marineresources, their natural beauty and their people. They alsohighlighted the inadequacies of GNP per capita criteria as ameasure of economic development and called for the adoption of avulnerability index that would take into account environmentalconsiderations and would give the small islands more equitableaccess to international assistance, including financial assistance.Appropriate partnerships must be formed between nationalgovernments and the people they serve. International cooperationshould include, but not be limited to, access to technical andfinancial resources, since there is much that the developedcountries can provide that could benefit SIDS. Examples includedthe need for developed countries to increase their efforts toreduce greenhouse gases, ocean dumping and transboundary movementof hazardous and toxic wastes.
On Friday, 6 May 1994, high-level participants gathered for aroundtable discussion. Upon the recommendation of the preparatoryCommittee for the Conference, the roundtable was open toparticipation at the Head of State or Government and ministeriallevel. The roundtable heard presentations by: the Prime Minister ofTrinidad and Tobago, Dr. Patrick Manning, on the AOSIS perspectiveof the sustainable development of small island developing States;the Premier of Niue, Frank F. Lui, on regional and internationalcooperation; Henrique Brandao Cavalcanti, Brazilian Minister forthe Environment and the Amazon, on the theme "From Rio toBridgetown: Regaining the UNCED Momentum;" and Klaus T”pfer,Germany's Minister for the Environment, on international supportfor the sustainable development of SIDS. In his report to theConference, Barbados Prime Minister Erskine Sandiford said that theroundtable provided an important opportunity for an open and frankexchange of views at a high political level on issues ofsustainable development for SIDS and the challenges theinternational community and SIDS themselves face in this area.
The final session of the Plenary for the Global Conference on theSustainable Development of Small Island Developing States wasconvened on Friday afternoon, 6 May 1994. The first item on theagenda was the adoption of the report of the Conference(A/CONF.167/L.5). Rapporteur-General Kinza Clodumar (Nauru)introduced the report of the Conference and Takao Shibata, therapporteur of Main Committee, introduced his report inA/CONF.167/L.6 and addenda 1-16. Both reports were adopted.
Algeria, on behalf of the G-77 and China, then introduced a shortresolution on adoption of texts on the sustainable development ofsmall island developing States (A/CONF.167/L.8), which adopts boththe Programme of Action and the Barbados Declaration. At thispoint, the Secretariat also introduced a statement on the programmebudget implications (PBI) of the draft Programme of Action(A/CONF.167/L.1/Add.1). The PBI calls for the addition of one newprofessional staff member and one general staff member tocoordinate Conference follow-up within the UN Department of PolicyCoordination and Sustainable Development (DPCSD). Trinidad andTobago, on behalf of AOSIS, stated that they are not sure that theprogramme budget implications are adequately laid out. She proposedthat this issue be revisited during the 49th General Assembly laterthis year. The US welcomed the PBI and said it was looking forwardto refining and implementing these arrangements within the contextof UN reform and budgetary policy. Australia and Algeria, on behalfof the G-77, supported AOSIS and said further discussion isnecessary. Greece, on behalf of the EU, reserved his group'sposition on the PBI until they had time to examine it more closely.After those comments, the resolution was adopted.
After adoption, several delegations made comments for the record.The Holy See confirmed that its acceptance of the paragraphs thatreference family planning in Chapter XIV does not constitute achange in its position on the family planning methods that theCatholic Church considers unacceptable and the services that do notrespect the rights of those concerned. Malta underlined itsunderstanding of family planning, namely that the interpretation inthis Programme of Action is in accordance with the InternationalConference on Population held in Mexico City in 1984.
The President of the Conference, Erskine Sandiford, then delivereda presidential summary of the results of the High-Level Segment andthe roundtable. He said that the roundtable provided an importantopportunity for an open and frank exchange of views at a highpolitical level on issues related to sustainable development forSIDS and the challenges that the international community and SIDSthemselves face in this area.
Sandiford then introduced a draft resolution on the elections inSouth Africa (A/CONF.167/L.9). He said that coinciding with thisConference, Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa.This resolution, which congratulates the people of South Africa onthe historic elections, was adopted by acclamation and will betransmitted to the newly-elected government in South Africa.Sandiford also congratulated the Israeli and Palestinian people forthe agreement that they have just signed and wished them everysuccess.
Algeria, on behalf of the G-77 and China, then introduced a draftresolution expressing gratitude to the people and Government ofBarbados (A/CONF.167/L.7). This resolution was also adopted andthen delegations took the floor to express their thanks. Speakersincluded: Nauru, on behalf of the South Pacific Forum; Algeria, onbehalf of the G-77; Greece, on behalf of the EU; Romania, on behalfof the Eastern European States; Germany, on behalf of the WesternEuropean and Others Group; Mauritius, on behalf of the Indian Oceanislands; the US; and Trinidad and Tobago, on behalf of AOSIS. Inher statement, AOSIS Chair Annette des Iles said that now that wehave adopted the Programme of Action and the Barbados Declarationit is clear that the human will to cooperate for the greater goodhas triumphed and we have achieved the primary objectives of thisglobal Conference, of which we can all be justifiably satisfied.This is a practical programme that will yield concrete benefits.However, the Programme of Action is as yet only a document. Shesaid that members of the international community need to maintainthe spirit of tenacity and cooperation with which this Conferencehas been imbued to ensure the successful implementation of theProgramme of Action.
After concluding statements by Under-Secretary-General for PolicyCoordination and Sustainable Development Nitin Desai and ConferencePresident Sandiford, the Conference was gavelled to a close andparticipants went out into the lobby of the Sherbourne Center todance the calypso and enjoy the food, drink and music of the smallisland developing State of Barbados.
ANALYSIS OF THE CONFERENCE
The UN Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of SmallIsland Developing States is now history. The Sherbourne Center,which was constructed in record time and proved to be an excellentnon-smoking conference facility, is no longer buzzing withactivity. The NGO Global Forum and SUSTECH '94 have packed up andmoved out. Life in Barbados continues on as before delegates fromover 130 countries descended on this small island State in theCaribbean. Now, as participants and observers have a chance to lookback on the Conference, it is time to assess the Conference'saccomplishments, short-comings and follow-up.
The Conference and its preparatory process proved to be a successwith regard to the adoption of the Programme of Action for thesustainable development of small island developing States (SIDS),the maturation of AOSIS, the conduct of the high-level segment andthe positive impact of NGO participation.
PROGRAMME OF ACTION:
The major accomplishment of theConference was the agreement on a comprehensive Programme of Actionfor the sustainable development of SIDS. The Programme of Action issignificant in that SIDS are dealt with holistically and not, ashas been traditionally the case, just "coral reefs and beaches."Unlike Chapter 17 of Agenda 21, which calls for national andinternational actions, this policy blueprint specifies measures tobe taken at the national, regional and international levels. ThisProgramme of Action has not only filled the regional gap, but hasgone on to elaborate specific strategies for enhancing regional andsub-regional cooperation on each of the fourteen subject areascovered by the Programme of Action in such a way that it is notjust a repetition, but builds on Agenda 21. As such, it reflectsaccurately on the concept of common, but differentiated,responsibilities. Whereas no major new and additional financialresources are identified in the Programme of Action, there arespecific recommendations on efficiency and re-prioritization ofexisting resources. This was reinforced in the statements of manyof the donor countries during the High-Level Segment who signaledthat SIDS should now receive greater proportions of existing aid.
The successful negotiation of this Programme of Action is also atribute to the array of diplomatic skills on display from Amb.Penelope Wensley, who chaired both the Preparatory Committee andthe Main Committee at the Conference. Her deployment of smallcontact groups during the Conference was effective in diffusingpotential tensions and allowing agreements to be struck on suchcontentious issues as finance, intellectual property rights,transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and family planning.
Another accomplishment of the negotiating process wasthe maturation of AOSIS over the past nine months into afull-fledged group within the UN system, with its own strengths,weaknesses, divisions and personalities. When AOSIS was firstconceived, its purpose was to unite small islands States andincrease their impact on the climate change negotiations. Theyworked together to ensure that the risks they face as a result ofclimate change and related sea level rise were taken into accountin the Convention. In the UNCED process, SIDS were successful inachieving special recognition of their plight in Agenda 21 andmanaged to have language included that called for the first globalConference on the sustainable development of SIDS.
The High-Level Segment was also one ofthe major accomplishments of the Conference. Aside from FidelCastro, his ubiquitous security and his paparazzi, the Conferencealso brought together a significant number of Heads of State andGovernment, ministers and decision makers from small islands, otherdeveloping countries and the developed world. Although there werecomplaints about the level of participation from the donorcountries (see below), both the debate and the roundtablediscussion proved to be useful fora for sharing experiences andcommunicating concerns among islands, between islands and regionsas well as between donors and recipients.
Throughout the process there has been steadyparticipation and influence by NGOs. The active group of NGOs,while international, was predominantly from the islands themselves.The few Northern-based international NGOs played a support rolewhile their island counterparts took the lead. During the PrepCom,NGOs were critical of AOSIS for not taking up their concerns. Atthe end of the resumed session in March, NGOs issued a set ofspecific amendments to the draft Programme of Action. AOSISreviewed these amendments and during the Conference proposed thatmany of them be included in the text. Issues that bear the mark ofNGO input include Chapter III on waste management; Chapter XIV onhuman resource development; and language on partnerships withwomen, youth, indigenous people and other major groups that appearsthroughout the text. During the Conference itself, many NGOs wereincluded on both island and non-island delegations. Others workedthe floor in both the Main Committee and the Barbados Declarationcontact group to good effect. Without NGO input, many believe thatthe Programme of Action and the Barbados Declaration would havebeen less people-centered.
Within the NGO community, the new partnership between island NGOsand others reinforced many of the lessons learned during the UNCEDprocess, namely that the most effective role of Northern NGOs isinformation dissemination, support and advocacy directed at theirown governments. Despite organizational and financial problems, theNGO Islands Forum proved to be a source of great energy and unitywithin the NGO community and offered a place to strategize anddevelop the means for future inter-regional cooperation betweenNGOs. NGOs also were the driving force behind the SUSTECH '94exhibition of sustainable technologies for island development andthe Village of Hope, which became the interface between theConference, the issues and the people of Barbados. Without theefforts of NGOs, the Conference might have been seen solely as anexercise in diplomatic rhetoric rather than an event that maybenefit small islands and their people.
In spite of the many accomplishments of the Conference, there werestill a number of missed opportunities that could be construed asfailures, including the Barbados Declaration, the AOSIS Summit,lack of global media attention and certain aspects of theHigh-Level Segment.
One of the greatest missedopportunities of the Conference was the Barbados Declaration,irreverently referred to by some participants as the "BarbadosWhimper." Originally intended as a statement of political will toaccompany the Programme of Action in order for SIDS and theirconcerns to stay at or near the top of the international agenda,the Declaration is in fact little more than a glorified UNresolution. Due to the unstinting efforts of a handful of delegatesand NGOs, the Declaration is considerably better than the originaldrafts presented at both the resumed PrepCom and the Conferenceitself.
The drafting process was tightly controlled by the Barbadian hosts.It often appeared as though the Chair of the negotiations of thisdocument, Barbados' Ambassador to the United Nations, BesleyMaycock, wanted to receive input from other delegations, but draftthe document himself. At a press conference following theconclusion of the drafting, he lamented the fact that the "UNapproach crept in from time to time," and he seemed to blame hisdisappointment with the Declaration on the fact that "mostdeveloped countries were not represented at a very high level" andthat "delegates were here to see that no new language creeps in."The Declaration also suffered from a lack of a cogent sense of whatwas desired or required and from an embarrassing lack of attentionfrom a number of key players. This is exemplified by Australia'slone OECD stance on issues of partnership with NGOs and genderequity in development, the US ignorance of issues such as the rightto development and ecological corridors, and the scarcity ofseasoned drafters and negotiators among those few delegations --developed and developing -- who participated in the three days ofcontact group meetings.
The next missed opportunity was the AOSISSummit. Although not an official part of the Conference, the Summitwas supposed to take advantage of the presence of the manyhigh-level representatives from AOSIS member States to chart thefuture direction of the Alliance. However, due to the lack of aclear agenda, lack of sufficient preparation and the absence ofsome important figures, the Summit achieved much less than washoped and expected. Rather than set a pointed direction for thefuture, the Summit, which lasted for less than two hours, markedtime by noting what AOSIS had accomplished at the Conference. Thereclearly remain differences in vision between the Pacific and theCaribbean, the former being less concerned with UN-related issuessince many are not members of the world body. In spite of theAlliance's accomplishments at this Conference, it will not be allsmooth sailing for AOSIS in the future.
LACK OF GLOBAL MEDIA ATTENTION:
One of the goals of thisConference was to raise global awareness of the situation faced bysmall island developing States and the interconnectedness of theirplight with the rest of the world. Although awareness appears tohave been raised within the UN and the diplomatic community, themessage may not have gotten out to the rest of the world. While theConference did receive widespread coverage by the local andCaribbean media, there was a noticeable absence of print andelectronic media from further abroad. With the exceptions of CNN,a couple of British and Australian newspapers and a few radionetworks, the Northern media was nowhere to be seen. Part of theproblem lies in the lack of a stronger public relations campaignsurrounding this Conference on the part of both AOSIS and the UNSecretariat, particularly the Department of Public Information.Despite some clever marketing, the global message of thisConference was not taken up and delivered by the media. As is oftenthe case with SIDS, other international and national events tookpriority.
The Barbadian hosts and AOSISalike were disappointed by both the degree to which the donorcountries were represented at the High-Level Segment and the lowlevel of their representation. A number of key OECD countries, somewith long, historical ties to islands, including France and theNetherlands, were not represented at all during the High-LevelSegment. Furthermore, a number of islands did not even send theirPrime Ministers or Presidents to the Conference. Nevertheless, thepresence of Fidel Castro provided the High-Level Segment with asuitable diversion. Politically, the lack of high-levelrepresentation at this meeting, when coupled with the inadequacy ofthe Barbados Declaration, leaves room for uncertainty as to theinternational community's political will to implement the Programmeof Action and work towards the sustainable development of SIDS.Obviously, there still remains a need for high-level consciousnessraising and greater political commitment at the internationallevel.
LOOKING TOWARDS THE FUTURE
Now that the Conference is over, all eyes turn to implementation ofthe Programme of Action and ensuring that the momentum is not lost.To accomplish this, AOSIS, the donor community, the rest of theGroup of 77, and the UN system must confront the challenges thatlay ahead.
The emergence of AOSIS as a force on all aspects ofissues affecting SIDS has the potential to influence other ongoingand future UN conferences and negotiations. These include, inparticular, the Commission on Sustainable Development, theInternational Conference on Population and Development, the WorldSummit on Social Development, the Convention to CombatDesertification, the Biological Diversity Convention, the ClimateChange Convention, the entry into force of the UN Convention on theLaw of the Sea, the Conference on Straddling Fish Stocks and HighlyMigratory Fish Stocks, and other marine- and waste-relatedconventions and negotiations. AOSIS can give the islands greaterpolitical leverage in these processes in several ways. First, as analliance, AOSIS can have greater influence on the issues thataffect its members and it can ensure that these interests arereflected adequately in the resulting agreements. Second, they havethe potential for trade-offs with other regional and interestgroups on a variety of issues. For example, the presence of asignificant number of Sudano-Sahelian countries suffering fromdesertification at this Conference is a precursor of the supportthey will expect from SIDS at the forthcoming conclusion of theINCD negotiations. SIDS can also offer their support to otherregional and interest groups in exchange for political support forthe follow-up of this Conference.
This Conference revealed a need for donorcountries to restructure the way in which they deal with SIDS. Todate, most developed countries address islands' concerns under thejurisdiction of departments within departments on oceans or othersingle issue bureaus. To adequately implement the internationalaction sections in the Programme of Action, donor countries mustensure greater coordination and integration of SIDS-relatedprogrammes and policies on a cross-sectoral basis.
A similar structural challenge faces the UNsystem, which has already begun the process of regionalization, buthas yet to orient its agencies and programmes to the needs of SIDS.To accomplish this, the Programme of Action calls for a specialSIDS unit within the UN Department of Policy Coordination andSustainable Development (DPCSD) to coordinate UN follow-up to theConference. Certain donor countries, including the US, did not feelsuch a unit was necessary and supported, instead, a focal pointwithin the DPCSD that would have no additional budgetaryimplications. The agreed text in the Programme of Action, which isthe product of a vague consensus, states that "a clearlyidentifiable, qualified and competent entity within the DPCSD ofthe UN should be put in place to provide Secretariat support forboth intergovernmental and inter-agency coordination mechanisms."The Secretariat interpreted this in its programme budgetimplications (PBI) statement (A/CONF.167/L.1.Add.1) as theinclusion of one professional and one general service post in NewYork and one professional post in each of the three regionaleconomic commissions that deal with SIDS. Judging from the way thePBI was introduced and the reaction to it on the floor of the finalPlenary meeting, there are still widely differering opinions onwhat this "entity" entails. This issue will be the subject ofadditional consultations over the summer before being resolved bythe General Assembly this fall.
GROUP OF 77:
During the preparatory process, AOSIS and theG-77 came to an agreement, whereby the Chair of AOSIS spoke onbehalf of the G-77 and China during the negotiations. This remainedthe case throughout the Conference itself, even through the longinformal-informal night sessions on financial resources. Thisdelegation of authority and coordination to one sub-group, may holdprecedence for G-77 activities in the future. The G-77 itself isnow not only divided into "level of development" groups, such asthe G-27 and the LDCs, but also into cross-regional groups.Together with the G-77's difficulties during the early phases ofthe desertification negotiations (where preference to one regionalgroup, Africa, led to a regional breakdown of the G-77), thisConference adds further nuances to the coordination of such alarge, disparate group. It will be interesting to see how thisConference and its follow-up affects the future unity andeffectiveness of this group of developing countries.
Finally, it must be remembered thatthe follow-up to the Conference and effective implementation of theProgramme of Action will not only take place at the diplomaticlevel in the United Nations. The small island developing Statesthemselves must ensure that they reorient their programmes andpolicies towards sustainable development. Governments must ensurethat local communities, NGOs, women, youth, indigenous people andothers play a key role in implementing the Programme of Action.Without active participation of people at all levels -- local,national, regional and international -- the Programme of Actionwill not be worth more than the paper it is written on.