Summary report, 26–28 August 2013
Inter-regional Preparatory Meeting for the 3rd International Conference on SIDS
The Inter-regional Preparatory Meeting (IPM) for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) took place in Bridgetown, Barbados, from 26-28 August 2013. Members of the three SIDS regions—Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and South China Sea (AIMS), the Caribbean and the Pacific—gathered to discuss pressing issues and emerging challenges facing SIDS in preparation for the 2014 conference. Discussions over the course of the three days addressed, inter alia: the outcomes of the three regional preparatory meetings; identifying gaps and constraints in implementing the Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA) and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action on the Sustainable Development of SIDS (MSI); the blue economy; debt management strategies; and celebrating the first International Year of SIDS. Discussions on the outcome document took place in parallel contact and drafting groups as well as two closed plenary sessions.
Approximately 240 delegates attended the meeting. Alongside SIDS delegations, other national delegations, representatives of Major Groups, UN agencies and other intergovernmental organizations participated. Contact and drafting groups met throughout the meeting to draft the outcome text, which was expected to form the basis of the negotiating text in the lead-up to the Third International Conference on SIDS in Apia, Samoa, in September 2014 (Apia Conference). A draft outcome document was presented to SIDS delegations on Tuesday afternoon, followed by negotiations on this document in a closed session all afternoon, throughout the night and on Wednesday morning. On Wednesday afternoon, delegations were presented with a draft of the Needham’s Point Bridgetown Declaration for their consideration. The Declaration was provisionally adopted with amendments. As negotiations on the outcome document could not be concluded, delegates agreed to suspend the IPM to resume negotiations at a later date, with an aim to adopt the outcome document before the conclusion of the 67th session of the UN General Assembly in mid-September 2013.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SIDS CONFERENCES
The vulnerability of islands and coastal areas was recognized by the 44th session of the UNGA in 1989, when it passed resolution 44/206 on the possible adverse effects of sea level rise on islands and coastal areas, particularly low-lying coastal areas. The 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, brought the special case of small islands and coastal areas to international attention when it adopted Agenda 21, a programme of action for sustainable development. Chapter 17 of Agenda 21, on the protection of oceans, all kinds of seas and coastal areas, included a programme area on the sustainable development of small islands. Agenda 21 also called for a global conference on the sustainable development of SIDS.
GLOBAL CONFERENCE ON THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF SIDS: Established by UNGA resolution 47/189, the UN Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of SIDS was held in Bridgetown, Barbados, from 25 April - 6 May 1994. The Conference adopted the BPOA for the Sustainable Development of SIDS, a 14-point programme that identifies priority areas and specific actions necessary for addressing the special challenges faced by SIDS. The priority areas are climate change and sea level rise, natural and environmental disasters, management of wastes, coastal and marine resources, freshwater resources, land resources, energy resources, tourism resources, biodiversity resources, national institutions and administrative capacity, regional institutions and technical cooperation, transport and communication, science and technology, and human resource development. The BPOA further identified the following cross-sectoral areas requiring attention: capacity building; institutional development at the national, regional and international levels; cooperation in the transfer of environmentally sound technologies; trade and economic diversification; and finance. The Conference also adopted the Barbados Declaration, a statement of political will underpinning the commitments contained in the BPOA.
The UN Commission on Sustainable Development was given the responsibility to follow up on the implementation of the BPOA.
UNGASS-22: In September 1999, the 22nd Special Session of the UNGA (UNGASS-22) undertook a comprehensive review and appraisal of the implementation of the BPOA. The Special Session adopted the “State of Progress and Initiatives for the Future Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDS,” which identified six areas in need of urgent attention: climate change, natural and environmental disasters and climate variability, freshwater resources, coastal and marine resources, energy, and tourism. In addition, the Special Session highlighted the need to focus on means of implementation. UNGASS-22 also adopted a declaration in which member states, inter alia, reaffirmed the principles of, and their commitment to, sustainable development as embodied in Agenda 21, the Barbados Declaration and the BPOA.
MILLENNIUM SUMMIT: In September 2000, at the UN Millennium Summit in New York, world leaders adopted the UN Millennium Declaration (General Assembly resolution 55/2) and, in doing so, resolved to address the special needs of SIDS by implementing the BPOA and the outcome of UNGASS-22 rapidly and in full.
WSSD: The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) convened from 26 August to 4 September 2002 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The WSSD reaffirmed the special case of SIDS, dedicating a chapter of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) to the sustainable development of SIDS that identified a set of priority actions, called for a full and comprehensive review of the BPOA in 2004, and requested the General Assembly at its 57th session to consider convening an international meeting on the sustainable development of SIDS.
UNGA-57: In December 2002, the 57th session of the UNGA adopted resolution 57/262, in which the Assembly decided to convene an international meeting in 2004 to undertake a full and comprehensive review of the implementation of the BPOA, and welcomed the offer by the Government of Mauritius to host the meeting. The UNGA also decided that the review should focus on practical and pragmatic actions for the further implementation of the BPOA, including through the mobilization of resources and assistance for SIDS.
INTERNATIONAL MEETING TO REVIEW THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE BPOA: The International Meeting to Review the Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDS convened from 10-14 January 2005, in Port Louis, Mauritius. Plenary panels convened on the themes of: environmental vulnerabilities of SIDS; special challenges of SIDS in trade and economic development; the role of culture in the sustainable development of SIDS; addressing emerging trends and social challenges regarding the sustainable development of SIDS; and building resilience in SIDS. The high-level segment addressed the “Comprehensive review of the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDS.” At the conclusion of the meeting, delegates adopted the MSI.
MSI+5: The High-level Review Meeting on the Implementation of the MSI (MSI+5) was held from 24-25 September 2010 at UN Headquarters in New York. Delegates participated in two multi-stakeholder roundtables, which focused on reducing vulnerabilities, strengthening resilience, and enhancing international support for SIDS, and an interactive dialogue on cross-regional perspectives on common issues and priorities for the way forward. The major outcome of the meeting was a political declaration that elaborated new and renewed commitments to implement the BPOA and the MSI.
RIO+20: The third and final meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20), Pre-Conference Informal Consultations facilitated by the host country, and the UNCSD convened back-to-back in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 13-22 June 2012. Government delegations concluded negotiations on the Conference outcome document, entitled The Future We Want. Paragraphs 178-180 reaffirm that SIDS are a special case for sustainable development in view of their unique and particular vulnerabilities, including their small size, remoteness, narrow resource and export base, and exposure to global environmental challenges and external economic shocks, including climate change and natural disasters. The Future We Want also called for convening in 2014 a third international conference on SIDS, building on the BPOA and MSI.
UNGA-67: Resolution 67/207, Follow-up to and Implementation of the MSI, set up the modalities for the 2014 International Conference on SIDS, welcomed the offer of the Government of Samoa to host the conference, and called for the conference to: assess progress to date and remaining gaps in the implementation of the BPOA and the MSI; seek a renewed political commitment by all countries to effectively address the special needs and vulnerabilities of SIDS by focusing on practical and pragmatic actions; identify new and emerging challenges and opportunities for the sustainable development of SIDS; and identify priorities for consideration, as appropriate, in the elaboration of the post-2015 UN development agenda.
The UNGA agreed that in 2013 there would be a regional preparatory meeting in each of the three SIDS regions, as well as an inter-regional preparatory meeting for all SIDS to identify and develop input for the conference. The 68th session of the UNGA will determine the modalities for the UN intergovernmental preparatory process, which will begin in early 2014
CARIBBEAN REGIONAL PREPARATORY MEETING: This meeting, held from 2-4 July 2013 in Kingston, Jamaica, issued a 44-paragraph document (the “Kingston Outcome”) reaffirming earlier commitments, including the BPOA, the MSI and the JPOI. The Kingston Outcome identified constraints to achieving the sustainable development of SIDS, including, inter alia: a lack of political will on the part of most developed countries to fulfill their commitments; SIDS’ vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters, and related impacts on the tourism industry; and the classification of many Caribbean SIDS as middle- to high-income countries, which excludes them from some sources of development aid. It called for new, additional and predictable financial resources for sustainable development, including relevant regional financing mechanisms. It also highlighted the role of women and youth; the challenges and opportunities of migration; and international climate-related mechanisms, such as the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Climate Technology Centre and Network. Other issues addressed included, inter alia: community empowerment; regional and national disaster risk reduction; a people-centered approach to poverty eradication; strengthening of health systems; and debt relief for small, indebted middle-income countries.
PACIFIC REGIONAL PREPARATORY MEETING: This meeting was the second of three regional events in preparation for the Apia Conference. The meeting, held from 10-12 July 2013 in Nadi, Fiji, adopted a draft outcome document, titled “Accelerating Integrated Approach to Sustainable Development,” which contain a preambulatory section, and discussion and recommendations on: climate change; health, especially non-communicable diseases (NCDs); social development; governance; infrastructure; sustainable energy; oceans; sustainable resource management and protection; UN institutional support to SIDS; national priorities and plans; inclusive and sustainable economic management; and means of implementation and partnerships.
AIMS REGIONAL PREPARATORY MEETING: The AIMS Regional Preparatory Meeting took place in Baie Lazare, Seychelles, from 17-19 July 2013. The outcome document calls for a paradigm shift in the approach to SIDS’ sustainable development, recognizing that each country requires its own unique tools, and emphasizing the concept of SIDS solidarity as a necessary prerequisite to implementation of the BPOA and the MSI. Priority areas include: the blue economy; financing mechanisms and trade instruments; regional collaboration; and institutional arrangements and partnerships. The outcome document identifies a number of new and emerging challenges and opportunities, including: ocean governance, climate change, disaster risk reduction, international organized crime, population growth and urbanization, chemical and hazardous waste management, energy, transboundary pollution, and food security and nutrition.
REPORT OF THE MEETING
On Monday morning, Denis Lowe, Minister of Environment and Drainage, Barbados, opened the meeting and urged delegates to approach their task in the spirit of cooperation to forge a consensus. He noted that national priorities vary from country to country, and thus flexibility and compromise will enable delegates to produce an outcome acceptable to SIDS.
John Ashe, Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the UN and President-elect of the 68th Session of the UNGA, said that delegates should consider four areas in the context of means of implementation: the blue economy; health, (including NCDs); peace and security; and the role of youth and women. He told delegates that the post-2015 development agenda processes provide an opportunity for SIDS to ensure that their needs are addressed in the broader policy landscape. In conclusion, he pledged full support in his capacity as UNGA President.
Aaron Cook, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Environment, Nauru, said that SIDS must endeavor to advance a common position, particularly on finance, trade and capacity building. Underscoring the progress of the previous preparatory meetings, he noted, however, that the window for action is closing, since an environmental crisis is evolving swiftly.
Wu Hongbo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Secretary-General of the 2014 Third International Conference on SIDS, highlighted that the IPM is a key milestone and should articulate a strategy involving the three SIDS regions, in which their vulnerability is emphasized. He highlighted the effects of climate change on SIDS, which is felt “day by day” and noted it threatens SIDS’ security. He said that the IPM should focus on practical, innovative outcomes by prioritizing implementation gaps and creating meaningful partnerships that focus on institution building.
Rebeca Grynspan, UN Under-Secretary-General and UN Development Programme (UNDP) Associate Administrator, highlighted the global suffering that has been experienced in the face of environmental degradation and climate change. She pointed to three opportunities for SIDS at the Apia Conference: continuing to be effective leaders and role models practicing the change they want to see; using the Apia Conference as a vehicle to generate support for SIDS while influencing the post-2015 development agenda; and uniting diverse actors around strategic initiatives to trigger concrete action.
Gayan Chandra Acharya, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and SIDS (OHRLLS), urged that the SIDS agenda remain prominent, as “SIDS issues are global issues.” He lauded SIDS for demonstrating leadership in managing their natural resources, and highlighted the role of partnerships. He noted, however, that further capacity building, technology transfer and financial assistance are needed to address current challenges.
Freundel J. Stuart, Prime Minister of Barbados, said that preparations for the Apia Conference should revisit the “fundamentals” that characterize SIDS, noting the impact of continued hydro-meteorological disasters; an overreliance on imported fossil fuels; and the risk of economic shocks. In preparation for the Apia Conference, he suggested that integration take place across the three SIDS regions, with an emphasis on tangible, implementable targets. He said there is a need for sharing experiences, solutions and best practices among SIDS and the rest of the world. He underscored the role access to technology can have in addressing youth unemployment.
ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS: The agenda and organization of work were adopted by acclamation. Denis Lowe (Barbados) was elected as Chair of the meeting. Rolph Payet (Seychelles) and Faumuina Tiatia Liuga (Samoa) were elected as Vice-Chairs. Ian Hayles (Jamaica) was elected as Rapporteur. A drafting group was established that met in parallel to the plenary sessions and was chaired by members of the Bureau.
PRESENTATION OF A SYNOPSIS OF THE INTER-REGIONAL SYNTHESIS REPORT
Nikhil Seth, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), introduced the inter-regional synthesis report, which provides a broad overview of the discussions and outcomes from the three regional meetings. He underscored the key themes discussed during the preparatory meetings, including: climate change; debt sustainability; oceans and the blue economy; and social development, especially regarding youth and women. He said that all SIDS have achieved progress in implementing the BPOA and MSI, but at different paces. He said that implementation gaps remain, citing waste management, efficient transport networks, access to fresh water and health systems. Seth underscored the need for assistance on financing for climate change mitigation, debt relief and predictability of finance and noted the importance of operationalizing the GCF. In conclusion, he said that SIDS-SIDS cooperation must be boosted.
PRESENTATION OF THE OUTCOMES OF THE THREE SIDS REGIONAL PREPARATORY MEETINGS
Jamaica presented on the outcomes of the Caribbean Regional Preparatory Meeting. He outlined issues discussed at the meeting, including, inter alia, the graduation of some SIDS to middle income status, which affects their access to concessionary loans; the use of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a major development theme; migration; sustainable energy for all (SE4ALL) and sustainable production and consumption (SCP).
Fiji, providing an overview of the Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting, outlined three main principles for addressing sustainable development in SIDS, including: commitment to meaningful change; integration of ecology and economy; and inclusiveness. He stated the need to address the theme of security in discussions on climate change, particularly in relation to the integrity of territory. He said that the 19th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, to be held in November 2013, is an opportunity to examine progress on the theme of disaster management. He noted that the definition of SIDS’ special status is fundamental when dealing with donor countries and highlighted how investment in telecommunications, for example, can assist Pacific SIDS in dealing with “remoteness.”
Seychelles presented the outcome from the AIMS Regional Preparatory Meeting, highlighting the issues of: graduation from least developed country status; the need for a regional coordinating mechanism; the blue economy; partnerships; climate change; financing and replenishment of funds; population growth and labor migration; chemical wastes; clean energy; food security; and sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the post-2015 development agenda.
INTERACTIVE DISCUSSIONS ON AN INTEGRATED APPROACH TO ADDRESSING THE GAPS AND CONSTRAINTS
Gordon Bispham, Barbados, moderated this session on Monday morning. Reading from paragraph 85 of the MSI on the assistance needed by SIDS for implementing the BPOA, he pointed out that gaps still remain, and asked delegates, “Why aren’t we able to close many of these gaps?” He urged delegates to reflect on concrete steps that can be taken to move forward.
The Maldives urged for progress to continue in the spirit of cooperation and result in an outcome “that is one of hope.” She said that if there is an element within the outcome document that is specific to just one state, it should not be retained.
Trinidad and Tobago suggested that UN agencies align and rationalize existing SIDS-related programmes. He emphasized that the development of human capital is inseparable from sustainable development and said that any solutions will depend on “the cultivation of the human imagination.”
Cuba said that the current position of SIDS is, at its root, related to an unequal global economic system where the few dominate the many. She urged delegates to abandon concepts that are divisive or unclear, and move forward where agreement already exists.
Samoa, on an integrative approach to address the challenges of SIDS, said that a special case must be made for all SIDS. He said that while there will always be the expectation that the international community should increase resources for SIDS, there is a need to recognize and identify the limits of SIDS’ capacities and call for relevant capacity support. He underscored the importance of technology transfer.
Bispham noted the challenges posed by debt and said that most SIDS face a high fiscal deficit and that there is a need to have “a very interactive dialogue” to fix these fundamental gaps.
The Maldives said that the issue hindering progress is a lack of proper and adequate means of implementation. She recalled the challenges of accessing funding in a timely manner and said that a SIDS-specific financial instrument to access funding from multilateral donors is imperative.
Indigenous Peoples outlined the creation of the expert mechanism on the rights of indigenous peoples under the UN Human Rights Council. He noted the willingness of the expert mechanism to work in partnership with SIDS in support of the Apia Conference, including a global awareness campaign in the lead up to the Conference.
CLOSING THE GAPS: PRACTICAL AND PRAGMATIC ACTIONS FOR THE FURTHER IMPLEMENTATION OF THE BPOA AND MSI
This session took place on Monday afternoon, moderated by Chair Lowe. Mauritius opened the session by stating that SIDS struggle in the face of numerous challenges that were created by others. He said that speaking with a unified voice is the most important thing for SIDS to accomplish, and spoke of the duties of all delegates present, stating that the success of the Apia Conference depends on the success of the IPM.
Using the example of energy technology to underscore the lack of and need for data on the Pacific region, Tonga said that data and information problems limit the visibility and inclusion of the Pacific region in the international dialogue. He urged rectifying this problem as an outcome for the Apia Conference.
Kiribati called for reflecting on and taking stock of efforts at all levels, and urged consolidating goals, priorities and road maps. He lamented the inadequate integration of the BPOA and MSI into national processes and goals. He further suggested that the level of bureaucracy within international processes may hinder recognition of SIDS’ issues and said that reassessing and reorganizing SIDS modus operandi may be necessary to ensure future livelihoods.
Barbados noted that gaps to be addressed include, inter alia: inadequate regional coordinating mechanisms; the lack of technology transfer mechanisms; insufficient data for analysis; inadequate support from the international community; and a lack of access to adequate financing. He said recognizing these gaps will allow an integrated enabling environment to move forward.
Guinea-Bissau stated that the Apia Conference is an important platform for presenting the outcomes of the SIDS preparatory process. He said that overfishing and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing should be combatted.
Solomon Islands stressed the uncertain future facing SIDS. On challenges involving IUU fishing, he proposed the creation of a global funding mechanism to compensate SIDS for the economic losses they are facing. He urged delegates to be bold and visionary to support SIDS in a new process, in which time frames and specific objectives must be set. He concluded by noting that the recognition of SIDS’ special case is insufficient, if it is not followed up with concrete implementation of policies.
Reflecting on the outcomes of the Caribbean Regional Preparatory Meeting, Cuba emphasized the need for concrete proposals on financing and technology transfer in order to avoid complaints at the Apia Conference regarding SIDS’ lack of prioritization and regional fragmentation.
Dominican Republic stressed priorities for action, including food security, climate change and health. He also indicated that partnerships on sustainable development, notably with the private sector, are the most pressing issue.
Guyana stated that SIDS must ensure that their goals are included in the future SDGs, saying that this process should not wait for the outcomes of the Apia Conference. She observed that trade liberalization is not necessarily the best approach for SIDS. She also said that social issues deserve more attention due to an unbalanced emphasis on environmental matters. Noting the need for further regional coordination, Guyana proposed creating a focal point to ensure the implementation of SIDS’ goals at the national level. She concluded by calling for greater interaction within the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).
Marshall Islands said that sustainable development cannot proceed as a “one size fits all” process and must instead be tailored to individual states. She said delegates should emphasize their common challenges and ensure that they can be clearly understood by development partners, who can then, in turn, be incentivized to act.
Women called for greater recognition of the unequal burden borne by women and girls. She advocated strengthening South-South cooperation and emphasized the need for action in recognizing women and girls’ sexual and reproductive rights.
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) supported the call for enhancing institutional processes and financial mechanisms to support SIDS. He reminded those present of the role NGOs play in supporting implementation at all levels and called on governments and development partners to revise policy, institutional frameworks and financial mechanisms to recognize NGOs and other Major Groups as implementing partners.
Farmers supported building on best practices, taking advantage of “low-hanging fruit” and building on best practices across SIDS networks.
Trinidad and Tobago noted the need to link financial support with a clear position and an articulated agenda. He lamented weak project preparation and formulation, as well as a lack of integrated execution mechanisms.
St. Lucia supported prior comments on the need for better data for decision-making. He stressed that the BPOA and MSI are foundational processes and that outcomes from the Apia Conference should be advanced with a view to minimizing any additional onus on SIDS.
Cape Verde said that SIDS are cemented together by their common position on climate change and appealed to delegates to encourage countries with high carbon emissions to take immediate action.
Cook Islands thanked Barbados for succinctly indicating the gaps in implementation. She said there is a disconnect between actions taken at the national, regional and international levels. She said any future actions must be relevant at each level and that there must be synergy between levels.
Papua New Guinea thanked Barbados for his elucidation of the gaps in implementation, and suggested that these be circulated to help facilitate discussion.
Barbados said that the data and information “issue” needs to be dealt with immediately. He underscored the importance of education, training and capacity building to support implementation efforts. He called for further investment in science and technology, and for the operationalization of the Small Island Developing States Network (SIDSnet).
Dominica said that it is important to create more SIDS institutions, by SIDS, for SIDS. He said that leaving the implementation of commitments to the UN system alone misses an opportunity for SIDS to become more engaged in defining their own future.
In closing, Vice-Chair Liuga noted common areas of concern including: improving trade access and development financing for SIDS; monitoring; making a special case for SIDS internationally; and evaluation based on clear measurement and statistics.
NEW AND EMERGING CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES IN SIDS, AND WAYS AND MEANS TO ADDRESS THEM
ENABLING SUSTAINABLE GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES IN SIDS THROUGH THE OCEAN SECTOR: This session took place on Tuesday morning, moderated by Vice-Chair Payet. Takehiro Nakamura, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), delivered a short presentation on “The Green Economy in Oceans and SIDS: Emerging challenges and opportunities,” and touched on the topics of fisheries and aquaculture, coastal tourism and developing enabling environments. Following the presentation, the floor was opened for discussion.
Cape Verde noted that the blue economy concept is not yet properly defined, and that when UN agencies apply the “green economy” term in the context of the ocean economy, as in the title of UNEP’s presentation, it adds to the confusion and puts SIDS in a difficult position.
Trinidad and Tobago said that he cannot fully appreciate the value and urgency of defining all island economies as ocean-based economies. He pointed out that, by 2030, countries everywhere will face a stress nexus between freshwater scarcity, food security and energy demand. He said that this is the most urgent issue to focus on, and asked delegates if, in confronting these challenges, it was really best to tie up the entire SIDS strategy around the notion of an ocean-based economy.
Cuba said that oceans are already covered by a variety of agreements including maritime law. She pointed out that there are differences that have not yet been reconciled regarding the concept of the green economy, and suggested that SIDS’ consideration of the blue economy may be premature. These concepts, she said, bring with them contradictions and controversies.
Nauru recalled how critical oceans are for SIDS’ economies and said that the status quo is not an option, while stating the importance of respecting the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. St. Lucia observed that the sustainable management of maritime space is a common theme across all SIDS and proposed fostering research and technology involving maritime issues. He also noted that several Caribbean SIDS still need to define their exclusive economic zones.
Vice-Chair Payet recalled that SIDS are ocean-based economies and that the proposals on the blue economy are an attempt to ensure that SIDS' maritime resources will benefit island people.
In closing, Nikhil Seth provided an overview of the discussions on the blue economy that had taken place at the regional meetings, highlighting the need for, inter alia: access to the right information to ensure effective policies and programmes; institutional capacity building within and between regions; sharing and exchanging best practices for tourism; and creating institutions where gaps exist.
DESIGNING APPROPRIATE AND SUSTAINABLE DEBT MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES IN SIDS: This roundtable was moderated by Navin Chanderpaul (Guyana) on Tuesday morning. Travis Mitchell, Commonwealth Secretariat, delivered a presentation on debt and financing in SIDS, saying that SIDS’ size, susceptibility to shocks and limited access to concessionary financing makes managing debt difficult. Emerging challenges, he noted, include: infeasible fiscal adjustment and ineffective debt restructuring; low growth-high debt cycles; weakening human development growth; inadequate access to financing; and the persistent threat of external shocks and natural disasters. He provided an overview of proposals from the Commonwealth Secretariat, which include: debt-swaps for climate change adaptation and mitigation; countercyclical loans for mitigation of debt and growth challenges; and resilience building as a policy condition for international financial institutions’ (IFIs) lending.
Responding to remarks made on debt-servicing and debt swaps, Cuba pointed out that external debt is the main obstacle for developing economies and is a “perennial source of drainage of resources” that will not be solved without a restructuring of the “exploitative and asymmetric base” of the international financial system.
Jamaica stressed that debt relief must be a priority. Considering that extreme weather events, for example, put an extra strain on SIDS’ economies, he also stressed the importance of having access to the GCF.
Dominican Republic stressed that IFIs must prioritize access to finance. Guyana recalled the high burden that debt places on its economy and showed interest in learning more about concessionary financing.
Samoa declared that debt strategies must be contextualized and reviewed often. She observed the challenges SIDS face due to limited capacity for dealing with IFIs and also expressed interest in further information on debt swaps.
Women urged that the challenge of debt management be clearly articulated in the outcome. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) noted the persistent challenge of securing energy for SIDS, saying that importing fossil fuels contributes significantly to debt. Providing an overview of debt swaps, Mitchell responded that this concept may be extended to include renewable energy.
ENSURING INTEGRATED APPROACHES AND ENHANCED SYSTEM SUPPORT TO AOSIS COUNTRIES IN THE EMERGING NEW UN INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK, THE 2014 SIDS OUTCOME AND THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA
This session took place on Tuesday morning. Maxine McClean, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Barbados, introduced the panelists and said the main objectives of the session are: to have an appreciation of where SIDS fit within the post-2015 development agenda and SDGs dialogues; to discuss actions for going forward; and to articulate a more integrated and coordinated approach when working with the UN system.
Wu Hongbo provided background on the SDGs dialogue, saying that: work on developing the SDGs is grounded in guidance from Rio+20; the 16 clusters of issues for consideration as SDGs are nearly identical to the cluster of issues being discussed by SIDS; and that the Open Working Group on SDGs (OWG) will address the needs of countries in special situations, including SIDS. He said that during the 6th session of the OWG in December 2013, SIDS will have a chance to shine a spotlight on their priorities.
Rebeca Grynspan, UNDP, stressed that natural resource constraints affect the poor in particular and that UNDP is advocating for stronger recognition of SIDS’ vulnerabilities. She said that if poverty is to be combatted the losses and impoverishment of the people affected by natural disasters need to be a priority within the post-2015 development agenda. Recalling that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were guided by a top-down approach, she said that this is no longer a reality in the SDGs process, as broad consultations are being conducted by the UN system. She stressed that the post-2015 development agenda should further incorporate environmental concerns as well as mainstream gender and inequality concerns.
Nikhil Seth provided an overview of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) and the reform of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). He said that the HLPF is universal in nature, which allows SIDS the opportunity to participate in and influence decision-making. He further noted that the UNGA has mandated that the HLPF dedicate specific time to consider the needs of SIDS. On ECOSOC reform he outlined current proposals, which include increasing the frequency of ECOSOC sessions. He noted that these negotiations are still ongoing. He urged SIDS to consider ensuring that the 68th session of UNGA is used to solidify the SIDS’ agenda within the UN system.
Palau described the adoption of the MDGs as a “watershed moment in international development” but noted that they neglected oceans, the state of which has only gotten worse. He said that outcomes from both the Pacific and AIMS regional meetings called for an SDG on oceans, and expressed hope that all delegates present could commit to supporting an oceans-related SDG.
Papua New Guinea stated his determination for oceans to have a place in the post-2015 development agenda. He stressed the importance of SIDS advocating for this as a group, and pledged support for such a joint advocacy process.
The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat offered a note of caution, stating that as the post-2015 development agenda and SDGs processes have proceeded, there have been few explicit mentions of SIDS in published documents. She also noted that the interim report of the Co-Chairs of the OWG does not mention SIDS. She stressed that “it is not a given” that the special case of SIDS will feature in the SDGs.
The Maldives pointed out that MDG benchmarking mechanisms have not always provided accurate measurements of progress, thus providing “mixed results.” She stressed that the post-2015 development agenda must move beyond “mixed results,” unlock the transformational potential of partnership, and continue as a complementary process to the MDGs.
Denny Lewis-Bynoe, Commonwealth Secretariat, spoke on the work of the Commonwealth Secretariat in general and on SIDS in particular. She observed that 60% of their technical assistance is with small states, meaning countries with less than 1.5 million people. Recalling the formation of the Commonwealth and its mission, which aims for peace, democracy and development, she asked for feedback from SIDS on how to improve cooperation. She emphasized that building resilience is the most important goal and observed that the Commonwealth has been working with the G-20 and IFIs to refine their resilience frameworks, as well as coordination.
Mark Griffith, UNEP, gave an overview of the governance structure of UNEP, saying that as an outcome of Rio+20, a UN Environment Assembly was established, which strengthens the ability and role of UNEP to deliver the environmental dimension of sustainable development. He said that the Assembly will meet biennially starting in 2014 to, inter alia, set the global environmental agenda, provide overarching policy guidance and define policy responses to emerging environmental challenges. He urged discussion on the modalities for increasing SIDS’ participation in the Assembly and ensure their voices are heard.
On the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production (10YFP), he noted that the SCP is not necessarily about consuming less, but rather about doing more and better with less. He said that a decision to implement the 10YFP was taken at Rio+20, with the secretariat to be hosted by UNEP. He outlined core programmes identified so far, including: consumer information; sustainable lifestyles and education; and sustainable tourism. Priorities, he said, include: support to small and medium enterprises; diversification of energy sources; food security; and water and territorial ordering. He remarked that the 10YFP offers significant opportunities but that the onus is on SIDS to define where their entry point to the programme will be
The International Telecommunication Union underscored the importance of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to attain the sustainable development of SIDS. She said this facet has been largely missing in discussions, noting how ICTs can bridge SIDS’ “remoteness.”
UN-Women said that it has produced a comprehensive report with input from 85 civil society representatives and Caribbean governments, culminating in a four-page list of expectations and recommendations that she hoped the delegates would consider during their negotiations this week.
MAJOR GROUPS’ CONTRIBUTION TO FURTHER IMPLEMENTATION OF THE BPOA AND THE MSI AND PRIORITIES FOR THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA
The session on Major Groups’ contribution to further the implementation of the BPOA and the MSI as well as their priorities for the post-2015 development agenda took place on Tuesday afternoon. Shantal Munro-Knight, Caribbean Policy Development and Major Groups coordinator, declared that the session aims to work “shoulder to shoulder” with Major Groups to ensure that they will be adequately included in the Apia Conference preparatory process. She emphasized that Major Groups are key actors in implementing effective sustainable development partnerships.
Women stated that women play a crucial role for community sustainability and urged including stronger actions on gender equality in the outcome document.
NGOs stressed their contribution in four key areas, including: participatory governance; economic development; ocean governance; and building resilience. She highlighted the importance of respecting national specificities and argued that actions among SIDS must move from disaster response to building resilience.
Indigenous Peoples underscored the need for recognizing the role of indigenous peoples as they are the “owners” of the natural resources under discussion. Recalling the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, he emphasized the right of indigenous peoples to be involved in decision-making processes.
Workers and Trade Unions outlined the constraints and hurdles faced, including ensuring a decent work agenda, food security, and support for a social compact. Farmers proposed working together to create enabling environments for small-holder farmers. He said that overall security for small-holders should be improved and entrepreneurship should be promoted. He urged building on best-practices in SIDS’ agriculture.
Youth and Children highlighted areas of importance, inter alia: good governance and youth participation; lobbying for a SIDS-specific SDG with youth indicators, as well as an SE4ALL SDG; establishing marine protected areas to curb, among others, IUU fishing and pollution; and enhancing innovation and ICTs.
The floor was opened for comments. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) endorsed the message from Youth and Children and said that the Caribbean faces the dual threat of rising violence against children and growing violence and criminality among children and within school systems, saying that this should be more strongly addressed in the outcome statement.
Guyana spoke about its national efforts to engage with Major Groups by creating a National Stakeholder Forum. Farmers said that the relationship between civil society and non-state actors with elected governments is always uncomfortable, but unlike governments that are elected for a short period of time, civil society is the stabilizing force within society. “Politicians come and go,” he said, “But we’re always here.”
CELEBRATING THE FIRST UN INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF SIDS
On Wednesday morning, Chair Lowe introduced the discussion on the first UN International Year of SIDS to be held in 2014. Hiroko Morita-Lou, UNDESA, suggested that the International Year of SIDS be used to, inter alia, build momentum for the Apia Conference, mobilize support and interest for SIDS, and celebrate their cultural heritage. She proposed that discussions focus on: how stakeholders and development partners can be mobilized; and how the importance and uniqueness of SIDS’ heritage can be celebrated and emphasized. She also urged consideration of when the International Year should be launched.
Guyana queried whether through highlighting the International Year of SIDS there is a way to get a better response from the international community in terms of commitments. He urged focusing on implementation and renewed commitment.
Jamaica underscored that SIDS should develop the International Year of SIDS in partnership with the UN, in a coherent and consistent manner, as well as with the provision of sufficient funds.
Morita-Lou said that UNDESA will ensure that the comments are taken on board, stating that this occasion represents a good opportunity to conduct a multi-stakeholder consultation.
Barbados shared some of the activities that it has been holding in celebration of the International Year of SIDS and of the sustainable development decade, noting a special focus on oceans, education and the uniqueness of the islands.
Chair Lowe said it is important to not lose the message of the SIDS at the global level, highlighting the importance of youth for the future of SIDS. He invited all delegates to intensively work on this issue.
Samoa spoke about the impetus that propelled it to host the Apia Conference in 2014, saying that although Samoa does not have hotel rooms, does not have a state-of-the-art conference facility, and is expensive to reach by plane—in sum “it makes no sense,” he said—as host, Samoa does provide one crucial thing: an opportunity for the international community to witness the realities that SIDS face. He defended the Apia Conference theme of partnerships and expressed hope that it would be a launch pad for concrete and specific partnerships.
Marshall Islands expressed strong agreement with Samoa and expressed its support for the conference theme of partnerships. She advocated for moving beyond the old donor-recipient and North-South models of cooperation and pledged to support innovative partnerships to advance sustainable development.
Chair Lowe closed the session, saying that, “this is a journey of one, not a journey of many,” and that SIDS “can hold hands as they move forward together.”
DISCUSSION OF THE DRAFT OUTCOME AND DECLARATION
Delegates met behind closed doors on Tuesday morning, parallel to the main plenary, to negotiate the draft outcome document. All SIDS delegations were invited to participate in the drafting group. On Tuesday afternoon, the plenary reconvened to hear an update on the negotiations. Observers were invited to provide comment.
Italy stated that “genuine partnership and knowledge sharing must be the foundation of international cooperation” in order to achieve tangible results. He provided an overview of several bilateral cooperation schemes with SIDS, which are showing concrete outcomes, notably in the Caribbean and the Pacific.
Turkey stressed that the UN system should address the SIDS issue pragmatically and that all efforts should be made to support their cause. While noting the rising contribution of Turkey as an emerging donor, he noted that Turkey is ranked 15th in providing official development assistance.
Barbados provided a brief overview of the negotiations of the outcome document, which prioritized the commonalities among the SIDS, including: economic viability, socially balanced development, environmental practices, and good governance. She also noted that SIDS intend to focus on the themes of oceans, financing for sustainable development, climate change, SE4ALL, monitoring systems related to economic development, sustainable tourism and cooperation with IFIs.
Guyana said that in order to fully implement the sustainable development of SIDS, the enabling environment has to be at national, regional and global levels.
Kiribati asked to highlight the security dimension of climate change, which also has a human rights dimension, including forced migration and migration with dignity.
On Wednesday afternoon, Chair Lowe introduced a draft copy of the Needham’s Point Bridgetown Declaration. He noted that while progress was being made on the outcome document, it was still being negotiated and would be available shortly for delegates’ consideration. Copies of the Declaration were circulated and Chair Lowe led the plenary in a paragraph-by-paragraph review of the text.
The Maldives asked that the Declaration properly incorporate the “SIDS” acronym throughout. Youth asserted that youth and children are indispensable to sustainable development and proposed that the Declaration should include relevant language.
Cuba urged concluding negotiations, and asked that the Declaration follow UN language to ensure consistency and clarity and avoid confusion on the meaning of topics such as “energy security” or “water security.” He urged adopting the Declaration. The Chair assured that in streamlining the document, all standards and protocols of the UN would be followed.
Major Groups requested explicit recognition of their solidarity with and assistance to SIDS.
Cuba opposed the Maldives’ request to include language on energy and water security, citing potential legal controversies regarding the concept of “water security.” Supported by Belize and Jamaica, he appealed to delegates to accept the draft “as is.”
Samoa called for greater attention to the social dimension of sustainable development.
Chair Lowe thanked Samoa and moved to adopt the Declaration. Guyana, requesting clarification, said that he was not clear on which submissions had been agreed. Chair Lowe responded that the proposals from Samoa, Youth, Maldives and Major Groups would be included.
Cuba said that some of those suggestions are very controversial and that introducing such issues at that point was not helpful. He said that there is a reason the drafting group “meets for long hours in rooms, so that delegates do not have to go through this.” He appealed to all delegates to accept the draft as is.
The Maldives provided a definition of “water security” saying, “in climate language water security means access to safe water. We are not talking of any other security.” She said that she did not view the issue as controversial. “We have contaminated water,” she said. “So what we want is quality safe water.”
Suriname reaffirmed the comments made by Youth and Children. Chair Lowe proposed taking a five minute break.
Upon resumption, the Chair ceased with the paragraph-by-paragraph review of the text and deferred to Nikhil Seth who said that he had tried, as the request of the Chair, to bring together a package proposal so that everyone can be accommodated. He offered language proposed by the Maldives on water, energy and waste management, by Samoa on the social dimension of sustainable development, by Youth and Children on intergenerational dialogue, and by Major Groups on acknowledgement of their role.
Dominica expressed its support for Cuba’s proposal to adopt the text without amendments, with the exception of including the proposal from Youth and Children. Cuba said that, in another example of flexibility from his delegation, it would adopt the Declaration with the added proposals. He urged that in future meetings of this kind that, “all the practices and procedures of the UNGA and other intergovernmental bodies should be fully respected in the way proposals are introduced.” Jamaica supported Cuba’s request to follow procedures. Trinidad and Tobago moved for speedy adoption of the Declaration and full accordance with procedures.
Mauritius said that he had wanted to comment on paragraph 10 on the dependence of SIDS on oceans but, “everything has been finalized quicker than we thought.” He said he would like to mention the blue economy and hoped it could have been included in the proposal.
Timor-Leste agreed that following procedures and rules is critical. She said she respected what the host country had crafted and wanted to move quickly on adoption.
The Maldives, on the rules of procedure, said that the text needs to be discussed and agreed upon by all delegates before adoption. He said that while they had negotiated the text, a new draft had been introduced an hour before plenary and not all issues have been reflected adequately. He accepted the Chair’s proposal for alternate language and reiterated their willingness to work with delegations and the Chair to reach consensus.
The Declaration was provisionally adopted.
Following the adoption of the Declaration, the plenary broke to allow the drafting group time to meet and continue work on the outcome document. Updates were provided to observers waiting in the conference room throughout the next three hours. The plenary reconvened around 11:00 pm after attempts to extend negotiations into the early morning hours were rebuffed by some SIDS delegations that felt no additional progress could be made. Chair Lowe thanked delegates for their hard work and diligence in reaching the conclusion of the meeting. Recalling the contribution of Major Groups and the adoption of a political declaration, he announced the decision of delegates to suspend the meeting and resume negotiations at a later date in order to agree on the text of the outcome document prior to the end of the 67th session of the UNGA.
Wu Hongbo congratulated delegates for their hard work and called the political declaration a “big achievement” but noted that a successful outcome document is of the “utmost importance for the sustainable development of SIDS.” He expressed confidence that SIDS would reach an agreement in New York as they continue negotiating the outcome document. He said that in the coming months the UNGA will adopt a second modality resolution on the global preparatory process for the Apia Conference and urged SIDS to be actively engaged in the process and to speak with one unified voice. As Secretary-General of the Apia Conference, he pledged his utmost support for all SIDS.
Seychelles asked for a point of clarification on the relationship between the Needham’s Point Bridgetown Declaration and the yet-to-be-approved outcome document. The Chair responded that both documents will be submitted to the PrepCom simultaneously once negotiation of the outcome document is completed in New York.
The Chair declared the conference suspended at 11:44 pm.
NEEDHAM’S POINT BRIDGETOWN DECLARATION
The Needham’s Point Bridgetown Declaration reaffirms the BPOA, MSI, the Rio Declaration, Agenda 21, the JPOI and the Rio+20 outcome document, The Future We Want. It also reaffirms SIDS’ special case for sustainable development, particularly in light of their vulnerabilities due to their small size, remoteness, narrow resource and export base, as well as the impact of increasing global food and energy prices and a declining level of official development assistance. Stressing that climate change remains the greatest challenge to SIDS, the Declaration states that SIDS’ sustainable development concerns should be integrated into the post-2015 development agenda, particularly with regard to the SDGs. It also emphasizes SIDS dependency on the health of the ocean and marine resources.
The Declaration decides that the Apia Conference theme is “Sustainable development of Small Island Developing States through genuine and durable partnerships” and aims to:
- assess the progress and gaps in implementing the BPOA and the MSI, building on, inter alia, existing reports and relevant processes;
- seek renewed political commitment by all countries through mobilizing resources and assistance for SIDS; and
- identify priorities, emerging challenges and opportunities for sustainable development of SIDS.
The Needham’s Point Bridgetown Declaration recognizes the Barbados outcome document as the basis for the SIDS Zero Draft in preparation for the intergovernmental preparatory committee. It also emphasizes the pressing need for new, additional and predictable financial resources to SIDS and facilitation of access to funds, notably through the Global Environment Facility and the GCF. It also requests the consideration of other criteria beyond GDP when graduating SIDS from access to grant and concessionary financing. The declaration concludes by expressing appreciation to partners, people and the Government of Barbados and welcomes the 2014 International Year of SIDS.
A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF THE MEETING
“Though this be madness, yet there is method in it.”
William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2.
The challenges and needs faced by small island developing states in pursuing sustainable development have been widely recognized since they became a focus of the international agenda in the early 1990s as part of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. Yet, for over 20 years, after two global conferences in 1994 and 2005, and countless international meetings and workshops, SIDS by and large agree that their vulnerability across the three dimensions of sustainable development has increased, and that international support, particularly finance and the need for special and preferential trade treatment, has not met expectations.
Now with a third international conference on SIDS on the horizon, the Inter-regional Preparatory Meeting in Barbados was supposed to give SIDS a final opportunity to solidify a common position on: implementation gaps in the BPOA and the MSI; new and emerging challenges and opportunities; and key priorities. All delegates agreed that the success of the IPM hinged on being able to speak to the world in a singular, unified voice. In fact, many arrived in Barbados with the hope that this meeting’s outcome document could form the basis for negotiations when the intergovernmental preparatory committee begins its work in early 2014, allowing SIDS themselves to firmly shape the outcome in Apia. However, while there may have been a method, it often appeared to be more like madness. At the conclusion of three days of fractious, closed-door negotiations, little progress was made. After a tense, tit-for-tat drafting session on the IPM’s final night, approximately 90% of the much hoped-for outcome document remained in bracketed paragraphs.
In an unorthodox, face-saving maneuver, delegates adopted the Needham’s Point Bridgetown Declaration, suspended the IPM, and agreed that both the Declaration and the outcome document would be submitted together once negotiations conclude in New York, prior to the closing of the 67th session of the UNGA in mid-September 2013. Unanswered questions remain: which delegations will be involved in continued IPM negotiations in New York; who will be left out; and when will negotiations actually conclude? This analysis examines the dynamics of the IPM, focusing on the main issues of contention arising from the meeting, the efforts undertaken to try to enable the SIDS to speak with a “single voice,” and the road ahead.
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM: ROAD TO THE IPM
Despite many areas of convergence in the outcome documents from the three regional preparatory meetings, the SIDS were oceans apart during the IPM. On the surface, SIDS have many similarities: most of them are coastal entities with small and often dispersed land areas. They generally possess a rich diversity of highly endemic flora and fauna but relatively few natural resources. Their geographic isolation, the small size of their economies and their dependence on a narrow range of products often leads them to be highly dependent on international trade and they, therefore, are vulnerable to external shocks. Furthermore, they are most at risk from sea level rise and other effects of climate change. However, as the Barbados meeting demonstrated yet again, SIDS are at varying stages of economic and social development, with different types of environmental problems, different degrees of remoteness and vulnerability to external forces, different amounts of natural and human resources, and different perspectives and cultural attitudes.
Reaching agreement on priorities, much less thinking outside the box to find solutions, is no easy task. In proposing the conference theme, “Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States through Genuine and Durable Partnerships,” Samoa expressed hope that perhaps innovative partnerships can improve implementation of the BPOA and MSI and enable SIDS to face new challenges. However, before scaling-up successful partnerships, SIDS must agree on priorities.
For example, the AIMS and Pacific SIDS tried to include the concept of the blue economy in the outcome document. This was met with vigorous opposition from a number of Caribbean SIDS. Opposition was based on the grounds that the concept is ambiguous, not urgent and potentially covered by other treaties and agreements. Cuba, in particular, pointed out that there are differences that have not yet been reconciled regarding the concept of the green economy, and suggested that SIDS’ consideration of the blue economy may be premature.
Another area of contention was over references to “large ocean states.” Certain delegates advocated for its inclusion given that some SIDS’ ocean territories are significantly greater in size than their land territories. Others, however, cautioned against its use as it could exclude some states. As one delegate was heard saying “it’s an important issue as our oceans are rich in resources that others want access to.” Yet there was still no consensus.
The call for new and additional financial resources was common to all SIDS, yet this also caused friction. Delegates were divided on how to convey this message. Some commented that specific areas for assistance should be identified, while others preferred a more general message. There was also a call to emphasize partnerships as a way out of the “financing trap,” particularly in light of the call for new and additional financial resources being a consistent request for the last 20 years.
Everyone acknowledged that the need to reach agreement is imperative, not only for the Apia Conference but for the current discussions on the post-2015 development agenda and the SDGs. It is an opportune time to ensure that SIDS’ desire to have a prominent place in international development policy is not merely “a midsummer night’s dream.” However, as one delegate commented, this is unlikely to happen until SIDS “get their own house in order.”
THE TEMPEST: COPENHAGEN REVISITED?
As this was the final opportunity to ensure a strong and succinct message going into the PrepCom, SIDS delegates were heard saying that it was time to put differences aside and work together for SIDS’ common good. They continually recognized the need to ensure a strong and succinct message going into the PrepCom, but the difficulties they had in even adopting a “light weight” political declaration worried delegates, observers and representatives from UN agencies alike.
All delegates took it in good faith that the small group drafting the Declaration would hew to previously agreed text without unduly expanding or cutting the draft. However, a new draft was circulated just an hour before plenary resumed on Wednesday evening. Some delegations recalled memories of the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen in 2009, where, as one delegate commented, “a last minute document was thrown on the table leading us back to the stone age.” This breach of trust was what some delegates referred to as “a slap in the face.” Attempts to ensure that all concerns were included in the Declaration were met with opposition.
In addition, the increasingly obvious divide between the three SIDS regions and even within the regions themselves resulted in an outcome document that could not be adopted. The inability to fully negotiate either the Declaration or the outcome document left many disillusioned and dismayed by the process. Some delegations cautioned that the tempestuous nature of negotiations and political disunity of SIDS was highly visible and thus would give the Group of 77 and other states an advantage in the PrepCom.
As the “SIDS-owned” process comes to an end and the uncertain world of the PrepCom begins, SIDS now must face the scrutiny of the international community. A successful outcome to the IPM would have shown SIDS’ desire to overcome their differences and work together for their future. Even if delegates reach agreement on the “zero draft” in New York over the next few weeks, SIDS must continue to speak in one voice to succeed in Samoa in twelve months’ time.
LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST?
While there was no agreement on the IPM outcome document, there is agreement that the sustainable development of SIDS is imperative. Indeed, many SIDS were heard pledging to involve more stakeholders and address all three dimensions of sustainable development to ensure SIDS’ survival. Since the first SIDS conference in Barbados nearly 20 years ago, there has already been greater stakeholder involvement in capacity building, institution building and improved interfaces for cooperation. The growth and success of partnerships, such as the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA) and SIDS DOCK, are good signs. This has been reinforced with discussions on improving and increasing South-South, North-South, SIDS-SIDS and triangular cooperation.
Yet, the pledges to involve stakeholders in the sustainable development of SIDS has not become a reality in the negotiations themselves, where representatives of UN and regional organizations and Major Groups were not given the opportunity to contribute to or comment on the draft outcome document. In fact, the total lack of transparency of the meeting, leads some to wonder just how serious the SIDS are about “genuine and durable partnerships.”
With all of the turmoil in Barbados, it is easy to forget that the threat facing SIDS is very real. Sea level rise is increasing, causing some SIDS to now propose inclusion of concepts such as “migration with dignity” in the Apia outcome document. Kiribati is purchasing land from Fiji to resettle its population should its islands become submerged. Sea level rise of one meter will submerge the Maldives. Tuvalu has been predicted by some climate scientists as the first nation that will sink due to sea level rise. SIDS must not lose sight of the big picture and ensure that their differences will not be a case of “love’s labour’s lost.”
44th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting: The meeting is based on the theme “Marshalling the Pacific Response to the Climate Challenge.” dates: 3-6 September 2013 location: Majuro, Marshall Islands contact: Desna Solofa, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat phone: +679-3312-600 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.forumsec.org.fj/pages.cfm/newsroom/press-statements/2013/dates-for-44th-pacific-islands-forum-announced.html
20th Session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development: The final session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development will take place in September. Delegates will discuss lessons learned from the CSD. date: 20 September 2013 location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: UN Division for Sustainable Development phone: +1-212-963-8102 fax: +1-212-963-4260 email: email@example.com www: http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/index.php?menu=1211
Inaugural Meeting of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development: The first meeting of the forum under the auspices of the General Assembly will be convened at the beginning of the 68th session for one day. It will have an inaugural character. The outcome of the meeting will consist of a President’s Summary. date: 24 September 2013 location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: Division for Sustainable Development fax: +1-212-963-4260 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/index.php?menu=1556
Diplomatic Plenipotentiary Conference on a Global Legally Binding Instrument on Mercury: The Conference will adopt the Minamata Convention on Mercury and a final act that addresses: how to promote and prepare for the early implementation of the Convention; arrangements for the interim period between the signing of the instrument and its entry into force; and secretariat arrangements. dates: 7-11 October 2013 location: Kumamoto, Japan contact: UNEP Mercury Programme phone: +41-22-917-8192/8232 fax: +41-22-797-3460 email: email@example.com www: http://www.unep.org/hazardoussubstances/MinamataConvention/DipCon/tabid/106193/Default.aspx
28th General Meeting of the International Coral Reef Initiative: ICRI will hold its 28th General Meeting in Belize. ICRI brings together governments, the CBD and Ramsar Convention Secretariats, NGOs, development banks such as the World Bank, regional organizations, and international organizations. dates: 14-17 October 2013 location: Belize City, Belize contact: ICRI Secretariat email:firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.icriforum.org/ICRIGM28
Third International Marine Protected Area Congress: This Congress aims to define actions to promote cooperation through different initiatives, and to inspire a new way of thinking to face global challenges, such as climate change, poverty reduction and resource sharing. dates: 21-27 October 2013 location: Marseille and Corsica, France contact: IUCN email: email@example.com www: http://www.impac3.org/en/
25th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol: MOP 25 will consider a number of issues, including nominations for critical- and essential-use exemptions, as well as amendments to the protocol to phase out HFCs and to consider the unique and particular vulnerabilities of SIDS when discussing SIDS’ Montreal Protocol obligations and transitions to ozone-friendly alternatives. dates: 21-25 October 2013 location: Bangkok, Thailand contact: Ozone Secretariat phone: +254-20-762-3851 fax: +254-20-762-4691 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://ozone.unep.org
19th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC: COP 19, the 9th meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties for the Kyoto Protocol, the third meeting of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, and the 39th meetings of the Subsidiary Bodies will convene. dates: 11-22 November 2013 location: Warsaw, Poland contact: UNFCCC Secretariat phone: +49-228-815-1000 fax: +49-228-815-1999 email: email@example.com www: http://www.unfccc.int
Fifth Session of the OWG on SDGs: OWG-5 will focus on sustained and inclusive economic growth, macroeconomic policy questions (including international trade, international financial system and external debt sustainability), infrastructure development, and energy. dates: 25-27 November 2013 location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: UN Division for Sustainable Development phone: +1-212-963-8102 fax: +1-212-963-4260 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/index.php?menu=1549
9th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas: The Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation, a network of NGOs, donors and regional organizations working in nature conservation in the Pacific, organizes this conference every five years to set activities and strategies for the next five-year period. The ninth conference’s theme is “Natural Solutions: Building Resilience for a Changing Pacific.” dates: 2-6 December 2013 location: Suva, Fiji email: email@example.com www: http://www.sprep.org/pacificnatureconference
Sixth Session of the OWG on SDGs: OWG-6 will focus on means of implementation; the global partnership for achieving sustainable development; needs of countries in special situations: African countries, least developed countries, land-locked developing countries, and SIDS as well as specific challenges facing middle-income countries; and human rights, the right to development, and global governance. dates: 9-13 December 2013 location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: UN Division for Sustainable Development phone: +1-212-963-8102 fax: +1-212-963-4260 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/index.php?menu=1549
Seventh Session of the OWG on SDGs: OWG-7 will focus on sustainable cities and human settlements, sustainable transport, sustainable consumption and production (including chemicals and waste); and climate change and disaster risk reduction. dates: 6-10 January 2014 location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: UN Division for Sustainable Development phone: +1-212-963-8102 fax: +1-212-963-4260 email: email@example.com www: http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/index.php?menu=1549
Intergovernmental Preparatory Committee for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States: The modalities for the Preparatory Committee will be set by the 68th session of the UNGA. The Committee is expected to begin work in early 2014. dates: to be determined location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: Hiroko Morita-Lou, UNDESA SIDS Unit phone: +1-212-963-8813 fax: +1-212-963-3260 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.sids2014.org/
Eighth Session of the OWG on SDGs: OWG-8 will focus on oceans and seas, forests, biodiversity; promoting equality, including social equity, gender equality and women’s empowerment; and conflict prevention, post-conflict peacebuilding and the promotion of durable peace, rule of law and governance. dates: 3-7 February 2014 location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: UN Division for Sustainable Development phone: +1-212-963-8102 fax: +1-212-963-4260 email: email@example.com www: http://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/index.php?menu=1549
Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States: The Third International Conference on SIDS will include a high-level segment to build upon the BPOA and MSI and will identify new challenges for the sustainable development of SIDS. The conference will be preceded by related activities from 28-30 August 2014. dates: 28 August - 4 September 2014 location: Apia, Samoa contact: Hiroko Morita-Lou, UNDESA SIDS Unit phone: +1-212- 963-8813 fax: +1-212-963-3260 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.sids2014.org/