Daily report for 7 March 1994

Resumed Preparatory Committee for the SIDS Global Conference


The Chair of the Preparatory Committee of the Global Conference onthe Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States Amb.Penelope Wensley (Australia) opened the resumed session of thePrepCom on Monday morning. She commented that seven weeks from nowthe Secretary-General will open the Conference in Barbados and ifthis Conference is to be a success, the PrepCom must finalize itswork on the Programme of Action. She expressed confidence that thisweek will be productive mainly because of the efforts of theAlliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) during the intersessionalperiod. She noted that AOSIS is now under the chairmanship ofTrinidad and Tobago and paid tribute to Amb. Robert Van Lierop ofVanuatu, the previous Chair, and said the success of the Conferencewill be due to his inspiration, dedication and energy.

Wensley then moved to the first item, adoption of the agenda andother organizational matters. The provisional agenda(A/CONF/167/PC/12) was quickly adopted and Wensley then outlinedthe programme of work. After Monday morning's Plenary, the PrepComwill meet in informal session through Thursday evening. Nightsessions will be scheduled as required. The Committee will firstexamine Chapter XV (Implementation, Monitoring and Review),followed by the preamble and a second reading of the complete text.The Barbados Declaration and Conference arrangements may bediscussed on Thursday. The Plenary will reconvene in formal sessionon Friday to adopt the report and discuss other procedural matters.The Committee then adopted the programme of work (A/CONF/167/PC/12/Add.1) and agreed to accredit an additional 21 NGOs to the process(A/CONF/167/L.4/Add.1).

OPERATIONS OF THE VOLUNTARY FUND: Miles Stoby of theSecretariat indicated that seven additional contributions orpledges have been made and that the amount of the voluntary fund isnow in excess of US$500,000. Other significant contributions havealso been made outside the voluntary fund. He added that it was notclear at present whether the fund would cover both transportationand per diems for developing country delegates. In any event, hesaid that the fund would be exhausted and that all monies would bespent. Another "trust fund" has been set up to enable participationof journalists and NGOs. So far, calls for contributions to thisfund have met with positive responses on the part of Japan, the UKand Canada. Substantial sums were also provided by Australia andCanada for an officer for the Secretariat.

PREPARATIONS BY THE HOST GOVERNMENT: The Honorable HarcourtLewis, Minister of the Environment, Housing and Lands of Barbados,informed the delegates of the status of the preparations for theConference. A national Conference Secretariat has been set up andarrangements have already been made for accommodations, groundtransportation, Conference facilities, entertainment andhospitality. Several events are planned including a NationalWelcoming Ceremony, receptions, cultural events and special tours.A Group of Eminent Persons has been invited to meet in Barbadosfrom 21-22 April, 1994, to examine the concept of sustainabledevelopment with special reference to small island developingStates (SIDS) and to make recommendations to the Conference. TheGovernor-General of Barbados, Her Excellency Dame Nita Barrow, hasagreed to be Patron and Convener of the Group and the names of thepersons invited to be members will be announced when thearrangements have been finalized. The Minister also highlighted theimportance of the High-Level Segment, which is scheduled to takeplace on 5-6 May, as part of the Global Conference. He said thatthis segment should be viewed as critical to the overall success ofthe Conference. NGOs are also expected to play a major role in theConference.

Next, Dr. E.A. Moore, a representative of the NGO Secretariat inBarbados, updated delegates on NGO preparations. The NGO IslandsForum '94 will begin its activities on 20 April and thereafter willrun concurrently with the Conference. There will be three mainelements: a series of workshops that will address the main issuesof the Conference and serve as a conduit to feed NGO ideas into theConference; the Village of Hope, which includes a theme park with28 ideas on sustainable development in SIDS; and SUSTECH '94, ashowplace and marketplace for sustainable development technologies.

Miles Stoby of the Secretariat read a message from UNSecretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali extending his welcome andbest wishes to all participants. He highlighted the vulnerabilityof SIDS and called the Conference an early test of the commitmentof the international community in implementing Agenda 21, and anindicator of the true partnership that will be needed to achieve amore equitable future for all.

INFORMATION ON DONOR ACTIVITIES: Miles Stoby delivered somepreliminary remarks on the Report of the Secretary-General oncurrent donor activities in support of sustainable development inSIDS (A/CONF.167/PC/13). This was not an easy report to prepare, afirst of its kind, and unusual within the UN system. Using newmethodology and cooperating closely with multilateral institutions,donors and NGOs, the Secretariat created a database of currentdonor activities. Though the report did not go into qualitativeanalysis, its authors attempted to put it within a broader context.This is illustrated by tables 13, 14, 15 and 16, which includesocio-economic indicators and touch upon the concessionality anddispersement of ODA. Though the report is still a blunt instrument,it should provide a useful working tool for the Conference.

After Stoby's introduction, a member of the Secretariat elaboratedon the preparation of this extensive report. The Secretariatdistributed a questionnaire to UN agencies, relevant IGOs and NGOsregarding their activities in SIDS. In the case of bilateraldonors, the Secretariat requested the Organization for EconomicCooperation and Development (OECD) to submit relevant information,thus the data was not received from individual donors. He notedthat 80% of the assistance comes from bilateral sources and thathuman resource development accounts for the highest level ofsupport -- 24%. Donor activity is concentrated in relatively few ofthe sectors contained in the Draft Programme of Action and, thus,this analysis suggests there is a need for greater emphasis onother sectors.

The US noted that data on some territories is contained in thisreport and said that the title of PC/13 should be amended to read"Current donor activities in support of sustainable development insmall island developing States and territories." Australiaexpressed its gratitude to the Secretariat and all those whoparticipated in the preparation of the report. The reporthighlights difficulties confronting SIDS and provides lessons forthe future. A facility could be set up so that additionalinformation can be received and integrated within the report. PapuaNew Guinea supported the US recommendation to identify theactivities that provide assistance to territories.

ALGERIA, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, identifiedthis Conference as an opportunity for the international communityto give shape to a concept of partnership for the sustainabledevelopment of SIDS. SIDS face considerable additional costs inview of their isolation and ecological vulnerability and aresometimes threatened with disappearance due to sea-level rise. Atthis stage of the negotiations, the emphasis needs to be placed onChapter XV and the preamble. The G-77 will be represented by theChair of AOSIS at this PrepCom to ensure a rapid process.

TRINIDAD and TOBAGO: Amb. Annette des Iles opened herstatement on behalf of AOSIS by paying tribute to the first Chairof AOSIS, Amb. Robert Van Lierop of Vanuatu, for the outstandingjob he has done on behalf of AOSIS. She stressed the greatimportance of the contribution of NGOs to the success of thisConference. The Draft Programme of Action should be negotiated asan integral whole and the first priority this week should be thediscussion of Chapter XV. She highlighted the need for anappropriate mechanism at UN Headquarters to facilitatecoordination, monitoring and review of the Programme of Action atthe global level.

GREECE, on behalf of the European Union, said that theinformation contained in the Secretary-General's report on donoractivities did not fully reflect the activities the Union hascarried out, particularly with regard to the Lom‚ Convention. Theratio between assistance to SIDS and other ODA activities shouldalso be measured.


The PrepCom convened in informal session Monday afternoon to begindiscussing Chapter XV of the Draft Programme of Action for theSustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, ascontained in the Report of the Preparatory Committee (A/48/36).This entire chapter had been left in square brackets at the end ofthe first session of the PrepCom. The Chair suggested thatdelegates use this document as the base text but refer to theSuggested Amendments to the Draft Action Programme for theSustainable Development of Small Island Developing States preparedby AOSIS/G-77.

The Chair invited delegates to make general comments beforeexamining the text line-by-line. Those delegations that gavegeneral comments expressed their gratitude to AOSIS/G-77 for thetext they had prepared and for incorporating so many of thecomments of other delegations. There was some concern expressedthat Chapter XV and the SIDS process in general should not add tothe heavy reporting burdens of States in the field of environment.

XV. IMPLEMENTATION, MONITORING AND REVIEW: This chapterdeals with implementation at the national, regional andinternational levels. At each of these levels the chapter discussesissues of finance, trade, technology transfer, legislation, andinstitutions as well as the concept of a vulnerability index. It isthe most contentious of the chapters of the Draft Programme ofAction and was flagged for heavy amendment at the first session ofthe PrepCom.

Paragraph 61 remained in square brackets after considerableamendment and counter amendment as delegates searched for wordingwhich would reflect the degree to which SIDS are to be considereda priority or a special case and what emphasis should be placed onthe need for the international community to demonstrate itscommitment to SIDS.

A number of delegates suggested amendments to the list of parallelinternational processes in new paragraph 61 bis, grafted from thepreamble. These include the Basel and Bamako conventions as well asother regional instruments on hazardous wastes, the RamsarConvention on wetlands, CITES, the World Summit on SocialDevelopment, the Fourth World Conference on Women and theConference on Natural Disasters. As the list grew longer, somedelegates asked if it could be collapsed into a general referenceto other processes. The Chair asked an informal group of concerneddelegates to meet and resolve this issue. The paragraph remained insquare brackets.

New paragraph 61 bis;bis was agreed to with one comment that itssubstance should also be taken up in discussions on the preamble.Paragraph 62 on the development of action plans was acceptable aswritten. On paragraph 63, a number of delegates noted that decisionmaking was the responsibility of governments alone, afterconsultation with major groups. They proposed that levels ofgovernment be distinguished from NGOs and their roles clarified andthe appropriate reference for roles of major groups in Agenda 21 beused.


PLENARY: The PrepCom will reconvene in informal session inConference Room 2. Discussion will begin with paragraph 64 ofChapter XV, "Implementation, Monitoring and Review."

At 3:00 pm the Chair will convene a brief formal session to allowKlaus T”pfer, the Federal Minister of the Environment of Germany,to address the PrepCom. T”pfer, in the absence of other candidates,is unofficially regarded as Chair-elect of the Commission onSustainable Development (CSD), even though the election will not beheld until the CSD session in May. The Chair has also extended aninformal invitation to Amb. Razali Ismail (Malaysia) to speak asthe present and outgoing CSD Chair. The Chair will then give thefloor to NGOs to make a maximum of five five-minute interventions.Look for speeches from the three SIDS regions (Caribbean, IndianOcean, and Pacific), a speech from the OECD countries and, as todayis International Women's Day, a speech from the Women's Caucus.Following these statements, the formal meeting will adjourn andinformal consultations will resume.

There is the possibility of an evening session tonight. Iffacilities are available, the Committee will take a short break andcontinue its work from 7:00-9:00 pm.

NGO ACTIVITIES: NGOs will be scheduling daily briefings inConference Room D. Amb. Wensley announced that she is trying toschedule regular meetings with the NGOs during the course of theweek. NGOs are able to observe informal sessions when they are heldin the larger Conference Room 2. However, if informals move toConference Room 5, which has 120 seats, only a limited number ofNGOs will be allowed to observe.