Published by the
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
Vol. 8 No. 33
Tuesday, 27 January 2004
SIDS INTER-REGIONAL HIGHLIGHTS:
MONDAY, 26 JANUARY 2004
The Inter-regional Preparatory Meeting for the
Ten-year Review of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable
Development of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) opened today in
Nassau, Bahamas. In the morning, participants convened for the
opening ceremony, which included a welcome address, several opening
statements and a keynote speech. They also elected a Chair of the
Meeting, members of the Bureau and a drafting group. Additionally,
participants heard statements by Ministers and Heads of Delegation.
In the afternoon, participants engaged in two panel discussions on
new challenges and emerging issues, and implementing National
Sustainable Development Strategies (NSSDs). In the evening, the
drafting group met to begin consideration of the draft Strategy for
the Further Implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA).
Marcus Bethel, Minister of Health and the
Environment of the Bahamas, welcomed all participants to the
meeting, which he said would finalize the global strategy for SIDS,
forge common priorities, and develop a blueprint defining SIDS
relationships with the international community.
Speaking for the Chair of the G-77/China, Jamal
Nasser Al-Bader, Qatar, said the review of the implementation of the
BPOA should embrace emerging socioeconomic issues, and noted that
this meeting presents a unique opportunity for SIDS to create a new
vision for the future.
José-Antonio Ocampo, Under-Secretary-General of
the UN Department of Social and Economic Affairs (DESA), described
the structural impediments faced by SIDS due to their small size,
limited resources, isolation and vulnerability. He expressed DESA’s
commitment to SIDS, underlined the importance of building on the
outcomes of the regional meetings, and stressed the value of meeting
the goals set out in Agenda 21, BPOA and the Johannesburg Plan of
Implementation (JPOI). He underscored the urgency of the issues to
be addressed in the panel discussions.
Anwarul Chowdhury, Secretary-General of the
International Meeting, urged a focus on environment, trade, finance,
governance and capacity building through strengthened partnerships
and genuine cooperation. He said attention should be given to
emerging issues including HIV/AIDS, use of information technology,
market access, and security issues, and underscored the need for an
effective monitoring strategy. Chowdhury urged delegates to be
realistic and practical to enable international support and
implementation, and said the work should reflect that SIDS are small
islands with big potential.
Rajesh Bhagawan, Minister of the Environment and
National Development Unit of Mauritius, speaking for the Alliance of
Small Island States (AOSIS), emphasized the importance of developing
a common SIDS position to form the basis of negotiations for the
International Meeting. He called for action-orientated outcomes, and
identified the need to address new and emerging challenges
including, inter alia, good governance, security, trade and
investment, health, enabling environments at the national and
regional level, sustainable capacity building, financial resources,
partnerships, and information for decision making.
Børge Brende, Minister of Environment of Norway
and Chair of the 12th session of the Commission on Sustainable
Development, said the International Meeting must create a new
platform for SIDS and the international community. He said the
process needs to inspire international action, generate more
political will, and define a clear set of priorities.
Julian Hunte, Minister of Foreign Affairs and
Foreign Trade of Saint Lucia and the President of the 58th session
of the UN General Assembly, said the meeting must give new momentum
to the sustainable development of SIDS, which can only be done if
participants give forthright assessments of priority issues. He said
action at the national and regional levels is important, but in
itself is insufficient to tackle critical issues such as market
access, natural disasters and HIV/AIDS.
In his keynote address, Perry Christie, Prime
Minister of the Bahamas, indicated that competing demands on the
policy agenda require a careful balancing of priorities. He said the
right approach, degree of commitment and spirit are needed by
participants to raise awareness of the salient points of the
meeting, and that particular attention is needed to increase
countries’ capacity to improve governance.
During the morning Plenary, participants elected
by acclamation Bahamas as the Chair of the Meeting, and a Bureau
with Belize, Mauritius and Tuvalu as its members. A drafting group,
tasked to prepare a draft Strategy for the Further Implementation of
the BPOA for consideration by the Plenary on Thursday afternoon, was
also elected by acclamation. This drafting group comprises Barbados,
Belize, Cape Verde, Cuba, Kiribati, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea,
Seychelles and Tuvalu. After being informed that full interpretation
services would be available the following day, delegates adopted the
Following consideration of organizational
matters, participants heard statements from Ministers and Heads of
Delegation. BELIZE noted progress made since the adoption of the
BPOA and highlighted continuing and new challenges faced by SIDS
including poverty, limited capacity, and economic vulnerability. He
said the International Meeting should lead to the attraction of
foreign investment and building of partnerships. Tuvalu, speaking
for the PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM, said the International Meeting should
focus on creating a fairer international trade system, new
partnerships, enhanced regional cooperation, and time-bound goals,
and emerging issues such as HIV/AIDS and poverty.
NEW CHALLENGES AND EMERGING ISSUES: INTEGRATING
HUMAN AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT IMPERATIVES: Panel moderator Cletus
Springer, Saint Lucia, stressed the need for a strong focus on human
development that addresses issues of sustainable livelihoods,
poverty reduction, healthcare access, housing and employment.
Douglas Slater, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines,
discussed health issues, underlining the need for healthy
populations to ensure sustainable development. He described problems
and threats such as HIV/AIDS, SARS, West Nile Virus, agricultural
pests, and other issues including GMOs, sanitation, solid and liquid
waste disposal, and illicit drug production and use. Slater also
outlined social vulnerability issues including emigration, poverty,
security and crime, and cultural decay.
On gender issues, Moelagi Jackson, Samoa, called
for greater engagement of women in SIDS discussions and
negotiations. Regarding capacity building, she urged reform of
university curricula to ensure that students from SIDS are taught
SIDS issues. On poverty, she emphasized the need to focus on health
and education and ensure that all islanders are consulted. Regarding
vulnerability, she stressed the need for enhancing resilience
through support to relief agencies and the creation of sea walls.
Desiree Cox, Bahamas, discussed urban renewal
issues, underlining ways to encourage people to "enroll" themselves
in and adopt community development programmes. She emphasized the
need to create sustainable livelihoods, improve communication links
for the expression of community needs, and listen at the community
level to foster urban renewal and empowerment.
Amena Yauvoli, South Pacific Regional Environment
Programme (SPREP), discussed the development of measures to increase
SIDS’ resilience to climate change, and highlighted the importance
of addressing coastal zone management and ratifying the Kyoto
Protocol. He also stressed the need for capacity building and
development, and special and preferential treatment for SIDS within
Terence Jones, UNDP, highlighted issues regarding
enabling and operating environments. He said the MDGs provide a
framework for human development and sustainability, and stressed the
importance of giving attention to the broader goals outlined in the
Millennium Declaration, particularly those relating to human
Discussion: Participants discussed issues
including: the large-scale migration of teachers, nurses and others
from SIDS; Cuba’s national programmes to eradicate illiteracy and
train doctors and other health practitioners; the benefits of
community policing; the ways in which sharing intelligence,
personnel and equipment can help SIDS meet current security
challenges; and the need for better long-term planning.
IMPLEMENTING NATIONAL SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
STRATEGIES: Panel moderator John Briceno, Belize, called for the
recognition of social and economic aspects of sustainable
development, and urged panelists to address ways to mainstream
sustainable development into government planning.
Sateeaved Seebaluck, Mauritius, stated that
sustainable development should not be understood only within the
context of the environment if it is to be mainstreamed into national
decision making processes. He called for the establishment of
national BPOA focal points and for full participation of civil
society in government planning.
Elizabeth Thompson, Barbados, emphasized the need
to engage finance ministers and mainstream throughout society the
ideas that environmental issues have beneficial financial impacts
and that the impacts of environmental degradation directly affect
individuals. She encouraged SIDS to diversify their economies,
undertake sustainability assessments, and promote community-based
programmes that have positive environmental impacts.
Peter Tong, Kiribati, stressed the value of:
consulting with communities, government, civil society, and the
private sector; mainstreaming priorities and MDGs into planning
documents; and harmonizing plans with donor interests.
Franklin McDonald, Jamaica, said NSSDs require
the creation of appropriate institutional mechanisms. He emphasized
the need for information sharing, developing partnerships, learning
from participatory processes, engaging stakeholders, increasing
south-south cooperation, and sharing experiences.
Bikenibeu Paeniu, Tuvalu, said the BPOA
should be applied as a model for the development of SIDS and should
be fully integrated into national development processes.
Christopher Corbin, Saint Lucia, highlighted the
importance of setting clear national development goals, objectives
and targets, and prioritizing issues. Noting the failure of the
sectoral approach, he said the modalities for development assistance
need to be revisited to address cross-cutting issues.
Alvaro Umana, UNDP, highlighted that in 2005 the
international community will review the implementation of the MDGs
and be expected to complete the JPOI targets relating to NSSDs and
integrated water resource management strategies. He said NSSDs need
to be country-based, participatory, and include a process of debate
and analysis. He also underscored the need for NSSDs to focus and
prioritize the WEHAB framework.
Discussion: In the ensuing discussion,
participants addressed the need to: define the term "civil society";
address the role of women; better integrate sustainable development
issues into university curricula; develop leadership and involve
youth at the national level; involve civil society at all levels of
NSSDs; ensure adequate resources for issues related to sustainable
development priorities; provide technical assistance to implement
NSSDs; improve understanding of NSSDs at the national level; improve
communication between national agencies; and foster the economic
valuation of sustainable development.
IN THE CORRIDORS
Despite the lure of a sunny day in paradise, the
first day of the inter-regional SIDS meeting was well-attended and
the corridors were abuzz with activity. If the panelsï¿½ deliberations
and corridor discussions were an indication of the future of the
BPOA, one can expect to see a greater focus on the social and
economic pillars of sustainable development. Many delegates
emphasized the need to move beyond the environmental dimension of
sustainable development and to involve a wider range of ministries
in the review and implementation process.
While not yet finalized, the draft regional
positions distributed in Plenary indicated that the "wishlist" had
grown from the initial outcome reports of the regional meetings.
Many participants from SIDS, the donor community and IGOs noted the
need for prioritization of these issues. While SIDS can agree on
many issues, some differences remain and all regions are now tasked
with the challenge of establishing a common and clear set of
priorities by the end of the week.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
PLENARY: Delegates will convene in Plenary
from 9:00 am to hear statements by Ministers and Heads of
PANEL DISCUSSIONS: A panel discussion on
"Enhancing competitiveness: trade, finance, entrepreneurship and
partnerships" will take place from 1:00-3:30 pm, and another on
"Promoting cultural diversity, developing cultural industries and
empowering youth" will be held from 4:00 pm.
DRAFTING GROUP: The drafting group will meet
in the morning and the evening to continue deliberations on the
SEMINAR WORKSHOPS: Organized by the
Institute@SIDS, a workshop on "How to build effective partnerships"
will be held from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm, and another on "Principles
and practices of microfinance" will take place from 3:00-6:00 pm.
Both workshops will convene in Arawak B.