AOSIS addresses the 57th UN General Assembly

2002-09-30 AOSIS Download PDF

Topic: Sustainable Development

Mr. Chairman,
I have the honor to speak on behalf of the thirty-seven member countries of
the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) that are members of the United
Nations. In their name, may I offer you and your bureau our congratulations
and support.
Mr Chairman,
There is much in this year’s agenda that warrants attention. We will need to
return to some of the specific issues with detailed proposals at the
appropriate time. In this general debate, however, we want to focus on
aspects that are fundamental to the position of our group of countries. We
hope that this might be of assistance to you, and to other delegations in
appreciating our perspective on some of these issues.
Developing country needs
The AOSIS countries are all developing countries. We subscribe fully to the
views expressed by the Chairman of the Group of 77 and China. We share
completely what has been said by the Group of 77 about effective
implementation, and the need for intensified efforts. It is, indeed, time to put
‘words into action’.
Mr. Chairman,
This has been an especially notable year in the international effort to realise
the Millennium Development Goals. In March we achieved the Monterrey
Consensus. Earlier this month we agreed in Johannesburg on the plan to
implement sustainable development in every land. Both must be carried out
if we are to realise the noble vision of Rio.
Rightly, the focus is on halving extreme poverty by 2015. The condition of
utter misery that condemns so many of our fellow humans worldwide is
simply unacceptable.
Monterrey Consensus
In Monterrey, a constant refrain, by both developed and developing country,
was about the appalling fact that half the world’s population live on less than
$2 a day. Yet, the response of what to do, by whom and when, was never
made precisely clear. In our view there are four central objectives if we are
to ‘deliver’ Monterrey.
• There is need to increase aid and make it more effective. We
welcome the leadership positions taken by the European Union and
the United States. But there are major shortfalls in the projected
funding assistance needed, as we all know. There is clear need, and
there are responsibilities on both sides, to make aid more effective.
We believe that untying aid will have considerable impact on recipient
• There should be renewed commitment by developed countries to
reduce trade barriers on competitive products from developing
countries. Aid alone will not cure the conditions of poverty.
Assistance to developing countries will be greatly enhanced and be
more effective if there is reasonable access to markets.
• There should be more initiatives, and greater innovation taken to
broaden country coverage of private flows to emerging markets. We
make this point with great seriousness, because small countries such
as ours are marginalised and not normally attractive to private flows
and investments.
• There is need for a stronger voice for developing countries, and small
island States in particular, in the worlds’ financial institutions.
Mr Chairman,
The political commitment and direction provided by Agenda 21 and the
Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA) for the sustainable development of
small island States (SIDS) have been used as the benchmark for measuring
progress and the achievements of the last 10 years.
There is international recognition, much appreciated by our countries, of the
special ‘case’ of small islands, and their situation and responsibilities as
custodians of vast ocean spaces. However, the trends of the past decade
show that the approach to date has not been working to the scale necessary
for sustainable development. Achievements have been fragmented and have
not been multiplied or sustained or, perhaps, not directed to areas of greatest
It is why small island developing States have focused on ‘what next’, and
looking at what should constitute concrete actions and specific initiatives for
the ‘next steps’. It is why we readily join in celebrating the great
achievement that the Plan of Implementation of Johannesburg represents.
Plan of Implementation
Mr Chairman, allow me first a moment to extend to South Africa our warm
congratulations and gratitude for outstanding leadership that made the World
Summit in Johannesburg such a success. We express also to Indonesia, to
the Secretary General of the WSSD, Mr Nitin Desai, to all their officials and
colleagues words of admiration and appreciation.
The WSSD represents a firm commitment to Agenda 21; Johannesburg as
the pathway to implementing the agreements of Rio. The Plan of
Johannesburg is assuredly the global plan of implementation. We must all
now put it to the test of follow-up actions at all levels, including actions
through the idea of partnership initiatives launched in Johannesburg.
The significant feature of the Johannesburg Plan is the definition of
implementation in terms of specific regions and areas of common
characteristics. A necessary move to deal with specific needs and, therefore,
more accurately to translate principle to meaningful action. We thus have a
plan for Africa with focus on NEPAD, with provisions for other geographic
regions as well.
The specific Chapter VII on the sustainable development of small island
developing States is, of course, especially welcomed by all the countries of
AOSIS. On their behalf, I want to register here the gratitude of all small
island States for the international support that is evident in those provisions.
Barbados Programme of Action
Chapter VII underscores the importance of the Barbados Programme of
Action that is so critical for the sustainable development of our
communities. Of particular importance is the agreement on a full and
comprehensive review of the implementation of the Programme in 2004, on
the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Barbados conference, and the
recommendation of Johannesburg to the General Assembly to consider at
this 57th session the convening of an international meeting for the sustainable
development of small island developing States.
We, the small island States, seek the kind support of the membership of this
Committee to such a meeting. [We thank the representative of Venezuela
for what he has said on the matter and the announcement of the support that
is forthcoming from the Group of 77 and China].
Declining environmental quality
The BPOA was the first global effort to show how Agenda 21 could be
translated into action. It is entirely pertinent that it is dedicated to a group of
front-line ecologically and economically vulnerable countries. The
Programme of Barbados remains today, as true; the priorities identified as
valid and, in many cases, more urgent.
More urgent because the evidence from studies by UNEP and others points
to a steady decline, sometimes serious, in environmental quality for all small
island regions. Global environmental degradation is a driving force,
exacerbated by urbanization, population, poverty, shortcomings with
policies and governance and the other pressures that we share with all
developing countries.
Climate change
Most formidably for small island countries, climate change is an additional
problem that goes directly to the roots of their sustainability. This problem
for small island communities is understated and seriously under-estimated
by the international community. So, let me say it in clear terms. Climate
change is not of our doing, and we look to the international community for
urgent and meaningful action. One day, with perseverance and hope, the
Kyoto Protocol will produce the desired results. Meantime, we need serious
and intensified efforts on adaptation measures to minimise the vulnerabilities
of our communities and to assist especially the small and low-lying island
countries that are already in danger.
There is no doubt that much stronger mitigation measures will be required, and we are seriously concerned about
the lack of willingness among the developed countries to take on their
rightful responsibilities. They cannot be unaware that human lives and
livelihoods are already gravely at risk.
We consider the world’s energy system to be unsustainable. The current
reliance on fossil fuels, like other forms of addiction, has serious negative
effects on the environment. We believe that renewable energy holds out real
promise, for both economic growth and environmental health. We further
believe that significant improvement in the efficiency of production and use
of energy is possible and indeed economically and environmentally
We had hoped in Johannesburg that there would be a target date for
increasing the use of renewable energy, and were disappointed with the
failure to reach agreement on this. However, as we said in Johannesburg,
we fully support the EU initiative announced at the final plenary session.
Matters relating to the oceans will probably need to be addressed at later
meetings of the Committee. But let say that we are pleased with the
provisions on oceans, seas, islands and coastal areas that were developed and
agreed on in the Johannesburg Plan.
The oceans and seas unite and they sustain. They are quite simply
fundamental to life and to the culture of all islands.
Capacity building
Our assessment of progress continues to highlight the absolute and
fundamental importance of capacity building to our future. The experience
to date from the limited initiatives for capacity building funded through
primarily through the Capacity 21 Trust Fund has resulted in impressive
outcomes in the majority of countries, albeit on a modest scale.
However, the challenge now is to develop and implement an initiative of
significantly larger scale that is able to respond to the growing needs of
capacity development that cuts across all sectors of sustainable development.
This is certainly the case if we are to make a determined effort, as we all
should, to faithfully implement the Plan of Johannesburg.
We would acknowledge with appreciation the simply invaluable work in this
area carried out by UNDP, by the GEF, UNEP and the World Bank. The
AOSIS countries have benefited from these efforts and we look forward to
participating in future activities.
We should note, however, that a number of initiatives by various
international organizations are all involved to some extent in capacity
building efforts. In this respect, we would urge that consideration be given
to minimising duplication, and to ensure the most efficient mechanism for
the implementation of future activities.
For small island States, regional cooperation is simply indispensable. The
regional institutions and arrangements developed in all small island regions
should obviously be utilized in connection with the activities and
programmes for capacity building.
Clearly, capacity building is an on-going and long-term investment. It is
ranges from awareness-raising through basic education to scientific and
technical training. The challenge is to ensure a system through partnerships
for a global capacity building initiative, one delivered through effective
regional and sub-regional institutions, and responsive to the immediate and
long term needs of people throughout the developing world.
Thank you

Sub Topic: SDGs

Forum: SC

Meeting: GA57