AOSIS emphasizes Energy and Climate Change at the 9th Commission on Sustainable Development

2001-04-20 AOSIS Download PDF

Topic: Sustainable Development

Mr. President,
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the 43 member countries of the
Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), 36 of which are member States of the
United Nations.
First, may I congratulate you on your election as Chairman of the 9th session of
the Commission on Sustainable Development. We are confident that under
your able stewardship, our deliberations will be focused and productive.
Let me also say that AOSIS endorses fully the statement made by the
representative of Iran on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
Mr. Chairman,
The member States of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) have taken a
particular interest in the topics before the Commission on Sustainable
Development. In this connection, I have the honour to refer to document
E/CN.17/2001/11, which contains the report of the AOSIS workshop on
climate change, energy and preparations for the ninth session of the
Commission on Sustainable Development, which was held in Cyprus from 15
to 19 January 2001. We also wish to refer to document E/CN.17/2001/9, which
contains a paper entitled “Energy and sustainable development: Pacific regional
submissions to the ninth session of the Commission on Sustainable
Development” representing the views of some of the member States of the
Pacific Island Forum. These two documents, Mr. Chairman, is an indication of
the seriousness with which we treat the matters before the Commission.
Mr. Chairman,
Owing to geographical circumstances, our members States have taken different
approaches in addressing matters pertaining to the promotion, encouragement
and strengthening of renewable energy in the pursuit towards achieving
sustainable development. The overall driving forces behind these approaches
are, however, similar for all of AOSIS.
We share a common aspiration for economic development and improved living
standards, while at the same time, we remain strongly committed to conserving
the natural and cultural heritage upon which our future depend upon.
Mr. Chairman,
The obstacles to sustainable development are very similar throughout the
member States of AOSIS. Our small size, lack of resources – both human and
capital, and remoteness are some of the common features shared by our
countries. Small island developing States are also vulnerable to economic, as
well as environmental shocks. Our natural environments are fragile, and have
little resilience to natural disasters; our populations are growing; given our
remoteness, we are isolated from markets; we have a narrow resource base, and
we face difficulties arising from economies of scale; finally, but more
importantly, we continue endure high costs for energy, infrastructure,
transportation, communication and access to other services.
Such obstacles, Mr. Chairman are just some of the examples of the problems
we face in our work towards achieving sustainable development.
One of the most serious environmental threats to small island developing States
is the continued increase in greenhouse gas emissions, which threaten our very
existence. Most of our island countries are highly vulnerable to increased sea
level rise – the entire territories of ten small island developing States are barely
one meter above sea level. In addition to this, all small island developing States
have highly vulnerable coastal zones where the majority of the population live
and work.
Member States of AOSIS are the “frontline” states in every sense. We suffer
and expect to suffer in the most direct way the full range of climate impacts –
increased cyclones, droughts, hurricanes, typhoons and coral bleaching among
them. All are increasing in their frequency, intensity and impacts, and we are
finding it impossible to cope adequately with these shocks. The economic
effects of these natural disasters are extremely serious, such as disruptions to
food security, to our tourism industry, to the fisheries and agriculture sectors,

and the diversion of economic resources to reconstruction. The most disturbing
for most our island countries is the disruption to our water supplies, which will
be affected by salt-water intrusion. In addition to the challenges provided by
climatic changes, further stress is placed on our respective island systems as
our countries continue to develop.
Mr. Chairman,
My statement today will be limited to the matters before the Commission,
although we will take the opportunity to speak to these issues as the meeting
Mr. Chairman,
As our island countries continue to develop, our reliance on fossil fuels also has
increases, in particular for producing electricity. Given also our geographical
settings, transportation, whether by sea or air, is proving to be the fastest
growing consumer of petroleum. Whilst we recognise that energy is an
important ingredient for development in all countries, it also has grave effects
on our small island developing States.
It is also important to acknowledge that in providing access to energy sources,
in particular electricity, there is also significant opportunity to utilize renewable
energy sources. We welcome the report of the Secretary-General contained in
E/CN.17/ESD/2001/2 in this regard.
Although renewable energy technologies such as solar, hydropower, biomass
and to a lesser extent wind power, have already been utilized in a number of
our countries to improve our communication systems, including health and
education industries, there remain significant opportunities and potential to
further develop these and other renewable energy resources, and for improving
energy efficiency in small island developing States.
There are a number of significant constraints and barriers to the exploitation
and integration of these renewable energy technologies into the urban and rural
sectors. Small island developing States are, for the most part heavily dependent
on fossil fuel based systems of energy generation, which are environmentally
and economically unsustainable and not readily available to many remote
communities. This dependency makes small islands developing States
vulnerable to increased costs and uncertain supplies, which in turn slows the
pace of sustainable development, in particular rural areas, and remote islands.
Mr. Chairman,
Access to energy supplies varies widely within and between the small islands
developing States’ regions. For example, it is estimated that in the Pacific
Island countries, approximately 70% of people do not have access to modern
energy services, with many living in remote islands or rural areas. This is a
greatly different picture to the global situation where approximately 30% are
without access to modern energy services. Meeting the basic energy
requirements and sustainable socio-economic development needs of people
with subsistence incomes therefore remains a top priority for our governments.
In other regions there is less of a problem of access, but rather of affordability.
Accessibility to energy should be considered together with the reliability of
supply and the affordability of prices, and to which is also closely linked to the
issue of energy security.
Storage capacity should also be improved to minimize disruption in countries
where it is a frequent occurrence. For SIDS that means one must first consider
petroleum, and then look at storage, transport and quality. Some small
communities are not well served, and it is recognized that energy efficiency
could assist in lowering prices and hence accessibility in these rural areas and
remote islands. At the international level regional measures of cooperation is
desirable. One example is the San Jose Accord, which could be considered in
other regions where such measures are feasible. As far as possible such
arrangements should be pursued. Recognizing that the whole issue of
accessibility would be improved by greater use of renewable energy,

participants stressed the need to look at capacity building, management and

Sub Topic:

Forum: Conference on Sustainable Development (CSD)

Meeting: CSD9