AOSIS outlines SIDS Capacity Building needs

2000-06-12 Samoa on behalf of AOSIS Download PDF

Topic: Climate

This submission is made by Samoa on behalf of members of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). It refers to the decision taken at the 5th Conference of the Parties on capacity building
The purpose of this submission is to assist the Secretariat in its efforts to prepare work on a
capacity building work plan, and especially in accordance with paragraphs 1(d), 2 and 5 of that
The small island developing States that are members of AOSIS (which now comprises 43
countries) have struggled with the complex negotiations on climate change since the beginning
of the negotiations. Against all odds, and faced with great capacity deficits, AOSIS had sought
over the past several years:
– unified, principled and consistent positions expressed through written submissions and active
participation in the negotiations;
– specific initiatives and proposals (including the draft AOSIS protocol) aimed at giving
momentum and direction to the negotiations; and
– constructive participation and leadership through positions on the Convention Bureau, and in
the chairing and co-ordination of various negotiating groups.
Through its active participation AOSIS had sought to make clear and effective contributions at
key stages in the development of the Convention, the negotiation of the Protocol and, over the
past two years, the elaboration of rules for the operation of the Protocol.
The next stage of negotiations, the completion of the Buenos Aires Plan of Action, will be the
most technically detailed, politically important, and logistically compressed thus far. Over the
next several months, detailed rules will have to be agreed on the most complex aspects of the
Protocol, including:
– the design of the clean development mechanism, emissions trading, and joint
– the design of a compliance system;
– the accounting methodologies for land use and land use change and forestry activities; and
– the treatment of marine and aircraft bunker fuels.
AOSIS will continue to contribute actively and constructively especially, in context, with the
support of the international community and donor countries and agencies. Assistance is required
in a myriad of different areas, and capacity building is perhaps the most obvious starting point.
The FCCC Secretariat is therefore requested to bear in mind the specific concerns of the AOSIS
countries when its capacity building plans are further developed.
The need for capacity building for AOSIS delegations
AOSIS delegations are small, and the membership of these delegations often changes from
UNFCCC meeting to meeting. The continuity and consistency of AOSIS positions has been
facilitated through the office of its Chairman and the hard work of key, senior AOSIS officials
who have managed to remain involved in the process. AOSIS leadership has worked with
regional organisations (such as the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP),
and the University of West Indies), as well as non-governmental organisations (the Foundation
for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD)) to develop briefing materials,
to co-ordinate group submissions and to hold occasional workshops for participants. These
efforts have been essential in maintaining the consistency and continuity of the voice of small
island States.
AOSIS’s continuing and effective participation in the climate change process in general, and
specifically between now and COP-6 is, however, under threat. This threat derives, in part from a
chronic lack of resources that are needed to bring together AOSIS’s wide flung membership,
both inter-sessionally and to the official workshops and negotiating sessions. The threat also
derives in part, from the very nature of AOSIS participation, which has involved senior AOSIS
delegations in additional responsibilities in the Bureau, and in the chairing and co-ordination of
negotiating groups.
Other experienced AOSIS delegates have been recruited away from their
Governments to serve in intergovernmental and regional organisations. While these delegates
continue to serve the group in a variety of capacities, their voices from the negotiating floor have
been effectively silenced.
There is an immediate need to fill these gaps and to build the capacity of a new generation of
AOSIS representatives to participate fully and actively in negotiations.
The need for capacity building in AOSIS capitals
The situation in AOSIS capitals closely reflects the difficulties that AOSIS delegations
experience at the international levels. Very often the staff at the relevant Ministries or agencies
are over-burdened with other environmental or international responsibilities. In addition, a study
undertaken by SPREP has shown that there has been tremendous pressure to downsize the
domestic institutions responsible for environment issues. It has only been through external
assistance that countries have been able to maintain and expand their environment units. For
example, between 1990 and 1995, Kiribati went from a single person environment unit to a twoperson unit, because of funds received through the GEF for biodiversity and climate change
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work. Without that support the unit could possibly have become downsized and the original
single person working may have been retired. Similar situations have been documented in other
small island developing States (SIDS).
It is clear that the Governments of SIDS have a commitment to promoting sustainable
development and in fulfilling their obligations under international conventions such as the
FCCC. It is against this ideal that Governments have to match their existing budget capacities,
and it is clear that international assistance can play a major role in facilitating the appropriate
management structures in the environment units of the SIDS.
Initial national communications
Those SIDS that have already submitted their initial national communications have noted a
number of areas in which capacity building is required. The Secretariat should be able to utilise
some of that information in their coverage of the issue. However, as AOSIS was actively
involved in the drafting of decision 10/CP.5 and especially its Annex, it is unlikely that there
would be much to add to the list as a result of information found in these initial national
The list of capacity building needs of developing countries that is contained in the Annex does
indeed cover most of the concerns of the AOSIS membership. However, there may be certain
nuances that make the concerns of the SIDS somewhat different. For example, under national
communications, vulnerability assessment is mentioned. Many SIDS have completed this work
in the preliminary phase required for the national communication. Thus the next step is to link
those findings with the requirements for adaptation of that particular country. Hence there are
some areas in the Annex that are closely inter-linked and require a step by step approach.
A similar link can be found between the sections on institutional capacity building and human
resource development. While the domestic institutions clearly need strengthening in many cases,
countries also need to build up a pool from which to recruit future experts. Moreover, there may
be a need for temporary expertise while staff is away on training programs. For countries with
very small administrations such considerations become very important when decisions are made
on capacity building and training of personnel.
Existing capacity building initiatives
There have been a number of relevant capacity-building efforts in SIDS that are worth noting for
the present discussion. The two major regional programs aimed at assisting the Caribbean
(CPACC) and the Pacific (PICCAP) SIDS in developing their national communications are well
These have both included major capacity-building components. The same can be said for
the Mauritius climate change program as well as for the Maldives. In addition it is worth
mentioning the assistance rendered to many SIDS in their preparations to the Rio and Barbados
Conferences. Whether the SIDS were able to retain much of that capacity is not known and it
may be a useful exercise to look into the lessons of those past efforts.
Planning ahead
The Chairman of AOSIS has approached the Small Island Developing States Branch of the
United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs for assistance in securing a more
programmatic approach to assistance to SIDS. As was highlighted by the 22nd Special Session of
the UN General Assembly there is a need to improve co-ordination of efforts within the UN
system and to build on assistance from donors. As climate change was placed as one of the
priorities for the SIDS, it was decided to embark on a series of consultations within AOSIS on
capacity building needs as well as possible future actions in areas such as adaptation.
With this perspective in mind, the SIDS Branch in co-operation with AOSIS is organising a
roundtable meeting on capacity building for climate change (negotiations, management and
strategy), to be held in Samoa in August 2000. The agenda will be closely based on the agenda of
the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties at its upcoming 6th session. Priority will be given to six
key areas as identified by the Chairman of AOSIS, in consultation with senior negotiators of
AOSIS. These areas are:
1) adaptation to climate change;
2) the Kyoto Protocol mechanisms (in particular the clean development mechanism);
3) recent scientific findings (including on the issue of carbon sequestration and land-use
4) capacity-building and training, public education and awareness;
5) national communications and tasks for the country teams involved; and
6) compliance and related legal provisions (including their implications to domestic
In addition, for topics that are covered by both the SBSTA (scientific and technical) and by the
SBI (implementation and political), there will be an opportunity to address the issues from both
these angles.
These priority areas will be discussed from the perspective of the negotiations and how different
Parties or groups are approaching the issue. There will also be a discussion on how aspects
arising from the negotiations and from the Convention will require domestic management and
administration structures. The output will therefore be of dual usage, both to assist with the
UNFCCC negotiations, and also to assist with domestic environmental management structures.
In addition it is expected that the participants themselves will benefit from the roundtable
The roundtable discussion in August will be preceded by further consultations on the agenda and
on the output. It is possible that items will be added and that the desired output will be modified.
It will most certainly be relevant to the UNFCCC Secretariat work on a capacity building plan
under the Convention.
While AOSIS has not completed its internal discussion, an important suggestion for the process
is that for the SIDS the approach often requires a regional perspective. Both CPACC and
PICCAP have exemplified this. However, there may be instances where experiences from these
regions can be shared with other regions, therefore avoiding unnecessary duplication. AOSIS
believes that there is an important role for the SIDS Branch to assist with co-ordination and
advice on available services, and also counts on the support of the FCCC Secretariat in this
AOSIS looks forward to further fruitful discussions with the UNFCCC Secretariat and urges the
Secretariat to liase closely with the SIDS Branch on this issue.
Furthermore, AOSIS would request that the UNFCCC Secretariat assist with the roundtable discussions referred to above.
In conclusion AOSIS would like to stress that capacity building for SIDS must be designed in
close consultation with the SIDS themselves; it must respond to their particular needs; and it
must be targeted at the appropriate levels and sizes of administrations. AOSIS appreciates the
current efforts by various UN Agencies. However, it is of the view that many of these are being
organised without proper consultations with SIDS. It should be noted in this connection that
Agenda 21 and the UN Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDS, are
predicated on the basis of the special and unique circumstances of SIDS. Thus a program aimed
at the aggregate of developing countries may not be entirely appropriate for SIDS.

Sub Topic: Capacity Building


Meeting: SB12