Inter-regional Preparatory Meeting for the World Summit on Sustainable Development


The meeting was held at the M Hotel, Singapore from 7 to 11 January 2002. It was
organized by the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and the Small Island
Developing States Unit (SIDS Unit) of the United Nations Department of Economic and
Social Affairs (DESA). A significant financial contribution was made by the Singapore
Government and the United Nations Development Program Capacity 21, and by DESA
and the Government of Norway, towards the successful convening of the meeting.
The opening ceremony was presided over by H.E. Professor Tommy Koh, Ambassadorat-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore. In his opening remarks Ambassador
Koh spoke of the long history of sustainable development negotiations, and the difficult
issues that had to be faced at the Rio Summit in 1992. The need to articulate the concerns
of small island developing States (SIDS) was vital, and SIDS could learn a lot from the
experiences of other SIDS. The group of countries that made up AOSIS possess
remarkable human and technical capacities that could be shared for common benefit. The
report of the meeting should highlight the successes, the best practices and the way
forward for sustainable development of SIDS. We should all be inspired to greater work
as a result of the cooperation among SIDS.
H.E. Ambassador Tuiloma Neroni Slade, Permanent Representative of Samoa to the
United Nations and Chairman of AOSIS, spoke on behalf of the group in expressing
appreciation to the Government of Singapore for hosting the meeting. The warm
welcome received by delegations augured well for the success of the meeting, as did the
eminent leadership of the Singapore delegation under Ambassador Koh. He noted the
presence of so many experts and leading personalities from the communities of AOSIS,
as well as the NGOs and regional organizations that were present. Much was at stake in
the WSSD process, and AOSIS must grasp the opportunity to maximize the impact of its
views on the upcoming negotiations. AOSIS should build on its greatest strength – the
people of SIDS – and in this way seek to overcome the inherent difficulties that SIDS
face. AOSIS needed also to focus on demonstrating to the international community the
validity of the claim for SIDS as a special case for sustainable development. He also
expressed deep appreciation to UNDP, UN/DESA and to the Government of Norway for
the financial contribution and technical assistance rendered.
H.E.The Honorable Lim Swee Say, Minister for the Environment of Singapore,
welcomed all participants to Singapore and spoke of the importance of sustainable
development for SIDS. The difficulties faced by SIDS were not insurmountable, even if
the challenges of globalization often loomed large. The common background of SIDS
and their representatives should allow for greater cooperation and sharing of experiences.
Singapore had sought to further sustainable development in both spirit and in deed. With
limited natural resources, policies required structuring in such a way as to realize
economic growth while maintaining social goals and promoting environmental
protection. Building on partnerships between the 3 P’s – people sector, public sector and
private sector, Singapore had been able to achieve great successes in developing the
country, the population and the economy. Singapore was willing and able to share its
experience with other SIDS and developing countries, and had been involved in technical
cooperation programs for many years. During the meeting participants would be exposed
to the SIDS Technical Cooperation Program (SIDSTec) which was launched by
Singapore in 1999. The Minister concluded by stressing the need for AOSIS to grasp this
opportunity for promoting a shared vision for sustainable development of SIDS.
There followed a cultural presentation of great interest and inspiration.

Session 1
The perspectives of the SIDS regions
The session was chaired by Ambassador Koh. The agenda was adopted following a
request to include provision for discussions on trade and sustainable development in the
post-Doha scenario.
Ms Gricel Acosta Acosta (Cuba) presented on the Caribbean perspectives, based on
the outcome of the meeting held in Havana in June 2001. She stated that many of the
SIDS in the Caribbean region had experienced technical and financial difficulties in
preparing for that meeting, so that the countries were not all able to articulate their
priorities. Only a few had finalized their national assessment reports.
At the subsequent meeting at the Latin American and Caribbean (GRULAC) level, there had been some
progress, which she would seek to include in her presentation. The Havana meeting
reaffirmed Agenda 21 and the Barbados Program of Action for the sustainable
development of small island States (BPOA), as well as the Declaration of the Forum of
Environment Ministers of the GRULAC Region. The deterioration of the marine
environment was of great concern to the region. Globalization was not giving the same
benefits to all the countries, and the continued vulnerability of the region and lack of
accepted criteria for determining vulnerability was highlighted. Reduction of
vulnerability and adaptation to climate change were seen as important. The region was
keen to see an integrated approach to management of the Caribbean Sea in the context of
sustainable development. The implementation of the Kyoto Protocol was stressed, as was
the need for a renewed commitment for financial and technical resources. The region
recognized and made a strong recommendation for the linkages of policies and measures
for sustainable development. The region would also like to extend regional dialogue and
strengthening of intra-regional cooperation. Recognition of the special situation of SIDS
would be imperative. Equally important was the strengthening of capacity building
through SIDS-SIDS cooperation, and AOSIS needed to consider how to raise the funds
and resources to implement such cooperative programs with the assistance of the
international community.
Ms Karibaiti Teatabo (Kiribati) described the outcomes of the Pacific Sub-Regional
Multi-stakeholder Preparatory meeting in September 2001, in Apia, Samoa that she had
chaired. The outcomes had later been submitted to Asia and Pacific Regional Meeting in
Cambodia in November 2001. She highlighted the main issues that emerged from the
Apia meeting, linking them to the results from the Cambodia process. She said the region
had also experienced technical and financial difficulties in producing national
assessments for WSSD. Agreement had been reached at the Apia meeting to put forward
certain priorities which would be developed and elaborated further in the course of the
preparatory process. These initiatives were captured by the Asia Pacific meeting to a
large extent, and focused on capacity building, poverty reduction, sustainable energy,
biodiversity conservation and management, freshwater, oceans and coasts, and climate
change. In addition, issues relating to financing for sustainable development efforts was
seen as an important matter.
Ms Myroula Hadjichristophorou (Cyprus) addressed the need to pursue environmental
policy integration in all government policies. For Cyprus this had required proper
readjustment of the organizational framework of government action, and incentives for
regulatory measures. The role of government services was gradually being reinforced,
and many strategies were in place in several sectors and to prevent pollution from various
productions. A number of measures were being considered for district level action, such
as local level monitoring. There had also been a need for aligning policies with the
various EU directives, such as a comprehensive system for environmental impact
Environmental auditing and quality control was accrediting a definition of
quality of products also in terms of the environment. Access to information was
guaranteed by new legislation, and a State of the Environment report would be published
every two years. The results were expected to promote a more rational use of the land
resources and space.
Ms Sandrine Valere (Mauritius) stated that the African region had met at several subregional sessions, one of which was held in Mauritius. The work had been integrated in
an African joint position. Africa had identified poverty reduction as being of primary
importance. Promotion of access for developing countries products was one way of
assisting Africa, as had integrated approaches to enhancement of standards of living and
the reduction of environmental risk. Africa had also identified the need to look at the
health and social conditions of the countries, and the need to involve the younger
generation, and hence need for education of all, especially for girls. Access to finance and
technical cooperation remained high priorities to assure success. Mauritius saw an urgent
need to promote the implementation of the BPOA. The issues relating to the extreme
vulnerability of SIDS must be addressed in the WSSD, and it was a fundamental concern
that SIDS should seek a common position.
Mr Ravi Sawhney (ESCAP) was requested by the Chairman to say a few words about
the Asia Pacific regional process. Mr Sawhney said the common elements between the
SIDS regions were obvious and not unexpected. The reiteration of Pacific priorities at
Phnom Penh was effective. The follow-up action for the regional platform required work
on the seven initiatives agreed at Phnom Penh. Especially with respect to capacity
building, it was clear there had been some failure in getting the national capacities
strengthened sufficiently. This had regional dimensions. Poverty reduction also required
attention for the achievement of sustainable development, as indeed the effective
implementation of programmes relating to the oceans and its resources.
Questions and comments were raised by Jamaica, Cook Islands, Tuvalu, Papua New
Guinea, Grenada and Trinidad and Tobago.
In the discussions, the protection of cultural and intellectual resources of SIDS was
raised. It was agreed that this important issue required further work, as it had only been
dealt with in brief at the Asia Pacific meeting and at the eminent persons meeting in
Barbados. The common elements among SIDS needed to be stressed. They posed
significant constraints to sustainable development and had to be more widely understood
and acknowledged. The importance of sustaining AOSIS, building on the special case for
SIDS, must not be lost in the international discussions. The potential of AOSIS for the
unity of SIDS was recognized. AOSIS must focus on efforts to overcome SIDS
constraints and to work with the resources available. It is not necessary to be defensive
when dealing with the rest of the world on these issues.
Session 2
The perspectives of the SIDS regions (contd.): WSSD preparations
Ambassador Slade chaired the session. He stated that this should be seen as a
continuation of the morning’s discussion on regional perspectives.
Mr Manuel B. Dengo (DESA) explained that the development of the UN Secretary
General’s report had followed the preparations undertaken in all regions for the WSSD.
There had been a great deal of activities in the regions, in recognition of the fact that the
Rio Summit had set a very broad agenda, and that implementation had proved difficult. It
had been difficult to find the concrete measures that would allow any claim with certainty
that there were actual sustainable development actions in place, in a broader sense, rather
than specific limited sectoral steps. Regional platforms had been developed. The
stakeholders had also become involved in preparations.
WSSD was at a critical juncture, as there were very important concerns that had not been addressed. There had not been sufficient focus on the social aspects. The statement in the Millennium Declaration on
poverty and on safe drinking water could be viewed as distinct goals, but they also
required supporting commitments and actions. The identification of concrete steps
towards securing these goals was now required. The plight of the world’s poor must be
addressed, especially the constraints being placed on their natural resources by forces
such as desertification, climate change, etc. There were four main areas where the WSSD
needed to produce results. First, sustainable development must be made operational,
through actions that will lead to sustainable development. A second area was the
management of globalization, which had aspects of trade related impacts of multilateral
agreements. A third area was the financial resources required for sustainable
development. The fourth area was the management and sustainable conservation of
natural resources, and seeking concrete examples of how to implement sustainable
development goals. It was acknowledged that political will, practical steps and
partnerships were necessary. Look at the situation in a “what, who and how” dimension,
as stated in Secretary General’s report. The Secretary General had tried to capture the
essential issues from the preparations. What was needed now was the identification of the
anchor points for the SIDS agenda, and to extract from the Secretary General’s report the
areas where SIDS can input their strong concerns.
Ms Diann Quarless (Jamaica) stated that the WSSD PrepCOM Bureau, of which
Jamaica was a member, had sought to raise awareness of the WSSD and to participate in
the relevant preparatory meetings. The Bureau had sought to nurture a bottom up
approach, and participation by all stakeholders. By starting at the local level the process
had been enriched. But there were limitations of time and capacity, and there was now an
urgent need for the national assessments to be completed. This would give greater
certainty to the identification of what the constraints were, and the priorities. The role of
UNEP, while important, had been seen as stressing a bias towards environment over
sustainable development as a whole. The impression was that the process was lacking on
the concept of sustainable development as a whole. The Bureau therefore saw the need to
meet with the various agencies that act as task managers and getting views on their
visions for success at WSSD. UNDP had also acknowledged that there was a need for
greater commitment to demonstrating the willingness to assist. The range of health issues
had ensured that WHO would become more active. WMO had also brought the climate
change dimension forward, and ILO had drawn in the social and labor issues. The
involvement of the NGOs and the major groups had been important. The Bureau was
expecting a draft document assessing the impact of Rio – the lessons learned. There
would also be a negotiated document establishing what the Bureau wanted to do to
promote WSSD. There was also a series of targets for national governments and regional
groupings – partnership agreements. The substance of such documents must be based on
more than spontaneous initiatives, and contain agreements on the means of
implementation. If this were to be adopted in WSSD there was certainly a need to have
the concerns of SIDS included. SIDS as a group also needed to look at the proposal for a
High Representative for LDCs, land-locked countries and SIDS. While it was well known
that Governments were having difficulty in establishing an integrated sustainable
development policy, since the support was rather compartmentalized, there was need to
look at how to monitor, implement and achieve sustainable development.
Above all, for SIDS, it must be demonstrated that they were engaged and were willing to push for the
most important issues.
Ms Donna Forde (Barbados), reporting on the preparations of the Group of 77 and
China (G-77), stressed that she was not speaking on behalf of the G-77. She said that she
had not attended all G.77 meetings, and could speak to some only of the group’s
preparations. The G-77 had made an initial statement on the process so far. There was
indeed a lack of mention of the SIDS issues, but there was still the opportunity to get the
points across. This required that the AOSIS group in New York actively took part in the
G-77 discussions. The African group had been very active so far, and AOSIS needed to
do the same. The mention in the G-77 text of the new initiatives for development in
Africa shows this. The establishment of the High Representative office for LDCs had not
curtailed the drive from LDCs to push their own concerns. AOSIS would therefore need a
strategy and negotiating approach, as every year there were considerable attempts to roll
back the gains made by SIDS. There was a lot at stake, and as a practical way forward the
group should allocate coordinators for different topics and issues.
Questions and comments were raised by Mauritius, Dominica, Grenada, Belize,
Solomon Islands and Saint Lucia.
In the discussions, the need for a division of labor between AOSIS delegations was
supported. Since national administrations were structured sectorally, there was need to
seek ways of overcoming this situation to bring together for example the trade and
sustainable development agencies of government to discuss WSSD. It was also noted that
the preparatory process had been lacking in getting information to the national level. A
lot of issues had been discussed in other organizations. To avoid continuing a fragmented
approach, it was necessary to seek informative means of disseminating the outputs of
other meetings. Certain issues tended to get swept away in discussions with bigger
groups, so AOSIS should use all the avenues available. Financing for development was
raised at a ministerial conference to assist developing countries assimilate in the world
trade system. Agencies should help SIDS with the liberalization process. While using the
different opportunities available, it was especially necessary to participate fully at the
UN. Johannesburg must include the views of the groups such as AOSIS, while AOSIS
must show the political will, give the practical examples and seek new partnerships. The
results for the AOSIS countries must be made more meaningful. It was acknowledged
that the difficulties that SIDS faced in the negotiations were real physical problems.
Mr Gerald Miles (South Pacific Regional Environment Program – SPREP) noted that
the Millennium Declaration was important to the WSSD because it referred to
development goals as well as to the needs of SIDS. There were also the sub-regional
platforms to be considered, as well as the reports from the preparatory meetings. There
were the specific issue meetings like oceans, freshwater, etc. The possibility for a
Johannesburg Plan of Action had been spoken about, and many of the issues from the
Secretary General’s report had been mentioned in the SIDS regions. But there was not a
big SIDS footprint in the Secretary General’s report. There was some coverage of
tourism, disasters and climate, but no translation of the implementation of BPOA in the
document. Few specific initiatives were suggested and none for SIDS specifically. There
was a lack of the time-bound targets for SIDS. In this regard a clear reference to the 2004
BPOA review would be needed. The four specific issues of oceans and coastal
management, vulnerability, climate change and adaptation, capacity building and
development had to receive a greater degree of SIDS specific consideration.
These issues were not seen in the Secretary General’s report as specifically addressing SIDS concerns,
and required a significant amount of work if we are going to get these points included in
the same way that globalization was included.
Ms Anya Thomas (Caribbean Community – CARICOM) stated that the historical
progress was well known, as were the issues posed by globalization, and there was a need
for new management procedures integrating sustainable development. Coastal priorities,
work on tourism and on renewable energy were clearly cutting across the SIDS regions as
priorities. It was known that SIDS had common themes to be pursued, such as climate
change, natural disasters, coastal and marine resources, and knowledge and technology
for sustainable development. At the end of the day the sustainable development of a
country depended on political will and support. This could be facilitated by a better
international environment to support SIDS own enabling environment at the national
level. An enabling financial environment was also important. The International
Conference on Financing for Development would be an important opportunity for such
work to commence.
Mr Raj Mohabeer (Indian Ocean Commission – IOC) noted that SIDS would need very
concrete proposals for the process to succeed, so as to focus from now to maximizing
benefits from the WSSD summit. A collective statement of what was the most important
aspect to sustainable development of SIDS could be one such proposal. He suggested that
a group of SIDS experts consult at the national level and validate the inputs from the
regions, and then organize a meeting prior to WSSD with a final declaration with
initiatives. There would also be a need to include the input from the technical and expert
Questions and comments were raised by Papua New Guinea, Dominica, Jamaica,
Barbados and Tuvalu, and by ECLAC.
The discussions focused on the need for coherence and unifying positions among SIDS.
It was noted that there was a clear indication that sustainable development policies were
losing ground. The tendency remained to extract short term gains, with social and long
term economic costs being the result, yet experts had difficulties in getting this message
across. Materials for countries would be developed and disseminated, so that Government
leaders would have the information and were better able to understand the process as well
as the examples of what could be done as best practices. Sustainable development was
clearly on the radar screens of the officials and ministers in SIDS regions. In the fisheries
sector there was great interest, for example, as shown by the oil spill prevention, the coral
reef monitoring, and the efforts to monitor the fisheries fleets. An informed public was
the most practical way of ensuring that there was political will. There was a major effort
to get information to schools on the issues contained in the BPOA. There was also a need
to assist Government leaders with the necessary information, and more must be done to
bring in stakeholders and get their ideas to the forefront.
Session 3
People – capacity building for sustainable development in SIDS
The session was chaired by H.E.Ambassador Peter D. Donigi, Permanent
Representative of Papua New Guinea to the United Nations. The Chairman reminded the
participants that the session was devoted to capacity building, a priority issue for all
developing countries. He encouraged the participants to seek out aspects unique to and of
special importance to SIDS.
Mr Frank Wickham (SPREP) reported on needs assessments at the systemic,
institutional and individual levels, and the experiences from the Pacific. SPREP had
found that many Pacific SIDS had difficulties in actually implementing their National
Environmental Management Strategies (NEMS). It was also known that a lot of capacity
building was offered through various projects, such as those funded by GEF.

But the problem was how to ensure that project-based capacity building be applied within the
overall capacity building framework at the country level. It was also found that there
were strong links to basic education as a prerequisite and fundamental grounding for
skills development.
Inter-governmental organizations needed to monitor the efforts. This
process was difficult for countries beyond the project timeframes. Train the trainers
programs had been seen as an important process, especially those using civil society
stakeholders. There needed to be support for the training institutions, like the University
of the West Indies (UWI) and the University of the South Pacific (USP). There must be a
continued process of assessment of the efforts through some indicators and monitoring.
Only in this way would capacity building be taken more seriously. Support from
countries and the regional organizations could be strengthened by setting up centers of
excellence, for example for SIDS-SIDS inter-regional networking. He concluded that
home grown approaches were needed, using the available expertise from within and
amongst SIDS.
Ms Anya Thomas (CARICOM) noted that capacity issues required some defining of the
concepts and processes of capacity development. Capacity building was both short term
and long term. In the broadest perspective capacity building sought to establish functions
that could implement sustainable development. SIDS faced a number of challenges to
capacity building, yet these challenges were also areas to be overcome by capacity
building, and run the gamut from policy, institutions to individual levels. In the
Caribbean there was acceptance of the importance of the issue, and it had been gaining
ground in various negotiations with development partners. At present CARICOM was
looking at strengthening communication between various government sectors and
agencies. In terms of institutions there was a great need for strengthening the
coordinating role, and for establishing integrated and complete databases. At the
individual level the development of personal skills and better training programs also
needed an integrated policy. The implementation of sustainable development projects
required that they be placed in the context of the capacity development process.
Mr Cletus Springer (UNDP Capacity 21) compressed his two presentations into one.
He noted that there had been many studies of SIDS vulnerabilities, and always the stress
had been on the problems, not the benefits of smallness. The definition of a small state or
SIDS had not been completely accepted. To get further acceptance it was necessary to
look at the structural issues, not just focus on small populations, or on GDP. Issues
relating to these limitations and constraints must be clearly elaborated. Susceptibility to
natural disasters combined with small populations created difficulties for insurance. SIDS
did not have the ability to hedge in the financial markets. One conclusion was that SIDS
required an international forum that would allow them to address issues that were largely
part of their domestic agendas, for example through AOSIS. He posed the question
whether AOSIS members were prepared to wait for international organizations to
complete the work on vulnerability on their behalf. In his view it was in the interest of
SIDS to carry these investigations forward. SIDS had problems with the pace of
globalization, which was a conceptual difference to simply stressing difficulties with
trade liberalization per se. It was clear that SIDS performed better when they had the
preferential treatment. The capacity building initiatives of recent years had resulted in
sustainable development councils being created.

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