Overview of the Environment and Sustainable Development Agendas

2000-09-05 His Excellency Ambassador Tuiloma Neroni Slade Download PDF

Topic: Sustainable Development

Mr. Chairman,
I have the honor to speak on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, and to
congratulate you and your bureau on your election.
The AOSIS countries fully subscribe to the views put forward by the Chairman of the
Group of 77 and China earlier in our meetings. My statement will elaborate further on
some of the matters raised in the general debate and also in the discussion held here and
at other fora.
BPOA – the 22nd special session, trade and environment
Mr. Chairman the 22nd Special Session on the implementation of the Barbados Program
of Action has been discussed in some detail in the general debate. Our countries have
given substantial input to the Committee, which we wish to supplement with concrete
proposals for action. AOSIS recognizes that the time has come for implementation at the
international level to become more progressive. We have stated on many occasions that
we fully recognize that it is up to SIDS to pursue sustainable development, but that all
partners should foster an enabling environment. All partners should live up to their
commitment to take further measures to support SIDS in this regard. Again, Mr.
Chairman, this has been agreed to by the General Assembly. Without this partnership
SIDS will continue to find themselves being marginalized. There is recognition from
within our group that the traditional means of development and trade support will have to
be changed, but that acceptance does not in any way abrogate the needs. The
considerations that we are requesting are not in our view unreasonable. There simply has
to be some means available to take account of the special vulnerabilities of the SIDS.
While the work on the vulnerability index is progressing, albeit slowly, the General
Assembly has endorsed the following principled statement:
“… the international community reiterated its recognition of the specific constraints faced
by small island developing States and the need for particular support in their efforts to
advance sustainable development owing to their small size and remoteness, ecological
fragility, vulnerability to climate change and economic vulnerabilities. …Constraints to
the sustainable development of small island developing States include a narrow resource
base, which does not allow small island developing States to benefit from economies of
scale; small domestic markets and heavy dependence on a few external and remote
markets; high costs for energy, infrastructure, transportation, communication and
servicing; long distances from export markets and import sources; low and irregular
international traffic volumes; little resilience to natural disasters; rising populations; high
volatility of economic growth; limited opportunities for the private sector and a
proportionately large reliance of their economies on the public sector; and fragile natural
Mr. Chairman there is very little else one can say that would summarize the logic and the
clear reasoning for the need to take action at the international level. It simply begs the
question, with all this understanding and goodwill, how come the international response
has been so lukewarm?
That being said, we have had some positive responses from some donor countries. Our
countries have gratefully acknowledged this. But is this a sustainable means for
implementation of the international component of the Barbados Program of Action? Are
we finally moving into a partnership that would create the enabling environment, which
would create the investment in sustainable development in our countries? It is certainly
the view of AOSIS that partnerships and donor coordination are crucial to the success of
the implementation of the BPoA. We must work much more concertedly to build on the
efforts of the SIDS, and to support other ongoing activities, especially in the areas of
capacity building and institutional strengthening.
But this takes a renewed effort on behalf of our developed partners. I would like to reiterate that AOSIS is planning to hold a workshop on trade, environment and SIDS in 2001, and we are still seeking support for
this endeavor. In addition, we feel that the group has not received the fullest attention on
trade matters from the UN system. While the BPoA mandated UNCTAD to strengthen its
capacity to carry out research and analysis necessary to complement the work of the
SIDS Unit, AOSIS is of the view that further efforts are needed. AOSIS therefore
proposes that the post established at UNCTAD be seconded to the SIDS Unit, so as to be
available to the AOSIS Missions here in New York on a more regular basis.
Climate Change
The 6th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
is looming large on our horizon. AOSIS has been involved in some of the informal
consultations that have been carried out since the 13th session of the subsidiary bodies in
Lyon. However, it remains our prime concern that the voices of the countries most
vulnerable to climate change must be heard, since we have the most to lose in the various
climate scenarios outlined for us. It is acknowledged by the world’s most renowned
scientists working with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that, unless there
is concerted action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by significant levels, we will be
committed to an unprecedented degree of climatic changes and extreme events. That is
something AOSIS Members can not live with. We may not even survive such change.
Therefore Mr. Chairman, our delegations will strive above else to maintain the
environmental integrity of the Kyoto Protocol and secure strong implementation of the
existing commitments under the Framework Convention on Climate Change. It is our
primary concern that our negotiations will result in real and measurable reductions in
emissions, and that these reductions actually affect the amount of carbon concentration in
the atmosphere. We therefore preclude any actions that could be construed as being
merely temporary storage of carbon, such as forestry projects.
Other important issues before the Conference relate to adaptation to climate change. As
we are seemingly doomed to experience some climate change, our countries wish to be as
best prepared as they possibly can. With this in mind we wish to give firm guidance to
the GEF to begin work on more advanced stages of adaptation, independent of any
political considerations that seem to have bogged down our debates so far.
Convention on Biological Diversity and Biosafety
Mr. Chairman, our countries have gained much from being Parties to the Convention on
Biological Diversity. Many of us have completed our first national communications to
the CBD. In some countries the process of consultation for the national communications
has resulted in a lot of community based activities such as local conservation areas. It has
been a very worthwhile endeavor and we congratulate the CBD and GEF Secretariats for
their support to our own regional and national institutions. But there is still much work to
do, and new tasks are emerging. AOSIS welcomes the completion of the Cartagena
Protocol on Biosafety, and looks forward to the first meeting in Montpellier in December
this year. In this regard AOSIS is planning a workshop prior to that meeting. We need to
make our membership more aware of the implications of the Protocol, as well as the
requirements for countries to develop national legislation in support. We also see it as
absolutely necessary for SIDS to contribute to the development of regional capacity
building in this area.
AOSIS is very grateful to the Government of Norway for agreeing to sponsor this
workshop, and also to the Government of Saint Kitts and Nevis for hosting the event.

Convention to Combat Desertification
Mr. Chairman we are again seeing the inter-linkages between the various environmental
treaties, but especially here in the context of the three sister conventions from Rio. We
are becoming more and aware of the different synergies that can be drawn together from
an integrated approach to implementing these conventions. At the national and regional
level our group of countries are well aware that for the purposes of capacity building
there is much value in such an approach. We therefore acknowledge the work being done
by the GEF together with the convention secretariats in this regard.
Specific information on the overall situation on drought and desertification in AOSIS
Member States is still in early stages. A process of problems and needs assessment is
planned in many regions, and it is expected that the implementation of this convention in
our countries will soon take on greater momentum. AOSIS looks forward to the next
Conference of the Parties to be held in Bonn this year.
Mr. Chairman, for SIDS the relationship between energy and sustainable development
has been recognized for a number of sectors, in particular transportation, tourism and
rural development. Furthermore, the 22nd special session of the UN General Assembly
endorsed this linkage. In looking at the energy sector and in analyzing the energy services
requirements – there is clearly a need for the delivery of technologies that are relevant to
AOSIS needs, and this is clearly shown as being the priority for the group. Moreover, the
need to maintain the environmental integrity of international agreements such as the
Kyoto Protocol is also safeguarded in this manner.
AOSIS also recognizes that there are potential benefits in other areas – such as in
employment generation, energy security, freshwater provision and coastal zone pollution
reduction as ancillary benefits to such strategic approaches.
AOSIS is also cognizant of the size of the potential market for renewable energies and
technologies are also broadly applicable across AOSIS regions and other developing
countries. This overall agenda should be aimed at the implementation of energy
efficiency policies and projects, and the development of renewable energy resources.
This agenda would contribute significantly to the reduction of GHG emissions, reduce
the amount of foreign exchange spent on the importation of fossil fuels, and would
thereby increase the amount available for national economic development, assisting
developing countries in achieving sustainable development.
What AOSIS is seeking to avoid by promoting this approach is to ensure that for example
the mechanisms under the Kyoto Protocol are designed in such a way that they do not
reward “business-as-usual” projects. This principle is valid in all considerations of
renewable energy in the context of sustainable development. It is furthermore the
intention to see that the Kyoto Protocol does not result in higher global emissions than
what would have been the case if the mechanisms had not been included in the Protocol.
Furthermore the Kyoto Protocol should not be used as a mechanism for Annex I Parties
to transfer outmoded or environmentally hazardous technologies under the pretext of
climate protection. These concerns have led our members to propose that we need to
ensure both that the international sustainable development debate prioritizes certain kinds
of technologies, and that it excludes those that are environmentally unsound or do not
provide long term sustainable development benefits.
But Mr. Chairman, we need to link the energy question to more than the Kyoto Protocol.
It is for this reason that AOSIS welcomes the agenda for the 9th CSD. We intend to
prepare well for this session, and will be convening a workshop in Cyprus in January next
Let me express our sincere thanks to the Government of Cyprus for their generosity,
as well as to the donor countries and agencies that have made this possible.
Faafetai Mr. Chairman.

Sub Topic:

Forum: GA

Meeting: GA55