Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Fourth International SIDS Conference: Statement by Chair of AOSIS, Peseta Noumea SimiAugust 15, 2023 As Chair of AOSIS, Madam Peseta Noumea Simi, Chief Executive officer, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Samoa
Topic: Sustainable Development
Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Fourth International SIDS Conference: Statement by Chair of AOSIS, Peseta Noumea Simi, During the Opening Ceremony. 16 August 2023, Nukualofa, TONGA Excellencies, colleagues and dear friends, I am pleased to make the following remarks in my capacity as Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). Let me firstly acknowledge and extend to the government of Tonga, through your Excellency (Prime Minister/Minister) my deep appreciation for agreeing, at very short notice, to host this important meeting for our region. It is worthy to note that the last time we met as a region to discuss our development blueprint as SIDS, was during the preparatory meeting for the mid-term review of the SAMOA Pathway, held here in Nukualofa in June 2018. It is therefore apt that we meet again in Tonga to decide on our development trajectory for the next 10 years. The Earth Summit of 1992 was a watershed moment. The largest gathering of its time, it was labeled as the conference that would save our world. Then, Conference Secretary-General Maurice Strong stated that the UN Conference on Economic and Development (UNCED) “will define the state of political will to save our planet.” From Rio emerged the conventions on climate change, biodiversity, and desertification. The conference also agreed to the first international conference on small island developing States, recognizing SIDS as a special case for sustainable development. In 1994 we met in Barbados to define for ourselves our development blueprint, Mauritius in 2004, and Samoa in 2014. Yet, here we are, three decades and three international conferences later, and the international community has not found the political will to save our planet, and our development is as perilous today as it was then. Over the last thirty years, we have watched our coastlines disappear, our debt amassed to unsustainable levels, and our people struggle. As in other SIDS’s regions, agriculture, fisheries and tourism have all been affected. We face a situation of insufficient effort and lack of urgency. And action has not been commensurate with need. Climate change exacts its toll across our region daily. Sea level rise threatens homes, ravishes infrastructure and devastates livelihoods. Rising temperatures are making droughts more pronounced and agriculture more difficult. The hurricane season will soon be upon us. And we know that one of us, or a few of us, will be impacted. Others will wrestle with severe drought. Across the board we will increasingly be affected by extreme weather events. Ocean acidification and marine pollution threaten crops and fisheries. The economic viability of countries in our region remains under constant threat. And if we are not vigilant and proactive, Pacific debt will spiral out of control, leaving little room to maneuver. Faced with continuous and multiple crises, and without the ability to address these in any substantial way, SIDS are on the proverbial hamster wheel. We therefore look forward to our fourth conference with urgency and our greatest resolve. AOSIS envisions a pointed, actionable, measurable, nimble approach to the next ten years, without silos and without distraction. Having learnt from the past, we are intent on doing things differently, to be unorthodox. The alternative has not worked in our favor. We call for a SIDS-led process, for SIDS. A bold vision for our resilient prosperity. We are well on our way in our ten-month path to Antigua and Barbuda. AOSIS will utilize every opportunity to convey our messages and priorities to the global community. We are also planning two substantial events – a leaders’ event in the margins of UNGA and a High-level meeting in Apia during the first quarter of next year. Both timed to clearly articulate the SIDS vision coming out of the Inter-regional and in anticipation of the end of year engagements, and then with full view of the fourth conference. As you begin your deliberations, I challenge you to use this opportunity to highlight your critically important issues, and formulate bold, proactive and ambitious solutions to address them, including aspects to measure, monitor and evaluate implementation. Calling for urgent and bold actions that facilitate your unique and special circumstances as SIDS, is a must. The 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent is our launching foundation for future actions that would lead to a resilient Pacific region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion and prosperity. This will ensure all Pacific people can lead free, healthy and productive lives. That is our guiding star. And we ask the same of you today – to recommit to SIDS. Recommit to our development. Recommit to our survival. Faafetai.