Statement of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States on Agenda Item 89 (f): “ Implementation of the outcome of the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island States; and promoting an integrated management approach to the Caribbean Sea area in the context of sustainable development”

Second Committee, 21 October 2002

Mr. Chairman,

            At the outset I wish to commend the Department of Economic and Social Affairs for its informative report, which contains useful information regarding measures undertaken by the United Nations system organizations, individual Governments and other international and regional organizations for the further implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States.

            The United Nations has long since recognized the specific problems of small island developing States. Small island developing States are especially vulnerable to natural disasters, climate change and the rise of sea level. The interplay of adverse factors such as narrow resource base, small domestic markets and heavy dependence on a few external and remote markets, high costs for energy, infrastructure, transport, and communication and low and irregular international traffic volumes impose constraints on their socio-economic development efforts.  The environmental and economic vulnerabilities of these countries present serious complications on the lives and livelihood of their population. Therefore, urgent action is needed to be undertaken by the international community to mitigate these problems.

            Economic and social development and environmental protection are inextricably linked. For development to be sustainable, environmental protection must be a priority aiming to serve people who are already at risk in real and practical terms. Small island developing States face formidable challenges regarding trade liberalisation and globalisation. They are at risk of remaining marginalized unless urgent measures are undertaken to accord special treatment to these countries in granting greater market access, ODA, debt relief, and capacity building.  Also, I wish to stress the necessity of the United Nations and the multilateral financial and development institutions to move with urgency to strengthen the development prospects of these countries through supporting human and institutional capacity, technology transfer and export and industrial base diversification.

MR. Chairman,

       In light of the above, the World Summit on Sustainable Development, held  last September in Johannesburg, accorded high priority to sustainable development of small island developing States. The Implementation Plan, adopted at the above summit, set forth a number of concrete commitments and targets of action with the time frame for this group of countries. In particular, the summit agreed   to undertake initiatives aimed at implementing the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Landbased Activities; to develop community-based initiatives on sustainable tourism; and to support the availability of adequate, affordable and environmentally sound energy services by 2004.

       One of the major outcomes of the WSSD is its decision to undertake ten-year comprehensive review of the implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action in 2004, widely referred to as Barbados+10.  At its current session the General Assembly is expected to make a decision on convening an international meeting to this end.

         It is high time that the international community lives up to their commitments made Barbados Programme of Action of 1994 and at the 22nd Special session. The ten-year review of the Barbados Programme of Action is should not merely take stock of, but must agree on specific measures to assist small island developing States in attaining sustainable development.  The preparatory process should be organized in such a way that it attains practical and operational outcomes that can be effectively followed up at the global, regional, sub-regional and national levels. The Barbados +10 should be seen as a joint undertaking and common rallying point for Governments of small island developing States with their development partners with a single purpose of further galvanizing international support aimed at mitigating consequences caused by their geographical disadvantages. Consequently, efforts need to be made to ensure that governments, UN agencies and other relevant organizations have a sense of ownership of the preparatory process and outcome of the ten-year review.  I wish to underscore the importance of the system-wide coordination.  

Mr. Chairman,

            One of the key functions of the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States is to provide support to the coordinated follow-up of the implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action. My Office has the responsibility to coordinate, advocate  and mobilize international support measures and resources in favour of all three vulnerable groups of countries.

            In view of the above, it is my pleasure to report to the Committee that since my appointment last April I launched advocacy campaign and efforts to mobilize international support for and awareness of issues related to the small island developing States. At the Fourth summit of AOSIS, where I represented the Secretary General of the United Nations, I had a rare opportunity to inform the heads of the Governments and States of SDS of these efforts and most importantly to hear from them of their concerns. This summit served as a powerful impetus in articulating the special needs of small island developing States and in placing their agenda high at the WSSD.

Furthermore, at the Second Forum of Small States during the 2002 annual meeting of the Bretton Woods Institutions I informed Ministers of Finance and Governors of Central Banks of small States, most of which are SIDS, of the UN system-wide activities in favour of the small island developing States, including the outcomes of the Johannesburg summit. At the same time I made an appeal to devote special attention of the next session of the Forum to the ten-year review of the implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action. I hope such attention at the World Bank and the IMF would contribute to the successful preparation for the ten-year review.

Mr. Chairman,

In conclusion, I wish to emphasize that the attainment of sustainable development for small island developing States requires the full commitment of the international community to effect special measures to address the challenges of globalisation, trade liberalization and economic and environmental vulnerabilities.  My Office is determined to spare no efforts to forge the global partnership and to secure commitments to a resurgence of political will matched by adequate technical and financial resources. Mr. Chairman, please rest assured that we will work tirelessly in close cooperation with all the relevant stakeholders to ensure success to the ten-year review of the Barbados Programme of Action. 

Thank you very much.

I wish every success to your deliberations.