Mr. Cheick Sidi Diarra


United Nations Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries Landlocked Developing Countries and SmallIsland Developing States

at the Meeting with the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS),New York, 4 September 2007

Mandate and the Way the High Representative Intends to Function on SIDS Issues

Mr. Chairman,

Members of AOSIS,

1.      The UN-OHRLLS was established by General Assembly resolution 56/227 in 2001 with mandates in regard to three specific groups of countries identified to enable the international community to address their particular development needs. These are the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). My mandate therefore includes the SIDS and I look forward to working closely with you, Mr. Chairman, and with all members of the AOSIS towards fulfilling this mandate given by the General Assembly – that is, by you the member states.

2.     Mr. Chairman, when I had the opportunity to meet you on 8 August 2007, we were able to cover a number of issues of immediate concern to AOSIS. You indicated the course which AOSIS intends to follow during the coming months of 2007 and 2008. I assured you of my support and to work closely with you in this endeavour. At the same time I sought your full backing and that of the AOSIS in my work ahead. I am confident that we can work together in a manner that will effectively promote SIDS issues and interests.

3.    In 2005, the United Nations endorsed the Mauritius Strategy for the Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Small Island Developing States (MSI). The MSI, which is the outcome of the ten-year review of the 1994 Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA), is a comprehensive set of guidelines for us to follow in order to achieve the objectives of the BPOA. And it is these objectives that I will bear in mind while working for SIDS.

4.    In the period ahead, I intend to function closely with the rest of the United Nations system, development partners and other stakeholders.  I am aware that the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy is the primary responsibility of the SIDS. However, the international community is committed to support the process, The inputs and efforts of several United Nations or affiliated organizations are also needed to effectively implement the MSI.

5.      For instance, I will count greatly on the United Nations Resident Coordinators (UNRCs), and the UNDP which is now represented in all SIDS member states. I will work closely with UN DESA, UNCTAD, UNFCCC, WMO, UN ISDR, UNWTO, FAO, UNESCO, the UN Regional Commissions, as well as others where relevant. I will advocate and coordinate with the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs) and other financial organizations in order to promote the SIDS agenda. In the same manner, it will be most important that we work closely with the Global Environment Facility (GEF). You can rest assured that I will try and leave no stone unturned towards fulfilling my mandate in respect of the SIDS. 

Need to give special international attention to SIDS


6.    I am keenly aware of the environmental, economic and social vulnerabilities of SIDS, and the challenges they pose to you as a consequence. Many SIDS are remote and isolated from the international mainstream, and communications facilities in some cases are seriously lacking – thereby affecting their social, education and medical sectors, as well as trade, development and general contacts with the rest of the world. Their usually modest economies based on tourism and production of a small range of goods without much of the benefits of a large domestic market or economies of scale, are highly vulnerable to external market conditions that they find difficult to influence.

7.     At the same time, climate change and sea-level rise can have disastrous consequences for SIDS.  The recent reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made this quite clear. The reports also have removed all doubts of the causes of global warming. They confirmed that this is mainly due to human activities that release unsustainable quantities of CO2 and other Green House Gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere. This situation has been aggravated with the destruction of forests around the globe, and thereby destroying natural carbon sinks. The unsustainable patterns of production and consumption that have evolved obviously needs to be curbed and enduring solutions found. But this requires the political will and cooperation of the entire international community, and especially the industrialized countries. The SIDS and the LDCs contribute the least in this regard, about 0.02 percent of the world’s total of GHGs emitted, but will suffer the maximum consequences. Hence, in order to address the situation in the immediate future as the consequences of global warming are already upon us, it is essential for SIDS to adopt and implement adaptation measures by putting into place their respective National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs). The last time I received an update, 5 SIDS had already completed the preparation of NAPAs and were implementing them. In addition 7 SIDS were in the process of preparing them. This activity needs to be greatly increased and initiatives has to be taken by the SIDS governments towards adaptation.

8.      While adaptation measures in the SIDS are essential to sustain livelihoods, mitigation of the causes of global warming and climate change is nothing short of critical. In this regard, when you met Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-Moon on 11 May earlier this year, he informed you of the upcoming High-level Meeting on Climate Change on 24 September, and the Bali meeting in December later this year. As you know, the objective of this exercise is to establish an internationally-agreed post 2012 climate change regime. It is therefore essential for the SIDS to ensure that due and important focus is given to SIDS interests and concerns by these international meetings, and that they are reflected in the decisions, declarations or resolutions that emerge from these dialogues. From my discussions with you, Mr. Chairman, I was happy to learn of the proactive steps that you and the members of AOSIS are initiating to meet the challenges from now till December and beyond. I find that you are focussing on adaptation, finance, mitigation and technology. As I informed you at our meeting, my Office and I will provide whatever support that is necessary and possible in this task that lies ahead of all of us. On the other hand, as I requested you at our meeting, Mr. Chairman, my office and I require your full and consistent support for our work to take the SIDS agenda forward.

9.        My Office and I look forward to working closely with you, your Bureau and the members of the AOSIS.  

             Thank you