PM: SIDS must work as one
LEADERS OF Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have been reminded that they must approach their negotiations in international fora as a group and not necessarily as separate entities such as the Caribbean, AIMS or Pacific SIDS.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart issued this reminder today in Samoa while addressing the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) Leaders Conference of the Third International Conference on SIDS. Describing the meeting as timely, Stuart said leaders have to seriously look ahead and determine the type of representation SIDS required at the international level.
He told the gathering: “Constituting approximately 24 per cent of the UN membership, we have enough strength when we act collectively to influence decisions in this august body. It is a latent influence yet to be fully actualised in promoting and defending our interests. The new architecture outlined in the Rio Plus 20 Future We Want, underscores the need for us to act collectively.”
According to him, the stark reality was driven home to their representatives recently at the first session of the United Nations Environment Assembly. He pointed out that since only few SIDS countries have missions at the UN Headquarters at Nairobi, the headquarters of UNEP, their input and impact on the preparatory process and outcomes of that historic meeting were limited.
“This, in the view of Barbados, undermines the notion of ‘universality’, the same concept which is being promoted by the new governance architecture for global sustainable development. It is therefore important that we SIDS leaders take stock on all aspects of the Rio+20 Structures – such as United Nations Environment Assembly and the High Level Political Forum. This reflection is vital as we prepare to operationalise the SAMOA Pathway and, equally important, as we begin the framing of the Post 2015 Development Agenda in the context of the next General Assembly,” he stated.
Stuart underscored the importance of “SIDS Collectivity”, that is, speaking with one voice at the international level, whether it be on the issue of trade relations; graduation from least developed status and the constraints experienced; the inherent weaknesses of using GDP as the sole criterion for accessing concessional resources; or, the sustainable development of SIDS including the adverse impacts of climate change.
The Prime Minister expressed the view that one of the fundamental principles underpinning the Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA) and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the BPOA is inter-and intra-regional collaboration between SIDS.
He continued: “The empirical evidence suggests that despite the importance of this underlying principle, collaboration and cooperation remain extremely weak in respect of the implementation of the various SIDS instruments… I wish to say again that the most important way to address this fundamental gap is the establishment of a SIDS inter- and intra-institutional mechanism in each of the SIDS regions.”
According to him, such an institutional mechanism would have multiple benefits, including driving the implementation of the SIDS Agenda and ensuring greater coherence in the delivery of the UN System to SIDS. (BGIS)