Time running out for SIDS agreement

Minister of the Environment and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe

Barbados and other small island developing states have been cautioned that time may be running out for settling a common agenda in preparation for next year’s Third International Conference of SIDS in Samoa.

Speaking at the opening of the Inter-Regional Preparatory Meeting of SIDS at Hilton Barbados this morning, Minister of the Environment and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe reminded delegates that this was the last time they would get to deliberate as small island developing states on what was needed for their future development.

“After Barbados, our outcome document enters a round of negotiations that goes first to the G77 and China and then to be further negotiated between ourselves and the entire UN member state community,” Lowe pointed out.  “We must make use of this occasion to agree to an outcome that may shape the development agenda for SIDS for the next decade,” the minister noted.

He encouraged the representatives from 47 states to be frank and forthright in their deliberations, while being cognisant of the fact that they have to achieve a level of synergy and coherence with “brothers and sisters” in the G77 and China.

“We have all identified priorities at the national level, which have varied from country to country. Therefore we will need to proceed with a measure of flexibility and compromise that will enable us to produce an outcome document that may be acceptable to all members states,” the Environment Minister asserted.

Lowe suggested that the conference needed to ensure that its deliberations result in an outcome of which its citizens would be proud.

“We have many issues to discuss, many challenges to overcome and many potential solutions to debate. However, I urge that we approach the task at hand in a spirit of genuine cooperation and with the willingness to be open-minded while we try to forge consensus,” he stated.

Lowe told the meeting the Barbados Government had applied the principles of inclusiveness, transparency and collaboration in its approach to the meeting, which runs for three days.

Also addressing today’s forum was the UN Under-Secretary-General and UNDP Associate Administrator, Rebeca Grynspan, who observed that while Barbados had achieved the majority of its Millennium Development Goals, environmental degradation threatened to set back progress. She called for action on the outcome document.

Another senior UN official commented, too, on the future of small island developing states environmental challenges facing them. Under-Secretary-General and High Representative, Gayan Chandra Acharya suggested that the SIDS concerns should remain a priority on the global agenda.

He reasoned though that while small island developing states were responsible for less than one per cent of greenhouse gases, they nevertheless, bore the heaviest financial burden.

He was of the opinion that priority attention should be given to climate change development funds for SIDS, and urged that the comprehensive and global support of the Barbados Plan of Action be stepped up and funded, adding that solidarity and vision were the key to forward thinking of SIDS. (EJ)

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