14 March 2014

Pacific Organisations: "Climate change represents the greatest development and human rights challenge"

Preparatory Committee Meeting for SIDS 2014 Conference 

24-26 February 2014



24 - 26 February 2014

Distinguished Co-Chairs,

I have the honour to make this statement on behalf of nine inter-governmental and development agencies of our region all serving Pacific Forum countries and other island communities and coordinated as the Council of RegionalOrganisations of the Pacific (CROP).

We congratulate AOSIS and the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) for the inter-regional outcomes document which we believe is an informed and sound basis to guide the engagement of other stakeholders as we seek an agreement which is forward looking, and one which allows for true ownership. We note that, by design, implementation is by the global community in supportive collaboration with SIDS, and thus a broad engagement by local, national, regional and international stakeholders.

Our region has had long engagement with the negotiations and outcomes of both the Barbados Programme of Action (BPoA) and the Mauritius Implementation (MSI) agreements. Having built on those solid foundations, we need now to move with even greater perspective, to be even bolder in what we strive for in Samoa and beyond. 

The Samoa outcomes must reflect the urgency of global challenges which now threaten world-wide livelihoods and sustainability. Climate change represents the greatest development and human rights challenge, for it is exposing people and their security to serious and multiple risks, in particular amongst the most vulnerable and disproportionately affected communities like SIDS. There is need to generate a global response of immediacy and of justice. 

The Oceans is home, and the natural setting for all island communities. It is the major driving force in the global environment and the sustainable development of SIDS, indeed, of the rest of the world. We are concerned about the state and management, rather mismanagement, of the world’s Oceans and Seas. By their nature and inert-linkages, we think the Oceans, Seas and Islands demand a place of stand-alone prominence in the post 2015 framework.

The special case for SIDS requires much more than repeated affirmation. There is need to address modern challenges in real and practical terms and to work out effective solutions, innovative and inclusive of private sector and civil society and maximising opportunities through harnessed strengths and comparative advantages. For this, we would seek leadership and defined commitment in the outcomes of the Samoa conference, together withinstitutionalised frameworks of accountability and structured assessment against commitments agreed to. We note, Mr Chairman, that several paragraphs of the inter-regional document, on capacity building (134) and institutional support and linkages (158 and 163), for example, call for precisely such a result.
For a proper understanding of the implementation of international agreements, we believe that all development partners must complement the national assessments of SIDS with their own frank partner assessments of performance. Such collective stakeholder assessments will, assuredly, point the way to best practice performance and the effective evaluation of results, whether positive or not. 

We think there is merit in adopting and refining the approach taken with the original BPoA of 1994 by which, in respect of each issue, opportunity and emerging challenge identified, there is a clear statement of the necessary actions and responsibilities to be addressed at country, regional and international levels. This makes it easier to develop reporting and monitoring frameworks, for all stakeholders, and not leave just the SIDS to bear the major responsibility.

We thank and congratulate the Government of Samoa for the theme of the conference. There cannot be a more effective pathway to sustainability than by the assurance of genuine commitment and enduring partnerships. Clear criteria need to be developed very quickly and we are committed to assisting, applying our own regional experiences of partnerships and their accountability frameworks, including those launched as Type II partnerships at the Johannesburg Summit. 

As I close, Mr Chairman, let me say that we in the vastness of the Pacific Ocean have lived by a code of Pacific regionalism developed over the past six decades and more, including the Pacific Plan for closer regional cooperation and integration, now currently undergoing significant review and recalibration in keeping with the changing times. It is in the name of regionalism that I appear to speak for the Regional Organisations of the Pacific, and to commend the well tested place of regional cooperation and coordinated approaches in the sustainable development of small island developing States. 

On the SIDS conference and its processes, all CROP organisations will continue and remain ready to provide needed support and assistance to all Forum and Pacific States.