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AOSIS Hosts Celebration of Partnerships for SIDS

23 September 2010: The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) hosted a breakfast on 22 September 2010, in New York, US, to celebrate “island leadership” and cooperation on issues facing small island developing States (SIDS). The partnerships highlighted during the event were the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA) and the Small Island Developing States Network (SIDSNet).

Ambassador Dessima Williams (Grenada), who chairs AOSIS activities at UN Headquarters, chaired the event, which was addressed by: Sha Zukang, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs; Kevin Rudd, Foreign Minister of Australia; Danny Faure, Vice President of the Seychelles and GLISPA co-Chair; Alik Alik, Vice President of the Federated States of Micronesia; and Michael Church, Minister of Environment and Trade of Grenada.

Under-Secretary-General Sha said that SIDS are at “the frontlines” of climate change and are global leaders in adaptation. He also praised cooperation on the revitalization of SIDSNet, “an online knowledge management system for policy makers,” which is being supported financially by the government of Spain and which will facilitate partnerships. Sha expressed appreciation for GLISPA which he said assists SIDS with critical tasks including conservation and protection of ecosystems.

Minister Rudd, in his capacity as a member of the Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Global Sustainability (GSP), promised to reflect the interests of AOSIS. He noted that the GSP is intended to provide impetus for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) in 2012 (also called Rio+20). He described the Panel as bringing together climate change and economic development, which he noted have been “conflicting things” in previous processes. He added that the international community “can no longer sustain this conflict,” and said that anyone who does not support the integration of the two “will impede the long-term development of real action” to assist not just AOSIS members but all countries. Rudd said SIDS' interests are a core part of the “emerging development agenda” of the Group of 20, and suggested that “the development agenda of the largest economies in the world should be most mindful of the smallest and most vulnerable countries of the world.” On climate finance, Rudd looked toward negotiations during the next two meetings of the Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change “in Cancun and the following year in Durban.” Finally, Rudd announced that Australia would be directing, towards SIDS' needs, 25% of the $600 million funds it has committed for fast-track financing over the period 2010-2012, as well as $1.5 million to AOSIS for its institutional capacity to deal with climate change adaptation, over the next three years.

Vice President Faure announced a new protected area in Seychelles, which he said makes it the country with the highest percentage (47%) of protected land. He said this accomplishment shows that it is possible to achieve the Convention on Biological Diversity's 2010 targets.

Vice President Alik highlighted a new partnership his country has established with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), which he said would provide funding for the Micronesia Challenge (to conserve 30% of marine resources and 20% of land by 2020).

Ambassador Williams gave concluding comments highlighting the connection between biodiversity/conservation work and climate change, as the former helps to delay the onset of the latter. She made a request to Janos Pasztor, the Secretary-General's “point person on climate change,” to “take our messages on board in your climate change work” in the coming review year of the Mauritius Strategy for Implementation.

Minister Church thanked TNC for a recent partnership established with his country and closed the event. [IISD RS Sources]

Photo credit: PCI-Media Impact