The third and final Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, convened initially from 23-27 June 2014 at UN HQ, but extended until 11 July, sought to update and agree upon the outcome document of the Conference.
This was the final meeting of Member States and Major Groups and other stakeholders prior to the Conference, taking place in Apia, Samoa from 1-4 September, with the overarching theme, “The sustainable development of Small Island Developing States through genuine and durable partnerships.”
In his opening remarks, Conference Secretary-General Wu Hongbo expressed his and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s deep appreciation for the leadership and commitment of SIDS and development partners, saying, “SIDS are at the frontline of global sustainable development – their mission is our mission.”
Facilitated by the Co-Chairs of the Preparatory Committee, Karen Tan, Permanent Representative of the Mission of the Republic of Singapore to the UN, and Phillip Taula, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Mission of New Zealand to the UN, two concurrent contact groups were held on climate change and on oceans and seas.
Major Groups and other stakeholders and their entry points
In the lead-up to the final PrepCom, one webinar was organized for each of the SIDS regions: Africa, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, and South China Sea (AIMS); the Pacific; and the Caribbean. The webinars, organized in collaboration with the three representatives from each SIDS region on the Major Groups and other Stakeholders Steering Committee, were directed to the SIDS communities of each SIDS region, and provided the opportunity to address questions, concerns and expectations that might exist regarding the upcoming Conference in Samoa and civil society participation in it. A pre-Conference of the Major Groups and Stakeholders Forum will take place on 29 August in Samoa, preceded by an opening on the evening of 28 August. A Pre-Conference Forum on Youth on 28 August will focus on identifying opportunities for young people from Small Island Developing States. The outcome of this forum will help inform the Conference dialogue process and plenary discussions. A Renewable Energy Forum will be held on 30 August, and a Private Sector Forum will be held from 30-31 August. Information on these events can be found here.
At the final PrepCom, the Women’s Major Group (MG) delivered welcoming remarks at the opening session, and each day of the PrepCom from 23-27 June, two representatives of Major Groups and other Stakeholders made interventions. The following Major Group representatives made statements:
• Noelene Nabulivou, Women’s Major Group
• Tahere Siisiialafia, Children & Youth Major Group
• Masanori Kobayashi, Science and Technology Major Group
• Roberto Borrero, Indigenous Peoples Major Group
• Gordon Bispham, NGO Major Group (Caribbean representative)
• Anande Trottman Joseph, NGO Major Group (Caribbean representative)
Gender was a cross-cutting theme across interventions. In their statement, the Women’s MG substantively called for: causal linkages between disasters and climate change to be recognized, citing science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the multifaceted vulnerability of SIDS to climate impacts; universal healthcare and women’s health, including sexual and reproductive health; and gender equality, citing unpaid care work as a major concern. Regarding process, the Women’s MG requested the highest State and UN representation in Samoa, and called for more systematic and immediate access to negotiating text in order to provide substantive inputs. The Children & Youth MG, in a joint statement with the Women’s MG, highlighted the absence of women and girls in decision-making roles in SIDS, noting the Pacific’s low rate of women in national legislature, and also called for “safe spaces” for youth, such as peer-to-peer mentoring. The youth representative, in a separate statement, reiterated the need for intergenerational equity, expressed concerns for the absence of youth in discussions, and stated that, “Partnerships cannot be private sector placing profits before people and planet.”
The Science and Technology Major Group commended the attention to science and technology in achieving sustainable development, noting however a perceptual gap over key issues, including climate change, oceans, natural disasters, and causal linkages. The Indigenous People’s Major Group expressed concern with the lack of attention to indigenous peoples in the draft text, noting that although indigenous peoples are a majority in the Pacific, they are a minority in the Caribbean.
The NGO Major Group called for a comprehensive introductory paragraph to address the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and means of implementation. The representative further reiterated the need for appropriate institutional frameworks at the local, regional, and international levels, as well as the integration of civil society in monitoring and implementation.
A joint DESA-Samoan Government side event, “Together from here to Samoa: SIDS 2014 in Partnership” was held at lunchtime on 23 June 2014. The Samoan Government announced that over 100 applications were received for side and parallel events at the Conference, exceeding expectations, and noted the registration of 24 UN organizations, including 21 executive heads and 3 deputies. The event then transitioned into presentations from the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA), the Waitt Foundation, the Pacific partnership for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases, SIDS DOCK on sustainable energy, and EU/SIDS partnerships.
A side event was held by the UNDP and civil society, “Island Voices–Global Choices: A Conversation with SIDS Civil Society” on 25 June 2014. The event was an opportunity to discuss what civil society hopes to achieve through the Samoa Conference, and focused on four themes: Member State-civil society partnerships; the role of information communication technology (ICT); women and youth; and examples of partnerships that work, and identifying partnerships that need work.
Click here for a previous UN-NGLS article on Major Groups and other Stakeholders involvement in the SIDS Conference.