The journey of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) is not about one island, one territory, or one group of islands, but about all Member States marching forward together.
This was one of many conclusions drawn as the three-day high-level SIDS Inter-Regional Preparatory Meeting drew to a close at Hilton Barbados late last night. The meeting gave SIDS countries a final opportunity to ventilate issues affecting them as they worked on preparing a political declaration and an outcome document to take to Samoa next year.
Minister of the Environment and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe, said: ???The SIDS journey continues, and what we should do here is to provide further impetus for that journey to be fortified through partnerships, trust, getting to know each other better, celebrating our commonalities, understanding our differences, and understanding also that this is not a journey of many parts, this is a journey of one as we go forward.???
The need for partnerships was emphasised from day one of the conference by the Minister who also urged SIDS countries to let cooperation govern their deliberations in shaping the development of the SIDS agenda for the next decade.
Samoan Ambassador in New York, Aliioaiga Feturi Elisaia, also called for partnerships, noting that regardless of what issue SIDS countries were facing, ???by hook or by crook you will need partners???.
He said Samoa was one of the Pacific Islands affected by the ravages of climate change which is plaguing most SIDS, but still it stepped forward to host next year???s conference.
???When we put up our hand to host the conference in 2014, it wasn???t because we had 3, 000 hotel rooms, because we don???t. That is why we are looking to have a cruise liner so we can have 2, 000 additional rooms. We didn???t put up our hands to host the conference in 2014, because we have a state-of-the-art conference facility; because we don???t. That is why we are working very hard to try and upgrade some of the facilities so that they will be able to cater to the needs of the conference.
???We didn???t put up our hands to host the conference because it is cheaper or easier to get to Samoa, because it is not. It is very expensive and it takes you up to two days to get there. For us we didn???t put up our hands to host the conference simply to host the conference, because if that was the case it makes no sense; it is expensive and you could do better in New York where the majority of us are represented,??? he said.
The Ambassador pointed out that Samoa rose to the challenge to host the conference because they felt that every United Nations Member State should be given an opportunity to host the conference, and to allow the international community to see the realities that existed in the Pacific.
However, despite the challenges Samoa faces, Mr. Elisaia stressed that partnerships were a key part in the process. ???The fact that the conference on SIDS is being held in 2014 also means that we need our partners. That is why for us we
proposed within the Pacific SIDS the Sustainable Development of SIDS through genuine and durable partnerships theme [for the 2014 conference],??? he said.
He explained that genuine partners were those who took time to listen to the challenges and issues, and would try to help when they can, while durable partners would be there no matter what.
???We are saying that for us partnerships are the totality of partnerships. It is not just a notion that is triangular. It is SIDS working with SIDS; SIDS working with their partners,??? he stated, adding those partnerships could be durable and exist with non-governmental organisations and civil society.
The Ambassador added that while SIDS countries could celebrate successes in light of the progress made, the fact was there were still challenges. ???We believe if it is climate change, disaster risk reduction, [or] whether it is fisheries, you will need a different set of partners,??? he stressed.
Mr. Elisaia appealed to the SIDS to understand that while they could have the most comprehensive outcome document from the three days of discussions, without the necessary buy-in from partners there would still be frustrations.
He then proposed that the conference in Samoa be used as the launching pad for corporate and specific partnerships that would benefit SIDS as a whole, as a sub-region, a country or even a community.
Next year???s conference comes 20 years after the first SIDS conference was held in Barbados in April 1994.