Minister of the Environment and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe, in conversation with Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations and Executive Coordinator of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), Elizabeth Thompson, during the??conference. At right is UNDP Resident Representative in Barbados, Michelle Gyles-McDonnough. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Enhance the global effort to combat climate change!

This conclusion was among several others made during Wednesday’s Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Informal Ministerial Meeting at Hilton Barbados, as representatives came together to take stock of on-going Rio +20 negotiations, and identify priority areas and strategies to achieve them ahead of next month’s major conference.

Minister of the Environment and Drainage, and chairman of the Meeting, Dr. Denis Lowe, said the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) insisted that Rio +20 acknowledge the impacts of climate change on sustainable development and the threat it posed to SIDS.

In addition to calling for enhanced efforts to combat climate change, SIDS also called for the immediate implementation of all commitments established under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

"AOSIS has identified as a priority, the reaffirmation of SIDS as a special case for sustainable development in view of their unique and peculiar circumstances. In this regard, the convening of the 3rd Global Conference on SIDS in 2014 represents a major priority…," Dr. Lowe stated.

Meanwhile, issues surrounding the ocean, also referred to as the Blue Economy, and the significance of marine resources to sustainable development were also highlighted during the high-level meeting.

There were also discussions on regional institutional strengthening as one of the main priorities of SIDS. It was pointed out that the absence of a regional coordinating mechanism within the Atlantic Indian Ocean and South China Sea (AIMS) region presented sustainable development challenges such as climate change and sea level rise, natural disasters indebtedness, slow rates of economic growth, loss of economic competitiveness and rising rates of unemployment and poverty.

However, Dr. Lowe noted that serious concerns were raised surrounding the low level of determination being demonstrated ahead of next month’s conference, and the slow pace of negotiations.

In addition, it was agreed that attention needed to be placed on "the day after Rio", or what would be its outcome, especially as it related to the provision of finance, technology, capacity building and institutional strengthening of SIDS.

"In this regard, AOSIS representatives agreed that the Barbados Declaration adopted on May 8, 2012 should be fed into the Rio +20 process as a concrete set of actions SIDS were prepared to undertake with the support of the international community," Dr. Lowe said.

However, one of the points coming out of the all-day meeting was that Ministers and Heads of States and Government’s, must be adequately prepared for engagement at the Rio +20 Conference.

Meanwhile, AOSIS representatives have called on their negotiators to be more vigilant in ensuring that their interests were reflected in the positions of the Group of 77 and China, especially on issues such as energy and the green economy.


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