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 opening ceremony. At right is UNDP Resident Representative in Barbados, Michelle Gyles-McDonnough. (C. Pitt/BGIS)??

As Small Island Developing States (SIDS) prepare for next month’s United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), they are being?? encouraged to ensure that the special needs of are prioritised.

This was the overarching message from Minister of the Environment and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe, at opening of a Rio + 20 SIDS Informal Ministerial Meeting hosted by the Government of Barbados and the United Nations Development Programme at Hilton Barbados?? today.

In a brief, but?? impassioned, message, Minister Lowe told delegates Rio would be a space where challenges and obstacles would be discussed and reviewed, and must be seen as a space where lessons learnt and innovative methodologies would be exchanged.

Charging that SIDS had many?? assessments to conduct, indicators to develop, resources to mobilise, strategies to employ and a number of technical issues to resolve, Dr. Lowe?? stressed:?? " However, all of our histories demonstrate that we are a people who thrive in the face of adversity…Sometimes, we have to make small?? sacrifices?? to achieve bigger gains.?? Let us, therefore, resolve that none of us should emerge from Rio, worse off than when we entered."

Minister Lowe cited the need for an enhanced institutional framework for the implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action and Mauritius Strategy both at the regional and international levels, and the significant scaling up of investment in human resources and appropriate technologies to enhance?? coastal and marine governance, as among the region’s major concerns.
He, therefore, urged regional delegates to let integration, coherence and implementation be their mantra, and to let the call of ???united we stand, divided we fall,’ be our calling card.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the task is not easy, but it is not insurmountable. We have countless examples of triumph over adversity across all the SIDS. We have to keep SIDS priorities on the global agenda, and build the necessary institutional arrangements to deliver targeted assistance in a timely fashion.

"We must always choose to believe in who we are; we must call on the world to acknowledge the authenticity of our existence: and we must conscientiously strive to achieve the highest levels of social, economic and environmental sustainability. For this is the legacy that must signal to future generations that we are here," Dr. Lowe contended.

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development – Rio + 20, will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from June 20-22, 2012.


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