The Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States concluded its only scheduled session at UN Headquarters in New York on 10 September 1993. The Conference, which will be held in Barbados from 25 April - 6 May 1994, is one of the major outputs of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED).
In her opening statement, PrepCom Chair Penelope Wensley (Australia) set the context for the meeting. "We meet at a time when expectations of the United Nations have never been higher, when the demands on the system have never been greater, when the world community is struggling to cope with a proliferation of political and economic crises and problems. So we are competing for attention, for resources, for the commitment of governments, and for the provision of effective support for our work by the UN and its agencies." This meeting was one of the first opportunities for governments to "roll up their sleeves, and get down to the hard work of turning the ideas and concepts [of Agenda 21] into practical concrete plans, measures and programmes which will produce results."
By the conclusion of the two-week meeting, the PrepCom had set the process in motion for the adoption of a programme of action for the sustainable development of small island developing States (SIDS). However, many felt that more negotiating time will be needed before this document is ready for adoption in Barbados next year. So, in the closing session, the PrepCom requested the General Assembly to consider continuing the preparatory process, which may mean convening an additional session of the PrepCom, to allow governments more time to work on the Programme of Action and an opportunity to initiate negotiations on the Barbados Declaration -- the other proposed product of the Conference -- which was not formally discussed during this session. It will not be known until the General Assembly concludes in December whether and when there will be a second PrepCom, given the current UN financial situation and continued opposition to this idea from some delegations. What is known, however, is that unless governments return to the negotiating table with a positive attitude and a desire to promote sustainable development in small island developing States, a second PrepCom will not solve anything.
[Return to start of article]