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PROGRAMME OF ACTION:

The major accomplishment of the Conference was the agreement on a comprehensive Programme of Action for the sustainable development of SIDS. The Programme of Action is significant in that SIDS are dealt with holistically and not, as has been traditionally the case, just "coral reefs and beaches." Unlike Chapter 17 of Agenda 21, which calls for national and international actions, this policy blueprint specifies measures to be taken at the national, regional and international levels. This Programme of Action has not only filled the regional gap, but has gone on to elaborate specific strategies for enhancing regional and sub-regional cooperation on each of the fourteen subject areas covered by the Programme of Action in such a way that it is not just a repetition, but builds on Agenda 21. As such, it reflects accurately on the concept of common, but differentiated, responsibilities. Whereas no major new and additional financial resources are identified in the Programme of Action, there are specific recommendations on efficiency and re-prioritization of existing resources. This was reinforced in the statements of many of the donor countries during the High-Level Segment who signaled that SIDS should now receive greater proportions of existing aid.

The successful negotiation of this Programme of Action is also a tribute to the array of diplomatic skills on display from Amb. Penelope Wensley, who chaired both the Preparatory Committee and the Main Committee at the Conference. Her deployment of small contact groups during the Conference was effective in diffusing potential tensions and allowing agreements to be struck on such contentious issues as finance, intellectual property rights, transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and family planning.