The Caribbean Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) took place in Kingston, Jamaica, from 2-4 July 2013. This meeting was the first stop along the road to the Conference in Apia, Samoa in September 2014 and provided an opportunity for the Caribbean SIDS to: assess progress and remaining gaps in implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action and the Mauritius Strategy for Implementation; seek a renewed political commitment; identify new and emerging challenges and opportunities for sustainable development of SIDS; and identify priorities for the sustainable development of SIDS to be considered in the elaboration of the post-2015 UN development agenda.
Approximately 100 participants, including representatives of Caribbean governments, UN and regional agencies and organizations, and Major Groups, attended the three-day session. After two days of panel presentations and interactive discussions, government delegates met to identify priorities and draft the outcome document. This document was negotiated in a formal setting on Thursday. After two readings of the document, the twelve remaining delegates began a final round of negotiations at midnight and adopted the 44-paragraph Kingston Outcome of the Caribbean Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States at 4:55 am on Friday, 5 July 2014. The Kingston Outcome will be the basis of the Caribbean regional position at the Inter-regional Preparatory Meeting to be held in Barbados from 26-28 August 2013.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SIDS CONFERENCES
The vulnerability of islands and coastal areas was recognized by the 44th session of the UN General Assembly in 1989, when it passed resolution 44/206 on the possible adverse effects of sea-level rise on islands and coastal areas, particularly low-lying coastal areas. The 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, brought the special case of small islands and coastal areas to international attention when it adopted Agenda 21, a programme of action for sustainable development. Chapter 17 of Agenda 21, on the protection of oceans, all kinds of seas and coastal areas, included a programme area on the sustainable development of small islands. Agenda 21 also called for a global conference on the sustainable development of SIDS.
GLOBAL CONFERENCE ON THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF SIDS: Established by UN General Assembly resolution 47/189, the UN Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of SIDS was held in Bridgetown, Barbados, from 25 April - 6 May 1994. The Conference adopted the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDS (BPOA), a 14-point programme that identifies priority areas and specific actions necessary for addressing the special challenges faced by SIDS. The priority areas are: climate change and sea-level rise, natural and environmental disasters, management of wastes, coastal and marine resources, freshwater resources, land resources, energy resources, tourism resources, biodiversity resources, national institutions and administrative capacity, regional institutions and technical cooperation, transport and communication, science and technology, and human resource development. The BPOA further identified cross-sectoral areas requiring attention: capacity building; institutional development at the national, regional and international levels; cooperation in the transfer of environmentally sound technologies; trade and economic diversification; and finance. The Conference also adopted the Barbados Declaration, a statement of political will underpinning the commitments contained in the BPOA.
The UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was given the responsibility to follow up on the implementation of the BPOA.
UNGASS-22: In September 1999, the 22nd Special Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGASS-22) undertook a comprehensive review and appraisal of the implementation of the BPOA. The Special Session adopted the “State of Progress and Initiatives for the Future Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDS,” which identified six areas in need of urgent attention: climate change, natural and environmental disasters and climate variability, freshwater resources, coastal and marine resources, energy, and tourism. In addition, the Special Session highlighted the need to focus on means of implementation. The Special Session also adopted a declaration in which member states, inter alia, reaffirmed the principles of, and their commitment to, sustainable development as embodied in Agenda 21, the Barbados Declaration and the BPOA.
MILLENNIUM SUMMIT: In September 2000, at the UN Millennium Summit in New York, world leaders adopted the UN Millennium Declaration (General Assembly resolution 55/2) and, in doing so, resolved to address the special needs of SIDS by implementing the BPOA and the outcome of UNGASS-22 rapidly and in full.
WSSD: The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) convened from 26 August to 4 September 2002, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The WSSD reaffirmed the special case of SIDS, dedicating a chapter of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation to the sustainable development of SIDS that identified a set of priority actions, called for a full and comprehensive review of the BPOA in 2004, and requested the General Assembly at its 57th session to consider convening an international meeting on the sustainable development of SIDS.
UNGA-57: In December 2002, the 57th session of the UN General Assembly adopted resolution 57/262, in which the Assembly decided to convene an international meeting in 2004 to undertake a full and comprehensive review of the implementation of the BPOA, and welcomed the offer by the Government of Mauritius to host the meeting. The General Assembly also decided that the review should focus on, practical and pragmatic actions for the further implementation of the BPOA, including through the mobilization of resources and assistance for SIDS.
INTERNATIONAL MEETING TO REVIEW THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE BPOA: The International Meeting to Review the Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States convened from 10-14 January 2005, in Port Louis, Mauritius. Plenary panels convened on the themes of: environmental vulnerabilities of SIDS; special challenges of SIDS in trade and economic development; the role of culture in the sustainable development of SIDS; addressing emerging trends and social challenges for the sustainable development of SIDS; and building resilience in SIDS. The high-level segment addressed the “Comprehensive review of the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDS.” At the conclusion of the meeting, delegates adopted the Mauritius Declaration and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action on the Sustainable Development of SIDS (MSI).
MSI+5: The High-level Review Meeting on the Implementation of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (MSI+5) was held from 24-25 September 2010 at UN Headquarters in New York. Delegates participated in two multi-stakeholder roundtables, which focused on reducing vulnerabilities and strengthening resilience of SIDS and enhancing international support for SIDS, and an interactive dialogue on cross-regional perspectives on common issues and priorities for the way forward. The major outcome of the meeting was a political declaration that elaborates new and renewed commitments to implement the BPOA and the MSI.
RIO+20: The third and final meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20), Pre-Conference Informal Consultations facilitated by the host country, and the UNCSD convened back-to-back in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 13-22 June 2012. Government delegations concluded the negotiations on the Conference outcome document, entitled The Future We Want. Paragraphs 178-180 reaffirm that SIDS are a special case for sustainable development in view of their unique and particular vulnerabilities, including their small size, remoteness, narrow resource and export base, and exposure to global environmental challenges and external economic shocks, including climate change and natural disasters. The Future We Want also called for the convening in 2014 of a third international conference on SIDS, building on the BPOA and MSI.
UNGA 67: Resolution 67/207, Follow-up to and implementation of the MSI, set up the modalities for the 2014 International Conference on Small Island Developing States, welcomed the offer of the Government of Samoa to host the conference, and called for the conference to: assess the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the BPOA and the MSI; seek a renewed political commitment by all countries to address effectively the special needs and vulnerabilities of SIDS by focusing on practical and pragmatic actions; identify new and emerging challenges and opportunities for the sustainable development of SIDS; and identify priorities for the SIDS for consideration, as appropriate, in the elaboration of the post-2015 United Nations development agenda.
The General Assembly agreed that in 2013 there would be a regional preparatory meeting in each of the three SIDS regions as well as an inter-regional preparatory meeting for all SIDS to identify and develop input for the conference. The 68th session of the General Assembly will determine the modalities for the UN intergovernmental preparatory process, which will begin in early 2014.
REPORT OF THE MEETING
On Tuesday, 2 July 2013, Chair Sharon Crooks, Ministry of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Jamaica, welcomed participants and encouraged delegates to: share best practices; act decisively and effectively; develop pragmatic and concrete actions; and strengthen partnerships at all levels to ensure meaningful contributions are made towards the upcoming Inter-regional preparatory meeting in Barbados in August 2013 (Inter-regional Meeting) and the 2014 Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, in Apia, Samoa (Apia Conference).
Arun Kashyap, UNDP Jamaica, highlighted regional cooperation and underscored the need for the Caribbean regional voice to “find a prominent place.” He encouraged delegates to take clear and unambiguous positions. He summarized Jamaica’s priorities that emerged from its national consultation, including addressing: the adverse impacts of climate change; natural and environmental disasters; management of waste; coastal and marine biodiversity resources; and freshwater resources. He also highlighted the need to lower energy costs, strengthen the transportation sector and support human resources and technology development. He encouraged all Caribbean countries that had not completed national consultations do so before August 2013. He then stressed prioritizing greater adaptation financing; developing a “loss and damage mechanism”; and SIDS-SIDS cooperation.
Amb. Marlene Moses, Nauru, Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) said that coral reefs, which form the basis of island history and identity, are an important metaphor for the role SIDS play in the international community. She said that while SIDS do not need to put their national interests aside, research shows that that when communities engage in sustainable development they are more successful. She called for moving from capacity building to institution building—long-term country engagement backed by resources run by the country’s own people in order to deliver benefits to people and the environment.
Nikhil Seth, UN Division for Sustainable Development, delivered a statement via Skype on behalf of UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Wu Hongbo, Secretary-General of the Apia Conference. He said that this regional meeting is the first opportunity for SIDS to develop a Caribbean agenda and solidify the region’s position for Apia. He noted that Caribbean SIDS have a long history of collaboration, including in disaster preparedness and public health. He concluded by urging participants to contribute to the creation of the post-2015 development agenda.
Emphasizing the need to send clear and unequivocal messages to the international community about the importance and relevance of the SIDS, Robert Pickersgill, Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Jamaica, stressed using this meeting to develop a road map to take the Caribbean forward rather than “dwelling on the past.” He encouraged pragmatic and concrete actions that are affordable and feasible, and robust mechanisms at the national and regional levels. He said a priority in Apia must be to address the challenge faced by those SIDS recently categorized as middle-income countries to achieve sustainable development, and further emphasized the need for: greater access to concessionary loans; debt-for-equity swaps; national and regional partnerships; engagement with non-SIDS; and teamwork.
After announcing that the meeting’s outcome document would highlight key sustainable development messages from the Caribbean community and would be sent to the Inter-regional meeting and to Apia, Chair Crooks declared the conference open.
ORGANIZATIONAL MATTERS: Delegates proceeded to adopt the agenda (Caribbean/SIDS/1) and elected Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados as Vice Chairs and Grenada as Rapporteur. A drafting group was established, to be chaired by Jamaica.
SIDS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AGENDA FROM A CARIBBEAN PERSPECTIVE: PRESENTATIONS AND INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE
Elizabeth Thompson, Former UN Assistant Secretary-General, gave an overview of the SIDS agenda within the regional and global context. She highlighted the global context, including Rio+20, the National Capital Declaration, transition to a green economy, the post-2015 development agenda and the sustainable development goals (SDGs), and the notion of GDP+. She urged delegates to look at the development of SDGs, since the biggest health issue in the Caribbean is non-communicable diseases (NCDs), saying they must be on the SDG agenda. She highlighted several concerns: how do you bring Caribbean women in the labor force into the green economy? How do SIDS access financing and tap into Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) programmes and increase use of renewable energy? And how do SIDS tap into financing for development and public-private partnerships? She expressed concern that she had not observed the engagement necessary to get the quality outcome needed.
Charmaine Gomes, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), presented the recent ECLAC regional synthesis report, noting it is incomplete because only three national consultation reports were submitted. She said the report therefore drew its content from results of the March 2013 ECLAC Caribbean Forum in Bogotá, Colombia and other previous assessments. She emphasized that: transportation is increasingly important to the Caribbean region; only 50% of the member states are poised to implement the MSI; and there is significant competition for resources for Caribbean SIDS to comply with various international instruments. She noted, for example, that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) had been a burden for Jamaica. She then summarized policy priorities including aligning the BPOA and MSI with the post-2015 development agenda, advancing the green economy and use of the Caribbean Sea as a carbon sink.
Garfield Barnwell, Caribbean Community (CARICOM), presented the regional sustainable development agenda from a CARICOM perspective. He identified the major regional challenges of low economic growth, high unemployment, high debt, high cost of energy and high frequency of natural disasters and climate change impacts. Looking forward, he stressed: partnerships; investment in resilience; operationalization of a SIDS green economy facility; technical assistance for risk mitigation; a low-carbon development measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) framework for the Caribbean; an Integrated Aid for Trade Framework; and statistical data and accounting.
Jahisiah Benoit, youth delegate, presented the results of the SIDS Regional Youth Consultation, which convened from 27 June - 1 July 2013 and produced the Jamaica Youth Declaration. The declaration focuses on the following key issues for Caribbean SIDS: education, social protection, climate change, healthcare and good governance. He said that in school you are given a lesson and then take a test, while in life you are given a test that teaches a lesson. He concluded that people have learned to be resilient and how to create change rather than wait for it. He expressed hope that the Youth Declaration would have an impact on the SIDS process.
Amb. Paulette Bethel, Bahamas, Chef de Cabinet Designate, spoke on behalf of Amb. John Ashe, President-Elect of the UN General Assembly. She listed several challenges, including the need for: a new sustainable development paradigm to build resilience and forge partnerships; a new paradigm to mitigate vulnerabilities; social resilience and cohesion; robust vulnerability analysis as an integral part of development planning, particularly in regard to meeting the MDGs, growth targets and other development goals; alignment of the BPOA and MSI with the post-2015 development agenda; appropriate mechanisms to address the growing capacity of the tourism industry; modes for addressing the challenges of sustainable energy, food and water security; innovative approaches to social mobility and knowledge-based economies; and action to confront the multidimensional challenges of NCDs and communicable diseases, including universal healthcare.
Participants then shared opinions on what should be on the sustainable development agenda. Guyana said the SIDS have been “led” into processes regurgitating issues raised in the BPOA and spend 75%-90% of their time rewriting text. He called for the meeting to focus on means of implementation, assess the extent to which requirements for assistance have not been met, and devise a SIDS-driven set of priorities to be used by the international community.
Cuba called for: acknowledging difficulties experienced in fulfilling mandates of the MSI; addressing the absence of financial policy; and focusing on evaluating and adding new priorities. She noted Cuba is working on their national consultation and expressed hope that it would be included in the synthesis report. She then shared Cuba’s perspective on respecting different models and approaches to the green economy, emphasizing they are specific to national conditions and sovereignty and that they must focus on capacity building and technology transfer.
Belize asked why the organization of work was not based on the AOSIS paper that was circulated in New York with six topics that would lead to a more coherent approach. Jamaica responded that this was taken into account in the agenda. She reviewed the organization of work for the meeting, which would allow delegates to prepare a “nice outcome document.”
Trinidad and Tobago stressed the need to consider human resources and said that the ECLAC report should form the basis for a negotiating framework. “We have to write our own story in Barbados and Samoa,” he added.
Barbados asked for clarity on the time frame to complete national reports in preparation for the Inter-regional Meeting. He emphasized the need to engage the public to “raise the tempo” on sustainable development priorities going forward, through the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and other entities. Endorsing the “roadmap approach,” he counseled participants to envision this as a 12-month process towards the Apia outcomes. He further stressed: an integrated framework that is realistic and concrete; significant investment in national statistical systems in order to enable monitoring and quantitative evaluation; enterprise and employment opportunities, especially involving youth; and financial discussions that include non-traditional actors.
St. Lucia stated that it should be able to submit its national report in time for inclusion in the synthesis.
Gomes asked for national reports to be finalized by 31 July 2013 to be incorporated into the synthesis report for the Inter-regional Meeting, and noted that many countries have the same issues. She suggested countries focus on three to five urgent thematic areas and consider how to implement and secure resources for those areas.
Barnwell opined that the challenge of creating an enabling environment is the biggest one facing the SIDS, and said that the lack of an accounting system undermines the policy process.
REGIONAL ISSUES ON THE SIDS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AGENDA
This session convened on Tuesday afternoon and consisted of five panels.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND NATURAL AND MAN-MADE DISASTERS: Barbara Carby, University of the West Indies (UWI), facilitated this panel. Carlos Fuller, Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), reported on the CCCCC’s findings on current and projected costs of climate change in the region. He noted that global warming is greater in the Caribbean (1°C) than the global average (0.7°C) and the impacts—including sea level rise, precipitation, drought and extreme weather events—are more extreme, with some research projecting a 5°C warming in the Caribbean by 2100. Other effects include, inter alia, salinization, land loss, and severe coral bleaching and other impacts on ecosystem services due to ocean acidification. He noted SIDS’ progress in institutionalizing adaptation activities since 1994 using the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s three-phase approach: capacity building, governance and undertaking adaptation measures.
Carby asked whether approaches to development have changed since 1994 to reflect modeling projections. Cuba promoted its center for natural resources capacity building, funded by Norway, which will be shared with the rest of the Caribbean in an example of triangular cooperation.
To a question from the US Virgin Islands, Fuller noted ongoing engagement with the insurance sector, through regional and international workshops, to explore that sector’s risk assessment tools relating to land management and infrastructure. He reported the launch of a project on integrating risk management into government budget cycles to ensure that money is not lost on bad risks.
Jamaica observed that there has been a shift away from hard science to policy options, especially market-based mechanisms in the climate change negotiations. In response, Fuller said that SIDS, least developed countries (LDCs) and other vulnerable communities need assistance to enable them to participate in any market-based mechanisms. He said climate change negotiators need to insist on an international fund for this.
Summing up the session, Carby referenced the need to: diversify economies to adapt to climate change, establish an international fund to help with market-based mechanisms, and explore synergies between disaster risk reduction and climate change.
SUSTAINABLE ENERGY: Al Binger, SIDS DOCK, explained that SIDS DOCK is helping SIDS transition away from fossil fuels. He said SIDS are the most inefficient energy users and have the most potential for renewables, adding that SIDS could save billions if they stopped importing petroleum and then the savings could be used for adaptation. He summarized the SIDS DOCK goals by 2033 to: improve energy efficiency by 25%; obtain 50% of electricity from green sources; and reduce growing dependence on transport fuel. At the Apia Conference, he said, there should be an assessment of progress, renewed political commitment, identification of new and emerging challenges and input into the post-2015 development agenda. He maintained that energy and partnerships are essential to this. Finally, he stated that the energy sector is not benefiting SIDS economically, socially or environmentally.
In response to a question from Antigua and Barbuda, Binger said that ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) can provide baseload for 18/19 cents/kWh. He said that OTEC can also provide freshwater, but the downside is the upfront cost, and proposed a fund to help with the start-up costs. In response to a question on trade from CARICOM, he said he was not advocating subsidies but a special fund that can be borrowed against.
Joseph Williams, CARICOM, via Skype, discussed energy transition in CARICOM, noting energy challenges and the progress of sustainable energy development in CARICOM. His presentation was shortened due to technical difficulties.
MACROECONOMICS AND TRADE: In describing the Caribbean SIDS economic context, Justin Ram, Caribbean Development Bank, noted that: most of these countries have upper-middle to high-income economies, which limit access to concessionary financing; trade is a high percent of GDP; agriculture has declined significantly; economic structures consist of high costs and low productivity because of small geographic size; and there is high unemployment and migration, high dependence on remittances and high incidence and impact of natural disasters. This context, he pointed out, causes fiscal imbalances financed by debt, which is seen in declining credit ratings. He recommended further consideration of the Sovereign Wealth Fund and diaspora bonds as new means of financing.
Dillon Alleyne, ECLAC, presented on the existing post-crisis challenges and the way forward, emphasizing that the economic recession in the Caribbean extended into 2012 largely because export markets were still in recession. He stressed that the response of the Caribbean to the crisis has been asymmetric between the goods and service producers. He said the goods producers grew up to 4% while service-producer economies stagnated or declined, with unemployment of up to 21.4%. He underlined that many countries cannot provide any statistics on this indicator, and that youth and women generally have higher rates of unemployment. The crisis exaggerated a longstanding problem with declining export competitiveness and subsequent debt accumulation. He also stated that the decline in foreign direct investment (FDI) results from declining credit ratings, which is exacerbated by the lack of integration between FDI and domestic development investment. He underscored that less than 16% of exports are concentrated within CARICOM, and these are mostly simple, low-value goods. He concluded that a medium-term focus should be to: replicate the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States’ model and solve fiscal consolidation as a region; attract FDI that creates spillover effects for other sectors; use public-private partnerships to reduce risk; develop trade policy out of industrial policy rather than crafting development policy after trade policy; enhance regional competition such as through the free migration of CARICOM people; and use the Sovereign Wealth Fund for strategic development.
Gayle Henry, Caribbean Tourism Organization, discussed sustainable tourism issues affecting SIDS, including, inter alia, marketing, safety and security, and health issues such as HIV/AIDS. She noted that barriers include lack of financing and low government prioritization of sustainable tourism. She listed four action areas: awareness-raising, climate change, stakeholder networking and information management, and monitoring of results. She noted conflicts between water conservation and tourism, and between conservation and utilization of cultural and natural heritage for tourism. She lamented the outdated policies and plans of many countries and noted the demand for audit accountability by donor agencies, calling for the region to build on its strengths to develop its competitive advantage.
In answer to a question on diversification, Alleyne noted that the Caribbean has moved from monoculture production of sugar and bananas to “monoculture tourism” and called for invention of investment instruments to expand beyond traditional products, such as instruments utilizing community knowledge of credit risks. To address the decline in FDI in SIDS, Alleyne recommended investment promotion agencies and clear industrial policy. He noted that Caribbean labor is expensive and called for human capital focused on problem solving, greater participation by individuals in a wider range of activities, and decentralization of political processes.
Henry noted opportunities for SIDS to develop products in niche sectors with higher value added, such as yachting, but said this needs sustainable financing. She noted that ideas for this include concessionary financing for climate change adaptation, public-private partnerships to fund major infrastructure projects, or “proud funding” in small amounts by many individuals both in-country and living in the diaspora.
Trinidad and Tobago stressed the importance of involving the business sector to improve competitiveness. He noted that the risk management policies of commercial banks are often at odds with economic development aspirations. He described an innovative financing facility in his country that helps entrepreneurs get financing and sometimes start their own companies. Alleyne responded that commodities are part of international value chains that are hard to penetrate. He said the Caribbean needs to create value chains at the regional level and use that leverage to enter international markets. Ram said there have been discussions on ways of moving cash into productive sectors of the economy.
Cuba stressed that while new forms of financing are sought, existing forms of financing must be maintained and the political commitment to these funds renewed.
SOCIAL POLICY: David Smith, UWI, introduced the panel. Karen Sealey, Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), stressed that health, particularly efforts to address NCDs, is critical to development in the Caribbean region, as well as a key indicator of inclusive development. She outlined four “killer” NCDs: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic lung disease and cancer, noting the high regional prevalence of breast cancer and obesity. The goal, she explained, should be to enable individuals to make the right choices, within their cultural realities, that they can afford. For instance, she said there is a need to produce, as well as get people to eat, more indigenous, healthy foods. She suggested possible links to new models in local hospitality industries and a focus on the agricultural sector and the health of farmers. She posed important considerations to participants: tourism-dependent economies have real challenges in reducing the health risk factors of smoking, reduced exercise, alcohol, and diet; medical tourism is a money producer but local health problems can only be legitimately addressed through universal healthcare, resulting in a problematic dual healthcare system; health coverage for the mobile Caribbean population is important and a regional health insurance scheme should be considered; building resilience of health services to natural disasters is important; and food manufacturers should deliver healthy food.
Cletus Springer, Organization of American States (OAS), stressed, inter alia: the importance of various social mechanisms including a social resilience fund for SIDS, a disaster risk reduction fund, and use of the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF); the importance of addressing the needs of disabled people and the psychosocial impact of disasters; the crucial nature of a technical cooperation facility for SIDS, especially for filling skills gaps; the fact that social cohesion is a deepening issue in the Caribbean region; the need to put the idea of a single Caribbean market economy on the agenda; and the importance of including the private sector and civil society in regional discussions.
PROTECTION, CONSERVATION AND SUSTAINABLE USE OF THE REGION’S NATURAL RESOURCES: Christopher Corbin, UNEP Regional Coordinating Unit, facilitated this session. Patrick McConney, UWI Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES), questioned the implications of the Pacific region marketing itself as “large ocean states.” He then presented on four issues pertaining to ocean resources: a mismatch between governance and ecological units; the need to be able to scale up and down easily; the conflict between espousing ecosystem approaches and putting them into practice in the ocean; and the need to scale science up to meet the needs of marine policy. He noted there are many options for an agenda for action and called for collaborating on models for ocean governance, using the ecosystem approach, investing in untapped civil society capacity to create the necessary adaptive solutions, and connecting science to policy.
Jacqueline DaCosta, Land Information Council of Jamaica, stressed the need for shared and coordinated data and approaches to land management. She stressed the capabilities of communities: they are fixing their own water resources and adapting to climate change and know more about the areas where they live than the “professionals” do. She said the Cubans involve their population in disaster management and others should do the same, emphasizing the importance of civil society. She underlined the need to “use the people, not outside organizations,” to move the agenda forward.
During the subsequent discussion, the Dominican Republic said that one storm alone can severely reduce GDP due to loss of infrastructure and human life, and that SIDS have to face their own vulnerability. St. Kitts and Nevis emphasized being cognizant of the fiscal implications of new institutions for climate change adaptation, and the need to find creative ways of to raise funds and consult with the private sector, since “public servants do not have all the ideas.” The US Virgin Islands wanted to hear more about a social resilience fund for the Caribbean, calling for a working group to flesh out this issue before the Inter-regional Meeting in August. CARICOM called for thinking seriously about youth crime and violence and how sports and culture can address these problems.
In responding to questions, DaCosta mentioned the need to: change education systems to deal with unemployment in a holistic manner; protect brands and marketing; and, regarding exports, create cluster factors for communities and share intellectual power and opportunity in the region. She also noted that best practices must be affordable and enable learning.
McConney reiterated his concern about the absence of institutions as opposed to rhetoric for ocean governance. Springer noted that a social resilience trust fund could be repackaged from an existing fund in the Caribbean. He said this model could work in other regions as well.
Cuba described a “triangular” regional initiative on natural resources and capacity building, funded by UNEP and the European Union (EU), which currently includes Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba, but is also open to other countries. Jamaica called for discussion of issues relating to waste and sanitation, noting that waste is changing and increasing in the Caribbean due to pursuit of development, hurricanes, population increase and the growth of electronic waste, and that this has implications for landfills.
UNDESA PRESENTATION: Hiroko Morita-Lou, Chief, SIDS Unit, UNDESA, concluded the afternoon by explaining how this meeting and the national consultations fit on the road to Apia. She explained that the Secretariat will work on the draft synthesis of the three regional meetings with the AOSIS working group in New York, but that this will continue to be a SIDS-owned and SIDS-led process. She noted that some had asked about holding regional caucus meetings before the Inter-regional Meeting in Barbados, but explained that there may not be time or resources for this.
RESPONSE BY REGIONAL, INTERNATIONAL AND UN SYSTEMS IN THE IMPLEMENTATION AND SUPPORT TO THE CARIBBEAN SIDS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AGENDA: PRESENTATIONS AND INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE
This session convened on Wednesday morning and was moderated by Arun Kashyap, UNDP.
Carlisle Richardson, UNDESA, presented on the role and coordination of the UN System in the implementation of the SIDS sustainable development agenda. He noted that Member States guide the process, including UNDESA activities, mobilizing donor funding, and advocacy within the UN. He highlighted ECLAC’s role in advocacy and coordination and listed the SIDS UN focal points responsible for mainstreaming and integration, including UNEP, FAO, UNIDO, UNESCO, UNCTAD, IFAD, WHO and UNFPA.
Crispin Gregoire, UNDP, spoke on UNDP’s implementation of and support to the Caribbean SIDS agenda, including: advocacy in international fora regarding climate change, sea level rise and SIDS’ energy challenges; capacity building in regional institutions; research, and programming in thematic areas such as disaster risk reduction; adaptation to climate change; and removing barriers to renewable energy. He also noted UNDP’s support for national consultation processes for the Apia Conference. He called for, inter alia, concessionary financing of debt, addressing citizen security, and ensuring that the SIDS agenda is integrated into the post-2015 development agenda.
Sandagdorj Erdenebileg, UN Office of the High Representative for the LDCs, Land-locked developing countries and SIDS (OHRLLS), described their activities to raise international awareness about SIDS issues and mobilize funds for SIDS’ participation in the Apia preparatory process. He described the recommendations from the recent Expert Group Meeting on the Significance of Marine Science and Technology for SIDS, inter alia:that SIDS, as “large ocean states,” should place oceans and marine resources at the center of their development agenda. He added that another recent expert meeting on Strengthening Partnerships towards Disaster Risk Reduction for SIDS called for, inter alia, support and partnerships in establishing and maintaining effective early warning systems.
Marvin Gunter, UNFPA, spoke on population dynamics and reproductive health, saying these cannot be separated from sustainable development. He said population dynamics affect consumption, employment and social protection services, while complicating efforts to ensure universal access to health and affecting environmental resources and national health. He said there is also opportunity to use population dynamics for positive contributions. He stressed that the development of effective sexual health services can enhance gender equality, slow population growth, help stabilize rural areas and reduce local economic pressures.
Navin Chanderpal, Guyana, on behalf of ECLAC, described the Caribbean Regional Coordinating Mechanism (RCM) and a proposed monitoring framework. He said the RCM consists of: an intergovernmental council, which is the ministerial body of the Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee (CDCC), with membership from CARICOM and other Caribbean SIDS; a technical advisory committee of 15 members from regional institutions, four Member States, and some representatives of Caribbean UN institutions; and a national focal point mechanism. He then discussed RCM progress on developing monitoring indicators. He said the indicators’ baseline year is 1994, that measurements will be assessed for 2010, and annually thereafter, to monitor progress on the BPOA and MSI. He requested the full cooperation of all Member States and institutions and the identification of national focal points.
Willard Phillips, ECLAC, provided more details on proposed matrices and indicators for monitoring in categories identified in the MSI, such as climate change and waste management. He proposed establishing a facility to receive such information and share it with countries.
Garfield Barnwell, CARICOM Secretariat, described CARICOM’s Sustainable Development Programme work, including: mainstreaming sustainable development as a cross-cutting theme in CARICOM’s programmatic work, institutional arrangements, and data management; working with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) on results-based disaster management; identifying community priorities and building resilience mechanisms; and implementing youth-oriented programmes to reduce crime and drug demand.
In response to a question from Barbados about challenges confronting the RCM, Chanderpal said that, like many other processes and institutions, the RCM is limited by resources. He added that the RCM does not provide funding but, rather, is a coordinating mechanism. He also noted the problem of continual repetition of “things already done” and called for more communication to optimize the resources available. In response to a question from Dominica, Phillips said that countries often report progress on the MDGs yet no progress on the MSI agenda on the same issues. He said this indicates the possibility that countries have more ownership over progress under the MDGs.
In response to a question from Dominica on resilience, Barnwell said the focus has been on the science-policy interface to address the critical issues of climate change and disaster management.
Gregoire, responding to Barbados, said SIDS-SIDS cooperation is an important arena in the next phase of the SIDS agenda but SIDS must engage UN agencies to support such initiatives. He noted good examples of SIDS-SIDS cooperation in the Caribbean and the Pacific, supported by regional institutions, saying these can be replicated.
Morita-Lou, in response to Dominica, said this meeting should make a concrete recommendation to revitalize national councils on sustainable development.
Trinidad and Tobago called for clarity in the form of a coordinating matrix to know which UN entities are participating in and funding activities, for efficient and effective management of the RCM process.
Cuba emphasized a need for more coordination and time, supported by secretariats, to process information from intergovernmental processes. She called for all projects to include all Member States in the region. She also called for initiatives to explore sources of financing and for using bilateral and regional agreements such as the one Latin America has on natural disasters.
Jamaica asked how UNFPA works with institutions to ensure that population issues are addressed. She expressed concern about the number of international plans of action and treaties with reporting requirements, as well as the overlap and lack of integration between the BPOA and MSI and the MDGs, which are better structured for reporting. She lamented the lack of coordination among national focal points.
The Bahamas asked how to broaden cooperation on sustainable development within the context of UNDP.
Responding to a variety of questions, Morita-Lou noted an existing report (UN document A/66/278), which outlines the roles of the different UN entities. She added that a second report by the Secretary-General on support to Member States would be made available.
Phillips noted the concerns raised by Trinidad and Tobago, saying one challenge for ECLAC is that it must be guided by its Member States. He also noted that reporting is dependent on countries’ ability to report. He stressed the need to consider in a broader context whether the necessary data and information is being gathered and monitored.
Chanderpal said that national focal points need to be emphasized and advised appealing to higher authorities, such as the offices of prime ministers, to ensure this is done. In response to Cuba, he said the Secretariat can enhance participation by supporting representatives from several country ministries to attend preparatory meetings in advance of SIDS sessions.
In answer to a question from Jamaica, Barnwell noted the differences in orientation between Global Environment Facility (GEF) focal points and the focal points for other multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), saying this affects the region’s ability to access GEF resources. He called for ensuring that technical knowledge, tools and methodologies developed by international institutions are imparted to national counterparts. He noted the relatively greater interest in cultural issues within CARICOM than in other regions.
Gunter summarized UNFPA’s support for “making pregnancies wanted,” childbirth safe, and childhood potentials fulfilled, through data, research, policy formulation, and programmes to change behaviors in Member States, as well as through facilitating technical exchanges between countries.
Gregoire, in response to Bahamas, said that UNDP does not have a mechanism for SIDS-SIDS cooperation. He said AOSIS and the UNDESA SIDS Unit and other UN agencies should find a functional mechanism that works for everyone.
Chanderpal expressed regret that ECLAC omitted the role of New York representatives in the RCM, given their high level of coordination, and recommended better communication between AOSIS in New York and the region.
Dominica cautioned against losing track of points made on monitoring and evaluation. He echoed Jamaica’s statement that there is a good regime for monitoring the MDGs, which should be replicated. He also responded to Chanderpal that there is no need to involve presidents and prime ministers since monitoring is a technical job. He said “what doesn’t get measured doesn’t get done.”
Barbados said that for South-South cooperation there is a need to build on SIDSnet.
The OAS called for a comprehensive review of monitoring, saying SIDS should do a thorough evaluation of reporting requirements and aim for better coordination to reduce the reporting burden.
PAHO commented on integrated development planning and coordination, such as the Caribbean Public Health Agency.
Morita-Lou said that UNDESA is happy to facilitate information sharing. She noted that SIDSnet has country profiling and that IISD Reporting Services provides a newsfeed on SIDS. She said that by the Apia Conference there should be a resilience-based monitoring tool with a simplified methodology, and, by January, a joint Master’s degree programme on sustainable development offered by a Caribbean university consortium for SIDS with in-class and virtual components will be available.
Kashyap summarized the discussion, underscoring integration in programming, equal monitoring, evaluation and coordination. He said UN agencies, through resident coordinators, should harmonize their efforts at the country level. He called for incorporating South-South cooperation efficiently at the country level.
Cuba suggested that countries look at the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, given that an agreement on this theme is needed.
PRESENTATIONS AND INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE WITH THE UN SYSTEM AND REGIONAL ORGANIZATIONS ON ENSURING INTEGRATED APPROACHES REGARDING THE EMERGING NEW UN INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK (POST RIO+20 OUTCOMES AND THE POST -2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA) AND THE POSITIONING OF SIDS WITHIN IT
Amb. Camillo Gonsalves, St. Vincent and Grenadines, facilitated this session on Wednesday morning. He advised that the session would be oriented towards actionable outcomes. Noting that SIDS now constitute 20% of UN membership, he said the UN’s attention to SIDS is not where it should be. However, he added, the “stars have aligned” this year to increase the UN’s attention. He noted opportunities presented by the ECOSOC reform process; the high-level political forum (HLPF); the elaboration of new technology and finance mechanisms by the UN General Assembly; the SDGs; the Apia Conference; and the election of John Ashe (Antigua and Barbuda) as President of the UN General Assembly.
Mark Griffith, UNEP, said that traditionally the Latin America and Caribbean region’s membership on the UNEP Governing Council has been dominated by Latin America. Now that there is universal membership and a newly formed UN Environment Assembly of UNEP, he stressed that SIDS need to strongly consider greater involvement. He highlighted that SIDS will have limited participation within the Assembly’s subsidiary body, the Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR), because, aside from Cuba, SIDS have no representation in Nairobi. He called for delegates to make a recommendation on this and resolve this dilemma.
In response, Barbados asked about using a regional forum of ministers, which is “married” to the new Assembly structure, to bridge the gap between the global and regional levels.
UNEP noted that there is an opportunity for SIDS to participate in annual meetings of the Assembly and, to Barbados, said there is momentum for action at the ministerial level that can be harnessed.
UNDP stressed that one issue regarding SIDS’ involvement is that they are overwhelmed. He commented that SIDS have a finite capacity to send diplomatic representation to international meetings. Gonsalves suggested having more meetings in New York, where more countries have representation.
British Virgin Islands asked what role the CPR plays in the UNEP process.
Griffith responded with three options on the way forward: Caribbean States could make an agreement with Cuba to represent Caribbean SIDS; governments could implement the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, calling for joint representation; or things could remain as they are. In response to UNDP, he countered that financing is not the main reason for inadequate SIDS participation, as funding has historically been available to enable states to have a representative at UN meetings. He concluded that the region needs to “get itself organized.”
Belize noted a proposal to create an ambassadorial post as a focal point on the UN post-2015 agenda to raise awareness among SIDS governments and help SIDS organize at the UN level.
Gonsalves noted that politicians must be convinced that environmental diplomacy is worth the investment.
Griffith then presented on sustainable consumption and production (SCP), arguing that it should be a major focus of SIDS not to consume less but to do more and do it better with fewer resources. He called for SIDS representation within the 10-year Framework of Programmes on SCP, building on UNEP’s Marrakech Process. He identified five work areas: consumer information, sustainable lifestyle and education, public procurement, tourism, and buildings and construction. He encouraged SIDS to become more involved in the SCP process.
Barbados noted that SCP was mandated in the MSI in 2005, saying that priorities for SIDS revolve around national action plans, small- and medium-size enterprises, public procurement, and consumer education. He called for: underpinning sustainable development policy with SCP; SCP issues as identified in the MSI to be captured within regional programmes; and a platform for SCP in Caribbean SIDS, to be used for obtaining resources from the international community. He proposed a sub-regional institutional support platform for SCP.
Griffith then introduced the UNEP medium-term strategy, with six cross-cutting thematic priorities: climate change, disasters and conflicts, ecosystem management, environmental governance, harmful substances and hazardous waste, and resource efficiency. He described several projects in the Caribbean, including one on post-disaster conflict in Haiti and one, with CARICOM, on capacity building for implementation of international environmental agreements.
Karina Gerlach, Post-2015 Development Agenda Secretariat, presented the High-level Panel’s (HLP) report, noting it is only one input into the post-2015 process. She described the organization and the consultative nature of the 27-member HLP, saying that the Panel’s recommendations reflect great optimism about ending poverty through sustainable development in one generation. She said there is a need to move beyond an aid framework to a new development paradigm that jointly addresses economic growth, social equality and environment sustainability. She outlined the five priority transformative shifts to drive the post-2015 development agenda: leave no one behind; put sustainable development at the core; transform economies for jobs and inclusive growth; build peace and effective, open and accountable public institutions; and forge a new global partnership. With regard to financing, she said that there is “US$18 trillion in savings looking to be placed.” She noted the HLP’s calls for a data revolution, global goals and national targets, and an international conference on financing for sustainable development before 2015, and said “if development is not sustainable it is not development.”
Amb. Gonsalves commented, in the context of aid, that donors that have not met their commitments should not be let off the hook.
Morita-Lou reported that the UNEP Foresight Process has brought together 400 experts to identify and refine the top emerging environmental issues and that UNDESA is building on this process for social and economic issues. She reported agreement on defining emerging issues as those: critical to achieving sustainable development recognized as important but not yet prioritized by the policy community; and evidence-based. She said that for each issue the experts will outline the implications of action and non-action within a three- to five-year timeline. She said environmental issues have been identified but that it is difficult to separate social and economic issues given their integrated nature. She called the HLP report an opportunity for SIDS to ensure that SIDS issues are integrated and mainstreamed in that and other processes.
Amb. Gonsalves noted the weakness of the HLP’s report in not categorizing SIDS uniquely.
Belize questioned how SIDS can get on the post-2015 agenda, to which Morita-Lou responded it is an ongoing process of consultations with Member States. Bahamas agreed with Amb. Gonsalves that treatment of SIDS was weak in the HLP report.
The Commonwealth Secretariat stated that their recent report identified massive data gaps as a key problem and said that she therefore believes we “don’t really know” how SIDS have done in this process. She encouraged participants to call for an advocacy platform to fill these data gaps. Referencing Elizabeth Thompson’s point about nailing down the development framework for SIDS, she stressed that developing a resilience framework is crucial.
Guyana asked if any consideration has been given to the level of development that countries must attain before they can engage in pursuit of specific goals, noting that with respect to the MDGs a number of countries are left behind.
Gerlach elaborated on the need for disaggregated data, since global averages hide the countries that have fallen behind in achieving the MDGs. She reiterated the need for global goals as well as national targets that take into account circumstances of each country. She also rejected continued use of US$1.25 per day as a poverty line and said more work is needed on financing, especially given the need for innovation and creativity. Griffith agreed with Cuba on the need for a SIDS platform to address all of these issues and suggested delegates develop something before leaving Jamaica.
Alemneh Dejene, FAO, previewed a lunch side event aimed at reflecting the objectives of the Apia Conference, while taking into account the specific needs of the Caribbean SIDS on addressing major threats for improved livelihoods and sustainable development. He announced an FAO website that captures key issues and priorities to support SIDS and other regional processes.
Amb. Gonsalves summarized the session, highlighting requests for more coordination of communications between SIDS member states and with regional, international, and UN systems and a more integrated matrix of reporting mechanisms to manage financial resources. He noted that the emerging consensus on including advocacy on debt, partnership, population dynamics and sustainable livelihoods in the outcome document indicates an expansion of the agenda beyond environmental issues.
INTERACTIVE DIALOGUE WITH MAJOR GROUPS OF THE REGION ON THEIR CONTRIBUTION TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE BPOA/MSI
Amb. Lois Young, Belize, facilitated this session on Wednesday afternoon. She explained the post-CSD institutional architecture for sustainable development policy, including the role of the General Assembly, ECOSOC, UNEP, and the HLPF. Given these new structures, she mentioned that the means for follow-up on SIDS issues had changed and become diluted, and does not guarantee a specific institutionalized mechanism. She explained that a draft resolution on strengthening ECOSOC emphasizes the need to provide focal points for the consideration of SIDS issues in keeping with the BPOA and MSI, and that the HLPF states that it will address the needs of developing countries, although neither guarantees a platform for SIDS. She further stressed the need for participants to select and prioritize issues in the BPOA, identify what the Caribbean wants from the international community, and be accountable for what they get. Lastly, she said Major Groups must demand good governance from Caribbean politicians.
Chantal Knight, Caribbean Policy Development Center, called for the meeting’s outcome document to prioritize, inter alia: institutionalization of civil society input to the “SIDS+20” process; social safety nets to cushion the economic crisis’s impact on vulnerable groups, including rural women, young people, indigenous people, and the disabled; development of community-level resistance to natural disasters; SIDS’ placement within the global agenda, particularly regarding trade preferences and EU market access; consistent SIDS messages across all relevant global fora; and a coherent, coordinated regional SIDS agenda.
Anna Cadiz, Caribbean Natural Resources Institute, presented on civil society’s priorities for SIDS’ sustainable development. She spoke on the Caribbean regional green economy and identified priorities for management of natural resources.
Pamela Thomas, Caribbean Farmer’s Network (CaFAN) presented via Skype on the role and status of agriculture. She discussed CaFAN’s focus on sectoral linkages and training and information sharing among farmers so they are in a better position to meet challenges. She discussed a number of future projects, including solar power, energy efficiency in agricultural equipment, and climate-smart farms.
David Smith, UWI, reported on a Caribbean university consortium with courses and joint degrees related to sustainable development, such as on fisheries and wastewater management. A representative of the University of the Virgin Islands mentioned other Caribbean university endeavors and noted that civil society work amounts to US$1.3 trillion per year globally. He supported a mechanism for civil society participation in policy design within the SIDS process as well as in regional implementation processes.
Jacqueline DaCosta, Land Information Council of Jamaica, reported on a government-private sector joint programme in Jamaica that fosters community sustainable development through competitions in areas such as tourism, health, heritage and culture, and environment. She said it encourages local governments to work towards self-reliance and partnerships for sustainable development, and underscored that programmes such as this are needed for achieving results.
Christopher Corbin, UNEP, called for national mechanisms through which non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including the academic and research community, are effectively engaged. He emphasized the role of science in the policy process and said environmental projects can provide local community-based solutions, jobs and livelihoods, and good opportunities for investment at the local level.
Mara Murillo, UNEP, encouraged all participants to review the Principle 10 Initiative arising out of the Rio Declaration, which promotes access to information, public participation, and access to justice in environmental matters.
Barbados recommended creating an annual Caribbean Major Groups Forum so they can share their concerns and issues, and called for international support for its establishment. He also called for the creation of national Major Group forums and for ensuring that Major Groups play a role in any national sustainable development councils that may be revived.
Amb. Young asked if there were any existing mechanisms that can be used. PAHO noted that for 25 years the Caribbean has been trying to get NGOs to participate in governance. She supported having a Major Groups meeting a day or two before regional commission meetings so as to contribute to those processes, and called for a recommendation from this meeting. Dominica urged delegates to avoid reinventing the wheel, noting that CARICOM already has an initiative in this area that can be built on. The US Virgin Islands said the development banks also have a civil society consultative process that could be used.
Amb. Young thanked the participants, noting this was the first all-female panel at this meeting. She called on delegates to consider priorities in preparing the report of the meeting, so that it would not be just a “shopping list.”
NEGOTIATION OF THE KINGSTON OUTCOME DOCUMENT
On Wednesday afternoon, government delegates met in a closed session to discuss priorities for the meeting’s outcome document that was under development in the drafting group, which had been meeting since Tuesday night. Following this session, the drafting group met until 3:00 am to finalize the first draft of the outcome document.
On Thursday morning at 11:30 am, the meeting reconvened with Janice Miller, Jamaica, as Chair, to begin formal negotiations on the outcome document. She noted that the meeting would be open to non-governmental participants, but they could not speak. She entertained general comments first and then proposed delegates address the document paragraph-by-paragraph.
Bahamas said the outcome was an excellent starting point, but suggested that the text could be streamlined and reorganized. She advocated beginning the document on a more positive note without putting the blame on anyone and suggested starting Section II with SIDS’ achievements. She said that SIDS need to take ownership of this document and process rather than starting with the remaining implementation gaps that are the fault of the political will of someone else.
Jamaica said that there needs to be room to allow for the inclusion of pragmatic and concrete actions required of the Conference. She stressed that the document needed to collect concrete actions around which the region can coalesce, negotiate with other regions and take to the international community.
Belize complimented the drafting committee but said she was not happy with the document’s “bleating, complaining” tone and direction that blamed the international community for inaction on sustainable development in the Caribbean SIDS. She queried delegates as to how the Caribbean SIDS could take this message to the international community, noting that any of the allegations are also national issues that Caribbean governments should have taken up. She concluded that the work is there, but the tone is wrong.
Dominica supported the draft and said that specifics could be added later. The US Virgin Islands suggested changing the tone to focus more on priorities and the way forward and rely less on previous documents. St. Vincent and the Grenadines suggested starting the document by recalling the development strides made by Caribbean SIDS in education, health, and economic growth.
Guyana proposed that the first paragraph, noting that this preparatory meeting took place, should serve as a chapeau and not be numbered. The next paragraph, which provides the background recognizing the vulnerabilities of SIDS and the previous conferences on SIDS, was accepted.
The continuing discussion on the preambular language focused on streamlining the text and weeding out paragraphs delegates preferred to place under the section on gaps in implementation.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines proposed, based on the 2010 CARICOM Declaration on youth, to insert a new paragraph emphasizing the role of youth, noting that the majority of the Caribbean population is under the age of 30. Many agreed. Trinidad and Tobago further emphasized a focus on youth employment. US Virgin Islands proposed merging the paragraph with text on civil society, in the section on gaps in implementation, but this was countered by Dominica who wanted to keep the language on youth in the preamble to ensure strong emphasis.
St. Vincent called for using the term “Caribbean SIDS” rather than “SIDS,” for greater specificity throughout the document.
Barbados proposed new text emphasizing the priority of SCP, with Cuba insisting that developed countries must lead on this issue.
Delegates agreed to move text on health and text on SIDS-SIDS cooperation under gaps in implementation. Trinidad and Tobago expressed concern about including Petrocaribe in a section on SIDS-SIDS cooperation, saying it did not fall under this category. Cuba reiterated the importance of Petrocaribe to certain Member States. Curacao requested mention of non-independent SIDS. Jamaica proposed referring to SIDS-SIDS and “SIDS-non-SIDS” cooperation, which also allows Petrocaribe to be included.
In the next section of the document, Guyana proposed amending the title from “gaps in implementation” to “gaps and constraints related to implementation of the BPOA and MSI,” which was agreed.
On the first sub-paragraph referring to developed countries’ lack of political will, Belize, supported by Bahamas, expressed concern that it was, in effect, blaming someone else. She recommended that the language indicate only partial blame on the international community. Cuba proposed recognizing the progress made despite the unfulfilled commitments and that there would have been more progress had these commitments been fulfilled. St. Vincent and the Grenadines suggested reference to “partially responsible,” noting that developed countries would not themselves raise the point that they haven’t fulfilled commitments. The paragraph was agreed as amended.
Barbados proposed a new sub-paragraph stating: “While there have been efforts by the UN system to strengthen the institutional framework for implementation of the BPOA and MSI, UN system support continues to be inconsistent, incoherent and inadequate.” St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Cuba supported this insertion, but Dominica, supported by Jamaica and Belize, said this language is insulting. Barbados said the language is not meant to be “an attack” on the UN system but it was important to speak the truth, and the language would fall appropriately into the section on gaps. The Chair invited interested parties to consult.
On the next sub-paragraph, achievement of the MDGs, there was discussion about how poverty is measured because the language said “SIDS have made less progress than most other groupings or even regressed.” St. Vincent and the Grenadines said that the data suggests a different reality, since poverty has been reduced quite a bit. The Dominican Republic said that this paragraph comes from paragraph 178 of the Rio+20 outcome. After a lengthy discussion, delegates agreed to consult.
Antigua and Barbuda proposed a new sub-paragraph, stating that “climate change along with other sources of environmental degradation can have an adverse impact on the sustainability of the tourism industry in SIDS. Tourism is an important contributor to employment, foreign exchange and economic growth for SIDS.” The Dominican Republic reminded delegates that tourism is only one of many sectors. Delegates discussed whether to specify sea level rise as a natural disaster and whether to list all the adverse effects of climate change.
The sub-paragraph on health, originally moved from the preamble to this section, was moved to the section on strengthening the implementation framework.
Delegates discussed the need to note the impacts of transboundary or transnational illicit drug trafficking and the negative impact of organized crime. Cuba objected to Trinidad and Tobago’s proposal to add small arms to that list. The Chair proposed making a more oblique reference to the 2001 UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects, which contains agreed language on this. St. Vincent and the Grenadines noted an agreed 2008 statement from CARICOM listing other related issues with negative impacts that could be included in this paragraph.
On a sub-paragraph on economic challenges, Dominica proposed specifying that these result from the “structural” vulnerability of SIDS. Cuba questioned whether reference should be made only to “middle income” SIDS or also include “upper-middle and high/middle or high income” countries. St. Kitts and Nevis noted that “high income” refers only to per capita income, which is partially a result of the smallness of some SIDS’ populations. Guyana also noted that 70% of the world’s poor live in “middle income” countries. Trinidad and Tobago noted that “upper-middle and high/middle or high income” is agreed UN language.
Curacao, supported by several countries, proposed a new preambular paragraph referring to the greater challenges of non-independent countries but Cuba stated a need for instructions from capital on any new proposals. The Chair called for a break to confer with Cuba and Curacao.
After questions about to proceed given the time constraints, the Chair suspended the meeting for an hour for the Bureau to discuss the procedure for the remainder of the meeting. Upon return at 6:20 pm, the Chair announced that the Bureau agreed to continue work on the draft outcome document rather than on any new document and urged delegates to focus on concrete language.
In the third section of the document, the title was changed from “calling on the international community… to” to “strengthening the implementation framework.” In this section, delegates agreed to a number of paragraphs on, inter alia: the need for new and additional financial resources; a holistic approach to the Rio+20 processes and the post-2015 development agenda; the UNFCCC Climate Technology Centre and Network, with specific reference to SIDS added in; the UNFCCC, which stresses addressing adaptation needs of SIDS; the Green Climate Fund; national statistics with additional reference to data collection and management; building resilience and reducing risks and mobilization of resources for reconstruction and rehabilitation and early warning systems; sustainable energy for all SIDS; health systems, with new reference to a focus on poor, elderly, disabled persons; and balanced integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development with added reference to BPOA/MSI and to promoting integration “at all levels.” A paragraph on global environmental, economic and social challenges was deleted as repetitive. Two paragraphs on poverty eradication were merged and streamlined. The remaining paragraphs were discussed at greater length.
On a paragraph on financing mechanisms, Antigua and Barbuda proposed including reference to the Caribbean Sustainability Fund as an example of a regional financing mechanism, as called for in the MSI. This was opposed by Cuba.
On a paragraph on the HLPF, delegates agreed on the importance of ensuring SIDS are “mainstreamed” into its agenda.
On a paragraph on a dedicated technology transfer mechanism, St. Vincent and the Grenadines suggested specifying that this mechanism provide environmentally sound technologies specifically to “SIDS,” rather than “developing countries.” Cuba responded that they didn’t want to pit SIDS against other developing countries. St. Vincent and the Grenadines argued that without specifying “SIDS,” the request might be ignored. At the Chair’s request, delegates consulted on whether to merge this text with that on financing.
On three paragraphs on energy, delegates agreed to consult to develop merged language. Guyana proposed new sub-text under a paragraph on sustainable agriculture and food and nutrition security. Barbados proposed inserting additional sub-text on a financial and technical support platform for SCP. Cuba proposed inserting that this support would be “upon request,” and also “taking into account national priorities, strategies, legislation and plans.” Jamaica asked Cuba’s rationale for “upon request.” Cuba responded that some countries don’t support the green economy approach. Jamaica questioned what one country’s refusal to request such support would mean for the rest of the region, given that this was a proposal for a regional platform. Cuba said one country cannot be required to apply it, and suggested leaving the text in brackets. Barbados shared that UN experts had explained the language would not hinder any progress and suggested adopting it. This new sub-text was then agreed.
On capacity building and development of human resources, delegates debated how to refer to education. Guyana proposed adding reference to training. St. Vincent and the Grenadines proposed specifying education at all levels, as many Caribbean SIDS have already achieved universal primary education. Jamaica proposed adding reference to skills training. Antigua and Barbuda called for language on the establishment and strengthening of centers of excellence for training and applied research within existing national and regional institutions. Cuba and Trinidad and Tobago suggested adding “according to national circumstances.” Antigua and Barbuda, supported by Jamaica and Guyana, wanted to include language on capacity development for the implementation of MEA obligations. The Chair recommended returning to this section later.
On a paragraph on developing science, technology and innovation, delegates agreed to language proposed by Jamaica supporting investments in SIDS to develop science, technology and innovation. After a long discussion on merging text on finance and technology, delegates agreed to put the paragraphs on finance and technology next to each other.
Grenada proposed a new paragraph on NCDs, calling on the international community to implement the UN Political Declaration for the Prevention and Control of NCDs.
Belize proposed a new paragraph calling on the UN system to implement a coordinating mechanism to support Caribbean SIDS’ efforts to implement and monitor the BPOA and MSI. Delegates discussed this proposal alongside Barbados’ earlier proposal on inconsistencies in the UN system on which some delegates had been consulting. Barbados inserted the paragraph resulting from the consultations, which called for “a focused discussion on identifying concrete recommendations for strengthening the UN system towards a more integrated and coherent institutional framework for the implementation of the BPOA and MSI at the upcoming SIDS process, aimed at assessing progress/response to the BPOA/MSI.”
Barbados stated the role identified in Belize’s proposal is supposed to be done by the RCM. Cuba said language on monitoring needs to be placed in the right context, and can have different consequences in different countries. Responding to Barbados, Belize pointed out that the language is “in support of” existing Caribbean SIDS’ efforts and thus acknowledges the RCM. Cuba indicated they did not support the proposals. St. Vincent and the Grenadines supported the Belize and Barbados proposal. Barbados underlined that its proposal is drawn from UN language. Dominica supported both proposals. Belize questioned why Barbados’ proposal calls for a discussion, saying it was redundant since everything in the document would be discussed at the Inter-regional Meeting. Barbados responded that they did not want to be “prescriptive” at this stage. Dominica requested that Cuba, Belize, and Barbados consult. St. Vincent and the Grenadines referenced preambular text that “diagnoses” the need for the improved role of the UN system, and said that this later section of text could be prescriptive.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines then proposed two new paragraphs, one on concessionary financing and the other on debt relief. He said both proposals were based on, and used language from, the 2009 Outcome of the Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and its Impact on Development. Jamaica supported the proposals and specified that any reference to the financial crisis must also indicate the SIDS pre-crisis financial issues and needs.
Trinidad and Tobago proposed new paragraphs referencing culture, youth, migration, and women, which had been omitted from the document during drafting. Cuba asked for time to review the new language. To Cuba’s question on the source of the text on youth, St. Vincent and the Grenadines clarified that it emanated from a CARICOM agreement.
Jamaica cautioned that the environmental dimension was being subsumed into other sections. The Chair said that Guyana was preparing language to remedy this. Cuba announced it was preparing an alternative to the Barbados proposal on the inconsistencies and inadequacies of the international system.
Trinidad and Tobago proposed new text, based on the MSI, acknowledging that significant economic opportunities for national and regional development are brought by cultural industries and initiatives and calling for the international community to recommit to developing measures to protect the natural, tangible and cultural heritage and increasing resources for this.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines objected to narrowing it to only “economic” opportunities, but acquiesced since it was previously-agreed language.
At approximately 9:30 pm, Minister of State Arnaldo Brown, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Jamaica, joined the delegates briefly to express Jamaica’s appreciation for their work to arrive at an outcome. He noted the importance of the meeting’s outcome for the people of the Caribbean and their survival. He complimented delegates on approaching convergence and urged them to continue in that direction and to “sing from the same hymn page.”
A few delegations discussed specific proposals informally while the Chair went through the document paragraph by paragraph. On a paragraph on SIDS-SIDS cooperation, Cuba proposed incorporating some of that language in Section III, and offered language stressing that South-South and SIDS-SIDS cooperation are not substitutes for, but rather complements to, North-South cooperation and recognizing that SIDS-SIDS cooperation “is an expression of political will and solidarity.” Cuba and others offered further examples of such cooperation to be included.
A bracketed proposal by Curacao for preambular language on the special situation of non-independent countries was deleted.
On a paragraph on sustainable consumption and production, Cuba called for stressing the need for developed countries to take the lead, with all countries benefiting from the process.
Other countries offered text on:
• the vulnerability of SIDS to the adverse effects of climate change and the need for urgent and ambitious action (Jamaica);
• the negative effects of the overall decline of ODA on full implementation of the BPOA and MSI (Cuba);
• the limited and misleading nature of GDP per capita as a measurement of development and basis for access to concessional financing (Bahamas); and
• elements that impact the sustainable development of SIDS, including poverty, unemployment, terrorism and illicit trade in small arms and light weapons (Cuba).
Cuba called for language on promoting cooperation of Caribbean SIDS to contribute to the effective implementation of the BPOA and MSI, through concrete projects on sustainable development.
Delegates suspended the meeting at 10:45 pm so a new version of the text could be printed. When they resumed just before midnight, most delegates had left for the night, leaving instructions with the remaining 12 delegates who continued to negotiate based on the revised text. These delegates worked through the document until they agreed to adopt the final Kingston Outcome at 4:55 am and concluded the meeting.
KINGSTON OUTCOME OF THE CARIBBEAN REGIONAL PREPARATORY MEETING FOR THE THIRD INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES
The preambulatory section (paragraphs 1-13) of the outcome document:
• reaffirms the Barbados Declaration, the BPOA, the Mauritius Declaration, the MSI, and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation;
• recalls that the unique and particular vulnerabilities of SIDS have been acknowledged by the international community since UNCED;
• acknowledges that SIDS remain a special case for sustainable development in view of their unique and particular vulnerabilities;
• recalls the international community’s commitment to support the efforts of SIDS;
• underscores the vital role of women in achieving sustainable development, and the need to continue the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women in Caribbean SIDS;
• stresses the importance of the active participation of young people in decision-making processes, as well as the need to promote inter-generational dialogue and solidarity;
• recognizes the importance of the cultural identity of people and its importance for advancing sustainable development;
• recalls the decision taken at Rio+20 to convene the Third International Conference on SIDS;
• recognizes that the elaboration of the post-2015 UN development agenda and the ongoing processes from Rio+20 provide a unique opportunity to prioritize and address the particular social, economic and environmental challenges faced by Caribbean SIDS;
• stresses that South-South and SIDS-SIDS cooperation are not substitutes for, but rather complements to, North-South cooperation;
• recognizes that management of the natural resource base in a sustainable and integrated manner is essential for sustainable development;
• reaffirms that fundamental changes in the way societies produce and consume are indispensable in achieving global sustainable development; and
• recognizes Rio+20 reaffirmed that promoting SCP is one of the three overarching objectives of sustainable development.
II. Gaps and constraints related to Implementation of the BPOA and the MSI
Paragraph 14 addresses that while SIDS have made progress in the areas of gender, health, education and the environment, their overall progress towards achieving the MDGs and sustainable development has been uneven and notes that much more could have been achieved if the commitments made by the international community of financial resources, technology transfer, and capacity building had been fulfilled. Twelve subparagraphs address:
• lack of political will on the part of most developed countries to fulfill their commitments through the provision of adequate, new, additional, predictable and stable financial resources, technology transfer and capacity building to SIDS;
• climate change and the vulnerability of SIDS;
• the impact of climate change, as well as environmental degradation, on the tourism industry in Caribbean SIDS;
• the effects of natural disasters and the significant risks posed by sea level rise and other adverse impacts of climate change;
• the burden and threat of NCDs and the need for strengthened health systems for the provision of equitable, universal coverage;
• the need to implement a preventative approach for natural disasters in SIDS;
• the overall decline in ODA;
• the classification of many Caribbean SIDS as either middle-, upper-middle, and, as applicable, high-income countries, which limits access to vital concessionary and development financing, and how the use of GDP, by itself, masks persistent development challenges, including those resulting from SIDS’ vulnerabilities;
• the need for urgent, decisive and ambitious action to ensure that the increase in global average temperature remains below 1.5 °C;
• the need for better social integration policies;
• the impact of crime and violence; and
• high rates of unemployment, particularly for women and youth, migration of skilled labor, the resulting brain drain, and the need for investment in education and training.
III. Strengthening the Implementation Framework
Paragraph 15 calls on relevant stakeholders at the national, regional and international levels to take advantage of the convening of the Conference, and the preparatory process that will precede it.
Paragraph 16 emphasizes the need for developed countries to provide new and additional, predictable financial resources for sustainable development, facilitated by FDI, relevant regional financing mechanisms including the capitalization of the Caribbean Sustainability Fund.
Paragraph 17 acknowledges the need to deal with the challenges and opportunities that migration presents to countries of origin, transit and destination.
Paragraph 18 calls for a concrete framework to enhance the implementation of sustainable development, taking into account countries’ national circumstances, objectives, priorities and policy space.
Paragraphs 19 and 20 support the establishment of a dedicated technology transfer facilitation mechanism to provide environmentally sound and appropriate technologies (19) and a dedicated mechanism to provide financing to developing countries (20), in keeping with the ongoing Rio+20 follow-up processes, with special consideration to SIDS proposals.
Paragraph 21 calls for a holistic approach to the various Rio+20 processes and the post-2015 development agenda, and to ensure concrete outcomes on means of implementation.
Paragraph 22 ensures that SIDS issues are highlighted on the HLPF agenda;
Paragraph 23 calls for increased support to enable the effective implementation of MEAs and related agreements and programmes.
Paragraph 24 ensures the balanced integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development at all levels in the further implementation of the BPOA and MSI.
Paragraph 25 calls for the early integration and support for scientific and academic institutions in Caribbean SIDS within the UNFCCC Climate Technology Centre Network.
Paragraph 26 focuses on support for capacity building including for MEA implementation and the development of human resources, including through education at all levels and skills training, and strengthening of centers of excellence for training and applied research.
Paragraph 27 supports investments in SIDS to develop science, technology and innovation for sustainable development.
Paragraph 28 calls for greater political engagement and commitment in the UNFCCC context to address the adaptation needs of SIDS.
Paragraph 29 calls for full operation of the Green Climate Fund by early 2014 and urges developed countries to scale up financing to reach US$100 billion by 2020.
Paragraph 30 urges the international community to assist Caribbean SIDS, upon request, in strengthening their national statistical and information systems, including data collection and management, as well as analytical capabilities for decision-making, and monitoring and evaluation systems for sustainable development.
Paragraph 31 calls for support to Caribbean SIDS’ capacity to address natural disasters in areas and sectors vulnerable to climate change threats.
Paragraph 32 supports national efforts in building community empowerment.
Paragraph 33 calls on the international community to continue to support SIDS to strengthen regional and national efforts in disaster risk reduction.
Paragraphs 34 and 35 address the development and utilization of renewable energy and the fostering of energy efficiency and conservation; and welcomes the Barbados Declaration on Achieving Sustainable Energy for All in SIDS.
Paragraph 36 emphasizes the importance of revitalizing sustainable agriculture and rural development.
Paragraph 37 calls for dedicated financial resources and technological support for the development of a Caribbean SIDS platform on SCP.
Paragraph 38 calls for a people-centered and focused approach to poverty eradication, including access to education, health, water and sanitation and other public and social services, as well as access to productive resources, including credit, land, training, technology, knowledge and information, and participation in decision-making.
Paragraphs 39 and 40 call for strengthening health systems to address, inter alia, both non-communicable and communicable diseases and supports the efforts of the Caribbean SIDS to implement the UN Political Declaration for the Prevention and Control of NCDs.
Paragraph 41 emphasizes the need for strengthened institutional frameworks within the UN system in order to increase effectiveness and efficiency in providing more coherent support to Caribbean SIDS in the implementation of the BPOA and MSI.
Paragraph 42 addresses debt relief and expansion of concessionary financing to small, indebted, middle-income countries to mitigate significant sustainable development challenges. The access to this financing must be based on factors beyond GDP, which is, by itself, a poor indicator of economic sustainability.
Paragraph 43 calls for support for programmes geared towards security for our citizens and to address crime and violence especially involving youth.
Paragraph 44 calls for the effective implementation of the BPOA and MSI through concrete projects on sustainable development.
A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF THE MEETING
“As a man sow, shall he reap, and I know that talk is cheap.” – Bob Marley
A year after governments at Rio+20 called for the convening of a third conference on SIDS, substantive preparations are now underway. The Caribbean regional preparatory meeting was the first stop along the road to the Third International Conference on SIDS, in Apia, Samoa in September 2014. It provided an opportunity for the Caribbean SIDS to assess progress and remaining gaps in implementation of the BPOA and MSI, identify new and emerging challenges and opportunities for sustainable development of SIDS, and identify priorities for the sustainable development of SIDS to be considered in the elaboration of the post-2015 UN development agenda.
This brief analysis will examine how the process evolved during the three-day preparatory meeting and how this will feed into the overall preparatory process for the 2014 Apia Conference.
“STIR IT UP”
To those who remember the negotiations of the BPOA twenty years ago, it was “déjà vu all over again.” “Is it possible that the issues haven’t changed?” some asked. While it is true that SIDS still face threats from climate change, sea level rise, and natural disasters, suffer from high rates of unemployment, and must address unique economic, social and environmental problems, delegates had a difficult time agreeing on priorities for the future.
In 1994, following the adoption of the BPOA, the Earth Negotiations Bulletin noted: “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’.…[T]his 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…”
Ten years later, following the adoption of the MSI, the Bulletin stated: “However, with varying degrees of economic development and physical vulnerabilities, SIDS continue to struggle to attract the international support they consider necessary for their sustainable development. This can be attributed, in part, to the changing focus of the international agenda since the Barbados Conference in 1994, which is increasingly focused on security concerns, the implementation of the MDGs, and the prioritization of domestic good governance over governance reforms at the international level.”
Today, 14 months before the Apia Conference, SIDS have the opportunity to build on this foundation and identify their needs and priorities for the next 20 years, in the context of the evolving UN post-2015 sustainable development agenda. This meeting was supposed to give the Caribbean region the opportunity to set the stage for Apia. Unfortunately, in the eyes of many delegates and observers, the Caribbean regional meeting did not always set a good precedent, due to a number of challenges.
One of these challenges was a lack of information, in large part a result of the fact that only three countries (Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago) submitted reports of their own national consultations, which were supposed to identify the priorities for future action that could also be addressed at the regional and international levels. Indeed, many countries noted that their national consultations have yet to take place. Without identification of national priorities, many delegations were not in a position to agree on regional priorities.
Similarly, governments did not have sufficient opportunities to brainstorm prior to the meeting, something that would have allowed them to informally discuss key issues and implementation challenges in areas such as climate change and natural and man-made disasters, sustainable energy, macroeconomics and trade, social and health policy, and protection, conservation and sustainable use of natural resources —issues discussed by panelists and delegates on the first two days in Kingston.
Without the opportunity for frank discussion on these and other issues, it wasn’t until Wednesday afternoon that all government delegates had the opportunity to meet and discuss what they wanted in the draft outcome document. In the meantime, an open-ended drafting group began work on Tuesday evening and continued to meet in parallel to the panel presentations on Wednesday. The process of producing this document demonstrated the underlying divisions within the Caribbean SIDS. Through this “rudderless” process the document continued to grow in length, reaching 44 paragraphs by 5:00 am on Friday morning. As a result, the outcome document resembled a “shopping list” or a UN resolution rather than a political declaration identifying clear priorities, relying heavily on previously agreed language from the BPOA, MSI, Rio+20 and other UN processes.
“GET UP, STAND UP”
The three SIDS regional preparatory meetings are being organized at the regional level by the SIDS themselves, since this is a “SIDS-owned” process. Jamaica, as the host country of the Caribbean meeting, in consultation with other states and territories in the Caribbean, put together the agenda, invited the panelists, and coordinated the negotiations. While this is clearly a governmental process, at the same time there was acknowledgement that “governments can’t do everything.”
UN and regional organizations and agencies along with civil society and other Major Groups contributed through their formal presentations, but their contributions were not necessarily incorporated into the work of the drafting group. For example, even though a youth delegate made an impassioned speech during the opening session, participants in the Caribbean youth consultations held just prior to the regional meeting did not attend the meeting. In fact, youth were barely mentioned in the first draft of the outcome document. During the formal negotiations, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, supported by many, noted that the majority of the Caribbean population is under the age of 30 and that there needs to be a greater emphasis on the role—and needs—of youth in the outcome document.
Amidst multiple calls for improved coordination among the SIDS, and statements by ECLAC and various UN agencies that their work is “at the behest of” Member States, some delegates noted that there seems to be value and opportunity in considering how non-state actors can play a greater role both within and outside the SIDS policy process. This was tacitly acknowledged when delegates agreed to open their deliberations to non-state participants as observers, after initially planning on negotiating the outcome document behind closed doors.
“WAITING IN VAIN”
A major issue that surfaced in Kingston was the question of who is responsible for ensuring that the Caribbean and other SIDS are able to implement the BPOA, the MSI and other sustainable development agreements. For some delegates, the root of the problem is declining official development assistance (ODA) and the failure of developed countries to meet their commitments to support the efforts of SIDS toward sustainable development. More than one participant noted that donors who have not lived up to their commitments “should not be let off the hook.” However, this expression of what some referred to as the “old development paradigm,” laying blame on external financing issues for lack of progress, was countered by other delegates and panelists who pointed out that many of the shortcomings are at the national level where governments have not been able to prioritize issues or maximize their ability to absorb technical or financial assistance, which, as one delegate noted, may be problematic in countries with limited capacities and/or human resources upon which to draw.
The report of the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on the post-2015 development agenda, which was presented in Kingston, calls for moving beyond an aid framework to a new development paradigm that addresses economic growth, social equality and environment sustainability together. Yet, some delegates in Jamaica continued to view ODA as the main source of development aid. In reality, with the exception of Haiti, ODA to the Caribbean has shrunk considerably. This is largely a result of the fact that the majority of Caribbean SIDS are classified as middle-income countries, with high development on the Human Development Index, thereby excluding them from ODA and concessionary financing.
Another issue, which was posed by Amb. Lois Young, Belize, is responsibility for aggregating regional information, and communicating it to agencies that need it, such as ECLAC. This dilemma highlights a recurring theme during this meeting—the significant need for data, reporting, and monitoring of sustainable development indicators within the Caribbean—while also drawing attention to a possible role for Major Groups in this regard.
In the words of Amb. Camillo Gonsalves, St. Vincent and Grenadines, the “stars have aligned” this year to increase the UN’s attention to SIDS. Gonsalves noted opportunities through the ECOSOC reform process, the HLPF, the technology and finance mechanisms, the SDGs, the Apia Conference, and Antigua and Barbuda’s election as President of the UN General Assembly. If the Jamaica meeting is any indication, it is not clear if the SIDS will be able to take advantage of this unique historical opportunity to advance their sustainable development agenda. As the regional preparatory process heads to the Pacific and the AIMS regions and on to the Inter-regional Meeting in Barbados at the end of August, the future of this process is still unknown. A number of observers agreed that if SIDS, despite their differences, can focus on their similar vulnerabilities, determine their critical needs and develop a pragmatic list of priorities for the future, they can produce something valuable to augment the UN sustainable development agenda in line with their unique needs. If not, as others in Kingston noted, the 2014 Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States could be a missed opportunity.
Pacific Climate Change Roundtable (PCCR) 2013: The Joint Meeting of the Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management and the Pacific Climate Change Round Table will progress discussions on the development of an integrated Pacific regional strategy for Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change which is targeted for completion before 2015. dates: 9-12 July 2013 location: Nadi, Fiji contact: Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) phone: +685 21929 fax: +685 20231 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.sprep.org/event/35-joint-meeting-of-the-pacific-platform-for-disaster-risk-management-a-pacific-climate-change-round-table
Pacific Region Preparatory Meeting for the Third International SIDS Conference: This regional preparatory meeting will develop inputs from the Pacific region for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States. dates: 10-12 July 2013 location: Nadi, Fiji contact: Fiji Secretariat phone: +679-330-9645 fax: +679-330-1741 email: email@example.com www: http://sidspacific2013.webs.com/related-documents
IPBES LAC Regional Consultation Meeting: This Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) meeting is co-hosted by the Regional Office For Latin America and the Caribbean of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP). The objectives of the meeting are to: strengthen and focus regional inputs to the IPBES Work Programme 2014-2018; strengthen regional participation in the IBPES intersessional process on other elements of the Platform; develop an active network of institutions contributing to IPBES work and related capacity building in Latin America and the Caribbean; and identify possible partnerships between institutions and/or governments to strengthen sub-regional and regional biodiversity and ecosystems services assessments, as well as knowledge generation, within the IPBES framework. dates: 11-13 July 2013 location: São Paulo, Brazil contact: Charles Davies email: Charles.firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.ipbes.net/related-events/358-lac-regional-consultation-meeting.html
Caribbean Regional Training Workshop on Drafting Legislation for Implementation of BRS Conventions: The Caribbean Hub Sub-Component of the Project for Capacity-Building Related to Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Countries and the Basel Convention Regional Centre (BCRC) - Caribbean are convening this workshop. It is intended to promote Caribbean parties’ implementation of and compliance with the provisions of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions by providing training in drafting national legislation or regulations pertaining to MEA implementation. dates: 17-19 July 2013 location: Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago phone: +1-868-628-8369 fax: +1-868-628-2151 email: email@example.com www: http://bcrc-caribbean.blogspot.com/2013/06/acp-mea-caribbean-hubbcrc-caribbean.html
AIMS Regional Preparatory Meeting for the Third International SIDS Conference: This regional preparatory meeting will develop inputs from the Atlantic, Indian Ocean, and South China Sea (AIMS) region for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, to be held in 2014. dates: 17-19 July 2013 location: Victoria, Seychelles contact: Rebecca Loustau-Lalanne phone: +248 4283549 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.sids2014.org/index.php?menu=1494
Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group to Study Issues Relating to the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity beyond Areas of National Jurisdiction: The Ad hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction will continue its deliberations. dates: 19-23 August 2013 location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea phone: +1-212-963-3962 fax: +1-212-963-5847 email: email@example.com www: http://www.un.org/Depts/los/biodiversityworkinggroup/biodiversityworkinggroup.htm
Inter-regional Preparatory Meeting: The Inter-regional meeting to prepare for the 2014 International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) will bring together delegates from all three SIDS regions. dates: 26-28 August 2013 location: Bridgetown, Barbados contact: Barbados Ministry of Foreign Affairs email: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact: Barbados Ministry of Environment and Drainage fax: +1-246-437-8859 www: http://www.sids2014.org/
28th Session of the FAO Latin American and Caribbean Forestry Commission (LACFC): This biennial meeting offers a policy and technical forum for countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region to discuss and address forest issues. Government officials from forestry and other sectors are encouraged to attend, as are representatives of NGOs, private industry and other organizations dealing with forest-related issues in the region. dates: 9-13 September 2013 location: Georgetown, Guyana contact: Brenda Hivy Ortiz-Chour email: email@example.com www: http://www.fao.org/forestry/31106/en/
28th General Meeting of the International Coral Reef Initiative: The International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) will hold its 28th General Meeting (GM28) in Belize. ICRI brings together governments, the CBD and the Ramsar Convention Secretariats, NGOs, development banks such as the World Bank, regional organizations such as the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, and international organizations. dates: 14-17 October 2013 location: Belize City, Belize contact: ICRI Secretariat email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.icriforum.org/ICRIGM28
Third International Marine Protected Area Congress: The third International Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) Congress aims to define actions to promote cooperation through different initiatives, and to inspire a new way of thinking to face global challenges, such as climate change, poverty reduction, and resource sharing. dates: 21-27 October 2013 location: Marseille and Corsica, France contact: IUCN email: email@example.com www: http://www.impac3.org/en/
25th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol: MOP 25 is scheduled to consider a number of issues, including nominations for critical- and essential-use exemptions, as well as amendments to the protocol to phase out HFCs and the unique and particular vulnerabilities of SIDS, and to consider these vulnerabilities when discussing SIDS’ Montreal Protocol obligations and transitions to ozone-friendly alternatives. dates: 21-25 October 2013 location: Bangkok, Thailand contact: Ozone Secretariat phone: +254-20-762-3851 fax: +254-20-762-4691 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://ozone.unep.org
19th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC: COP 19, the 9th meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties for the Kyoto Protocol, the third meeting of the Ad hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, and the 39th meetings of the Subsidiary Bodies will convene in Warsaw, Poland. dates: 11-22 November 2013 location: Warsaw, Poland contact: UNFCCC Secretariat phone: +49- 228-815-1000 fax: +49-228-815-1999 email: email@example.com www: http://www.unfccc.int
9th Pacific Islands Conference on Nature Conservation and Protected Areas: The Pacific Islands Roundtable for Nature Conservation, a network of NGOs, donors and regional organizations working in nature conservation in the Pacific, organizes this conference every five years to set activities and strategies for the next five-year period. The ninth conference’s theme is “Natural Solutions: Building Resilience for a Changing Pacific.” dates: 2-6 December 2013 location: Suva, Fiji email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.sprep.org/pacificnatureconference
Preparatory Committee for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States: The modalities for the Preparatory Committee will be set by the 68th session of the UN General Assembly. The Committee is supposed to start work in early 2014. dates: to be determined location: UN Headquarters, New York contact: Hiroko Morita-Lou, UN SIDS Unit phone: +1-212- 963-8813 fax: +1-212-963-3260 email: email@example.com www: http://www.sids2014.org/
Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States: The Third International Conference on SIDS will include a high-level segment to build upon the BPOA and MSI and will identify new challenges for the sustainable development of SIDS. The conference will be preceded by related activities from 28-30 August 2014. dates: 28 August - 4 September 2014 location: Apia, Samoa contact: Hiroko Morita-Lou, UN SIDS Unit phone: +1-212- 963-8813 fax: +1-212-963-3260 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www: http://www.sids2014.org/