Preparations underway for the 2014 SIDS Conference in Samoa

On 26-31 January, a UN delegation led by Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Mr Wu Hongbo travelled from New York to Samoa in order to coordinate the organization of the Third Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to be held in Apia from 1-4 September 2014.

During the course of the week, the UN delegation met with both the Government of Samoa and the Apia-based UN programs and specialized agencies (UN Country Team – UNCT) including UNESCO, represented by the Director Mr. Etienne Clement and the Science Specialist Dr. Denis Chang Seng. The main purpose of the visit was to discuss the progress achieved in terms of logistics (venues) and the upcoming work to be completed for the preparation of the Conference. Mr. Wu highlighted the commitment of the United Nations to SIDS and the 2014 Conference, not least as a milestone in the discussions of the post-2015 development agenda.

The following day, the UN delegation held a meeting with the UNCT in Apia. They shed light on the preparatory process and explained the procedural details for the organization of side events and multi-stakeholder dialogue. They also monitored the progresses made by UN agencies in Samoa regarding their collaboration and respective inputs for the Conference.

UNESCO is dedicated to contributing to the success of the Conference by providing expertise in its mandated areas of work as well as logistical support through the Apia Office. Most concretely, UNESCO is currently finalizing a program of original and memorable side events to be held before and during the Conference. These side events have the potential to link key themes such as Environment (Biosphere Reserves) and Youth (Youth Journalists and Networks) around the common future of SIDS.

UNESCO is also collaborating with the other members of the Samoa UNCT. Four sub-committees (Environment, Youth, Gender and Health) have been established in order to facilitate the collaboration and coordination between UN agencies, especially regarding the organization of side events. Dr. Denis Chang Seng from UNESCO chaired the first UNCT sub-committee meeting on Environment.

The next step in the lead-up to the Conference in Samoa will be the first meeting of the first preparatory Committee, which will be held In New York on 24-26 February.