SAMOA: The Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States

Embedded image permalinkRecognizing special circumstances facing small island developing states, the UN Conference in Samoa generated more than $1.9 billion in partnerships for sustainable development.

Nearly 300 partnerships between governments, businesses and civil society organizations from all over the world have been registered to support small island developing states bringing the total value of these commitments to over USD $1.9 billion, the United Nations announced today at the conclusion of the Third Conference on Small Island Developing States.

The partnerships, which were registered in the lead up to and during the Conference in Apia, Samoa, seek to boost the capacity of these group of countries to achieve sustainable development.
“Without a doubt, these partnerships leave a legacy with impact,” said the Secretary-General of the Conference, Wu Hongbo. “Many of the initiatives announced here are looking at the unique position of small island developing states as an opportunity to accelerate advancements on renewable energy, disaster preparedness and sustainable food systems, to name just a few key areas.”

Representatives from 115 countries attended the meeting, which is the third global conference to tackle sustainable development, and the first to be held in the Pacific region. The Conference reaffirmed the need to consider the special circumstances faced by small island developing states in achieving sustainable development.

“Today marks a beginning, not an end,” said Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi, in his closing statement. “Samoa is by no means the final destination for responses to small island developing states’ development challenges. But it is an important launch point to key future stops on our journey to sustainably employ the few resources available to small island developing states to improve and raise the standard of living for our communities.”

The meeting brought global attention to the issues that people on the islands are facing, and the solutions they have developed. It also provided a foundation for many of the issues that will be addressed at the Climate Summit later this month in New York, where more than 100 Heads of State and Government will announce actions on climate change.

“UNEP will take an approach coordinated with other UN bodies and agencies, so that the whole UN system can more effectively assist SIDS in the implementation of the S.A.M.O.A. Pathway,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

“During the conference, we have highlighted and identified SIDS relevant deliverables, networks and products that should contribute to SIDS pursuing their pathways to Green Economy and sustainable development. UNEP intends to establish firmer and stronger partnerships with SIDS, other UN member States and regional and international organizations to address these important sustainable development issues that should serve as the model case for global sustainable development,” he added.

With genuine and durable partnerships as its theme, the Conference brought representatives from governments, businesses and civil society together to concentrate on forging long-lasting joint initiatives.

The partnerships include 166 states and governments, 85 United Nations entities/inter-governmental organizations, and nearly 1,200 major groups and other stakeholders. The established partnerships are addressing a wide range of issues including climate change, disaster resilience, environmental protection, access to energy and social development, among others.

“These issues are a priority for small island developing states because of their unique circumstances, remote location and high vulnerability, but we must remember that some of these issues, such as climate change and disaster resilience, have global consequences, and we must all work together to ensure a sustainable future,” Mr. Wu said.

“Never before have multi-stakeholder partnership dialogues been so integral to a UN Conference. The understanding that achieving sustainable development is a joint endeavour by all, is reflected in this approach. I believe it is the approach of the future,” he added.

New partnerships for sustainable development

Over one-third of the 297 partnerships registered were announced during the four day Conference. These new initiatives have the potential to mobilize some US $625 million, while existing partnerships made new commitments that will go beyond 2014 amounting to US $1.28 billion.

One of the new partnerships, the Small Island Developing States Lighthouse Initiative, developed by the International Renewable Energy Agency will seek to raise US $500 million to assist small islands in increasing their share of renewable energy, enabling them to meet or exceed their renewable energy targets. This is of particular importance to this group of countries where fossil fuels can cost three times more than in mainland markets. The initiative will also provide training for policymakers to make them aware of what is needed in terms of legislation and outreach to the publics to transform their country’s energy sector.

Another new initiative, the Pacific Island Oceanic Fisheries Management Partnership, aims to mobilize over US $94 million to help 15 small island developing states in the Pacific meet their international obligations regarding sustainable fishing. This partnership is supported by the UN Development Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Global Environment Fund, Forum Fisheries Agency and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

Other initiatives include the South-South Technology Transfer Facility for SIDS, which will mobilize nearly US$5 million to provide small island developing states transfer technology in areas such as global health and agriculture, and The Programme for Strengthening the Resilience of our Islands and our Communities to Climate Change, budgeted at over US $5 million, which will strengthen the ability of the Cook Islands to manage the anticipated consequences of climate change.

For a list of all the existing and new partnerships please visit the SIDS 2014 Partnerships Platform.

All partnerships will be monitored by the United Nations, with the goal of increasing accountability.

“We want these partnerships to last, and we will be creating opportunities for partners to update us on the status of their initiatives,” said the Nikhil Seth, the Director of the UN Division for Sustainable Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

The SAMOA Pathway

UN Member States formally adopted the outcome document of the Conference, the Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action – or SAMOA Pathway – in which countries recognize the need to support and invest in these nations so they can achieve sustainable development.

The Samoa Pathway also recognizes that financing – from all sources- is critical for the sustainable development of small island developing states. In the document, Member States reaffirmed their commitment to help these countries strengthen their domestic policies and help them gain access to financing for development.

“The motto of this Conference was ‘Island voices, global choices,” said Mr. Wu at the closing plenary. “The islands have made their case in a convincing way. Together, we have agreed on what needs to be done. It is now for the international community to take up these calls when the post-2015 development agenda is negotiated.”

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