Press Conference on Vulnerabilities of Small Island Developing States

May 10th, 2010

Overdue commitments made to small island developing States (SIDS) must be fulfilled to enable them to survive climate change and other international crises that were threatening their very existence, officials from three such States said at a UN Headquarters press conference this afternoon.

“We should not allow countries to sink for the progress of others,”

Amjad Abdullah, Director-General of the Ministry of Housing, Transport and Environment of the Maldives told correspondents, in the midpoint of a day in which the particular vulnerabilities of those countries was under discussion in the Commission on Sustainable Development, which began the second week of its two-week annual session today.

Mr. Abdullah was joined at the press conference by Ambassador Collin Beck from the Solomon Islands and Lotoala Metia, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning of Tuvalu.  Discussions during today’s special focus on small island developing States in the Sustainable Development Commission will form a part of the preparations for a high-level meeting planned for this September to review progress made under the 2005 Mauritius Strategy for the Development of the small-island States.

Going forward on climate change, Mr. Beck said it was crucial for a solid outcome to emerge from the talks under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Cancun, Mexico, at the end of this year, including legally binding agreements to limit carbon emissions.  Small island developing States were already experiencing worsening food security and the need to relocate people to higher ground on a daily basis.

Minister Metia confirmed that climate change had already had a very big impact on the islands of Tuvalu and he had made pleas at a host of international forums for aid to their national action plan.  To date, they had not received any of the pledged assistance, even though they were nearing the end of the five-year cycle.  They had made their case again today in the Commission.  They had little choice:  if the seas rose, they would be submerged.

Asked if the small island developing States had been pressured to sign onto last year’s Copenhagen accord on climate change, Mr. Metia said the accord was a “death certificate” and those countries would stand firm in resisting it, despite any bullying or promises of assistance.  To questions about his preference regarding a new head for the UNFCCC, he said that whoever heads it must be dedicated to ensuring the survival of the most vulnerable.

In response to questions about arrangements for emigration to other countries if the sea levels became untenable, the panellists from Tuvalu and Maldives said resolutely that migration was not on the agendas of their Governments.  “It’s our right to enjoy where we are,” Mr. Abdullah said.

In conclusion, Ambassador Beck warned that the window of opportunity to stop rapid climate change was drawing closed, and the fate of small island developing States would eventually happen to others, even though those countries were on the front line.

Source: Press Conference on Vulnerabilities of Small Island Developing States – United Nations

Date: 10 May 2010

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