Thursday, 14 June 2012

Commonwealth and regional bodies bring voice of small states to Rio+20 Earth Conference

SPREP/Commonwealth Secretariat Release

13 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro - Three different regions, home to Small Islands Developing states will come together during a side event at the Rio+20 Conference next week in Rio de Janeiro.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre and the Indian Ocean Commission will be part of a high level panel discussion facilitated by the Commonwealth Secretariat.

‘Across the Regions: SIDS Solutions for Sustainable Development’ is the title of the event.

This high-level panel discussion will highlight to world leaders and other stakeholders the unique development challenges that small island developing states face, and explore ways of working together between the regions ensuring that the next wave of development efforts considers, supports and fully addresses them.

“There is no denying the challenges of Small Islands Developing States are unique, we have to battle economic barriers, that of isolated, small island populations and administrations and the effects of climate change that makes life harder for some Pacific communities,” said Mr. David Sheppard, the Director-General of SPREP.

“Despite this, our island nations across the Pacific are working together under different initiatives to find solutions to these challenges. With support towards our efforts, we could achieve much more.”

There are several Pacific initiatives underway to ensure sustainable development such as the Pacific Oceanscape Initiative as a way to conserve and sustainably develop ocean resources and the Micronesia Challenge a shared commitment to conserve at least 30% of the near shore resources and 20% of the terrestrial resources across Micronesia by 2020.

The Commonwealth Secretariat, in partnership with the three SIDS institutions, will also launch a joint initiative to explore new ways to support climate resilient and low carbon economies across their memberships, through the signing of a memorandum of understanding.

Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Ransford Smith said: “The global economic downturn has impeded the means to achieving the development goals of reducing poverty and accomplishing green growth in small and small island developing states. The task is made even more complex by their relatively small size, remoteness, vulnerability to external shocks and the effects of climate change.”

Mr. Smith, who will lead the Commonwealth delegation to the Rio+20 Earth Conference, added: “These countries also face challenges of securing funds for building resilient green economies to halt biodiversity loss, address food and water security, and invest in new sources of energy for sustainable, competitive growth. We are delighted that together with our partners, we shall commence a new chapter of supporting these countries to achieve more resilient and inclusive green growth.”

Participants are expected to call for high ambitions to be realised at the Rio+20 Earth Conference and future UN climate change negotiations to ensure that outcomes from these processes concretely address challenges of small island and other developing small states

Note to Editors
The panel discussion will take place from 17:00 to 18:30 in Room T-8 at the Riocentro Convention Centre in Rio de Janeiro. It is open to journalists accredited to cover the Rio+20 Earth Conference. Representatives from the four organisations will also be available for interviews.

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