Thursday, 21 June 2012

Fiji bids to host 2014 global conference on SIDS

By Makereta Komai, PACNEWS Editor in Rio de Janeiro

Members of the Fiji delegation
21 June, 2012, Rio de Janeiro - Fiji has formally registered its interest to host the third global conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in 2014.

Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama declared Fiji’s bid when he addressed 130 world leaders here in Rio de Janeiro Wednesday.

“We in Fiji are happy to note that SIDS remains a key reflection in the Rio+20 outcomes document. As such, I’ve also noted the proposal for a Third International Meeting on SIDS in 2014.

“As we continue in partnership within the Pacific Island region in climate change initiatives through dedicated time, human resources, and capital, Fiji offers host the Third International Meeting on SIDS and continue the dialogue, said Commodore Bainimarama.

The convening of the 2014 conference is contained in paragraphs 178-180 of the draft declaration of the Rio+20 conference, recognising the importance of co-ordinated, balanced and integrated actions to address the sustainable development challenges facing small island developing states.

The draft declaration reaffirmed the ‘unique and particular vulnerabilities in terms of their small size, remoteness, narrow resource and export base and exposure to global environmental challenges. It also noted the concerns of the international community that SIDS have made less progress than most other groupings, or even regressed in economic terms.

It acknowledged that sea level rise and other adverse impacts of climate change continue to pose a significant risk to SIDS and their efforts to achieve sustainable development.

“For many SIDS, climate change represents the gravest of threats to their survival and viability, said the draft declaration.

Given that previous SIDS meeting have been held in Barbados (Caribbean) in1994 and Mauritius (Indian Ocean) in 2005, it is now the turn of the Pacific to host the high level conference in 2014.

The Fijian Prime Minister also highlighted Fiji’s efforts to maintain sustainable development on the country’s national agenda.

“Recent global developments, such as the financial, fuel, and food crises have served to underscore this reality, particularly as we move forward together in facing the adverse impacts of climate change, climate variability, and rising sea levels. Our vulnerabilities have increased, whilst our capacity to cope has not.

He told world leaders Fiji like other Small Island Developing States continues to face significant challenges in safe energy supplies, biodiversity and disasters related to climate change.

To address some of these challenges, Commodore Bainimarama suggested to using the holistic approach of the ‘Pacific Way.’

“For Pacific islanders, the “Pacific Way” invokes dialogue and collaboration in sharing our island heritage, independence, and right to self-governance, as we strive to establish effective communications, strengthen social networks and promote environmentally friendly, sustainable economic development.

The “Pacific Way” concept points Fiji and its island neighbours toward the path that will lead to the “Future We Want” – if I may refer to the proposed title of the outcome document from Rio+20.

“If re-invigorated today, it is my belief that the concept behind this term will help the Pacific islands region further develop and strengthen its ability to work together toward its sustainable development goals.

However, Commodore Bainimarama admits the Fiji and the region still look towards the leadership and guidance of the world’s most advanced nations in addressing matters of environmental and economic development and security.

Commodore Bainimarama and his delegation, which includes the Minister of Youth and Sport, Commander Viliame Naupoto leave Brazil at the weekend.

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