Pacific needs a strategy at upcoming SIDS meeting
By Cherelle Jackson
APIA: Pacific Governments need to strategise the best way forward to ensure that the priorities of the region are part of the outcome of the upcoming SIDS meeting in Samoa next year.
References to ‘transformational approach’ echoed throughout the Pacific preparatory meeting last July, but concrete steps need to be established by the region towards SIDS 2014. This is crucial to ensure that the issues of the region are not drowned out by SIDS from Caribbean and Indian Ocean. The fact that Nauru is the chair of AOSIS, and Fiji the chair of G77 however speaks volumes for the progress the Pacific has made at the international level.
Indeed the Pacific has already made those steps, by submitting 14 national assessment reports to feed into the Pacific SIDS outcome towards the Barbados meeting and ultimately towards the Samoa meeting. The reports which were prepared over several months addresses key issues faced by the small islands of the Pacific, and what they feel should be addressed in the SIDS Pacific outcome document. The most commonly identified priority Goals of the Pacific region are related to: (1) Climate Change in all its manifestations across the development agenda including in Oceans and through Natural Disasters; (2) Health especially NCDs; (3) Social Inclusion (poverty, inequalities, population pressures, wellbeing, education, youth; ageing; gender, people with disability, employment); (4) Infrastructure and Urbanisation (water, energy, ICT, transport); and (5) Sustainable Resource Management (oceans and fisheries, food security, land, agriculture, forestry, tourism, biodiversity).
Not surprisingly climate change is at the forefront of the priorities for the Pacific towards SIDS, with a focus on ocean acidification and sea-level rise, and the impacts on the natural environment such as fisheries, coastal resources, agriculture and land loss and the effects on economic and social development, particularly women, children and vulnerable populations. According to a Synthesis of the NARs, climate change is an immediate and dangerous reality for the islands which is why access to financing on adaptation is crucial. “It’s the reason why the hard conditions and cumbersome procedures for climate change financing under the UNFCC is such a point of contention for the SIDS who clearly see themselves as victims with severely limited staff capacity to contend with such obfuscation,” notes the report.