The international conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) starts today in Samoa under the theme “Island Voices, Global Choices“. It aims to provide a platform to establish new, genuine and durable partnerships between SIDS and the rest of the world on various issues including sustainable economic development, oceans, food security and waste management, sustainable tourism, disaster risk reduction, and health and non-communicable diseases, youth and women. Heads of State, policymakers, business leaders and representatives from civil society have gathered at the conference to discuss practical, local solutions and to spotlight the need to strengthen island initiatives that can help address pressing global issues.
Small Island Developing States in Africa include Cape Verde, Comoros, Guinea Bissau, Mauritius, São Tomé and Principe and the Seychelles. Each of these islands have their own peculiar vulnerabilities and characteristics, which makes the set of challenges they face unique.
“We are here to seek a renewed commitment to small island developing states by focusing on practical actions and durable partnerships,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as he addressed the conference.
The Conference also aims to seek a renewed political commitment by focusing on practical and pragmatic actions for further implementation; and to identify new and emerging challenges and opportunities for the sustainable development of SIDS and means of addressing them. Furthermore it aims to identify priorities for the sustainable development of SIDS to be considered in the elaboration of the post-2015 UN development agenda.
The conference will be made up of plenary sessions, side events and six Multi-stakeholder Partnership Dialogues on the following topics: sustainable economic development; climate change and disaster risk management; social development in SIDS, health and non-communicable diseases, youth and women; sustainable energy; oceans, seas and biodiversity; and water and sanitation, food security and waste management.
Event greening incorporated into SIDS conference
Earlier this year, UNEP, SPREP, the Samoan Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Health and the Samoa Tourism Authority embarked on a campaign to help address the forecast increase in waste generated during the SIDS Conference, with an eye to improve waste management practices beyond the conference. The campaign included a waste audit that took place in March, of over 40 Samoan hotels and other accommodation venues and ports of entry to be used during the Conference.
As part of the ongoing SIDS waste management preparations, a technical workshop was also held to help hotel managers and other stakeholders to improve waste management practices and methods for the SIDS conference.
In addition, a guidance note for conference participants was compiled with the help of UNEP and other partners. Among other things, participants were urged to identify and minimize greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions relating to their travel and participation in the meeting activities, by using public transport; using re-usable and recycled products, and offsetting GHG emissions by financing local sustainable development projects.