In the lead up to this year’s United Nations Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) Conference and pre-conference activities, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) concluded on agreed priorities for their respective regions within the Zero Draft of the Outcome of the Third International Conference on SIDS at a forum that was held two months ago. They have been working progressively on influencing text and goals with their respective states towards the SIDS Conference as part of the Beyond 2015 Campaign, and hopefully the coming days will usher in some achieved goals for the sector.
Beyond 2015 is a global CSO campaign for a cross thematic post 2015 framework that PIANGO and five (5) of its network of national liaison units have been funded to lobby with governments and stakeholders to influence the values that feed into the post 2015 goals. Whilst the CSOs agreed that all issues articulated within the Zero Draft are relevant, two most important matters that remain priority for SIDS; specifically for the Pacific region are ‘Sustainable Economic Development and Climate Change’, as the Pacific region continues to battle at the forefront the effects of Climate Change from poor developments.
One of the main issues that NGOs and CSOs have articulated is the need to recognise that sustainable development already exists within the structures of local communities and their way of life. This model is also embedded within the Beyond 2015 values and targets that the Pacific has identified as the core to their resilience all these years. These values are ‘spirituality and cultural identity’. Governments need to recognise that there is also strength in some existing traditional models of habitation that resonate sustainable development.
Non-formal education as the key platform to educating the rural and traditional communities will greatly benefit their understanding of the processes of trade and local business which will boost self-employment and interests in investments toward local business development and non-formal education. The utilisation of local expertise in collaboration with the private sector is also important, particularly in the creation of decent and green jobs for the local communities of SIDS has been a discussion point amongst civil society.
Another threat to Sustainable Development for SIDS is the high level of debt and a few innovative means of addressing this have been considered by the CSOs and NGO sector. A closer look at the criteria to manage the funding of SIDS programmes and activities to be based on the vulnerability to the eligibility criteria to access concessional finance or international finance institutions have been considered and heavily debated.
From the Zero Draft, Climate Change remains that greatest challenge for SIDS. Its adverse effects are not new to the discussions on climate change in the Pacific as the atoll settlers of the region continue to experience the rise in sea level and the increase and frequent occurrence of natural disasters that greatly undermine the development process and even existential threats to the islands. CSOs and NGOs look forward to working with governments in collaboration with United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to further enhance the resourcing of climate change programmes for awareness and adaptation initiatives. Needless to mention, some of the islands are on the brinks of relocation as the effects are becoming more extreme.
CSOs and NGOs reiterated through the CSO Pre-SIDS Forum in Apia (5th & 6th June), that the call to bigger players of carbon emissions, deforestation and forest degradation activities still stands – they need to be reduced if not controlled. Modalities need to be agreed to by governments and the private sector on these contributing elements. Also in discussion was the violation of territorial integrity with sea bed mining on investors flocking into the region with little-to-no proper legislated and vetted processes of licenses to mine.
With the Major Groups Pre-Conference Forum to be held on the 29th of August in Apia, the CSOs and NGOs of the SIDS anticipate a collaborated approach to the ‘one voice’ that SIDS need to echo at the main meetings on these two main topics – Sustainable Economic Development and Climate Change. The sector is enthusiastic that the forum will provide a great opportunity for sustainable and durable partnerships to arrive at the ‘Pacific We Want’.