Preparations for the 4th International Conference on Small Island States (SIDS), also known as SIDS4, are progressing well with the 1st Session of the Preparatory Committee (Prep Comm) concluding its first round of negotiations of the Outcome Document of the Conference, in New York, last Week (Jan 22-26, 2024).
The Prep Comm, Co-chaired by New Zealand and the Maldives, was established by the United Nations General Assembly (See: resolution A/RES/77/245 paras: 32-35) to make recommendations on the organizational, procedural and substantive preparations for the Conference and to also conclude, in the most efficient and effective manner, discussions on the draft Outcome Document of the Conference.
In introducing the draft, the Chair of AOSIS, H.E. Dr Luteru Fatumanava (Samoa) said “The outcome is meant to be a uniquely SIDS manuscript. It expresses the SIDS story, situating SIDS as a special case for both environment and development.” The outcome builds a message of the type of development SIDS seek for themselves, and how the international community can help to make the SIDS-led, SIDS-focused agenda, achievable. The draft Outcome focuses on four critical points for SIDS i.e. – resilient economies, safe and prosperous societies, securing the SIDS future and advocating for environmental integrity and planetary sustainability.
Co-Chair, H.E. Dr Ali Naseer Mohamed (Maldives) was happy to note the strong showing from Member States, the UN System, and Civil Society, at the 1st Prep Comm. “We heard a total of 63 statements over the course of the first plenary meeting… we heard strong commitment for a more sharply focused and action-oriented Programme of Action. We heard commitment for delivery, commitment for implementation, and commitment to ensure that the Programme of Action reflects the needs of the SIDS and addresses those needs in an effective manner”.
Co-Chair, Amb H.E. Mrs. Carolyn Schwalger (New Zealand) was encouraged by the strong messages of support for SIDS heard throughout the week. “This constructive approach reflects a continuation of the support witnessed over the summer during the regional and inter-regional preparatory meetings and represents a clear recognition of the unique challenges faced by SIDS, and the fact that many of these challenges are not of their own making.” The Meeting also heard the enduring acceptance that SIDS remain a special case for development due to their vulnerabilities.
The Secretary-General of SIDS4, Under-Secretary-General, Mr Li Junhua (UNDESA) was heartened by the political commitment and unwavering support for the development aspirations of SIDS expressed by many Member States. “In the many complex discussions that lay ahead, I encourage you to note that the development of SIDS and their resilient prosperity provides a collective good and to recall that our collective commitment to leave no one behind and protect the most vulnerable, should sit at the heart of an action-oriented outcome.”
The 2nd Session of the Prep Comm is scheduled to be held in New York from 1-5 April 2024. In the meantime, Informal-Informal negotiations sessions are scheduled to be held on the following dates: (i) 12-14 February, (ii) 5-7 March, and (iii) 19-21 March 2024.
This update carries Mr Navoti’ s own personal observations, views and comments, which are not officially attributable to those of his Employer, the United Nations or to the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
Editor’s Note: the 4th International Conference on Small Island States will be held on 27-30 May 2024 in St John, Antigua and Barbuda. Mr Navoti has reflected on the particular significance of the upcoming conference in this UNDESA’s post.