WORLD SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT SUMMIT TO GIVE

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SOUTH PACIFIC APPLIED GEOSCIENCE COMMISSION

(SOPAC)

Suva, Fiji Islands

NEWS RELEASE February 28, 2002

SPECIAL ATTENTION TO ISLANDS

The Pacific delegates to the United Nations have succeeded in raising the profile of islands in preparation for the World Summit on Sustainable Development that will be held later this year in Johannesburg, August 28 to September 4.

Responding to well co-coordinated statements by island delegates and their supporters, the Chairman Preparatory Committee for the Summit has produced a "draft Johannesburg Plan of Action" that contains a special section on the sustainable development of Small Island Developing States.

The draft Plan also contains initiatives for Africa.

The Preparatory Committee has been meeting at the United Nations in New York over the last two weeks.

Working closely with other island countries through the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) and a number of developed countries, notably Australia and New Zealand, the Pacific Missions to the United Nations have turned the negotiations in their favor.

The starting papers for the meeting did not contain any reference to action in SIDS or SIDS-specific issues.

Supported by their technical advisers from the regional organizations in the Pacific – SPREP, SOPAC and the Forum Secretariat – Pacific delegates have not only secured a place in the negotiations for the sustainable development of SIDS, they have ensured the draft Plan of Action now contains proposals relating to sustainable tourism, disaster preparedness, the protection of traditional knowledge and ocean and coastal management.

This recognition of the particular challenges of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) builds on work started at the Earth Summit nearly 10 years ago. In 1994, SIDS received global endorsement for the Barbados Program of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States.

The negotiations, however, are far from over and Pacific delegates will have to fight hard to maintain the recognition they have currently in the Plan. There are two more meetings of the Preparatory Committee and many groups competing for the special attention at the Summit that is expected to be the largest ever held in UN history.

The Summit, expecting over 65,000 people, will be focusing on implementation.

The Johannesburg Plan of Action will be supported by commitments made at the head of government level and a set of proposals or initiatives will be launched that will generate new partnerships for sustainable development.

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