Historical archive

Interregional Preparatory Meeting for the Barbados Programme of Action

Historical archive

Published under: Bondevik's 2nd Government

Publisher Ministry of the Environment

Speech at the Interregional Preparatory Meeting for the Barbados Programme of Action + 10. By Mr. Børge Brende, Chairman for the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. Held at Nassau, Bahamas 26. January 2004.

Interregional Preparatory Meeting for the Barbados Programme of Action

Mr. Chairman, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates

Allow me to begin by thanking the Government and the people of Bahamas for hosting this conference. It is an honour and a pleasure for me to be here and address you.

I am here in my capacity as chairman of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). The Commission has been give the task of over viewing the follow up commitments from Johannesburg and the MDGs. As we all know it is the actual implementation of these commitments that counts.

Rio 92 was a success, but more the end of a process. Johannesburg must be the start of a process – a process of implementation.

Last year CSD decided that the focus should be on two-year clusters of issues and that the first year of the cluster period should be on water, sanitation and human settlements. More precisely a review of how we are doing in relation to the global commitments that we agreed upon in these areas is our job.

As we witnessed in Johannesburg, the role of the CSD has become more vital than ever in ensuring the effective follow up of these ambitious targets:

  • To halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water by 2015
  • To halve the number of people without access to basic sanitation by 2015
  • To have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020

These issues and the other issues, which CSD will handle in the coming years, are crucial from the point of view of sustainable development and for the billions of people who rely on the fact that the commitments we have made are implemented.

As chair of the CSD I see the transformation of words into action and a focus on implementation as our main challenge.

For some countries the commitments we have made take on a more direct meaning than for others. The countries gathered here at this conference, Small Island Developing States, represent some of these countries and they are in many cases particularly exposed and particularly vulnerable. Although this is generally recognised, what has been lacking is a full and effective implementation of the commitments we have made.

I do not need to remind you of the many types of vulnerability – economic, social and environmental you as SIDS face.

Take climate change. I have participated in negotiations and deliberations on this issue for many years. And for SIDS there exists a strange kind of inverse relationship when it comes to climate change: while you contribute the least to global climate change and sea level rise; you suffer the most from the adverse effects.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has studied that the sea level has risen 10-20 cm since 1900 and that the estimated sea level rise from 1990 to 2100 is between 9 and 88 cm – clearly with dramatic effects for many SIDS. The rising of the sea level and the occurrence of more severe cyclones are a real threat to the SIDS.

10 years ago the Barbados Programme of Action set out ambitious goals for the SIDS. 10 years after it is necessary to take a good hard look on what has worked/not worked and how the particular concerns of the SIDS can be adequately addressed. The international meeting at Mauritius, at the end of August beginning of September this year, will do just that.

The Mauritius meeting will create a new platform for how the SIDS themselves and the international community can address the special challenges facing these countries. Focus must be on a clear set of priorities that can and will be implemented.

The key word is always implementation.

For the Mauritius meeting to succeed we need good preparations. You are well on your way to achieve this. This meeting represents an important juncture in the preparations and the outcome will be the point of departure for the preparatory meeting in New York at the first three days of CSD 12.

As chairman of the CSD 12, I am here today to assure you that I will do my utmost to make the three days in New York productive for all of us.

To make the preparatory meeting in New York a success we need a focused agenda. We need to be aware of our three-day time limit. We need to make sure that all relevant stakeholders participate. We need to finalize the preparations for Mauritius – including the agenda and the organisation of work. We need to continue our work with partnerships. We need to further define the role of civil society and the private sector.

The Mauritius meeting represents a possibility to track developments and inspire international action.

SIDS have used the tool of global advocacy to gain international attention – let us learn from experience and generate more political commitment by all stakeholders to further the sustainable development of SIDS. During the last ten years you have faced both success and failures. You have learned many lessons.

I know that together we can find the vital ingredients for a lasting sustainability for the SIDS.

I look forward to seeing you all in New York in April and I wish you good luck with your work here in Bahamas.