Global Geopolitics & Political Economy / IPS
UNITED NATIONS, May 12 (IPS) – If nothing is done to slow the pace of climate change, many small island developing states (SIDS) will be at risk of being wiped out, both economically and literally.
This was the warning held out before the Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD), which is holding a two-week session at the United Nations this week.
”Political will and national action plans are needed, more than money,” Amjad Abdullah, director-general of the Ministry of Housing, Transport and Environment of the Maldives, told IPS.
Asked if the threat of climate change would trigger an exodus from the country, he said: ”It’s our right to enjoy where we are.”
The CSD meeting comes five years after the Mauritius strategy, which called for a range of actions to promote sustainable development, and 18 years since Agenda 21 was adopted at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio.
At a press conference Monday, delegates to the CSD both looked back at the shortcomings and looked forward to full implementation.
Abdullah said that SIDS had done its part, but that partners in the developed world were slower to put carbon-reduction plans into action.
He was joined at the press conference by Ambassador Colin Beck, permanent representative of the Solomon Islands, who noted that ”the review process has found new trends and emerging issues have emerged within the last five years and that places a lot of stress on our limited capacity”.
He said there were several new issues that were not envisioned when the strategy was first negotiated, including the food and energy crises and, of course, the mounting climate change crisis.
Beck also said that the commission doing the best it can within its framework. ”Certainly, we have moved forward in the energy area, some states have already announced to achieve carbon neutral. We are really working as much as possible,” he said.
”The challenge before us now is really to try as much as possible to have what we have within the international framework, more response to our needs and make the mechanisms work effectively for us.”
He said immediate action means insuring the enhanced implementation of the Mauritius strategy, which identifies the special needs of the small island developing states, and also to ensure that there is a provision to ensure them access to financing.
He also stressed hopes for ”an effective and ambitious outcome” at the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Cancun, Mexico, at the end of the year. Beck said the SIDS are hoping for legally binding agreements to limit carbon emissions when they meet in Cancun, a follow-up to last year’s conference in Copenhagen.
SIDS are very vulnerable to climate changes, sea-level rise and changing weather patterns. Maldives, a tiny South Asian Indian Ocean island, has 80 percent of its area one metre or less above sea level. Conscious of the dangers, the Maldives has a plan to become carbon-neutral in 10 years.
”We have initiated the intention of becoming carbon-neutral within a very short time frame, in 10 years, that is a very short time,” Abdullah said. ”It is more about intentions and leadership than about money, and that is what we want to show the world in order to reduce the greenhouse gases. Even though our share is negligible, we want to show the world [we are] leading by example.”
Unfortunately, partner countries have not made the same commitment and if the trend of increased emissions of greenhouse gases continues, countries like the Maldives will likely go under.
”The impact would be great. We have not identified the time, but if the trend is proceeding, I cannot even imagine… very short in human time,” Abdullah told IPS.
There are about 50 small island developing states around the world. Their fragility was most recently tested by the impacts of the global financial, food and fuel crisis, as well as devastating earthquakes, tsunamis and tropical storms.
The challenge for CSD is to make sure that lives and livelihoods of people living in small island developing states are not put in jeopardy by their geographic vulnerabilities.
The U.N. General Assembly will hold a high-level meeting in September to review the implementation of the Mauritius Strategy.
All rights reserved, IPS – Inter Press Service, 2010.
This article may not be republished, broadcast, framed, or redistributed without the written permission of IPS – Inter Press Service. Republication of this material without permission from IPS, the copyright holder, constitutes a violation of United States and international copyright laws and may result in legal action.