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News from the Regional NGO Coordinator: Fiji
The United Nations 3rd Small Islands Developing States Conference
1-4 September 2014
With 2014 declared the Year of Small Island Developing States, the 3rd International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) was held in the Pacific Island state of Samoa, attended by over 2,000 participants from UN member states, civil society and relevant stakeholders. It was described by UN General Assembly President John Ashe as a truly transformative occasion, with a marked change from the usual New York setting to that of an island nation with its strong cultural traditions and pristine beauty, but visibly vulnerable to rising seas levels.
Prior to the formal Conference, there were 4 Pre-Conference Forums – Private Sector, Youth, Renewal Energy, and Major Groups and Other Stakeholders. The Major Groups Forum, organized by UNDESA in partnership with the Samoa Umbrella of NGOs (SUNGO), was held on 29 August and attended by over 250 representatives from civil society organizations and stakeholders from the Caribbean; Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and South China Seas (AIMS) and Pacific SIDS.
The Major Groups outcome statement called for a transformative people-centered approach to sustainable development based on human rights, especially for women, youth, people with disabilities and indigenous peoples. The key issues of climate change and the management of oceans and seas were the core of SIDS concerns, calling for urgent and ambitious action on adaptation, mitigation of loss and damage, caused by the slow-onset of sea level rise, ocean acidification, and environmental degradation from mining and other extractive industries including deep sea mining. The full statement can be read on www.sids2014.org.
PIANGO was heavily engaged as a member of the UNDESA Steering Committee responsible for the Major Groups Pre-Conference Workshop. PIANGO sent a 9 member delegation that included a youth representative from Fiji, a Board member of the Cook Islands Civil Society Organization, a woman leader from the Solomon Islands, the Coordinator of the Tuvalu Association of NGOs, the Board Chair of the Civil Society Forum of Tonga and CEO of the Vanuatu Association of NGOs. Most of the delegates were attending a conference of this scale for the first time and found it most relevant to our SIDS context. As a specific commitment to follow-up, we officially registered a partnership between PIANGO and the Caribbean Policy Development Centre, focusing on knowledge exchange and capacity building.
Emele Duituturaga, Executive Director
NGO/DPI Executive Committee Regional Coordinator in Fiji
Pacific Islands Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (PIANGO)