The Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS),
AIMS CIVIL SOCIETY PREPARATORY PROCESS
A Concept Note of the Secretariat of the Steering Committee of the AIMS region
In the context of the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) scheduled from September 1 to 4, 2014 in Apia, Samoa, the Steering Committee of the Civil Society of the AIMS region has started a preparatory process leading to the International Conference.
Since the conceptualisation of the ‘Small Island Developing States’ (SIDS) in 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio, SIDS have emerged as a major player within the UN systems as well as on the international scene. The organisation of the UN Global Conference on the sustainable development of Small Island Developing States in 1994 in Barbados and its subsequent outcome in the form of a blueprint known as the Barbados Programme of Action (BPoA) constitute a major milestone in the sustainable development process and has led formally to the recognition of SIDS as being a special case for sustainable development. For the ‘Centre de Documentation, de Recherches et de Formation Indianocéaniques (CEDREFI) and its NGO partners in the islands of the South West Indian Ocean, it was natural to adopt the BPoA as a framework in order to contribute in the sustainable development process of the islands of the sub-region. The island and regional cooperation focus of CEDREFI and its NGO partners in the sub-region were conducive, on the one hand to develop collaborative actions among themselves and on the other hand, to engage with our respective government and national institutions in policy dialogue on the implementation of sustainable development in the context of the BPoA and the Mauritius Strategy. CEDREFI facilitated a process whereby an AIMS steering committee was put in place for preparation for the High-Level United Nations (UN) Meeting of 2005 in Mauritius and for planning and implementation beyond. This Steering Committee consists of CEDREFI (Mauritius), Nature Seychelles (Seychelles), ULANGA (Comores), SHASI (Maldives).
2.0 Partnership with the Indian Ocean Commission.
These actions were reinforced through regular collaborations with the Indian Ocean Commission since its inception in 1982. The BPoA in 1994 consolidated this partnership process and subsequently led to a stronger working relationship with the IOC during the preparatory process of the High-Level United Nations (UN) Meeting of 2005 in Mauritius and the partnership process that was set up between CEDREFI as the convenor of the Civil Society Forum and the IOC, the European Union, UNESCO, UNDESA, UNDP and the Government of Mauritius through the Ministry of Environment. Furthermore, during the preparatory process leading to the Mauritius International Meeting, it was an opportunity to network with the islands of Sao Tome & Principe and Cap Verde in the Atlantic Ocean.
3.0 Sustainable Island Living Concept.
During the preparatory process and as a contribution to the implementation of the ‘Mauritius Strategy’, the concept of ‘Sustainable Island Living’, which was formulated by the network ‘Small Islands Voice’ of UNESCO, was adopted by both CEDREFI and Nature Seychelles as a new paradigm in moving the sustainable development agenda forward. Sustainable island living personalizes a process that enables everybody to enjoy a decent living and a good quality of life in terms of satisfying their needs (economic, social, ecological and cultural) and creates an enabling environment for the future generation to fulfill its aspirations. It provides for the control and distribution of resources and the decentralization of decision-making. Furthermore, it is based on core values such as a culture of partnership based on shared vision, good governance, autonomy of the community, and participatory approaches. The intention is to build a solid foundation with major groups within civil society and focus efforts involving dialogue, analysis and action on core issues and challenges identified in the Mauritius Strategy. The partnership with major groups has been on-going since 15 years and will continue with the preparatory process leading to Samoa International Conference.
4.0 Civil Society Process for Samoa 2014
It is in the perspective of an integrated and participatory approach that the NGOs and other civil society groups of the islands of the AIMS region have embarked themselves in a civil society preparatory process leading to the SAMOA International Conference. In this context the AIMS Steering Committee has planned national and regional activities with the objective of developing common positions at various stages of the UN Preparatory process and producing a civil society regional report as a contribution to the Samoa Conference. A first communication of the Civil Society of the AIMS region will be prepared for the UN regional meeting of the region in the Seychelles in July this year.
4.1 Multi-Stakeholders Participatory Approach
The Steering Committee of the AIMS Civil Society Process is in agreement with the objectives set by the United Nations General Assembly. In this context, we are planning to have at least a regional meeting of Civil Society Organisations prior to the Samoa Conference in order to finalise the civil society report. At national level, each civil society focal point of the AIMS region is developing a specific review programme adapted to the national context and realities of each SIDS of the region. An indicative list of national activities has been finalised and include among others ‘a policy dialogue forum on the thematic issues of the “Mauritius Strategy”, a consultative process with grass roots organisations and communities, an NGO fair’. An ‘Integrated Forum’ will bring together the output of all these national activities, and the latter will feed in the civil society regional process.
5.0 The Way Forward
On the road to ‘SAMOA 2014’ the Steering Committee of AIMS Civil Society Process expressed the wish to become a dialogue partner with the national governments of the AIMS region, UNDESA, UNDP, IOC and other international stakeholders during the preparatory process. More concretely, the Steering Committee would like to have the opportunity to engage in the UN processes at both regional and inter-regional levels in order to present its views at the plenary sessions of these meetings such as the scheduled regional meeting in the Seychelles in July 2013. We also take the commitment to submit our final report to our partners and engage on a regular basis with them a policy dialogue on the path of sustainability. Finally, the preparatory process is an opportunity for the civil society of the region to reflect on how to consolidate the regional structuring process in order to be able to participate actively in the monitoring and follow-up of the Samoa outcome.