The preparatory meeting at Senior Officials level for the mid-term review of the SAMOA Pathway for SIDS countries in Africa, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, and South China Sea opened yesterday afternoon at the Maritim Resort and Spa, in Balaclava. The SAMOA Pathway stands for Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action (S.A.M.O.A) and is the dedicated programme of action for SIDS.
In his keynote address the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Mr Seetanah Lutchmeenaraidoo, said that SIDS as small countries have two options either to flow with the common flow and accept their vulnerability and remoteness or affirm that they can succeed and develop. SIDS countries have to face several challenges such as lack of sufficient financing given that they have important needs with regard to infrastructure and protecting the ecosystem.
Speaking of accomplishments, the Minister cited the example of Singapore, an island city which has been successful, and, despite being small in size yet is powerful. As regards the case of Mauritius, he stated that the country asserts that it is in fact an Ocean State which controls 2.3 million square kilometres of sea and that is why the way other countries views the country has changed in a positive manner. Mauritius is also respected because the country performs well and dares to adopt new strategies.
According to Minister Lutchmeenaraidoo, the strategy of Mauritius as an Ocean State is based on the following: ocean economy – with sustainable use of the ocean by abiding to 2030 Agenda for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and using the ocean to improve the living conditions of the population; maritime hub – as Mauritius is strategically located in the Indian Ocean and can be transformed in a maritime hub with its fishing port that can offer all services similar to those provided by Singapore; and, Africa � since the country is part of the Continent and it would be impossible to envisage long-term development without being fully integrated to Africa.
The Minister called for SIDS countries to respect each other, use their respective strength to progress, collaborate, share and learn and be organised to make voices heard as SIDS.
We have a bright future and we have to be action-oriented, constantly reinvent ourselves, and envision the future by being innovative, he said.
For her part, the UN Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing, Ms Fekitamoeloa Katoa Utoikamanu, highlighted that a lot is at stake for the Mid-term review of the SAMOA Pathway and the Africa, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and South China regional meeting is the first one in the preparatory process of that review.
The Under-Secretary-General, stated that the Mid-term review is an opportunity to allow the AIMS region to bring the SAMOA Pathway to the forefront of the international agenda and to assess progress and examine what worked and what did not work and what needs to be done to honour commitments with regard to the sustainable development of SIDS. The time is now to set priorities for concrete actions for over the next five years, she pointed out.
Joint press conference
In a joint press conference the Minister recalled that the current meeting is converged towards finding lasting solutions on the long-term for SIDS countries’ economies such as Mauritius, Tonga, Seychelles, Reunion, Comoros and Belize. The subject matter is difficult as there are several organisations racing towards financial resources and there is need of colossal investment to protect the ocean and SIDS are not only small but their voices are not well heard, he added.
According to him, SIDS countries should not despair but take their future in their hands, use their visions and know-how to develop themselves, depend on themselves despite their remoteness. We should know what we want and if we can find a common consensus and a roadmap we can become auto dependent in 20 years’ time, he pointed out.
For her part, the UN Under-Secretary-General Ms Utoikamanu, indicated that the Mid-term review is scheduled to take place in the margins of the high-level meeting in the United Nations in September 2019 but we are focusing on the preparatory process this year. The meeting of the AIMS group is the first of the regional consultations taking place and this will be followed by the meeting for regional consultations for Pacific in Tonga in June and for Caribbean group in Belize in August and interregional meeting for all SIDS early November in Samoa.
In addition, Ms Utoikamanu stated that all these consultative meetings will highlight what has been achieved in the implementation of the SAMOA Pathway, the gaps and what needs to be done so that the priorities of the Pathway are implemented in light of the recent global frameworks adopted namely: the 2030 Agenda for the Sustainable Development Goals, Paris Agreement and the Sendai framework.
The three-day event is organised by the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) and the Government of Mauritius.
The review is providing a platform to take stock of all major commitments taken over the last few years through a SIDS lens as well as to share national priorities and develop a regional agenda.
Five sessions are scheduled on: Progress of implementing of the SAMOA Pathway; Possible regional approaches to implementation of the SAMOA Pathway in the AIMS group; Means of implementation; Financing for sustainable development on SIDS; Towards a regional coordinating mechanism to support implementation of the SAMOA pathway and 2030 Agenda in AIMS; and, Elements for the regional report on the implementation of the SAMOA pathway.
Several personalities were in attendance at the opening ceremony comprising the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mrs U. Dwarka Canabady; Envoy on Financing for Development and Chair of AOSIS, Dr A. Adam; the Permanent Representative of Belize to the UN and Co-chair of the SIDS Partnership Steering Committee, Ms L. Young; and the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative to Mauritius and Seychelles, Ms C.N. Umutoni.
The SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (S.A.M.O.A) Pathway is an international framework that was developed as the outcome of the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS Conference) held on 1-4 September 2014 in Apia, Samoa.
It outlines priority areas which both SIDS and the international community have agreed to address in order to support the sustainable development of SIDS. The priority areas comprise oceans, climate change, food security, and disaster risk reduction.
Source: Government of Mauritius